Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum Review
If you look around, then you find plenty of iRobot Roomba 614 review content that positions this as an entry-level gadget aimed primarily at those who haven't previously ever used a smart vacuum before. However, if you look at user experience stories you might get the idea that it's a vacuum that can conquer everything in your home without so much as balking at the walls. Both of these stories can't be telling the whole story, so we wanted to take a closer look at things in order to see whether the 614 was a beginner's toy or ready to go toe-to-toe with the heaviest hitters in the field of smart home automation.
AeroVac technology might sound like marketing buzz, but it really does help to pull hair and dirt off the brushes then deposit it back into the dust cup. The process fills the bin more evenly while keeping the rollers free of carpet fuzz and pet hair. This technology also comes with a special filter that helps to make the cleaning process that much more efficient.
A number of firmware updates combined with more sensitive sensors translate into a system that doesn't get confused nearly as often as previous models did. While navigational problems can still cause some havoc for homeowners with unusual floor layouts, the 614 can usually find a way out of most jams without needing outside assistance. Even though the manufacturer recommends using the unit only at times you're home, this would be an important feature for those who are considering the somewhat questionable prospect of unattended operation.
While it's not something that many users might notice just by looking at the device, the wheel encoders are sealed to keep dust from getting trapped inside of them. Users of the 400 series of Roomba vacuums often have to blow dust out of the wheel cavities in order to keep these encoders clean, but introducing moisture into the equipment this way can contribute to the system wearing out more quickly. The fact that these encoders are sealed will help the 614 to last much longer than previous models do.
What We Like
While some might say that the benefit of having a robotic smart vacuum is that it cleans based on a specific schedule, we did like the fact that the robot has a discrete button that sends it out for immediate cleaning. This is very useful for when the kitchen is littered with crumbs and you need to send your smart cleaner out right away. The three-stage cleaning system combined with dual multi-surface brushes work as well as iRobot's marketing team claim. They're designed to whisk away everything from small particles to big chunks of dried dirt. This makes them useful for areas where consistent amounts of mud make it difficult to keep things clean.
While these brushes don't handle wet messes, they're more than capable of taking on dirt balls after they've dried up and cracked. The brushes help to remove sand and other particulate matter from carpeting, too. If you live in an area where sand gets tracked into your home, then this should be a big help. It can also help if you live in an area where salt is sprayed on the roads in winter months, since this tends to find its way inside too.
What We Did Not Like
We didn't like the fact that the bottom of the unit starts to develop a certain amount of static charge after a while. This charge builds up until pet hair begins sticking to the bezel instead of being vacuumed up. This doesn't seem to happen very much in homes with only one type of floor covering, which means more than likely the charge gets generated while rubbing across carpets then returning to hard flooring. There are also some quality control issues that iRobot seems to have corrected. Some units listed in Roomba 614 review content from users were apparently among the ones that exhibited these issues.
Detailed Roomba 614 Review
Carpet Cleaning Performance
More than a few users have said that the brushes clean carpets so deeply that they only have to pull out their upright vacuum maybe once a month. It seems that a majority of controlled tests support this fact, which makes the 614 ideal for those who have carpeting throughout their homes. Like most other robotic vacuums, it struggles to clean carpets with extremely deep piles. This is a problem that's likely not to be corrected soon, but it shouldn't be too much of an issue for homeowners simply because this sort of thing isn't as fashionable as it once was.
Fortunately, the 614 is gentle enough that it shouldn't pull up threads even if it is running on fairly thick carpeting. The rollers won't catch smaller threads either. These are problems with upright vacuums that have apparently been corrected in this smaller smart cousin, which means you might end up getting better performance out of the Roomba 614 than you would from whatever kind of vacuum you're currently using.
Automatically adjusting cleaning heads make sure that the vacuum is positioned just right for the type of carpeting that it senses underneath the rollers. This is one aspect that makes it relatively easy to switch between different carpet piles. The brushes should adjust themselves if they end up back on regular hard flooring as well.
Performance On Hardwood And Laminate Flooring
The dual multi-surface brushes really start to shine on harder types of flooring. Laminates that are extremely slick tend to slip up some types of smart vacuums, but the 614 has wheels that can track over them and still get things nice and clean. You shouldn't notice any tread marks either when cleaning these types of floors.
Due to these gentle wheels, you won't have to worry too much about whether or not the Roomba 614 will cause any damage to genuine hardwoods. It should be soft enough for even bamboo floors in a majority of cases. The manufacturer recommends that you run the vacuum over a small inconspicuous area to test it before you let it do everything to your hardwood floors. Nevertheless, it seemed to work fine in most test cases. It vacuums hardwood floors faster than carpets in most situations.
