iRobot dominates the market when it comes to smart vacuums and robot floor cleaning. For 30 years, iRobot has been known for the Roomba vacuum, and with nine generations of machines to choose from, there are many options for the aspiring buyer.
We decided to take a closer look at two of the more popular Roomba smart vacuum units – the 890 and the 960 – to see how they compare.
By comparing the features of the Roomba 890 and 960, we will help you to determine which one of these robot vacuums is the best investment for you.
WHY IROBOT AND ROOMBA?
Founded in 1990, iRobot has sold over 30 million robots globally; their technology is far-reaching and includes contributions to space exploration, deep-sea diving, and human healthcare.
What iRobot is best known for though, is their robot vacuums. The first of which – the Roomba – launched in 2002.
Since launching the original Roomba, iRobot has built on their original technology with newer, more advanced vacuum models in their lineup. While other brands have tried to compete, iRobot is the leading consumer robot company in the world.
What does that mean for consumers? It means ongoing iRobot product development, up-to-date technology, and competitive pricing (as well as the iRobot brand quality.)
WHAT VACUUM PRODUCTS DOES IROBOT MAKE?
iRobot makes the robot vacuum and the floor mopping robot – they also have vacuum models that combine the two features.
WHY ARE ROOMBA VACUUMS SO POPULAR?
What is it about Roomba that makes it such a popular choice for consumers?
The biggest draw of the Roomba is that it was the first vacuuming robot to be recognized widely. This brand recognition has led to consumers referring to all robot vacuums as “Roombas.” This recognition has also led to many consumers buying the Roomba because they recognize the iRobot brand as a longstanding and reliable one.
Roomba vacuums are widely known for their durability. The average robot vacuum has a lifespan of between two to five years. Roomba consistently hits the high end of this estimation at five years.
There are many other cheaper brands of robot vacuums on the market. The tradeoff with these cheaper models, however, is always going to be that level of durability. A more affordable brand may save you in the short-term, but in the grand scheme of things, you will go through three cheaper robot vacuums before you have to lay your Roomba to rest.
Compared to other robot vacuum brands on the market, Roomba is a much more advanced machine.
The average no-name brand robot vacuum has basic features like the timer, cleaning programs, and boundary sensors that the Roomba also has. Roomba also adds more advanced features like app control and smart home hub compatibility.
iRobot vacuums are well known for being versatile – even the basic Roomba passes seamlessly from hard floors to carpet. As technology has progressed, though, more advanced brushes, more powerful suction, and smarter navigation have resulted in a much more versatile vacuum overall.
Additional Perks Offered by Dyson
Roomba also offers a range of other perks that make their vacuums desirable.
- Roomba vacuums come with a 1-Year Manufacturer Limited Warranty on the vacuum.
- Roomba vacuums come with a 12-month Manufacturer Limited Warranty on the battery.
- iRobot offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Roomba parts are easily accessible for repairs and replacements.
- Refurbished Roomba units are available for a fraction of the cost and come covered by a limited warranty.
IS IT WORTH GETTING A ROOMBA?
You could purchase a cheaper brand robot vacuum for 25% less than a Roomba. So, is the Roomba worth that extra 25%?
In our opinion, yes.
Cheaper robot vacuums are just that – cheap and in every sense of the word. These more affordable brands do not incorporate as many advanced features as Roomba, they don’t have the powerful suction of the Roomba, and they certainly don’t last as long.
You could invest in a cheaper brand robot vacuum, but if you want an appliance that does its job well and that will last for a respectable amount of time, skip the other brands, and go for the Roomba.
CHOOSING A ROBOT VACUUM OVER A TRADITIONAL VACUUM
Should you purchase a robot vacuum like the Roomba instead of a traditional upright vacuum cleaner?
In the case of the Roomba 890 and 960, these models might be a good option for you if
- You want a hands-off vacuuming experience.
- You want a vacuum that can reach hard to reach places without lifting furniture.
