iRobot Roomba 650 Vacuum Cleaning Robot Review

Most robot vacuums have the same basic design: a low-slung floor creeper with top-mounted controls, a spinning corner brush, rotating bar brushes, and a dirt bin. Where they can differ significantly is in the on-board software that controls the robot’s behavior. Every robot vacuum uses some combination of smart room-mapping, wall-running, spiral patterns, and random directions to get its job done, and figuring out the right combination of these behaviors to get the best performance is each manufacturer’s secret sauce. iRobot’s been at this for awhile, and it shows in how well the Roomba 650 does its job. Not that it affects our score, but it’s pretty entertaining to watch the little guy work, too.

iRobot Roomba 650 In The Box

Most of the spartan packaging is taken up by the robot vacuum itself: a thick disk with top-mounted controls and carry handle. Drive wheels, a pair of floor-cleaning brushes, and a corner-cleaning rotary brush hang from the bottom. We appreciated the sleek all-black styling with a thin yellow ring around the controls; a much more subtle look than some other models. Beyond the Roomba 650 itself, the box includes a replacement filter, a cleaning tool, and a charger that can be plugged directly into the vac or into the included drive-on charging dock.

iRobot Roomba 650 In The Box

Rounding out the package is a virtual wall accessory that runs on a pair of C-cells; it’s used to project an invisible “Keep Out” line over areas you don’t want the Roomba to enter. Small infrared beacons protrude from the top of the vacuum, virtual wall and dock to help the ‘bot locate them, and the virtual wall’s beacon doubles as a remote on/off switch. The virtual walls included with older Roomba models projected constantly when turned on, burning through batteries quickly. New models (like the one included with the 650) turn on automatically when they detect infrared signals from a nearby Roomba and shut down when no longer needed, so the hard power switch is really only necessary for extended storage. Once the batteries are installed in the virtual wall and the shipping tape removed from the robot’s body and battery, it’s ready to rock.

iRobot Roomba 650 Controlling

The controls on 600-series Roombas are pretty basic. A large Clean button on top is used to kick off the fun; it lights up green, yellow or red to indicate charge and ready status. The Clean button is flanked by Dock and Spot-clean buttons. The Dock button tells the ‘bot to go find and mount the included charging dock (an amusing little dance to watch), while the Spot button makes it run a tight deep-cleaning circle around the vacuum’s current location. The higher-end 650 model also includes scheduler buttons and a date/time display to allow for basic delayed operation.The scheduler and the black top-plate seem to be the only differences between the Roomba 630 and 650 models, so if you don’t mind hitting Clean yourself on a silver-topped vac, you can save a bit of cash with a lower-end 630 ‘bot. An optional remote control is also available, for the truly lazy.

iRobot Roomba 650 Controlling

iRobot Roomba 650 How’d it do?

We first turned the Roomba loose in a bedroom. While it had been vacuumed just the week before our test, the Roomba’s dirt bin was totally packed when it was done, because it did such a stellar job cleaning neglected areas. If, like most of us, you’re not OCD enough to regularly vacuum under the bed, you’ll be shocked and awed by how much crud the Roomba can pick up down there (and everywhere else it goes, really). The cheery little vac ran for about 45 minutes in a sparsely furnished 16×20 bedroom before calling it done and returning home; its maximum run time between charges is around an hour.

Roomba’s not the most logical floor cleaner around – the haphazard tracks it leaves in carpet will have your friends thinking your housekeeper’s on crack. Some competitors employ true room-mapping technology to determine an optimal path and ensure complete room coverage, but Roomba uses a much cruder algorithm that relies on a lot of random twists and turns to cover the room. The result can end up taking a lot more time than you’d expect to clean smallish rooms, with the ‘bot hitting some spots over and over while others might get cleaned just once. The more obstacles and weirder shape a room has, the longer it takes Roomba to clean it. In general, this means that Roomba’s not a clutch player, so don’t expect quick cleaning miracles when the in-laws are on the way for a surprise visit.

