New Roomba Vacuums Tackle Pet-Hair Woes
Sadly, my old Roomba Red robot vacuum cleaner is now collecting dust—and not in the way it’s supposed to. Its rechargeable battery no longer recharges, and iRobot charges $70 for a replacement. I figure that’s money I might as well put toward a newer model. And now I’m sorely tempted: today Bedford, MA-based iRobot launched two new Roomba models designed especially for homes with hairy pets.
When my old Roomba was still kicking, it was a huge blessing, since I have a long-haired Australian Shepherd who sheds copiously. My only complaints about the device were that its dirt bin filled up with hair so fast, and that I had to pick dog hair out of the brushes after every outing. Cleaning the brushes was so time-consuming that it almost canceled out the convenience of having a robotic vacuum.
The new Roomba 532 features improvements intended to address those two issues. It has an additional “sweeper bin” that’s 3.5 times the size of the old vacuum bin, as well as an extra set of brushes and special cleaning tools for keeping the brushes hair-free. According to the company, the 532 also has “counter-rotating brushes” that “reach deep into carpets to pull out pet hair and dander.” I’m already salivating.
The new Roomba 562 has everything the 532 has, plus one more set of brushes, a more capacious battery, and an on-board scheduling feature, allowing owners to program the vacuum to sweep automatically up to seven times a week, returning to its home base to recharge when it’s done. The Roomba 532 goes for $349 and the 562 is priced at $399.
Of course, while many people buy Roombas to clean up after their pets, there’s another group of iRobot customers who buy them to entertain their pets. (John Landry, the former CTO of Lotus who’s now in the venture capital business, let slip after a recent Xconomy forum that he’s one of the latter.) So far, iRobot hasn’t come out with a robot tailored especially for the latter group—unless you count the ConnectR, a “virtual visiting” robot that the company is currently beta-testing with a limited group of users and that can be used, according to iRobot’s marketing materials, to “tell Fido he’s a ‘good boy’ even while you’re on vacation.”
The company did, however, bring out one more Roomba model today: the new $599 “Roomba 610 Professional Series” robot (pictured at left), designed to vacuum large areas like offices or retail spaces. It comes with interchangeable sweeper bins—so that you can swap a full one for an empty one without delaying the robot in its appointed rounds, apparently—and it’s capable of using up more of its battery power before automatically returning to its recharging station.