Update on Roomba Red

Hi Gang
A few asked for me to post my findings after using the Roomba Red for a week.
Amazing, simply Amazing, this little critter is!
Because we were having company for Christmas (who doesn't) we gave the home a thorough cleaning. This meant dust, sweep, vacuum, dust again, damp mop hard surfaces including hardwood floors and we even lightly waxed the floors.
After opening the Roomba and turning it loose, despite an already immaculately clean house, the Roomba managed to track down and locate enough dust and dog hair to fill the two catch bins to overflowing.
We (or mom) have turned it loose everyday since then and it still fills up the bins with dog hair and dust bunnies every single day.
The expected problems of the roller brushes becoming entangled with dog hair has NOT happened. Only 3 or 4 get wrapped loosely and can be easily removed without removing the brushes before they work their way down to the hub.
The dogs still IGNORE it while it's doing it's thing. One pooch don't even move out of its way which does cause it to 'map' an object in the room.
Although on-line I have heard complaints about the algeorithym it follows, in our complicated house with numerous obstructions, it learns real quick and never misses a single spot. It also knows when it's done and shuts off with a light saying it's done.
Like most kitchens or dining rooms, we have a table and chairs. The dog food and waterer, free standing cabinets, island, stool, wastecan, etc. Roomba 'maps' each of these items and works around them very systematically. Reaching into each nook and cranny it can find. Yes it DOES get into corners and around chair legs with amazing dexterity.
Something I didn't even realize at first, assuming it was just a brush type sweeper, is that it DOES have SUCTION and what the brushes miss, the suction seems to get quite well. Such as dirt down in the cracks of hardwood floors, etc. It took me awhile to figure out where and how it had suction! The vacuum section is integral with the dirt bins and the air passes between two blue rubber squeege type blades. It's a little tricky learning how to empty this part of the unit easily. But it is easy once you figure out just where to put your fingers. I slip mine between the two blue squeeges and grab the yellow holder and it slides right out for emptying.
Yesterday I gave it the test of all tests, picking up drywall sanding dust, just to see if it picked it up or blew it into the room. I don't recommend using this unit for that purpose as it is very hard on the machine. But it worked! Did not leave a single trace of the small piles of drywall dust I placed around the room for it to find. It did however decrease the vacuum power considerably by the third pile of drywall dust. NONE blew back into the room!
As someone else tried, I sprinkled about 2 tablespoons of salt so it covered the entire kitchen floor (in my case I used the bathroom because it had dark colored tiles). I locked Roomba in the bathroom and let it run until it said it was done. I could not find a single grain of salt anywhere in the bathroom. (Note: I blocked Roomba at the front of the toilet for this test, didn't want salt around the water pipe to the toilet).
At first, especially in a larger room, Roomba appears to follow a simple spiral pattern. However, that is really just a start in it's internal mapping program. If you set Roomba in the center of the room, it follows a spiral pattern until it finally touches a wall or object. It will then switch to mapping the perimeter of the room, working it's way around every single item in the room until it knows the area it's working in. Then it will start a pattern that includes vertical and horizontal sweeps and in between switch to diagonal sweeps. When it encounters something in the center of the room it will map that as well and work around it very systematically as well. If the object it encounters just happens to be movable, like a pooch who moves around from time to time. It appears that when Roomba crosses this formerly blocked area, it will continue until it finds another object and start it's mapping process all over again.
It appears that Roomba makes roughly 5 individual passes of every area in a room. In the first couple of passes it will keep bumping it's right side learning the perimeter. In later passes, it seems to know where the obstructions are and not bump into them, but turn at just the right spot to get the corners.
There is a protrusion on the top front of Roomba, I assume for the virtual wall signal to enter. This protrusion can cause it to temporarily get stuck under a sofa or lounge chair, but soon finds its way free. If it gets stuck to the point the wheels may have spun for a second, it will begin its mapping routine over again. If it gets really stuck, wheels turning, machine not moving, it will shut off.
We have used it limited to a single room, and let it have free reign of the whole house. Obviously it has a limited amount of mapping memory. But must also have a secondary memory to remember where doors are. Although it may venture into a room it already cleaned, it doesn't seem to stay in there very long before returning to the room it should be in. Depending upon where your doors are situated in the house, it may just consider a wall as an obstruction. Even turned loose to do the whole house, it will find every open area and clean it.
