iRobot Roomba 780 review
The Roomba 780 is the top of iRobot’s current range of robot vacuum cleaners, and it has a number of features to keep your rooms clean with the minimum of fuss.
Like all Roombas, the 780 is designed to vacuum a room automatically, normally when you’re not there. The robot moves in a random-esque pattern, and when the rubber bumpers around its edge touch an object the cleaner changes direction and drives off again. To make sure it doesn’t strike anything with too much force, the robot senses when it’s approaching an obstacle and slows down, so it should only tap gently on obstructions with the bumper.
The slowdown sensor worked well apart from when an object was too flat for the robot to pick up; laptops and feet were struck at full speed before the cleaner realised there was something in the way, but not with enough force to cause damage or pain. The Roomba also refused to get stuck, coping fine with various cables strewn around the living room; iRobot claims the Roomba can free itself from cable tangles automatically, but none of our wires seemed to trouble it.
The Roomba charges from a docking station, and to make it vacuum you just press the large Clean button on the top. It will then do its rounds and return to the docking station automatically. You can also set a schedule, so the robot will clean once a day up to seven days a week, at a different time each day if you so wish. Setting the schedule with the Roomba’s touchscreen is as easy as setting an alarm clock, although there is a slight delay between each key press and the robot responding.
We tested the Roomba by spreading shredded paper around our living room and setting it to vacuum automatically when we were out. We came back to find no shredded paper remaining and the robot happily back on its charging stand. Over the course of the week the vacuum kept our living room spotless, but we did find we needed to empty its small dust bin every other day.
You'll need to empty the bin every other day
One of the main features of the 780 is that it comes with two small battery-powered pods, which can be set to either ‘Virtual Wall’ or ‘Virtual Wall Lighthouse’. In Virtual Wall mode the pods emit an infra-red beam which the cleaner will not cross; the cleaner detects stairs, but you may want to use Virtual Walls to keep it in one area or away from anything too valuable. Virtual Wall Lighthouse mode is used to help the Roomba vacuum multiple rooms; you put the Lighthouse so that its beam is projecting across a doorway, and this lets the Roomba know that it needs to move into that room when it’s done with the current one. This is useful when you’re using the Roomba in a multi-room setup; we found that without using a Lighthouse it could find its way around multiple rooms eventually, but it took a long time and led to parts of the rooms being missed out.
There’s no doubt that iRobot’s Roomba 780 works fantastically well, and is perfect for keeping your floors clean with no fuss whatsoever. It will appeal most to those who have large rooms or want to keep everything spotless by letting it clean every day; if, like us, you only vacuum once a week, you may find the high price hard to justify.