We were recently sent the iRobot Roomba 980 vacuum cleaner to review.
As labour-saving appliances go, a robot vacuum cleaner is pretty high on my wish list. We have a dog in the house, and I have numerous allergies. This means keeping our floors clean is an important, and endlessly boring, job.
Setting up the iRobot Roomba 980
Setting up the iRobot Roomba 980 is actually really simple. Inside the box you’ll find the vacuum cleaner and base station, along with a couple of accessories and spare parts.
Plug in the base station, activate the battery on the vacuum cleaner and press the large “CLEAN” button. Hey presto – Roomba will set off exploring your house.
If you want to get a bit fancier, you can use the two perimeter boxes (batteries supplied) to control where your iRobot goes. Set them on the floor, and the Roomba 980 won’t go past. You might use this to keep the iRobot Roomba out of one room, or to focus on one particular area of the floor.
How well does the iRobot Roomba 980 Clean?
All cleverness aside, if you’re going to spend the sort of money involved in buying the Roomba 980, you want to know if it can clean up.
The good news is that it can.
The Roomba 980 can clean the ground floor of our house (around 70 square metres) in just over an hour. You can adjust the settings so that it passes each area once or twice. There are also options to increase the time spent covering corners.
The Roomba is capable of learning. It will map your floors and each time you set the iRobot cleaning, it will be more efficient. If during a clean, it gets full or encounters a problem, it will return to the base station.
This compares favourably with the last robot vacuum cleaner we had, which would beep incessantly when it got stuck, until you tended to it.
Tsk. I can’t abide a needy robot vacuum cleaner.
The Roomba picks up dirt really well, coping brilliantly with dog hair and dust. The robot vacuum dealt easily with our wooden floors, and I like how the engine kicks up a notch when it goes over a rug or carpeted area.
iRobot Roomba 980 Video Review
Check out our video review of the iRobot Roomba 980 to see this clever robot vacuum do its stuff:
What the iRobot Roomba 980 Can (and Can’t) Do
Things the Roomba 980 can’t do – like stairs. It has a “ledge sensor” that will stop it throwing itself off a high drop, so you can easily pick up the iRobot and take it upstairs to clean.
Another thing to bear in mind, the iRobot Roomba 980 is 9.14cm tall, so it may not fit under all furniture. It cleans under my bed fine, but can’t fit under our TV cabinet, for example.
On the top of the Roomba is a “spot” button. Press this and the Roomba 980 will clean in a small spiral over an area of about one metre squared. It’s great for picking up quick spills in a small area.
My dog is SUPER interested in the iRobot Roomba.
I found the waste bin in the iRobot Roomba 980 to be fairly roomy. The bin is accessed by pressing a latch and pulling the bin out from the front of the vacuum.
Generally you’ll need to empty it every other time the vacuum runs. Not because the bin is small but because the Roomba picks up LOADS of dirt.
Connecting the iRoomba 980 to Wifi
One of the cool things about the iRobot Roomba 980 is that you can connect it to WiFi. This lets you control the machine from your mobile device. You will also get alerts when the vacuum cleaner’s bin is full, for example.
Okay. Being 100% truthful, connecting the iRobot to my WiFi network was not simple.
The iRobot Roomba connects to 2.4GHz WiFi. This is basically an older frequency for WiFi networks, largely replaced these days by 5GHz. No problem – most modems will handle both frequencies. However, try as I might, the iRobot Roomba 980 could not see my BT Home Hub modem.
After a full day of frustration, I managed to temporarily turn off the 5Gz signal on my modem through the BT Home Hub control page. I then restarted my router and hurrah – connection made.
It’s not perfect. Periodically, my app will tell me that the iRobot isn’t on the same network as my phone, but it usually rights itself after a few minutes.
Using the iRobot App
The whole point of the WiFi functionality is using the iRobot app.
The app home screen lets you start, pause and finish cleaning.
Dig a little deeper and you can set up a weekly cleaning schedule, and see reports on cleaning jobs that are completed. The app also lets you change cleaning settings, turn on the iRobot 980’s “eco mode” or access help and support.
Two small but pleasing features in the app: first you can name your iRobot (ours is called Frank), and you can get the vacuum cleaner to play a sound if you’ve lost it.
iRobot Roomba 980 – Overall Impressions
Having used cheaper robot vacuum cleaners in the past, I was really impressed by the iRobot Roomba 980.
The round shape does struggle a little to clean along the edges of the kitchen units and sharp corners, where crumbs always seem to linger. There’s a spinning brush on the underside of the vacuum cleaner that sweeps crumbs under the Roomba, but it’s not 100% effective.
While other machines we’ve tried tend to be a bit random and haphazard, the Roomba has a sense of purpose! It’s quite impressive to see how methodically the Roomba covers a room, edge to edge, and end to end. Oh, and thanks to the reporting functionality of the app, I can see that the whole floor has been cleaned.
Ultimately, I suspect you’re either the sort of person who doesn’t mind vacuuming, or you hate it with a passion. If you’re the latter, then you should absolutely consider a robot vacuum cleaner, and if you do, then I think the Roomba 980 is probably the best I’ve seen.
The iRobot Roomba 980 is currently available on Amazon for £799 – click for more details (affiliate link). I was sent a complimentary iRobot Roomba 980 for the purposes of this review.