When it does find an area of heavy dirt, it will automatically switch to spot clean momentarily and go over that area until it feels it has cleaned it well enough, then return to its normal travel.
Rubber backed heavy throw rugs it cleans, but loose throw rugs should be picked up. The corners of light throw rugs can be picked up by the brush and stall the machine. At least the newer Roomba's will shut off when the brushes get tangled. It also gives a beep to let you know if something like a string or something tangled the brush.
I see no difference between the most expensive Roomba Discovery SE and the low cost $149.00 special named Roomba Red other than extras you wouldn't normally use anyhow. We use a stool or box in a doorway rather than the virtual wall, which requires TWO D sized batteries.
You CAN purchase a drive on charger, hang on wall charger, hang on wall holder, remote control, etc. for the Roomba Red if you want them. But like most folks, the drive on charger is usually in the way, and Roomba don't find it very often anyhow. The remote is just a toy to steer Roomba yourself, short lived plaything that ends up in a drawer. A wall hanger with or without internal Charger might be an asset for some. But since you DO have to empty Roomba's dirt bins after each usage, we found the best place to keep Roomba was right behind the kitchen waste can under the bottom shelf of a free standing cabinet.
Because of my working in dirt and clay digging in the yard (dirt always comes off my shoes in the house no matter how clean I think I have them), because of our 4 dogs that have a doggie door to outside (some of them with long hair bring in leaves and grass clippings and dirty feet), because our house is like grand central station with folks dropping in all the time. We feel Roomba is a Miracle! No one has time to sweep and vacuum every single day after work. Debi turns Roomba loose when she gets home from work and by the time we finish dinner, it has done the whole house, except the kitchen. After dinner we turn Roomba loose in the kitchen and you can just barely hear it in the adjoining den. Turn the TV up 2 clicks and you don't hear it at all.
Of course, since it is brand new, we spend more time watching it than anything else.
Amazing little critter! Maw calls it the Red Barron Debi calls it Sheila after my housekeeper in St. Louis I call it Joshua, who when little found ANYTHING on the floor and put it into his mouth. Debi's brother in law, who was visiting, shoelaces untied as usual, didn't move his feet as it came past and it ATE his shoelace and wouldn't let go of his foot. So he calls it JAWS! The pooch who NEVER moves got a good tail cleaning and combing. Her tail didn't get stuck, but at least now she keeps her backside facing away from Roomba at all times, even when it's in the next room. Our dog that barks at everything, has kept silent, just giving Roomba an evil eye as it passes by her.
A word of caution! Roomba has a SWEET TOOTH for anything that looks like spaghetti licorice. It will seek out and find any telephone or extension cord and gobble it right up, even the ones you didn't know where there. Loose threads, string, Venetian Blind Cords, etc. Most extension cords you can clip above the baseboards using flat toothpicks into the crack between the baseboard and wall. But pick up everything else! Think of Roomba as being a toddler who gets into EVERYTHING and eats anything it finds! In other words Roomba proof your house, hi hi.....
I feel it's the best 150 bucks I ever spent!
And for right now, I can track dirt in, so everybody can watch Roomba find it. But I wonder how long I will get by with that, hi hi.....
TTUL Gary
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snipped-for-privacy@bbs.galilei.com.nospam (Gary V. Deutschmann, Sr.) wrote:
-> Hi Gang -> -> A few asked for me to post my findings after using the Roomba Red for -> a week. -> -> Amazing, simply Amazing, this little critter is! -> -> Because we were having company for Christmas (who doesn't) we gave the -> home a thorough cleaning. This meant dust, sweep, vacuum, dust again, -> damp mop hard surfaces including hardwood floors and we even lightly -> waxed the floors. -> -> After opening the Roomba and turning it loose, despite an already -> immaculately clean house, the Roomba managed to track down and locate -> enough dust and dog hair to fill the two catch bins to overflowing. -> -> We (or mom) have turned it loose everyday since then and it still -> fills up the bins with dog hair and dust bunnies every single day. -> -> The expected problems of the roller brushes becoming entangled with -> dog hair has NOT happened. Only 3 or 4 get wrapped loosely and can be -> easily removed without removing the brushes before they work their way -> down to the hub. -> -> The dogs still IGNORE it while it's doing it's thing. One pooch don't -> even move out of its way which does cause it to 'map' an object in the -> room. -> -> Although on-line I have heard complaints about the algeorithym it -> follows, in our complicated house with numerous obstructions, it -> learns real quick and never misses a single spot. It also knows when -> it's done and shuts off with a light saying it's done. -> -> Like most kitchens or dining rooms, we have a table and chairs. The -> dog food and waterer, free standing cabinets, island, stool, wastecan, -> etc. Roomba 'maps' each of these items and works around them very -> systematically. Reaching into each nook and cranny it can find. -> Yes it DOES get into corners and around chair legs with amazing -> dexterity. -> -> Something I didn't even realize at first, assuming it was just a brush -> type sweeper, is that it DOES have SUCTION and what the brushes miss, -> the suction seems to get quite well. Such as dirt down in the cracks -> of hardwood floors, etc. It took me awhile to figure out where and -> how it had suction! The vacuum section is integral with the dirt bins -> and the air passes between two blue rubber squeege type blades. It's -> a little tricky learning how to empty this part of the unit easily. -> But it is easy once you figure out just where to put your fingers. I -> slip mine between the two blue squeeges and grab the yellow holder and -> it slides right out for emptying. -> -> Yesterday I gave it the test of all tests, picking up drywall sanding -> dust, just to see if it picked it up or blew it into the room. I -> don't recommend using this unit for that purpose as it is very hard on -> the machine. But it worked! Did not leave a single trace of the -> small piles of drywall dust I placed around the room for it to find. -> It did however decrease the vacuum power considerably by the third -> pile of drywall dust. NONE blew back into the room! -> -> As someone else tried, I sprinkled about 2 tablespoons of salt so it -> covered the entire kitchen floor (in my case I used the bathroom -> because it had dark colored tiles). I locked Roomba in the bathroom -> and let it run until it said it was done. I could not find a single -> grain of salt anywhere in the bathroom. (Note: I blocked Roomba at -> the front of the toilet for this test, didn't want salt around the -> water pipe to the toilet). -> -> At first, especially in a larger room, Roomba appears to follow a -> simple spiral pattern. However, that is really just a start in it's -> internal mapping program. If you set Roomba in the center of the -> room, it follows a spiral pattern until it finally touches a wall or -> object. It will then switch to mapping the perimeter of the room, -> working it's way around every single item in the room until it knows -> the area it's working in. Then it will start a pattern that includes -> vertical and horizontal sweeps and in between switch to diagonal -> sweeps. When it encounters something in the center of the room it -> will map that as well and work around it very systematically as well. -> If the object it encounters just happens to be movable, like a pooch -> who moves around from time to time. It appears that when Roomba -> crosses this formerly blocked area, it will continue until it finds -> another object and start it's mapping process all over again. -> -> It appears that Roomba makes roughly 5 individual passes of every area -> in a room. In the first couple of passes it will keep bumping it's -> right side learning the perimeter. In later passes, it seems to know -> where the obstructions are and not bump into them, but turn at just -> the right spot to get the corners. -> -> There is a protrusion on the top front of Roomba, I assume for the -> virtual wall signal to enter. This protrusion can cause it to -> temporarily get stuck under a sofa or lounge chair, but soon finds its -> way free. If it gets stuck to the point the wheels may have spun for -> a second, it will begin its mapping routine over again. If it gets -> really stuck, wheels turning, machine not moving, it will shut off. -> -> We have used it limited to a single room, and let it have free reign -> of the whole house. Obviously it has a limited amount of mapping -> memory. But must also have a secondary memory to remember where doors -> are. Although it may venture into a room it already cleaned, it -> doesn't seem to stay in there very long before returning to the room -> it should be in. Depending upon where your doors are situated in the -> house, it may just consider a wall as an obstruction. Even turned -> loose to do the whole house, it will find every open area and clean -> it. -> -> When it does find an area of heavy dirt, it will automatically switch -> to spot clean momentarily and go over that area until it feels it has -> cleaned it well enough, then return to its normal travel. -> -> Rubber backed heavy throw rugs it cleans, but loose throw rugs should -> be picked up. The corners of light throw rugs can be picked up by the -> brush and stall the machine. At least the newer Roomba's will shut -> off when the brushes get tangled. It also gives a beep to let you -> know if something like a string or something tangled the brush. -> -> I see no difference between the most expensive Roomba Discovery SE and -> the low cost $149.00 special named Roomba Red other than extras you -> wouldn't normally use anyhow. We use a stool or box in a doorway -> rather than the virtual wall, which requires TWO D sized batteries. -> -> You CAN purchase a drive on charger, hang on wall charger, hang on -> wall holder, remote control, etc. for the Roomba Red if you want them. -> But like most folks, the drive on charger is usually in the way, and -> Roomba don't find it very often anyhow. The remote is just a toy to -> steer Roomba yourself, short lived plaything that ends up in a drawer. -> A wall hanger with or without internal Charger might be an asset for -> some. But since you DO have to empty Roomba's dirt bins after each -> usage, we found