While it might not adhere to the Three Laws of Robotics like the name suggests, the iRobot Roomba 360 features a set of sensors that make it preform somewhat like the robots from Asimov’s futuristic stories.
These sensors give it the ability to detect dirty spots on floors while also preventing some of the navigational problems that other robot vacuums have.
Many users like to modify their units, but we decided to do an iRobot Roomba 860 review based on the stock configuration.
- More powerful than previous models
- Uses powerful Aeroforce suction technology
- Easy to configure
- Plenty of documentation
- Capable of removing pet hair
- Finds way around table legs
- Sometimes deposits clumps while cleaning
- Battery life tends to be short
- Replacement batteries are expensive
- No obvious cleaning pattern
- Malfunctions if dustbin not emptied
AeroForce technology, as iRobot sometimes calls the new implementation of their suction motor, makes the Roomba 800 series up to five times as powerful than the previous robot vacuums in the line. This is especially important for pet owners, who may have dander strewn about in places that it would be difficult to get to with a regular vacuum.
The fact that the 860 is smaller than some similar models makes this even more impressive. Virtual Wall and Lighthouse modes give you the option of setting boundary lines for the Roomba 860, which should keep it out of places you don’t want your gadget to go.
The documentation pamphlet that comes with the unit even goes into a beefy dissertation about creative ways to use imaginary barriers to make the cleaning process more efficient. Simple construction makes it very easy to clean the Roomba 860.
All it takes to clean out the brush is the removal of a single screw. Once again, this should please pet owners who have a tendency to get pet fur trapped in the rollers of regular upright vacuum cleaners.
What Did We Like?
The small control panel is very easy to use, and we loved how simple setting a schedule is. You simply tap in a time and date for cleaning the same way you set a schedule on a programmable thermostat.
Unlike most other robot vacuum cleaners we’ve tried, the Roomba 890 doesn’t wig out when it comes to a major obstacle.
If it comes across something that it can’t traverse like a throw rug, then it will simply treat it as a wall. It also won’t choke if it swallows anything that it can’t suck into the dust cup.
What We Did Not Like?
Engineers from iRobot claim to have completely redesigned the battery, but it still doesn’t last all that long and replacements are rather expensive. Some customers seem to prefer third-party replacements as a result, since they’re less expensive.
We also didn’t like that iRobot skimped on wireless connectivity in this model. Users who want digital assistant or smart home integration options will probably have to upgrade to the Roomba 890 or 900.
Roomba 860 Review
Carpet Cleaning Performance
When cleaning carpets, the Roomba 860 has a tendency to run rather loudly. Users of the older 650 series will find that it tends to still be quieter than these older models. Since it doesn’t have multi-room navigation, the robotic vacuum will simply move about in a very erratic pattern.
While it will eventually cover the entire room, it might take some time doing so as it has to run back and forth over the carpets multiple times to get things clean.
Carpeting with a particularly high pile tends to present a challenge to the Roomba 860, which can’t really handle that classic 1970s shag style. This isn’t a limitation that’s unique to this particular model.
Since all robotic vacuums currently seem to struggle with thick carpeting, it shouldn’t be counted against it. On the plus side, the 860 is a very gentle robot. It won’t cause unnecessary wear and tear on rugs or permanent carpeting with low piles, which means you can use it more frequently than you ever did with an upright vacuum.
Some homeowners allow messes to accumulate over time because they don’t want to risk causing any damage to their carpets by vacuuming them too often. This isn’t as much of an issue with this kind of a vacuum cleaner.
Performance On Hardwood And Laminate Flooring
Due to the unique size and shape of the Roomba 860, it can clean most types of wood and laminate flooring better than a regular vacuum cleaner. Most vacuums aren’t designed to handle these types of surfaces. If you tend to track dirt into a home and it collects on hard floors, then the Roomba should be able to gobble it up no problem. Some users set a schedule that gives messes ample time to dry before they send their robotic vacuum out.
The unit usually cleans better when dirt is dry, though it will do the best job it can with sloppier conditions. It even does a pretty good job picking up particulate matter like sand if the matter is dry enough to get easily vacuumed away. Soil and hair makes up a majority of what regular vacuums have to take care of. While it doesn’t perform as brilliantly as some of iRobot’s more expensive models, the rollers power over anything that they can gobble up.
You shouldn’t find too much material getting stuck in the rollers as a result. Should this robot come across anything that it can’t gobble up, then it might pause for a moment or two as it attempts to detect what it is. If you spilled paper clips or utensils on a hardwood floor, then the Roomba 860 might initially try to pick them up before spitting them all out as a defense mechanism. Larger objects might scare the unit away altogether.
While this might seem like an inconvenience, it tends to be a good deal better than the alternative. Few people want to have to try and realign the brushes and motors inside of a miniaturized digital vacuum cleaner, so this might very well be one of the best features of the Roomba 860 as ironic as that sounds.
Pet Hair Removal
A few special features help make the 860 vacuum a step ahead of the competition when it comes to cleaning up pet hair. Self-adjusting cleaning heads adapt to any floor surface, which really helps when it comes to cleaning up several different rooms with pet dander in them.