The 600-series really needs to be confined to individual rooms to do its best work. The more expensive 700-series offers room-defining beacons that help guide its work. They can work a cleaning pattern around the beacon before moving on to the next room. If not boxed in with physical barriers or virtual walls, a 600-series ‘bot will just bumble around from room to room, providing only mediocre cleaning coverage. It doesn’t seem to have any problems navigating most flooring transitions; the drive system wheels are fairly tall with a spring-loaded suspension that helps significantly. The only trouble we had with flooring was when Roomba encountered tall rugs (thick bath mats and padded area rugs): the suspension had no trouble climbing up, but the bump sensor would send it careening off in another direction most of the time.

iRobot Roomba 650 How’d it do?

The Roomba 630 and 650 include a few high-tech cleaning features. Dirt-Detect is an ultrasonic sensor in the vacuum path that can detect excessive dirt and dust in nasty areas, signaling the ‘bot to spiral around the problem area in a more concentrated pattern before moving on (the 700-series Roombas replace this with a more sophisticated optical sensor). The now-standard AeroVac bin that provides strong suction and excellent dirt containment was a pricey upgrade for previous Roombas.

Read also:  iRobot Roomba 560 Robotic Cleaner Review

iRobot Roomba 650 Help!

Roombas have gotten increasingly smart over the years when it comes to freeing themselves from the various robot traps around your home without assistance. The earliest models had basic cliff sensors and obstacle detection that discouraged them from taking a header down the stairs or acting like a battering ram to your furniture and lower appendages, but would easily get hung up and kill the battery by endlessly trying to escape. Those sensors have been refined and augmented over the years with smarter software, to a point where the new 600-series Roomba is the most self-sufficient yet.

It can pretty reliably free itself from cords, strings and rug fringe by automatically reversing the brushes and backing up when they get stuck. Bump sensors help keep it out of trouble by rotating away from objects that can trap it. Even with all those smarts, though, we still managed to find a few places that got our unit stuck to a point where it needed help to get back to work (it will stop and plays an “uh-oh” sound, sometimes accompanied by a voice prompt of what the problem was).

Carpet-edged cliffs like stair edges and sunken living rooms were our biggest problem; the cliff sensor was fooled into thinking the carpeted edge was solid, so it would ride too close, drop a drive wheel off the edge, and get stuck. We never had issues with the unit taking a tumble, but there were a couple of rooms with long carpeted cliff-edges that just had to be off-limits, because it would repeatedly get stuck on them. Cordoning off trouble rooms was a good use for the included virtual wall accessory; it automatically turns on when it detects the Roomba working nearby and throws an invisible beam that tells the ‘bot to avoid crossing it. We could’ve used a couple more of them (they’re available for about $40, and a circular version is available to keep Roomba away from things like pet food).

iRobot Roomba 650 Help!

Since our house was so spread out, we found it best to lock the vac in one area with a virtual wall, set the scheduler for midnight, then empty the bin and move it to a different room each day. Depending on how big your home is, investing in an extra $40 dock or two might not be a bad idea (so it can charge each night without the need to haul the dock around from room to room). We only encountered one problem on the overnight cleanings: a low clearance toe-kick under the kitchen cabinets. It was just tall enough for Roomba to get wedged underneath (and gouge the crap out of its plastic top trying to escape). To its credit, it eventually gave up and shut down, instead of running down its battery by constantly trying to work free.

iRobot Roomba 650. Is Roomba a Good Roommate?

