I’m a huge fan of robot vacuums and often talk about them and how they can benefit people on this site. I’ve had many and tried many brands, some were great, but many were terrible.
I always come back to Roomba and like how they handle things. I picked up a Roomba 690* to test it out. I want to go over some of the little details about it and some of the things I noticed having it clean my home. I also want this review to be a little different, I’m going to avoid the same old boring stuff that everyone else talks about and give you more real-world things I’ve seen.
I’m not a fan of loud things, and that goes double for vacuum cleaners. I hate them so much I did a rant on loud vacuums here.
When it comes to robot vacuums, they can be quieter than a regular vacuum cleaner. This is a huge deal especially for people who live in apartments and don’t want to be “that guy.”
The Roomba 690 is quieter than my standard vacuum cleaner I use for my weekly cleaning. Even though it’s quieter than a standard vacuum it still makes some noticeable noise.
To test this out, I used the DB meter on my phone to measure how loud it was getting. Right above the robot vacuum, it was 80db. Across the room, it was 60db. And in the next room over I got 50db. To give you an idea of how loud that is, 60db is about normal conversation levels.
To put it another way, I could easily watch TV with this thing cleaning. As for my regular vacuum cleaner, it would be more annoying.
Does It Clean?
Since it’s quiet, I was worried it would not clean as well. I’ve had many robot vacuums in the past and many of them, to be honest, sucked in a bad way.
To my surprise, it cleans better than I thought it would. It does a fantastic job of dust, hair, and crumbs around the home.
What took me by surprise was it picking up stuff that I forgot or did not know was on the floor. Since robot vacuums can get to places that a regular vacuum can’t my Roomba 690 was sucking up debris like brownie wrappers without issue. I don’t even know if my regular vacuum would handle a brownie wrapper as it’s big and oddly shaped. Just check out the picture below.
The best part of that picture was that I thought my floor was not that dirty but the Roomba found places that I missed. This brings me to my next point.
It’s Not You
The most significant reason why I tell people to get a robot vacuum is that it’s not you. By this I mean, when you vacuum you clean the same way all the time. When you clean the same way and method all the time, you miss a lot of dirt. My Roomba Proves this in that picture above with that brownie wrapper – I thought I cleaned everything well and I was wrong.
A robot vacuum can get into areas you can’t like under the bed, and it cleans in a pattern that you don’t. If you consistently clean the same back and forth pattern you’re going to miss many spots and not realize it. A robot vacuum is more random and cleans spots that you might miss.
A robot vacuum is not going to be a replacement for a regular vacuum cleaner but it sure does get close, we talk more about that here.
I must say that the way iRobot has done the app for their Roomba’s is straightforward and easy. I thought it was going to be a hassle with setting up wifi on my 690 that I was afraid to do it. But it wasn’t that hard at all.
If you understand how to use a smartphone, then setting up your Roomba on Wifi is going to be easy for you.
Once it’s on wifi, it becomes something that you wish you had sooner. I can from anywhere tell my Roomba to start cleaning so long as my wifi is on at home. That is amazing. I can even see reports and if it gets in trouble.
What I find myself doing more often is when I’m sitting on the sofa, and I know I’ll be there awhile I activate Roomba with my iPhone App. You can even set up Amazon Alexa to work with it too which just makes me feel like I live in the future. But to be honest, I don’t use the Alexa as much as I thought I would and mostly stick to pressing the button on the App.
You can use the app on your phone to schedule your Roomba to Vacuum. This was a must-have feature when I got into robot vacuums years ago. The old ways of doing it were very cumbersome; you had to either do it on the machine or use a remote. The app makes this process so much easier.
You can have it vacuum for all days of the week and at specific times.
While this feature seems nice I have turned it off and only start cleaning by pressing the “Clean” button in the app.
Why no scheduling? Mostly because I don’t trust the robot. I prefer to be home to watch it in case it gets stuck or knocks something lose. I know this sounds silly to some as I know many people love to have their robot vacuum clean when they leave for work but I’m not one of those people.
I guess it’s because I’ve had many types of robot vacuums in my life and I can see what they all can do. And as of now my Roomba 690 has yet to destroy or get caught on anything that she couldn’t get out of (keyword being “yet”). I’m a play-it-safe guy, and I like to feel in control, and pressing a simple button when I have nothing going on at home is a far better way to do it if you ask me.
Cords and Rugs
Most robot vacuums do have a weakness. It’s often cords and rugs. You also have to watch out for items that are fragile and on things that are not sturdy too.
It’s best to get electrical cords and other things like strings up and out of the way of any robot vacuum.
I have a heater that I keep in the middle of the sofa to keep me warm during the winter. The cord of that heater does cause an inconvenience for the Roomba. So far it has gone over it with few problems but for the most part, it has gotten itself free. I do worry about it destroying the wire, so I place a shoe over it to stop the Roomba from cleaning.
What sucks about the Roomba 690 and many other robot vacuums is that you either must robot-proof your home or picks stuff up before cleaning. This reason is why I don’t do a schedule as I have to move some things like my heater out of the way so it can vacuum.
It would be nice when artificial intelligence comes more to robot vacuums, and they know that is a cord, and they should avoid it, but till then we have to robot-proof your home. (never thought there would be a day when I would say “robot-proof your home”)
Apart from getting the robot vacuum ready for cleaning is me moving this rug out of the way (pictured above). The Roomba 690 can handle carpet just fine, but thick rugs like a runner are something it can’t do. The Roomba just stops, or the bumper gets activated, and it thinks it hit a wall and turns around.
What I’m Surprised About
I have a particular spot on my carpet that meets the tile where the carpet is separating. I often avoid that area when I clean with my regular vacuum to stop the carpet from getting worse.
I was worried since the Roomba Moves more in a random pattern it would get stuck on the loose carpet, but it has been no problem for it. I find the Roomba is more gentle than I expected.
What I Don’t Like
The one thing I don’t like about the Roomba 690 is that there is no “return to home” button. The 690 does have a home base that it does return and charges but only does so when its battery gets weak.
When the battery gets weak, the Roomba decides that it’s done with cleaning. A weak battery is the only determining factor of being done for it. That is kinda odd to me.
I would prefer to tell it to stop and return home in the middle of cleaning. Instead, when you press the stop button it just stops where it’s at and never goes home. You have to put the robot back on the home base if you press stop. I think a return home would be ideal for someone who can’t bend over and pick up the robot. And yes, you can empty the dirt canister while it’s charging.
You do get a Beaken with batteries in the box. This Beacon stops the robot vacuum from going in a room or puts up a barrier around something.
This Beacon is excellent if you don’t want the Roomba to run into the dog’s water and food bowl. Or if for some reason you have a room you don’t want it to clean. You won’t need it for stairs as it knows not to fall down.
I don’t have a use for the Beaken as I get my home robot vacuum ready before cleaning. But it would be something I see useful for many people though.
There is the standard stuff of a robot vacuum that many other review sites talk about. I wanted in this post to talk about all the things that stood out to me about the Roomba 690 and my take on it.
I’m sure many of you already heard all the standard stuff about the vacuum from many other sites so far now. What I recommend you do now is see what other real people are saying about it in the Reviews Here on Amazon*. It’s always nice to see what others have to say before you buy.