the best place to keep Roomba was right behind the -> kitchen waste can under the bottom shelf of a free standing cabinet. -> -> Because of my working in dirt and clay digging in the yard (dirt -> always comes off my shoes in the house no matter how clean I think I -> have them), because of our 4 dogs that have a doggie door to outside -> (some of them with long hair bring in leaves and grass clippings and -> dirty feet), because our house is like grand central station with -> folks dropping in all the time. -> We feel Roomba is a Miracle! -> No one has time to sweep and vacuum every single day after work. -> Debi turns Roomba loose when she gets home from work and by the time -> we finish dinner, it has done the whole house, except the kitchen. -> After dinner we turn Roomba loose in the kitchen and you can just -> barely hear it in the adjoining den. Turn the TV up 2 clicks and you -> don't hear it at all. -> -> Of course, since it is brand new, we spend more time watching it than -> anything else. -> -> Amazing little critter! -> Maw calls it the Red Barron -> Debi calls it Sheila after my housekeeper in St. Louis -> I call it Joshua, who when little found ANYTHING on the floor and put -> it into his mouth. -> Debi's brother in law, who was visiting, shoelaces untied as usual, -> didn't move his feet as it came past and it ATE his shoelace and -> wouldn't let go of his foot. So he calls it JAWS! -> The pooch who NEVER moves got a good tail cleaning and combing. Her -> tail didn't get stuck, but at least now she keeps her backside facing -> away from Roomba at all times, even when it's in the next room. -> Our dog that barks at everything, has kept silent, just giving Roomba -> an evil eye as it passes by her. -> -> A word of caution! Roomba has a SWEET TOOTH for anything that looks -> like spaghetti licorice. It will seek out and find any telephone or -> extension cord and gobble it right up, even the ones you didn't know -> where there. Loose threads, string, Venetian Blind Cords, etc. -> Most extension cords you can clip above the baseboards using flat -> toothpicks into the crack between the baseboard and wall. But pick up -> everything else! -> Think of Roomba as being a toddler who gets into EVERYTHING and eats -> anything it finds! -> In other words Roomba proof your house, hi hi..... -> -> I feel it's the best 150 bucks I ever spent! -> -> And for right now, I can track dirt in, so everybody can watch Roomba -> find it. But I wonder how long I will get by with that, hi hi..... -> -> TTUL -> Gary
Remarkable report, Gary. And very useful. Thanks for taking the time to write and post.
--
8^)~~~ Sue (remove the x to e-mail)
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(snip)
Sounds good!! does anyone know if you can get it in Aus? A google search didn't bring anything up.
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Leanne
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Hi Leanne
I have a friend in New Zealand that ordered one on-line, it arrived in only 8 days, which shocked the holy heck out of him.
He is pleased with how it does every room, EXCEPT ONE, in his house. The room that is dealing him fits is his daughters room, it has a very long shag type wall to wall carpeting that seems to bog down the brush to the point the machine shuts off as if being clogged or the brush jambed.
Now that we have used ours for two weeks now, we are still very pleased with it, but have found a couple of faults with it.
The rubber veined roller that is part of the brush system is too soft and can be damaged (small tears in the edges) if it encounters something like a rock that is too large to jump up into the collection bin. The rock will lodge at the edge, being held up by the spinning rubber roller, which then wears down the rubber vein in the area of the rock.
The second minor irk is that when it knows it is finished cleaning, it usually makes two more passes along the long length of the room, probably in order to guess where the middle of the room is before it shuts down. It seems to forget that it mapped out a heavy coffee table in the middle of the room. So guess where it decides to shut down. You got it, right under the center of the coffee table. Not hard to find though, it keeps chirping it's ALL DONE signal till the cows come home.
I now know of 8 folks who bought the Roomba Red and love it. Of those 8, one had a problem out of the box with their unit, exchanged it and love the replacement, no more problems. When asking what the problem was, I think it was more of an ID-Ten-T user error than a problem with the machine itself.
By the way, something not shown in the directions. You can pick up the machine by lifting the carrying handle on the top. You don't have to lift it by the sides as shown in the directions. This is apparently a new feature that did not hit the direction booklets yet.
TTUL Gary
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thanks Gary,
Do you know where your from ordered it from? I was thinking about getting it online too but the US voltage varies to ours... did he get it from the UK?
Thanks again.
--
Leanne
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Hi Leanne
I will be talking to him tonight via e-mail and will ask him where he got it from and how he is handling the difference in voltage.
This means I will probably not have a response for you until tomorrow night, sorry for that delay.
TTUL Gary

