Being a GeekMom doesn’t mean that I’m a clean mom — certainly not as clean as I should be. I have those off-days where I fear the mailman or a passerby will see the squalor that sometimes engulfs my home. It’s hard enough to pick up the Lego, the dirty clothes, the Cheerios, and the baseball cards; I’m expected to sweep and/or vacuum every day as well?
Not when I have the iRobot Roomba 650 Vacuum Cleaning Robot here to help.
The Roomba 650 is the latest in iRobot’s long fleet of robotic helpers. Designed for those of you with overwhelming dust and dirt, the Roomba 650 packs in iRobot’s patented three-stage cleaning system, a new brush design, and something called AeroVac Technology.
That AeroVac perk means that this latest model has better airflow, so you won’t have to clean it out as much. Hooray for additional loafing time! Other features include iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology so the Roomba knows where to roam, Dirt Detect to help it sniff out the dirtiest areas, and the option to preset cleaning schedules up to seven times a week.
I was lucky enough to receive the Roomba 650 for a review, and boy was I excited — and sort of lazy. In anticipation of having this little guy (my son named it “He”) come for a visit, we didn’t vacuum our living room for about a week. In other words, it was a normal week. With my husband and I, a dog, and a 6-year-old all making messes on a daily basis, He was going to have a tough row to hoe — or at least vacuum.
Inside the box, the Roomba 650 comes with an extra filter (which they recommend you replace every 2 months), a little pick to help clean the vacuum’s brushes (as needed), the Auto Virtual Wall device, and charging options that I’ll delve into in a minute.
The company says to charge the unit up overnight before the first use. I did a little longer than that, for a total of 36 hours. After all, my filth wasn’t going anywhere and I wanted this thing to be ready to work! It’s also recommended that you keep the Roomba 650 charging when not in use. That seems like a good idea anyway; you never know when messes will appear.
As far as charging, there are two options. The Roomba has a little home base that it likes to nestle into, which plugs into the wall via a detachable power cord. You can also cut out the middleman and plug the Roomba 650 right into the wall, using the same cable. The status of the Clean button on top of the unit will let you know whether the Roomba is (literally) ready to roll. Whenever you see solid green, you’re good to go.
The Roomba 650, however, doesn’t always work alone. Inside the box, you’ll find a little piece that looks a lot like a flask. That’s not iRobot encouraging you to drink; it’s the Auto Virtual Wall device. When turned on, the Virtual Wall will create an invisible barrier that the Roomba will not cross. Don’t want the Roomba to bother the dog? Use the Virtual Wall. Have plants that you don’t want the Roomba bumping into? Use the Virtual Wall. Is the Roomba running near the top of the stairs? Please, use the Virtual Wall!
To use the Virtual Wall, you’ll need to pop some of those C batteries out of your kid’s toys. It needs two of them. Also, you have to turn the Virtual Wall on at the beginning of the Roomba’s cycle.
The Roomba 650 also provides options for cleaning schedules and cycles, so it can clean on its own, when you aren’t around to supervise. Occasionally, the Roomba will get caught on some curtains, a piece of furniture, or in my case, a flyswatter. If you’re going to use this option, it’s important to have the floor clear of clutter. Otherwise, it’s insanely helpful and even easier to program. The clock and all of Roomba’s other controls are located right on top of the device. If you know how to set a digital clock, programming this thing should be a breeze.
Frankly, I just wanted to get cleaning. So I plopped the Roomba in the middle of the floor, pressed the Clean button, and off He went.
The Roomba 650 has a crazy cleaning cycle. I liken it to having my 6-year-old do the vacuuming. He’s here, he’s there, and he’s kind of loud about the whole thing. However, Roomba is way more thorough. This gadget has several little brushes to help get up the gunk, the pet hair, the dust and the crumbs that become part of your everyday routine.
There were plenty of times when I wanted to yell, “No, come over here!” However, the Roomba 650 has a method to its madness. If you just let the thing go, it will eventually get to many of your nooks and crannies. It managed to clean around my audio/video rack and the fireplace with its teeny brush scraping out those hard-to-reach areas. It’s a job that usually requires taking apart my Dyson and using several attachments.
The Roomba 650 gets around, but probably won’t replace your regular vacuum. Because of its size, there are areas where the Roomba and its brushes just won’t reach. That said, help is always appreciated. My few days with the device were probably the cleanest my home has been in a while. Even my husband said he was surprised at how well the Roomba 650 cleaned our floor. The set-it-and-forget-it operation makes it easy to vacuum larger areas on a daily basis. After all, if you can’t be bothered to charge the device and push one button, no amount of robotic maids will help you.
Is the Roomba 650 a necessity? Well, no. At $399 (MSRP), He is sort of expensive, but certainly a nice little luxury to have.