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.....