While the room-to-room navigation feature isn’t a true multi-room cleaning implementation, it will certainly allow the 860 to follow a path of pet hair between different areas.
This is important for anyone who has a dog that loves to run circles while chasing a ball inside. Extra spinning side brushes reach into corner areas where pet hair tends to congregate.
These should also be able to run along the edges of walls without too much difficulty. An onboard HEPA filter keeps the unit from spreading around any pollen that a pet might have picked up outside.
While it doesn’t automatically switch between attachments in the same way that you’d be able to when working with an upright vacuum cleaner, the 860 does a pretty good job with the onboard edging device. It might need a few extra passes if pet hair has been allowed to build over a long period of time.
Ease of Use
Whether you consider the Roomba 860 easy to use depends on your personal preferences. This is one of the biggest reasons that each Roomba 860 review tends to come out so differently. Most interactions with the robot can happen through a panel on the top.
If you’re used to working with a standard computer interface, then this will be extremely simple. Users who don’t like to work with digital devices through relatively discrete controls won’t feel nearly as comfortable. That being said, despite a lot of talk about perceived difficulties that people have with the unit the control scheme isn’t hard to figure out.
All Roomba models from the 500-880 series are scheduled in the same manner as the following video illustrates: A single schedule button allows you to cycle through different days of the week and month so that you can set an individual time for each one.
The process is almost identical to setting the discrete controls on the top of a digital alarm clock. If you’ve ever held down a button to make sure that you wake up at 7:00 AM sharp, then you already know how to schedule your Roomba.
Battery Life and Charger Performance
While the new lithium battery is a huge step forward compared to some of the other models, this isn’t saying much considering iRobot’s controversial history concerning batteries.
Even though it doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity, which should help improve battery life immensely, it remains relatively difficult to specify an actual number of minutes that your vacuum should last before giving out.
The one plus side is the fact that it will automatically detect if the battery is running low. Roomba units return themselves to their charging station without any further input in this situation.
All iRobot products are covered against manufacturer’s defects for a year from the purchase date. The company will repair or replace a failed product at their discretion.
If you ever had to return a defective unit, then they might exchange it for a later model other than the 860 or they might just send you a remanufactured 860. If they do send you a different product, then it will feature the original warranty for the remainder of the original period.
They’ll give you a 90-day warranty if there isn’t much time left on your original warranty. The wording of the warranty gives the manufacturer an out when it comes to filters and batteries, which is a bit disappointing as these tend to fail the fastest. In fact, many Roomba 860 review posts tend to focus on these parts of the unit going sour.
Alternatives To Roomba 860
Those who are looking through the entire iRobot catalog might find a few other units to compare the Roomba 860 to. Each has a different set of features. This makes them appeal to different types of customers.
While the 860 introduced a major upgrade in terms of suction power as a result of iRobot’s patented AeroForce technology, the Roomba 880 features an even more powerful system as a result of redesigned dirt extractors. The tangle-free AeroForce extraction rollers are essentially maintenance free because they don’t get bogged down with hair and other debris.
The unique shape allows them to simply throw aside anything that they can’t gobble up, which means that you’ll never find something wrapped around them. Concentrated airflow ducts force everything through a sealed channel to multiply vacuum power.
The extremely small air channel works along the same principle that a pressure washer uses. When a fluid is forced through a small chamber, the pressure that the fluid exhibits increases.
The fact that dirt will also be moving through the chamber on the Roomba 880 serves to make this suction power even stronger. New iAdapt Responsive Navigation technology gives the Roomba 880 the ability to learn more about the surrounding area.
While it won’t learn it the way that digital assistant software learns about your routine, it will be able to store a small map of the area in RAM for the benefit of the current cleaning session. Optical and acoustic sensors continue to detect dirt even after it maps out the terrain, which makes it a good choice for those with oddly shaped rooms.
Roomba 890 units allow user to use their iRobot HOME app to connect to their robotic vacuum from anywhere that they have a cellular connection. They’re able to set up a cleaning schedule and monitor status reports at any time.
This makes the unit more attractive for those who are looking for integration with their other smart home automation gadgets. Rather than using the imaginary barrier system that the Roomba 860 features, the specifications sheet for the Roomba 890 goes into some detail about how the system avoids stairs altogether. Virtual Wall technology is still built into the unit, however.
Even though the Roomba 650 is starting to show some age, the unit tends to cost much less than most of the others in the series at this point.
Modular parts make it fairly easy to maintain and the advanced cleaning head makes it arguably better at cleaning in corners than even most modern robotic vacuums. Since the filter slides out the back with a single smooth motion, some consumers feel that this unit is easier to maintain than most of the later models.
The Roomba 860 is certainly more than an entry-level robotic vacuum, though it would make a good starter for someone who is interested in a solid model for their first entry into home automation.
It might be perfect for those who are looking to replace or supplement their existing upright vacuum with something that won’t wear out the floors. While those who are looking for an IoT-compatible vacuum might want to look elsewhere, it does exactly what it sets out to do.