A good roommate shouldn’t be too loud or too messy, and one that helps clean up is indeed a rare find. Roomba gets the nod on all counts. We had no trouble carrying on a conversation or hearing the TV while the Roomba was doing its thing in a carpeted room. It is significantly louder, however, when cleaning hardwood, stone or tile; both the vacuum and drive system can border on the obnoxious while cleaning hard surfaces (especially if you have downstairs neighbors). Roomba also likes to sleep in: the full recharge time for 30-45 minutes of cleaning can exceed six hours. On the plus side, it earns its keep as an excellent pet-sitter/babysitter, at least for those carpet-dwellers that aren’t terrified of it.

iRobot Roomba 650 Maintenance

Roomba requires a fair bit of care and feeding; it’s definitely not a “set it and forget it” appliance. Depending on its cleaning area and how much scuz lands on your floors, you may find yourself emptying the dirt bin anywhere from once a week to every day. It’s a pretty easy two-step process, and the improved AeroVac bin on the 600-series is much cleaner to deal with over older bin designs, which suffered from a problem amusingly referred to as “Roombarf” by the Roomba community. There’s also a small filter in the dirt bin that needs to be tapped clean when emptying; it should be replaced every few months (depending on use).

iRobot kindly includes a brush cleaning tool that resembles a letter opener (including a small protected blade). If your floors see a lot of long hair, you’ll become intimately familiar with it, because like all brush vacuums, hair will become wrapped around the brushes and decrease their effectiveness very quickly. Luckily, removing the brush bars is a very simple and tool-less operation; we found the need to clean the brushes a couple of times during our testing (full disclosure: our test house has two very long-haired inhabitants).

Unless you happen to live in a padded cell, Roomba’s plastic body won’t stay pristine for long. Our review unit looked like it had been through the war after just a few days, with dings, nicks and scrapes all over. These issues are purely cosmetic, though; the Roomba seems quite solidly built, and most parts are designed for easy replacement, should the need arise.

iRobot Roomba 650 Maintenance

We do wish the battery warranty was little more generous; the meager 6-month coverage on the included battery makes it seem like iRobot doesn’t have a lot of confidence in its longevity. There’s also no battery meter. The Roomba will try to find its home base when it needs a charge, but especially when it’s being toted all over the house, the lack of battery charge status makes it hard to know if it’s going to die mid-job or not.

iRobot Roomba 650 Conclusion

Unless you’ve got a really small place with a lot of open floor space, you’re probably not going to get by with a Roomba as your only vacuum. But, it does do an excellent job of keeping high-traffic areas tidier between vacuuming, especially with small children or pets doing their best to keep it busy. And, it’s just so damn chipper about its mundane job, we had a really hard time saying goodbye. We think the new Roomba 600-series makes a good addition to your floor cleaning arsenal, as long as your expectations are reasonable.

Read also:  iRobot Roomba 870 Review

By: Matt Davis / digitaltrends.com

iRobot Roomba 650 Pros and Cons

 

iRobot Roomba 650 Pros

  • It is a small, compact product that weighs about 12 pounds.
  • The iRobot Roomba 650 works on any type or height of carpeting. It is able to adjust automatically as it goes from one room to the next. It can also be used on tile, hardwood, and linoleum flooring.
  • The bin is larger than in other models of the Roomba so it doesn’t have to be emptied as frequently.
  • 12 month limited warranty.
  • Very simple to program. One touch start.
  • Able to detect furniture, cords, and stairs.
  • It is very quiet so you can clean your floors while you engage in other activities or even while you are sleeping.
  • The suction power is better than many of the other similar products on the market.
  • In addition to the dock for charging, there is also a cord that can be plugged into the device and then into an electrical socket at the other end.

