Roomba 960 Review – In Depth iRobot 960 Analysis

Roomba 960 Review

iRobot is one of the biggest names in robot vacuums. Roomba has a multitude of popular models, but today we're taking a deep dive into the Roomba 960.

The Roomba 960 is one of iRobots higher-end vacuum models, so we decided to find out if this premium robotic vacuum is worth the money.

Summary:

The iRobot Roomba 960 is a premium robotic vacuum that uses advanced suction and navigation power to make cleaning your floors a completely hands-off chore. The software in the iRobot Roomba 960 makes it a great choice if you want a robo-vacuum with top-level performance. 

Pros

  • 3 stage cleaning process doesn't leave much debris behind
  • Onboard camera supplies intelligent navigation
  • October 2019 software update included virtual walls that can be added within the app

Cons

  • Pricey
  • The unit struggles with ultra-fine debris like salt, sugar, flour, or fine dirt. 
  • For larger homes, the iRobot Roomba 960 will have to charge at least once while cleaning.

Design Features

Before we dig too deep into the nitty-gritty of the iRobot Roomba 960, let's go over the basic design of the robot first.

The iRobot Roomba 960 isn't breaking from the normal robot vacuum design. It is a low profile (3.6inches tall), round robot vacuum.

The bulk of the controls (scheduling, maintenance, virtual walls, etc.) are controlled within the app, but there are some basic controls on the unit itself.

The robot vacuum has a built-in handle on the top, making it easy to pick up and move.

It also includes a bumper ring around the perimeter of the vacuum that allows the unit to knock into things without taking any damage.

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Cleaning Performance

Cleaning performance is where the iRobot Roomba 960 shines. There wasn't much that the Roomba 960 couldn't clean.

After our test, the vacuum was able to pick up debris as big as cereal and as small as cat litter. The unit did struggle with ultra-fine particles of sugar.

Performance By Flooring Types

The Roomba 960 is ideal for all types of flooring. It is gentle enough to be used on hardwood floors without scratching them but is powerful enough to clean even high pile carpeting. 

If you have thick pile carpets, hardwood, tile, or another type of flooring, the Roomba 960 should work just fine. It also did a great job cleaning pet hair. Pet hair is always a little tricky just because it tends to be widespread. Pet hair gets on upholstery, carpets, living room and bedroom rugs, in nooks and crannies and just about everywhere! If you're looking for a robot vacuum that does great with pet hair, the 960 is a great choice. 

Unlike regular vacuum cleaners, a robot vacuum can clean every day. If you don't have time, or the patience to keep pet hair at bay, a solid robot vacuum is a great option.

Navigation / Smart Features

A robot vacuum that can't navigate its environment effectively isn't a good robot vacuum. Unlike some other lower-priced alternatives, the iRobot Roomba 960 uses a camera-centric style of navigation.

This means that it's able to use its onboard camera to map your floors and intelligently clean your floors, rather than randomly bump into things and change directions.

The Roomba 960 is also able to seek our dirt and do extra passes over extra dirty areas. This is a feature we hadn't seen before and made the Roomba 960 stand out among other similarly priced vacuums.

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Virtual Walls

As of October 2019, iRobot released a hugely helpful software update that impacted all of the Roomba 900 series robots. Previously, you had to lay down physical strips that act as a barrier to prevent the vacuum from going to areas you wanted it to avoid.

The October update brought this functionality into the app, which means you no longer need a physical barrier in your home to control the areas your vacuum can clean.

Simply open up the app and draw in lines for areas you want the robot to avoid.

Spot Cleaning / Zone Cleaning

If you want the Roomba 960 to clean your whole home, it can do that, but there are also times where you may want it just to clean certain high traffic areas.

Personally, I use the zone cleaning feature to clean the area around my cat's litter box. I let the robot clean my entire home twice a week, and on days it isn't doing a full home clean, I run a schedule to have it clean up around the litter box — total game-changer.

What's In The Box?

The iRobot Roomba 960 comes pre-assembled and ready to use. Make sure to follow the instructions in the box, which likely include letting your robot fully charge before using it.

Once you get your Roomba, in the box, you'll find the vacuum itself, a physical virtual wall, a charging base, a side brush, and a filter.

This is everything you'll need to get cleaning.

Overall Usability

Once you Roomba has a full charge, you can either use the app to start the cleaning cycle or use the buttons on the top. Regardless of which method you choose, it's all very straight forward, and you should be able to get things up and running without issue.

The app allows you to set a schedule, monitor your cleanings, get maintenance reminds, and gives troubleshooting messages.

The app itself is a huge value. You can control just about everything on your Roomba 960 without ever having to leave the couch.

Maneuverability

Maneuverability, surprisingly, is very important for robot vacuums. The Roomba 960 is one of the best maneuvering robot vacuums we've tested.

The unit itself is just over 3.6 inches tall, making it able to get under most furniture without any issue. The Roomba 960 is also able to turn on a dime. It can rotate a full 360 degrees without having to move forward or backward.

The ultra-tight turn radius means the robot can clean around table and chair legs in a single pass.

Maintenance

Robot vacuums are much more hands-off than a traditional upright vacuum cleaner, but they still require maintenance.

The following maintenance schedule is what the manufacturer recommended to us but could change, so make sure you check the instructions that come with the vacuum.

If you want to get the most out of your vacuum, keeping up with the maintenance is key. The Roomba 960 isn't a small investment, and to make sure it lasts for years, make sure you follow the maintenance schedule.

Battery Life

The battery is arguably one of the most important parts of a robotic vacuum. Heres everything you need to know about the Roomba 960s battery.

  • Size - 2.600 mAh
  • Full Charge In - 2-3 hours
  • Cleaning Time - 75 minutes

Although you can always get a replacement battery directly from Roomba when the time comes, there's a fairly big market for 3rd party Roomba batteries that will work just fine.

Always make sure you're buying from a trusted vendor, and that the specs of your replacement battery match the stock battery exactly.

Overall Value & Who Should Buy

Not going to lie, the Roomba 960 isn't the cheapest  vacuum out there. However, it is one of the best performers we've tested and is well worth the extra money.

Here are the type of people we think the Roomba 960 is best suited for:

  • Someone who wants advanced cleaning - The Roomba 960 has some of the most advanced cleaning/navigation systems of any robot vacuum we've ever tested. If you have a large home and are going to be relying heavily on an autonomous vacuum, the Roomba 960 will be a great help.
  • Someone who has the budget - As we mentioned, the 960 isn't the cheapest vacuum out there. You want to be sure you're ready to commit to a high price vacuum before buying this particular premium vacuum.
  • Need app features - Not all robot vacuums come with an app. Some rely on pushing buttons on the vacuum itself to set schedules and start cleaning. If you're not as tech-savvy and need an easier user interface, the app can help with that. It's also much more convenient overall. 

Our Overall Thoughts

If given a choice, I would buy the Roomba 960 over a cheaper alternative with a fraction of the cleaning intelligence and power. Yea, the vacuum isn't cheap, but it's worth the price tag, and if you can find it on sale, jump on it because this vacuum is a worthwhile investment.

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