When you imagine of robot vacuums, you think about iRobot’s Roomba line. Even though the business’s high-end models are impressive, the entry-level Roomba 690 ($374.99) offers a whole lot of value for approximately half the price. Not merely does it feature Wi-Fi connectivity and iphone app control, it supports voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant aswell. The $220 Eufy RoboVac 11 can not be beat on price, and remains our Editors’ Choice for affordable robot vacuums. But if you are looking to take the next phase up, the Roomba 690 is a superb choice.

Design
Circular in form, the Roomba 690 includes a black-and-silver body that measures 13.0 inches wide and 3.7 inches tall. That’s nearly the same size as the Bissell SmartClean 1974, which is merely just a little shorter at 3.4 inches. The RoboVac 11 may be the shortest of the bunch, at 3.0 inches. The 690 will be able to clean under most furniture, though it could have a problem with very low-profile couches and cabinets. At 7.4 pounds, the vacuum is somewhat hefty because of its size-the SmartClean and RoboVac 11 are both lighter at 5.5 and 5.8 pounds, respectively-but you don’t need to lift it much.

Along with the vacuum, you will discover a sizable silver Clean button that starts, pauses, and ends each session. Below that you will discover a home icon that sends the robot back again to its dock. Above this is a spot cleaning icon, and above a backlit panel teaches you errors, Wi-Fi connectivity, and battery status.

A removable dustbin is found in the trunk of the bot, as the front houses the RCON sensor (room confinement) and bumper. Underneath, you will discover cliff sensors, charging contacts, a front roller, two main wheels, two roller brushes, and a side brush.

The Roomba 690 includes a charging dock and a dual-mode virtual wall beacon (pictured). The virtual wall runs on four AA batteries, contained in the box. Weighed against the big block you get with the Bobsweep Pet Hair Plus, the Roomba’s virtual wall is smaller plus much more intuitive to use. It’s a slim, squarish tower with a switch in the trunk that enables you to toggle between two modes. In the event that you slide it up, it emits a 10-foot digital barrier to keep carefully the vacuum out of rooms and spaces you do not want to buy to enter. If you slide it down, it generates a circular “halo” barrier with a four-foot diameter. That is useful for owners, as you can stick it near water and food bowls to keep carefully the Roomba from knocking them over since it cleans.

Setup and App
Obtaining the Roomba 690 ready is a bit of a cake. Once you have plugged in the dock, all you need to accomplish is flip over the vacuum and grab the yellow plastic tab protruding from the battery. Then just stick the robot on the dock and allow it charge before battery is full-about three hours.

When that’s done, download the iRobot software from the Apple App Store or Google Play and follow the on-screen prompts to create a merchant account and pair the robot over Wi-Fi (it only supports the two 2.4GHz band).

The iphone app itself is streamlined and intuitive. There’s only 1 button on the key screen: Clean. Pressing it’ll activate the Roomba, and you could do it regardless if you’re not on a single Wi-Fi network (to help you turn it on if you are at work, for example). In the most notable right corner, you will keep an eye on battery life. In the bottom of the screen, there are three other menus: Lifetime Performance Log, Weekly Schedule, and More.

Lifetime Performance Log is accurately what it sounds like-a record of your entire Roomba’s cleanings. You can view stats just like the number of jobs, total duration, and just how many times it fired up its Dirt Detect feature. Also you can consider the individual stats for each and every job. The Weekly Schedule tab is pretty self-explanatory and simple. You merely choose the days and time you want the Roomba to completely clean. The More tab is to purchase the Locate Roomba button. When pressed, the Roomba will play just a little ditty that will help you think it is. It’s also where you will discover care instructions, FAQs, videos, manuals, and settings.

Alexa, Start My Roomba
All you have to accomplish is choose the Connected Home menu in the iphone app and these devices of your decision to find simple instructions to permit voice control. I’ve an Amazon Echo Dot in the home, therefore i tested the 690 using Alexa voice commands.

The process is easy. All you have to accomplish is open the Amazon Alexa app, visit the Skills menu, select iRobot Home, and hit the Enable button. Once you have done that one could start or stop a clean, tell the Roomba to return to its dock, require status updates, and have the vacuum where it really is, during your Alexa device.

Used, the voice commands are easy to use and generally work very well. I only experienced snags easily tried to issue commands out of order. For example, easily first asked the Roomba to dock and asked it to avoid, Alexa would tell me that the bot wasn’t running-even as I watched it navigate around my furniture looking for the dock. That is clearly a normal and fairly common quirk of using Alexa to control smart home gadgets, it just takes some used to.

Performance
I tested the 690 over weekly within my apartment. Suction is fairly powerful. After a 70-minute cleaning session, I was very happy to find the dustbin brimming to capacity. But although it sucked up a whole lot of dirt, dust, and hair, it had some trouble navigating around my living room rug. Sometimes it had difficulty getting together with the rug, that was surprising since it’s a comparatively low pile. But to the vacuum’s credit, if it had been having difficulty it sometimes turned around and reversed onto the rug instead.

However, I frequently received push notifications saying the Roomba was stuck by a cliff, when it had been sitting safely on or near my flat rug. That could be as a result of my rug’s Georgia O’Keefe-inspired geometric patterns and black border. Robotic vacuums with infrared sensors commonly include warnings that they could not are well on dark flooring. According to iRobot, the 690’s cliff sensors will often confuse dark colors as an advantage or stair. There’s sadly not much that can be done, apart from move it to some other location. I experienced the same issue while testing the Bissell SmartClean 1974 and the Bobsweep PetHair Plus.

While vacuums just like the Eufy RoboVac 11 can safely trawl near or higher cables without eating them up, that isn’t the case with the Roomba. When I wasn’t looking, it sucked up two of the charging cords under my desk. This is the very first time a robot vacuum got into that area, therefore i hadn’t considered to clear it beforehand. Thankfully, removing the cables was easy-though I didn’t get yourself a push notification from the robot telling me what happened.

Furthermore to eating up a few of my cords (none which were damaged), the vacuum tends to push objects around. Some stray shoes and the casual shopping bag finished up in various rooms for the reason that Roomba brought them along for a ride. You should use the virtual wall to cordon off any issue areas, but you will still want to make certain the ground is relatively clear.

Battery life is decent. On a complete charge, the Roomba 690 lasted about 70 minutes. That was enough to completely clean my living room, kitchen, hallway, and part of my bedroom. It’s superior to the 45 minutes you get with the Dyson 360 Eye on maximum power.

For docking, the 690 isn’t the best at finding its in the past. I tried telling it to dock 3 ways: with Alexa, with the button on the robot itself, and with the app. Every time, it wandered off in the actual opposite direction of the docking station. EASILY picked it up and put it near to the station, it were able to reorient itself and docked successfully. But without my guiding hand, the bot finished up on offer in circles and bumping into walls looking for home.

That brings me to some other small disappointment: having less app-based steering controls. I would’ve appreciated the opportunity to tell the Roomba where you can go from my phone, as picking it up and positioning it where it requires to go is a tad cumbersome.

Lastly, the Roomba 690 is noisy, though that’s just about the case with almost every robot vacuum available to buy. You will not want to take any calls as the bot is cleaning, but it’s no louder when compared to a traditional standing vacuum.