iRobot Roomba 650 Cons

  • The iRobot Roomba 650 costs about $400 which isn’t a small investment. However, it is a great product and you will feel you got your money’s worth in the end.
  • It is a round shape so that can make it harder for it to remove all dirt, pet hair, and debris in corners.
  • It does take a long time for the battery to become fully charged once it has died. It is a good idea to return it to the charging dock when not in use so that it can replenish what has been used of the batter life rather than allowing it to completely run down.
  • It can take 45 minutes to 1 hour to fully clean an averaged sized floor. This is due to the in depth cleaning that it offers. Yet when you empty it, you will be completely amazed at all it picked up!
  • Some owner’s complain that this device leaves patterns in their carpeting that are hard to disguise. It depends on the type of material and the height of the carpeting. To remove such patterns, you can quickly go over them with a regular vacuum cleaner.
  • The 650 does not have “memorize” the floor patterns like the newer versions due. Instead, it uses the “dirt detect” system to seek out problem areas. Sometimes this can lead to longer or varied cleaning times. The end result is the same, just a different slightly less efficient process to get there.
  • Sometimes, the iRobot Roomba 650 can become stuck or hung up going from carpet to another flooring surface. It is believed the sensors believe it is a drop off area and can’t distinguish that it is only a flooring transition. If that occurs, it may have to be programmed to only clean one room at a time.

iRobot Roomba 650 Features

The iRobot Roomba 650 Vacuum Cleaning Robot vacuums your floors on schedule or at the push of a button. Using a patented, three-stage cleaning system, Roomba vacuums your carpets, tile, laminate and hardwood floors for you. AeroVac Technology maximizes cleaning results, with less hair remaining tangled on bristles and a more evenly filled bin.

Thoroughly vacuums all floor types.

Roomba vacuums dirt, dust, hair and debris from your carpets, hardwood, tile and laminate floors, automatically adjusting to different floor surfaces as it moves through your home. Featuring AeroVac Technology, Roomba 650 easily handles fibers like hair, pet fur, lint and carpet fuzz. Roomba 650 vacuums your floors using:

  • Patented, Three-Stage Cleaning System: A spinning side brush cleans along wall edges as counter-rotating brushes pick up dirt, dust, debris and pet hair from the floor. An efficient vacuum pulls dirt and hair off of Roomba’s brushes and into the bin.
  • AeroVac Technology: Optimized airflow pulls hair off Roomba’s brushes and guides it to the back of the AeroVac bin, allowing it to fill more evenly and requiring you to empty it less often.
  • Improved Brush Design: An improved brush design and optimized airflow means more hair is pulled off Roomba’s brushes and into the AeroVac bin. Less hair on the brushes means Roomba can clean for longer and provide a more thorough cleaning.

Cleans every section of your floor multiple times.

With iAdapt® Responsive Navigation Technology, iRobot’s advanced system of software and sensors, Roomba chooses from dozens of robotic behaviors more than 60 times per second. This allows Roomba to clean more of your room, more thoroughly, making multiple passes over every section of floor. Roomba effortlessly gets under and around furniture and along wall edges, going under bed skirts and curtains, avoiding stairs, following walls and navigating through loose wires. Roomba 650 also adapts to your home using:

  • Dirt Detect: Roomba uses an acoustic sensor to find dirtier areas and then spends more time cleaning them.

Keeps your house clean on schedule or at the push of a button.

Designed with your convenience in mind, Roomba 650 starts working for you on schedule or at the push of the CLEAN button. Roomba returns to its Home Base® to dock and recharge between cleanings. Roomba 650 makes vacuuming even more convenient with:

  • On-Board Scheduling: Preset up to seven times per week for Roomba to clean when it’s most convenient for you.
  • Virtual Wall® Technology: The included Virtual Wall emits an infrared beam that Roomba will not cross, keeping it in the rooms you want to clean and out of the ones you don’t.

What’s In The Box:

  • 1 Roomba 650 Vacuum Cleaning Robot With AeroVac Bin
  • 1 Self-Charging Home Base
  • 1 Battery Charger
  • 1 Extra AeroVac Filter
  • 1 Auto Virtual Wall (requires 2 C batteries, not included)
  • 1-Year Manufacturer’s Limited Warranty On Robot, 6-Month Manufacturer’s Limited Warranty On Battery

iRobot Roomba 650 Specifications

  • Package Dimensions: 17 x 5 x 18 inches
  • Package Weight: 11.8 lbs.
  • Robot Dimensions: 13.39 inches in diameter, 3.62 inches in height
  • Robot Weight: 7.9 lbs.
iRobot Roomba 650 first use

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