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Hi Leanne
I think I have what you need to know.
The particular model he purchased looks more like the new Discovery Model than the Roomba Red, but has all the same and new features. It is CE Approved and uses a 240 volt UK plug AC power supply. The unit itself is DC powered by battery. The right Charger is supplied with the UK model. I did note that the Air Filter is of a different Larger Design than the Roomba Red, looks like the one in my Aunt's Silver Roomba (Discovery SE Model).
He purchased his on-line from www.letsautomate.com although he looked at www.myroomba.co.uk first. He was told the later was cheaper, but discovered letsautomate to have the best deals. At the time he purchased his unit, the going price was L162.49 but was on sale for L140.00 He said the current price TODAY is L147.99 which is actually (and you might understand this) L125.95+VAT which comes to the L147.99
LetsAutomate is supposed to now have hundreds in stock ready for immediate delivery, supposedly also with FREE SHIPPING.
TTUL Gary

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thanks Gary! much appreciated!
I'm going to go have a look now!
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Leanne
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Can you get these in the UK, sound brilliant !!!!

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See my post to Leane, I give the cheapest on-line local supplier, price and other info.
TTUL Gary

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On 30 Dec 2004 13:13:11 EST, snipped-for-privacy@bbs.galilei.com.nospam (Gary V. Deutschmann, Sr.) wrote:

nice, thanks. I was wondering what kind of battery the roomba uses ? Are they replace-able ? As with anything rechargable, they do wear out. I've thrown things away in the past that were fine except for the no-longer-rechargable battery.
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Hi Rein
Yes it has a rechargable nickel/metal/hydride battery pack, that is easily replaceable. Right now a new battery pack is around 45 bucks I think, which is a little steep.
Today, most battery packs can be recharged about 1000 times from low, damaged if run dead, more than 1000 times if used with the proper chargers that monitor the batteries condition and keep a low float voltage applied. The Roomba charger uses the latest technology for keeping batteries lasting longer.
Many items are manufactured with seemingly non-user-replacable rechargeable batteries. If you can weild a soldering iron, I have yet to see one that you couldn't replace the batteries in.
But in todays disposable society and with the low cost of most electronics items, more often than not you are better off throwing away the item and replacing it. Custom sized rechargeable batteries are not cheap by any means when purchased separately. For a Norelco Shaver they are like 46 bucks for two CC+ sized batteries from Norelco suppliers, 24 bucks at some electronics supply houses, even cheaper from discount electronics supply houses, if you have one nearby that stocks FRESH specialty batteries.
But, by the time the batteries wear out, more often than not, other major components in the unit are wearing out as well. Using the shaver for example, after 7 years my batteries finally died. This meant it would no longer work from the cord either! I replaced the batteries, shortly after that the whole gearhead, and a few months after that the motor died. Had I just bought a new shaver, I probably would have been well ahead of the game for another 7 years.
I have three Skill brand rechargable drivers with internal batteries. Now I have replaced these batteries a few times and the drivers still work great. However, I also replaced the chargers with ones that had better battery life extending technology too.
A simple wall transformer charger without a regulator is going to eat nicads like popcorn!
TTUL Gary
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Gary,
Thanks for the info, see my comments below.
On 06 Jan 2005 13:54:31 EST, snipped-for-privacy@bbs.galilei.com.nospam (Gary V. Deutschmann, Sr.) wrote:

At least it is not a ni-cad pack.