Pet Hair Removal
AeroVac filters do a decent job of handling lint as well as the majority of pet hair, which makes this a good option for pet owners. It sucks up dander even when mixed with other pet coat droppings like dead skin. While this might not be the most attractive thing to think about, the Roomba 614 picks up pretty much everything in that respect so you won't have to spend time looking around when your pet is shedding. Some consumers have even mentioned that their pets like to ride on top of it, but just like unattended operation this isn't part of iRobot's specification for what they intended their design to get used for. The engineers who designed it never thought anyone would think of using it as a kitten's surfboard.
If you plan on vacuuming a great deal of pet hair or even regular dirt, then you should make sure that your Roomba has a clear path to work with. The following video shows a Roomba 614 struggling around a television stand, some music holders and a small rug that holds shoes:
You might have more cat hair and less rock band equipment than the individual in this test video had, but the basic principle remains the same. The Roomba 614 is able to find a way around but it cleans up messes much more efficiently if it has the right kind of path.
While many consumers talk about using their smart vacuums to entertain their animals in their Roomba 614 review content, keep in mind that some pets might actually be rather afraid of the Roomba 614. It's not particularly loud, but the brush motion is enough to frighten younger puppies or kittens. You might want to put them in another room while your robot cleans up to avoid getting tooth marks in it.
Ease Of Use
Due at least in part to the relative lack of functionality, the Roomba 614 is extremely easy to use. There are only a few discrete controls on the top of the unit that provide instant access to all features of the unit. Pushing the center button will force the unit to wake up and vacuum however large an area it sees fit to move around in. The two other buttons control spot cleaning and docking. You won't have to use the dock button in most cases.
The Roomba docks automatically when it finishes cleaning up or when it needs to charge up the battery pack. Unfortunately, as a result of the ongoing drama involving iRobot's battery packs, this might happen too often for your liking. Roomba units in general eat through their batteries quickly. All 614 units come with enhanced battery packs that aren't as anemic as those that used to ship with iRobot's cleaning units. That being said, they still run through juice quickly compared to some of the competition.
Scheduling and smart home automation are complicated issues to discuss when it comes to the Roomba 614, simply because it lacks them almost entirely. Some users were actually perturbed because Amazon's promotion of the project insinuates that it works with their Alexa digital assistant. Instead, you simply push the clean button and let the unit go to town. Confusingly, iRobot actually promoted this unit as having a scheduler when the overwhelming majority of Roomba 614 devices ship without any such functionality.
In order to allow for unintended operation, some users will push this button and then leave the premises. This really isn't a good idea, since the Roomba 614 could get trapped somewhere. These scheduling issues are more than likely the reason that some people have said that this unit is little more than a toy. That's unfair because it does have a great deal to offer those who don't mind telling their robot when it needs to clean the house. However, it is disappointing that iRobot's technicians didn't add scheduling functions when they completely redesigned this robot.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The AeroVac filtration system makes it easy to maintain the rollers, since you won't have too much material gathering around them at any given time. You will need to empty the dust bin, which comes off of the main body when you move a clip. The unit itself isn't difficult to maintain, in part because of a lack of functionality. While beginners will appreciate that they don't have to do much to it, this should also attract those who like to use the simplest option at all times. There's a saying among engineers that the simplest solution to a problem is always the best, and this is a good example of that principle.
Due to the use of plastic rivets to hold the device together, you won't be able to tighten anything yourself if the shell comes loose. DIY homeowners won't like this fact, but the plastic rivets do hold together well enough that this shouldn't be an issue. You'll want to be aware, though, that if anything goes wrong you'll have to send it back to iRobot.
If you want to take advantage of the warranty, then you'll need to register your unit. This also comes with a few other benefits, such as ensuring that you're working with the genuine article. The manufacturer allows users to create an iRobot account, which makes warranty claims much easier. This should also make ordering replacement parts easier too.
Should you ever need to ship the unit back to them for a warranty claim, then make sure that you pack it well. The limited warranty doesn't cover any damage that iRobot deems was caused during shipping as a result of inadequate packaging. Filters, brushes and batteries aren't covered under this warranty. It's important to note that these are the items that wear out the fastest in most situations.
Those who continue to say that the Roomba 614 is simply an entry-level gadget are being disingenuous. It does have a lot to offer those who don't mind a complete lack of scheduling functionality. The simple design makes it relatively durable compared to units that come with many more bells and whistles. If you're a homeowner who cares more about cleaning up gobs of pet hair than setting an automatic schedule, then you might like the Roomba 614. Those who are looking for more in the way of smart device integration will have to look elsewhere.