- You find yourself regularly vacuuming (for example, if you have pets!)
- You prefer to have an automated “smart home.”
A stick vacuum might not be a good option for you if:
- You have a pet that chases and attacks anything that moves (terrier owners, we are talking to you!)
- You have a very cluttered home.
Most people who own a Roomba vacuum also invest in an upright vacuum. They use their Roomba as a “between cleans” appliance so that they rarely do a full vacuum of the whole house. This option is particularly beneficial for pet owners.
BREAKING IT DOWN
We put together a comparison of the Roomba 890 and the Roomba 960 to see just how these two popular robot vacuums compare.
We compared these two robot vacuums based on cost, suction power, run time, bin capacity, a navigation system, filtering system, and any additional features and selected a winner.
The Roomba 890 came out in late 2017 and is part of the sixth generation of robot vacuums from iRobot.
The 890 is a more powerful machine than its predecessors as it saw the addition of the “AeroForce Performance Cleaning System,” extended battery life, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Roomba 890 is a powerful robot vacuum compared to the models before it, and it incorporates many advanced features for a better user experience. Features that include
- “Cliff detect sensors.”
- Advanced directional sensors.
- The edge-sweeping brush.
- The return to charging station feature.
- The smart app control feature.
Like the Roomba 960, the Roomba 890 model has an AeroForce Performance Cleaning System. This system lets the unit achieve a level of suction five times that of the fifth-generation Roomba models.
In addition to its incredible suction power, the Roomba 890 relies on a series of navigation sensors and specialty brushes (like the edge brush) to get a complete clean. This complete level of cleaning is improved by the addition of dirt detection sensors and the high-efficiency filter built into the vacuum.
It is important to note that the Roomba 890 comes with just one virtual wall barrier to guide the vacuum unit, and this can cause navigation obstacles. To get the most out of your 890, you want to invest in additional wall barrier units.
The purpose of the Roomba wall barrier is to confine the vacuum to a designated area. This confinement can be hard with just one barrier system.
There are multiple Roomba 800 models available, but the 890 is the newest and most advanced when it comes to features.
The Roomba 890 robot vacuum provides a great clean on both hard and carpeted flooring. It rarely has difficulty making the transition between the two.
The 890 relies on dual multi-surfaced brushes and edge-sweeping brush to funnel dirt into the path of suction. The different textured surfaces on the main brushes also keep debris from getting tangled and do a good job at sweeping debris of various consistencies. The edge-sweeping brush, set at a 27-degree angle, is also perfectly positioned to get grime from hard-to-reach corners and baseboards.
Unlike traditional vacuums, there is no need to change the mode of the unit when vacuuming to get clean hard floors and carpets. The Roomba 890 has an automatically adjusted cleaning head that ensures that the brushes of the vacuum are always in close contact with the floor for a better clean.
The Roomba 890 uses iAdapt navigation technology to navigate your home as it cleans. Rather than simply vacuuming back and forth in straight lines, the 890 uses an algorithm to map the area as it moves. When the vacuum hits an obstacle, it will map that obstacle and then continue to clean in another direction.
Using the iAdapt V1 navigation technology means that the 890 will continually clean your floors until it has covered the complete area to be cleaned or until it runs out of battery power. iAdapt V1 is a more intelligent system of navigation than simply cleaning in straight lines because it creates a map of the area so that the vacuum does not repeatedly hit the same obstacles or get trapped.
Charging Dock and Battery Power
The Roomba 890 comes with a “Home Base” charging station. When the vacuum battery is running low or when the vacuum has completed the current clean cycle, it will automatically return to this station to charge.
It takes two hours to charge the Roomba 890 battery, and once it is charged fully, the vacuum will run for 60 minutes. Roomba also claims that the 890 battery will last for 200 charges, and they do sell additional lithium-ion batteries.
The 890 uses one 1,800 mAh lithium battery that – as we mentioned above – iRobot claims to last for 200 charges.
