iRobot Roomba 531 Vacuum Cleaning Robot Reviews
It looks a bit random at first, but soon gets to know the geography of the rooms, and in any case there`s more system to it then at first appears and it covers every inch. It does a good job in bathrooms and kitchen too (but doesn`t like spilled water, of course).
I`ve ordered a spare pair of brushes so it can get on with the work while you get the dog hair out of the original brushes. Keep the front door shut - you get the feeling it just might go out looking to clean up next door as well!
Although the dust-box is small, it`s very quick and simple to remove from the Roomba and empty - make sure you have it over the bin when you do, and it`s really
no problem at all.
It`s fun having a cleaner that talks to you, too. As I said - it certainly has a personality - ours is named Daisy.
Oh - if it DOES get stuck unde some low furniture you needn`t worry - after gently complaining it just switches itself off and waits until you rescue it. I love the self congratulatory little "ding-dong" of triumph it gives as it goes back "home" to the charger - either when you tell it to or when it needs charging.
PS I chose the 531 because I was price-conscious and it returned to base and had better reviews than the 530 yet wasn't as bells-&-whistley as the 555 or 581 (and therefore was cheaper!)
The beast works by trundling around the floor in a shallow arc. When it reaches an obstacle it either stops and tries a different direction or bumps gently into it and moves off in a different direction. How it actually decides which direction to go may be random or there may be some complicated algorithm in play. Who knows? All I can say it is fascinating to watch as it bumps and swirls around the floor. Even the cat finds it fascinating and spends all the time the machine is on sat on a chair watching it intently. Oh, and it won't fall down the stairs but it does like to live dangerously and occasionally sits poised on the top step, rocking to and fro, whilst bleating for help.
The path finding is odd and sometimes the machine will grind down a wall so that it appears to be sweeping an edge only to suddenly veer off at 90 degrees to chase the cat. On a carpet with a reasonable pile this leaves a patchwork of tracks which are not appealing.
Corners are sometimes cleaned if the path finding allows it but generally it avoids those hard to reach bits, hence the need for an alternative hoover on hand. It also gets stuck under things but does politely request assistance, or at least that what I think it's doing as mine is stuck on French and refuses to speak English. Boff, c'est fou.
Let's be up-front about this device - it isn't a replacement for a hoover. Don't be misled by the attractive proposition that you can just leave this beast to get on with the job because you cannot. Apart from the fact that you have to clear the floor of anything that is likely to get eaten (and you'd do this with a manual hoover anyway), this isn't a vacuum cleaner it's a carpet sweeper. You'll need a proper vacuum to suck up the deep embedded dirt (Dysons are really good at this) as this machine will only collect the surface dirt (which, oddly Dysons are quite poor at.) although the cleaning is actually quite thorough. It has a 'dirt detection' mode where it swirls around an ickky spot until it thinks it's done and it does do a pretty good job. The carpet looks clean even if it is covered in track marks.
It's battery life is quite good, it will easily do a large house in one charge and it only takes a couple of hours to bounce back to full power, so battery power is a plus. It even limps home when it needs charging so you don't have to be too attentive.
The major fault, if it has one, is the requirement to clean it after use. The druck container is small and whilst the battery may last for 2000m squared you'll have to empty the pot every 500. This is a messy job too as the container has a hinged filter (make sure you open it over paper) and when released from the body always drops a worm of hair and dirt onto the floor - again use paper beneath it when opening. You'll also have to clean the brushes (handy tool included) which involves disassembly to remove the hair that inevitably will be wrapped around the inner workings. Again a messy and unnecessary job. It can't be beyond the wit of the designers to find a way of stopping hair from wrapping around the innards of the roller. Some of the bits are fiddly and I have had to use a knife more than once to get the roller to fit back on. The roller clicks in motion if it's haired up so you know it needs doing - again.
Some of the inner parts such as the roller cage seem flimsy - so be careful with that knife ...
The room guard is quite cool. It's a battery (not included) operated beam emitter which stops the iRobot from passing though into rooms, such as kitchens or bathrooms, where it doesn't belong. The machine will not pass through the beam and treats it like a wall. On a similar bent the machine has a 'dock' button which sends the iRobot back to its charging point, which is fun.
All in all this is a fun, if slightly pointless, appliance which does half the job. So it's like a wind turbine. It's a good idea, that you want to work but in reality needs a back up plan and under performs. I was bought this as a present so I can't really say that I feel disappointed at this but I'm glad I didn't spend my money on it!