Friday, March 28, 2008

Roomba 510 review: Initial thoughts was running a deal I couldn't pass up, the Roomba 510 for around $140 (after a google checkout rebate). I guess the 510 has been discontinued, so it is available at a good price. I've been wanting a Roomba. Actually, that isn't true. Recently I've really been hating vacuuming and sweeping my floors. I read on-line reviews and decided I had to have one.

The Roomba 510 is an entry level Roomba. It wanders randomly over the floor and vacuums. It doesn't dock, schedule, or use the lighthouses. It will use the virtual wall. I do wish it could charge itself, but I wasn't willing to pay $100 to get a model that would do that. I figure for $100, I'll pick it up and plug it in.

The Roomba was bigger than I expected. In my head, I pictured something the size of a dinner plate. This is larger than that. It is about 3" tall. It feels sturdy (read heavy) when you pick it up. It isn't as loud as I had feared.

I charged the Roomba overnight like the directions said. Then I pressed the "clean" button twice and off it went. (Actually, my three-year-old son pushed the button. He'd been begging for the honor.) The first area it cleaned was the "L" shaped main level of my house consisting of my dining room (parquet floor), kitchen (vinyl), and front room (carpet). It did a great job. It was able to get under my dining room chairs and get the crumbs under the table. It was able to handle a few, small, welcome mats I have scattered around. It also went under my couch (brave robot). I was worried it would get stuck because it can only barely fit. It did get stuck once, half in and half out, but the rest of the times it manged to get out just fine.

It is much quieter than my vacuum or my my dust buster. It does have a high pitched motor noise that is a little obnoxious, but if I go up stairs, down stairs, or shut the door, I can hardly hear it.

While it was cleaning, I emptied its dust bin when I noticed Roomba seemed to be having trouble picking up dirt I could see on the floor. Boy was the bin full...three times. I comfort myself by thinking most of it must have been under the couch :) I don't anticipate having to keep an eye on its bin now that the first cleaning is done.

I quickly learned that, when emptying Roomba's bin, I needed to be holding Roomba over the trash. Dust goes flying. I also learned that everything I read in the forums is true: open the bin over the trash, clean the filter, and clean the hair off the edges of the brushes. I didn't think I'd have the "hair around the edges of the brushes" problem since I don't have pets, but I must shed more hair than I think I do, because Roomba found plenty.

I've run Roomba on every level of my house. It did a fine job. I am cautiously optimistic. I am happy with my purchase so far. I don't think it could fully replace a real vacuum, but it will keep my house cleaner. I think I will also keep my house less cluttered, since I don't want Roomba to bump into things. And now I don't have to pick up AND vacuum.

  • Stand up fan - I have a big stand up fan that has a sloping base. Roomba climbs up on that and gets stuck
  • Bathroom rugs - the rugs in my bathroom move around easily. Roomba got suck in my bathroom because he pushed up the rug and thought it was a wall. I think this problem only happens with rugs that move. If rugs stay put, he handles them just fine.
  • Used fabric softener sheets - I had a bunch of these on the floor of my room since I fold laundry on my bed. The sheets fall down and I don't always pick them all up right away. Roomba got these stuck in all sorts of weird places, including one jamming its wheel.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times.
  • Couch - My couch has a curved W shaped bottom. Roomba can fit under one side, but just barely. He got stuck one time, but has made it out several times. Sitting on the couch while Roomba cleans underneath it is a weird experience.
  • Under my bed - I haven't cleaned under there since about 2005. It went under there and industriously cleaned.
  • Stairs - It is so fun watching it go right up the edge of my stairs and turn around.
  • Best find in Roomba's bin - small orange plastic frog about 1.5". It also found a pin from one of my husband's shirts. I'm grateful Roomba found it and not my foot.
  • Best find - Roomba pushed out from under my bed the case to my children's Uno cards. I've been looking for that for a month.

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