The Roomba 890 has a collection bin that can hold around 1 ¼ cups of debris (which is fairly small compared to newer Roomba models.) Still, 1 ¼ cups of debris is around half the capacity of your traditional vacuum cleaner, so it is not all that bad.
When the bin of the vacuum is full, a warning light indicates the need for emptying. In addition to emptying the bin, you also need to periodically clean the sensor and the filter so that the vacuum can accurately gauge when it is full again. (This procedure does not take long, and Roomba has videos on their website to show you how to do it.)
The Roomba 890 uses a high-efficiency filter that is effective at capturing allergens and particles as small as 10 microns. In short, the filtration of the Roomba 890 is equal to the permanent filter in the average home.
Roomba recommends that you clean the filter once a week (more often if you have pets) and a complete replacement of the filter every two months. Filters are not too expensive to replace at this frequency and a year of filter maintenance comes to just under $20.
The Roomba 890 weighs 8.4 pounds – hefty for a small vacuum, but still less than half the weight of your average upright vacuum.
Weight for a vacuum robot serves a purpose though, and it is important to remember that if a robot vacuum is too lightweight, it has no purchase and will result in a shoddy cleaning job. Besides this, you will pick up your Roomba very infrequently, and since you do not have to manually guide the appliance, weight should be less of a limiting factor in your purchase.
How does the Roomba 890 perform?
The 890 is a powerful robot vacuum with a longer runtime than previous units which makes for a better clean overall.
A noticeable improvement on earlier models, the Roomba 890 uses dual brush rolls that pick up more debris and tangle with hair and carpet fringes much less frequently. If the vacuum does get tangled, it will even try to extract itself which is a definite plus!
We particularly like the side brushes on the 890 that clean the baseboards that are often neglected by traditional vacuums.
The 890 also integrates well with home smart hub devices which makes operation and control of the vacuum easier. App control of the vacuum also means that you can keep an eye on the unit as it cleans rather than come home to a vacuum that tangled up hours ago.
The Roomba 890 does fall short when it comes to navigation, though. While the iAdapt navigation system is a great improvement over previous Roomba models, it is not as “smart” as you might hope it to be. This along with the lack of edge sensors on the back of the unit, meaning that dirt and debris can sometimes get missed.
The Roomba 890 will set you back around $400. If you are interested in purchasing a refurbished unit, you can find one for between $200-$300.
It should be noted here, though, that cheaper refurbished Roomba units are not necessarily the best buy. Cheaper resellers are usually not certified resellers and that means that your Roomba warranty is void! So, make sure to purchase directly through an authorized reseller!
The Roomba 890 is expensive for an older Roomba unit and there is such little difference in the price of this unit and newer models, we are not sure we can justify the 890 as a purchase unless you are on a strict budget.
Overall, the Roomba 890 is a solid performer as far as robot vacuums go, but for the price, there are newer models available with many improved features for just a fraction more.
- Powerful suction.
- Improved runtime.
- Dual brush rolls make for better cleaning and less tangling.
- iAdapt mapping is an improvement on previous model navigation.
- Cost versus newer Roomba models.
- The navigation system is still lacking.
IS THE ROOMBA 890 FOR YOU?
The Roomba 890 may be for you if
- You want a sturdy middle-of-the-road robot vacuum from a reliable name.
- You have a smaller home.
- Your home has a closed floorplan.
- You cannot afford the extra money for more up-to-date Roomba models.
The Roomba 890 may not be a good choice for you if
- You want a robot vacuum that will tackle the whole level of your home.
- You want the most up to date robot vacuum model.
The Roomba 960 came out in late 2016 and is part of the seventh generation of robot vacuums from iRobot. Like the 890, the 960 is a more powerful machine than early sixth-generation models as it also features the “AeroForce Performance Cleaning System.”
The 960 also features better navigation than the 890 even though the 960 preceded the 890’s release date. Another unique feature that separates the 960 from the 890 is that the 960 includes the ability to clean a complete level of the home in one cycle.
