The iRobot Roomba 690 has the right balance of features at the right price. We found it for less than $300 and it was practically unstoppable in our testing. This robot vacuum has some serious cleaning power. It incorporates three different kinds of brushes. There is one spinning brush to get edges and two roller brushes – one bristled and one soft – that helps it clean different types of messes on different types of surfaces.
It cleaned 19.8 grams out of the 20 grams of Cheerios we spread out on our test flooring. It also was practically perfect on kitty litter, collecting 48.87 of the 50 grams we spread out. Our lab testers noted that "Roomba 690 did an excellent job on this test" and "the floor looked very clean."
The dog hair was a different story. It left the floor relatively clean but some of the hair did not make it into the bin. Rather it was tangled in the roller brush and just sort of stuck to the bottom of the vacuum. If you need a quick pet patrol before guests arrive this Roomba will at least collect the hair off the floor, but you will have to go back and clean out the machine later, most likely. That is not ideal but at least your floors are clean.
This machine is easy to use. There is one big button on the top that gets this machine to go. You can also control it from your phone with an app. This app was easier to set up than other machine’s apps. You can also control it with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. Having so many options is great.
Probably the 690's best feature is its voice. It will tell you in very clear language what is going wrong when it experiences an error. A dirt sensor on this machine also adds to ease of use because it will spur this robot to work harder on dirtier areas. You won't have to point it in the direction of high traffic areas. It will sense them and spend more time cleaning them.
This robot was mostly graceful but would occasionally collide with a table leg or wall. Its soft bumper will prevent damage to your home in those situations. It did not hesitate at all when it was time to go over even the tallest thresholds and moved through the test house quickly and easily in general. It is a little tall, so it did not make it under the furniture lowest to the ground. It got under the couch with the dust ruffle just fine, though, and kept cleaning.
You get a virtual wall with this vacuum that you can use to establish a barrier around things you know will ensnare any robot vacuum. Cords and socks are pretty good at stopping any robotic vacuum.
The 690 is about average for run time but it is faster than average at recharging. It can be back on the cleaning job in just three hours. There were only a couple with faster recharge times.
This robot was louder than others, though there were some that were noisier. Since it is one of the more self-sufficient models you don't have to be in the same room while it is cleaning so there will be no need to listen to its loudness. It hardly ever gets stuck. When it does you can use the handle to move it. That also comes in handy when you need to take it up or down stairs.
The iRobot Roomba 690 is a little too tall to glide under low-slung furniture and it had some trouble fully collecting pet hair, but it was generally excellent in our tests. It was an impressive machine, especially considering the price. This machine will clean effectively with very little human guidance for long periods of time and it is so easy to use that you will be able to put it to work for your family right away.
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