Jan 11, 2008

Review: iRobot Roomba 4220 Discovery SE

After reading about Lazyman's Roomba a few months ago, I began thinking seriously about getting one. See, I hate vacuuming. Actually, I loathe it. And I have very little time for it. In fact, I'd be waaaaaaay too embarrassed to actually reveal how often infrequently I vacuum. The only reason I didn't have a Roomba before reading Lazyman's post was because I didn't think it would actually work. But since Lazyman seemed pleased with his, I was intrigued (and hopeful).

And then one day in November, Woot! offered a Roomba 4220for $130 with $5 shipping. I couldn't resist. Especially since someone could "give" it to us for the holidays (in fact, it's officially a gift from my in-laws).

I'm concerned that my long hair is going to create problems in the long run (I've been cutting the hair off the brushes when I remember), but overall, I'm pretty pleased. I use it in one room at a time, but that's fine because I can set it and go. I do try to clear the floor so as to get maximum coverage, although the Roomba can't get into corners. The battery life is pretty brief, only about 45 minutes to an hour, but charging time is only 2 hours, so it's not bad. On days when I'm in and out of the house, this means I can vacuum a couple of different rooms in a day, all while I'm not actually doing any of the work.

There are some major pros to the Roomba:
  • First and foremost, the Roomba is relatively effortless to use. If you stand and watch it, you'll find yourself thinking that there's no way it can cover the entire room in the seemingly illogical way it retraces its steps and covers the same ground while leaving entire patches of the room untouched. But when you return, it will be obvious that the Roomba did eventually cover the entire room.
  • The "virtual walls" work well. I use these to keep the Roomba from tumbling down the stairs. But you could also use the virtual walls simply to keep the Roomba in a contained area that you want it to focus on.
  • The Roomba can get where your upright vacuum can't reach. I don't think the area under our bed has been this clean since we first moved in.
So the pros are substantial. There are, however, quite a few cons:
  • The charging base doesn't seem to work properly. The Roomba is supposed to head back to the base when it's done but ours always seems to have trouble docking. It also didn't stay charged in the base when I left it there for a couple of days. However, there's an easy fix, which is simply to plug the a/c adapter directly into the Roomba.
  • The coverage area per use is relatively small. I had originally intended to let the Roomba do one level of our house at a time but because of the way it works, I think it's only good for one room at a time. This hasn't been a problem in terms of time, though.
  • The Roomba can't handle much deviation in surface. For example, the Roomba got stuck going from the master bedroom into the master bath, because there's about a one-inch drop from carpet to linoleum. It's not a huge problem, but I have to remember to close the bathroom door before leaving the Roomba to run in the master bedroom.
  • Long hair is supposed to be a problem and needs to be removed by hand, according to the manual, although this hasn't become a problem for us yet.
  • The Roomba can't get into corners, so I still need to break out the upright on a regular basis. But at least I can do that less often.
Before purchasing the Roomba, I read some reviews that said many owners love their Roomba like a pet and develop an emotional attachment to it. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be one of them.

But, I think the Roomba is saving me enough time from vacuuming that I am considering getting a Scooba.Like vacuuming, scrubbing my kitchen floor is something that I do embarrassingly rarely. So I think a Scooba could really improve my level of happiness since I want a sparkling clean kitchen floor. Besides, I want to improve my kitchen because it's the feng shui money center of my house. I'm going to give my Roomba a few more months to prove its worth, and if all continues to go well, I'll consider getting a Scooba - of course, only at a great price!


thisisbeth said...

Intersting. I might have to think about this, except that I just bought a new vacuum six months ago. I dislike vacuuming, too, and have the long-hair problem.

(I ended up with a Dyson because I have long hair. One model of Dyson actually makes it easy to take the roller bar off of it to cut the hair off. I *hated* cutting my hair off my old vacuum.)

Very Herodotus said...

Love my roomba. Love love love LOVE my scooba!!!!

Chief Family Officer said...

@Beth - You know, for a while I coveted the Dyson Slim because of the lightweight feature, but when I saw it in the store, I felt like it was made only for people who are at least 5'10"! I'm 5'2" so I scratched it off my list immediately.

I know there are Roomba models that come with a special long hair kit, so to speak. I'd definitely look into it if you're interested in a Roomba!

@herodotus - Thanks for letting me know! I'm glad you love your Scooba - I'm going to keep an eye out for a great deal!