Great.
it might. I've had black&decker stuff that wore out quick, could not open the pack without breaking plastic, and b&d no longer had hte packs.

This is what has kept me away from the rechargeable shavers ! I have a non-cordless shaver from Philips (Norelco is also Philips) that is 23 years old and still works like a charm. Multi-voltage even. Probably the piece of electronics I have had the longest time ever.
I wish they used rechargable AA's in everything. Modern nimh AA's last a long time and I have a nice charger for it as well. Ah well. Plus they're cheap.

yup. thanks for the info.
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Hi Rein

Actually, if treated properly, a ni-cad will last longer than a nickel-metal-hydride.
Ni-Cads CAN built up a memory, grow whiskers and all kinds of things that shorten their lives. Their longetivity is directly associated with how they are used and charged. Ni-Cads should be run fairly low, but never dead, before charging. If you use it one hour, recharge, use it one hour, recharge, it will remember this and only work for one hour. Overcharging after the battery is full will kill it very fast!
NMH batteries cannot be recharged as many times as NiCd, but they can be maintained at full charge without shortening their life with the proper decreasing charge, float voltage chargers.

Sales gimmicks to sell more units more often!
FWIW: As an aside, I don't care much for rechargeable anything. Mainly because they won't work when you need them, if you don't use them frequently. And because they WEIGH so much more than electric.
Back when I was working as a contractor, I looked for rechargeable equipment that was not balanced properly, so that it felt comfortable to hold and use WITHOUT the battery pack attached. Reason for this is I wore a gell cell battery on my belt with a wire running up under my shirt, down my shirt sleeve and had the plug right in my palm to connect to whichever tool I picked up to use. You don't notice the weight of the gell cell on your back, and it saves one heck of a lot of arm fatigue from holding up a battery pack all day. The set of gell cells I used usually weighed less than the battery packs supplied for the rechargable tools and they were all of the deep cycle type (designed for security systems) and lasted a long long time.

I prefer electric shavers also. When Sunbeam quit making shavers I switched to Norelco, electric first, but then because you cannot find electric, I bought the higher end Norelco Rechargeables. I get 6 to 8 years from the high end models and as the batteries start to go, they work from the power cord until the batteries are completely gone. So you can get a couple of extra years as a corded shaver.
I bought a low end Norelco about 4 or 5 years ago. It's a SIN they put the Norelco name on that piece of $#!^.
I now have a Remington Titanium, with the self cleaning bath unit. It gives a good shave, have no idea how long it will last, and don't trust that alcohol cleaning solution too much around electric motors. It is designed to be VERY HARD to empty, I guess to force you to use the cleaner bath more often, so you have to buy their 5 buck a bottle 96% alcohol with a drop of oil in it. I do like the way it feels and how good it shaves though.

True, but they don't have the MAH (MilliAmpHour) needed to power most things that draw high power.
As an aside, I ran across a NEW double A battery that outpowers and outlasts all others I have ever used. It's called Oxy-Alkaline, VERY HARD to find. I had a Digital Camera that used 4 AA's. It ate them like popcorn. I even tried the best I could find, very high priced ones too. It still ate them like candy bars. Then I stumbled across these Oxy-Alkaline AA's. Only slightly higher priced than normal high end AA's. My wife finally exhausted her set, and mine are still going strong in the same camera that ate batteries like popcorn. If you can find them, they are WELL WORTH the extra cost! For disposable non-rechargeable batteries that is.
TTUL Gary
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btw; amazon has them on sale right now for 101.35, shipped ! use coupon code JANUARYKHBBE at checkout
On 30 Dec 2004 13:13:11 EST, snipped-for-privacy@bbs.galilei.com.nospam (Gary V. Deutschmann, Sr.) wrote:

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