Roomba is practically synonymous with robot vacuums, but what many persons have no idea is that there is not just one single definitive model. The line spans from the $375 Roomba 690 to the $900 Roomba 980. The $700 Roomba 960, the main topic of this review, falls somewhere in the centre, though obviously its price puts its nearer to the top quality. It shares lots of the same features with the top-of-the-line 980-like a camera for navigation, a smartphone iphone app with detailed cleaning reports and maps, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control-but includes only 1 virtual wall and includes a slightly less powerful motor. That means it is a better value inside our eyes, and our Editors’ Choice for high-end robot vacuums.

Roomba 960 vs. Roomba 980
The only visual difference between your Roomba 960 and 980 is color. Your body of the 960 is a lighter gray, but the rest may be the same. They both measure 13.8 inches in diameter and stand 3.6 inches tall. Controls are in the same spots, with a huge Clean button flanked by Home and Spot Cleaning buttons. Indicator lights can be found above the buttons, while a camera for navigation sits at the very top center. Underneath, you will also find the same components: two roller brushes, a side brush, cliff sensors, and a front wheel. The removable dustbin is positioned in the back.

Where in fact the two bots differ is in weight. The 8.5-pound 960 is a smidge lighter compared to the 8.7-pound 980. That’s since it includes a different motor-the identical to the main one in the older Roomba 880. Another difference is battery. While we found the 980 can zoom around for 90 minutes, the 960 peters out after about 70. The 980 also includes two virtual walls, as the 960 includes only 1.

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The Roomba 960 has Wi-Fi connectivity (on the two 2.4GHz band only). Like other recent Roombas, you control the 960 using the iRobot Home app, that you can find in the Apple App Store and Google Play. It walks you through setup process and connecting to Wi-Fi, which is identical across all models. You can read more about this, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, in my own overview of the Roomba 690.

One of the key variations between your 690 and the 960 is that the 960 includes a Cleaning Preferences menu, which enables you to customize the quantity of times it cleans an individual room. Also, in the Lifetime Performance menu, you will see more descriptive stats about each session, including total area cleaned. And it supports iRobot’s Clean Map feature, which enables you to visit a map of where in fact the robot has vacuumed. You still can’t steer the Roomba using the app, however.

Most robot vacuums choose random cleaning patterns, which is often frustrating to watch because they ignore evident dust bunnies and only cleaning the same spot again and again. That is true of the 690, however the 960 is a lot more methodical in its approach.

I tested the Roomba 960 within my apartment and was impressed by how deftly it maneuvered around furniture and obstacles. Because of the camera, it didn’t bang into table legs or bookshelves, and frequently, I would view it pause momentarily since it calculated where you can move next. As the Bobsweep Bobi Pet knocked over among my dining area chairs and the Roomba 690 pushed a shopping bag across my hallway, the 960 left things because they were. So when you should still clear the floors of cables and liquids ahead of cleaning, you don’t need to bend over backwards decluttering.

The 960 can be much better than average at moving across different floor types. My living room rug includes a black border and dark geometric shapes, and has tripped up a great many other vacuums in testing, like the Roomba 690. THEREFORE I was very happy to see this wasn’t a concern for the 960. It had been able to reliably can get on and off the rug without trouble. The same held true for the transition between wood and tile from my hallway to my kitchen.

That’s not to state it’s perfect, however. Although it could work its way underneath my TV stand, it got stuck under there and wasn’t in a position to find its in the past out. You can defend against problem areas such as this with the included virtual wall, which enables you to cordon off certain spaces.

One issue with methodical cleaners just like the 960 is they often times only pass over a location once. Nevertheless, you can set it to create two passes in an area, which I found found any stray debris it could have missed the 1st time. So as the 960 does not have quite the same suction power as the 980, it still does a fantastic, thorough job of cleaning your floors. The 980’s biggest cleaning draw is its Carpet Boost feature, which enables you to arrive the suction on rugs and carpeting.

For noise, the 960 is surprisingly quiet. You’ll definitely see it if you are in the same room, but it’s much quieter than your traditional stick vacuum. Up to now, only the Eufy RoboVac 11 has been quieter in testing.

At about 70-75 minutes, battery life isn’t the longest we’ve encountered, but it’s fine for smaller homes, especially apartments. Due to the methodical method of cleaning, the 960 could do two runs through my living room, hallway, kitchen, and bedroom in about 45 minutes. In addition, it didn’t have any trouble automatically docking. Once I told Alexa to send the robot back, it made a beeline straight for the docking station.

Although it certainly isn’t cheap, weighed against the $1,000 Dyson 360 Eye and the $900 Roomba 980, the Roomba 960 is a superb deal. For $700, you get yourself a lot of advanced functions, such as a camera for better navigation, Wi-Fi, voice assistant compatibility, and iRobot’s Clean Map visualizations.

If you’re torn between your Roomba 960 and 980, it boils right down to two factors: Your floors and how big is your home. If you don’t have a big, heavily carpeted home, then your 980’s Carpet Boost, extra virtual wall beacon, and longer battery life aren’t quite enough to justify spending an extra $200. That is why the 960 beats out the 980 as our Editors’ Choice for high-end robot vacuums.

If $700 for the 960 is merely an excessive amount of, however, there are less expensive Roombas out there. These Roomba 690 is under $400, and you still get yourself a powerful clean, software control, and voice command capability. The 890 is slightly more costly at $500, and gets the same features as the 690 plus a better motor. Neither supports Clean Map reports, but that’s more of a perk when compared to a necessity.