Like the Roomba 890, the Roomba 960 model uses the AeroForce Performance Cleaning System that exceeds any of the early sixth-generation Roomba vacuums by five times.
In addition to a more intuitive navigation system and the ability to clean the whole level of the home, the 960 incorporates a new edge cleaning mode. The edge-cleaning mode means that the edges of your carpet come up cleaner because the vacuum can come into closer contact with walls.
Like the Roomba 890, though, the 960 also only comes with just one virtual wall barrier to guide the vacuum unit as it cleans. This is particularly inconvenient for those people who live in open floorplan homes because it limits how much space can be closed off from the vacuum as it is cleaning.
The Roomba 960 robot vacuum tackles both hard and carpeted flooring easily and makes quick work of baseboards and corners too. It is also worth noting that the 960 has no trouble transitioning between different topographical areas.
Similar to the 890, the 960 uses dual multi-surfaced brushes as well as an edge sweeping brush to funnel dirt into the vacuum. As the 960 uses the same brushes like the 860, there is little to no difference in general cleaning ability between the two units.
The Roomba 960 also features self-adjusting brushes that make cleaning hard floors and carpets easy and eliminate the need to adjust settings for different carpet depths.
Where the 960 does differ from the 890 is that it features an edge-cleaning mode that has the vacuum to focus on those hard-to-reach places. Plus, with additional navigation cameras built into the unit, the 960 does get a better clean.
The Roomba 960 uses iAdapt V2 navigation technology to navigate around your home. Where the 890 used a somewhat random mapping technique to navigate as it cleaned, the 960 uses straight back and forth sweeps.
In addition to more advanced navigation software, the 960 also has added cameras on the rear edges of the vacuum unit. These extra cameras help the unit to better map the room as it cleans.
Another bonus that comes with the Roomba 960 vacuum model is that it uses memory mapping. Using sensors, the vacuum creates a map of the room and stores that map in memory for future reference to make future cleaning more accurate.
Compared to iAdapt version 1, version 2 is a more logical system and it even allows for the vacuum to resume a scheduled clean where it stopped after docking in the charging station to recharge.
Charging Dock and Battery Power
The Roomba 960 also comes with a “Home Base” charging station. Like the 890, when the vacuum battery is running low or when the vacuum has completed the current clean cycle, it will automatically return to this station to charge. Unlike the 890, the 960 can also resume duty after charging.
It takes two hours to charge the Roomba 960 battery, and once it is fully charged the vacuum can run for an hour and 15 minutes. Roomba also claims that the 960 battery will last for two-hundred charges and they do sell additional lithium-ion batteries.
The 960 uses a 2,600 mAh lithium battery that – as we mentioned above – iRobot claims to last for four-hundred charges.
The Roomba 960 has a collection bin that can hold around 1 ¼ cups of debris – that is the same size as the bin on the 890. Like the 890, the 960 also features a full bin light and requires periodic cleaning of the sensors and filter for accurate cleaning.
The Roomba 960 uses the same high-efficiency filter like the 890, so the level of filtration and the cost of filter maintenance for the year is the same.
The Roomba 960 weighs 8.5 pounds – a negligible 0.1 pound heavier than the Roomba 890. Again, this is hefty for a robot vacuum, but should not be the main deterrent for purchasing either of these units.
How does the Roomba 960 perform?
The Roomba 960 has the same level of suction and filtration as the 890 but it offers a longer runtime and an edge cleaning function which improves overall performance.
Like the Roomba 890, the 960 does not tangle easily due to the unique brush system it uses. This brush system paired with the upgraded navigation of the 960 and onboard cameras gives the 960 an edge over the newer 890.
What really makes the 960 stand out, though, is the charge and return feature that allows the unit to resume a cleaning program after stopping to charge. In comparison, the Roomba 890 simply stops to charge itself and does not restart.
