After 11 years and dozens of models, the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has seen plenty of improvements. iRobot has just unveiled the 800 series, and the cleaner-bot has a significant design change: no more big brushes.
The 880's AeroForce cleaning technology is the subject of what's probably the most over-the-top robotic vacuum cleaner video ever produced, embedded below. The music alone makes it worth a watch.
AeroForce is essentially two treaded rubber rollers in Roomba's belly that spin in opposite directions. Angled treads on the rollers enhance the sucking power of the air flow by creating a sealed channel to the floor.
iRobot says this cleans up to 50 percent more dirt, hair, and debris than previous models.
CNET's detailed review of the Roomba 880 shows than it cleans significantly better than the 790 and rival bots when it comes to sucking up rice, but it doesn't do as well as the cheaper Neato XV Signature Pro in tests with pet hair and a mix of sand and sawdust.
While the extractors tangle less with pet hair than the long brushes in previous Roombas, they still choke on long hair shed by pets even though iRobot says the 880 is "virtually maintenance free" (see pics here).
At $699, the 880 outdoes many of its competitors but remains an expensive supplement to the best upright vacuums, which are often a hassle to use but more effective at cleaning.
Still, no upright can do double duty as a cat chariot. That's where Roomba wins paws down. Now if only cats could star in in the vid below.