Like the 890, the 960 also integrates well with home smart hub devices including Alexa and the Google hub.
Where the Roomba 890 falls short in navigation, the 960 excels. In fact, the biggest fault we find with the Roomba 960 is that it lacks features of more recently released Roomba models. For example, the carpet boosts feature on the 980 provides better cleaning power on high-piled carpets.
The Roomba 960 will set you back between $400-$450. You also have the option of purchasing a refurbished 960 for between $300-$350.
The Roomba 960 is a solid Roomba unit that offers all of the perks of a Roomba vacuum with very few drawbacks. The 960 performs well, consistently cleans, and comes at half the price of the newest Roomba robot vacuum model.
- Powerful suction.
- Better runtime.
- More effective cleaning through navigation mapping.
- Charge and resume to program feature.
- Lacks some of the newer Roomba features
IS THE ROOMBA 960 FOR YOU?
The Roomba 960 may be for you if
- You want a sturdy robot vacuum from a reliable name but do not want to pay the price for newer models.
- You have a smaller to medium-sized home.
- You want a robot vacuum that can tackle a full level of cleaning.
- You are tired of your current Roomba stopping mid-clean to charge and not resuming.
The Roomba 960 may not be a good choice for you if
- You want the most up to date features of newer Roomba vacuums.
So, which of these Roomba robot vacuums is the winner?
The Roomba 960!
It should come as no surprise that we picked the Roomba 960 over the 890. Even though the 960 came to market before the 890, it has a much more intuitive navigation system and gives a better clean overall.
Although the 960 has the same level of suction behind it, the improved battery life and the addition of on-board cameras mean cleaner carpets and you cannot turn your nose up at that!
The Roomba 960 also features that nifty charge and resume feature that is missing from the 890 and it makes a big difference if you have larger sized areas to clean. No one wants to come home to a half-vacuumed room!
If there is anything that we want to see added to the Roomba 960, it would be the carpet boost feature that the newer Roomba models have for improved cleaning on high-pile carpets. We would also like a bigger collection bin but understand that this is not necessarily practical given the compact size of robot vacuums!
IS THE ROOMBA 960 THE BEST ROBOT VACUUM ROOMBA HAS TO OFFER?
Roomba is continually adding to their robot vacuum lineup which means that they regularly add features that improve upon previous models. And, while we like the Roomba 960 for all it has to offer, it is not currently the best Roomba product on the market.
The S9+ is the top-of-the-line Roomba vacuum. Why does the S9+ outrank the 960? It incorporates features like
- 40 times the suction power of the 600-series Roomba vacuums.
- A three-stage cleaning system for better stain removal.
- Carpet boost technology.
- A wider corner brush for better cleaning.
- Improved navigation that allows the unit to build smart maps of your home.
- The ability to empty itself for up to sixty days.
- A better filtration system.
Considering that there is a three-year gap between the release of the Roomba 960 and the S9+, it is no wonder that the S9+ has more advanced features and gives a better clean. With that said, the S9+ certainly is not priced for the average home budget. You can expect to pay close to a thousand dollars for one of these newer priced units…that is, if you can find one in stock.
THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO BUY A ROOMBA
Is there a best time of year to buy a Roomba? Yes! But it might not be when you think!
Like many companies, Roomba offers discounts on their robot vacuums during Christmas and Black Friday, but this is not necessarily the time when you can expect to see the best prices. Experts suggest that the best time to shop for your new Roomba is in the spring – more specifically from March through until May.
During springtime “spring fever” runs wild and many companies take advantage of this urge to clean out the old and welcome in the new by offering discounts on cleaning products and appliances – Roomba included!
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I’m Jason Moe Roberts, an appliances expert and blogger. I’ve worked at Walmart for more than 15 years, in the house appliance department. I love to use home equipment and I spend a lot of time testing the best products and reviewing them. My family and friends also recommend me as a caring person, a great dad and a loving husband.