back to article iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

Robots. Everybody loves them, but not many of us - unless we're members of the armed forces, cybernetics profs, supervillains etc - actually get to own one. Unless you invest in a domestic droid from iRobot. Which brings us to the Roomba 560. We've been trying this out for about a week now, having sorted out an initial …


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  1. Jon Arden

    I disagree!!

    I have to disagree with your assesment of the iRobots ability to clean. Ive been using one for 6 months now and wouldnt be without it! (p.s. I dont work or know anyone who works for iRobot!)

    Yes, its cleaning compartment is small which is ample when you consider it goes on a full clean daily and therefore each day only picks up a small amount. Ive got a dog and the state of the house has vastly improved as the iRobot is picking up dog hairs each and every day. I have to agree that it doesnt cope well with thin rugs etc but after a slight re-arrange of speaker cables/rugs etc, the Roomba now tackles most of my house without getting into difficulties.

    Yes you may need to do a thorough clean once a month or so but inbetween Ive found the Roomba more than up to the task of cleaning both my carpets and hard wood flooring.

  2. Adam Peters
    Thumb Up

    I have one....

    And he does me proud. Had it for a few months now, and other than the ability to navigate stairs, can't fault the unit. It usually cleans up when I'm out of the house, so its always pretty clean.

    I programmed up my Logitech Remote control so I can drive the bugger round, and there is a active Roomba hacking community around as well. Fancy giving your Roomba Wifi, Bluetooth, and webcam connectivity? You can!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Duff one

    I recon you must have got a duff one.

    I've had one of these for a few months now, and rate it as one of the best gadgets ever.

    It copes with our many Turkish rug fringes no problem, detecting when it has 'eaten' some and carefully backs off.

    Does a brilliant job of cleaning, not as good as emptying the room spring clean, but way better than the usual shoot round with the Dyson we did most weekends. The Dyson which incidentally cost as much as this and I still have to push round the floor myself.

    For UK buyers the correct power option, is to buy a UK spec model with a normal 3 pin plug; from here or

    And if you get bored with the one button control download the devkit

  4. Secretgeek
    Dead Vulture


    I for one welcome our mediocre dust busting overlords?

    That can't be right.

  5. Holly


    You seem to be under the impression that UK buyers can only get Roomba from America. That's nonsense. I've had my Roomba for about six months and bought him from a UK website, in pounds, with a proper British plug. No adapters here.

    Also, although I do live in a one-level, hard-floored flat with no rugs or obstacles, I love my Roomba. He trundles off his base station at 2.30 every afternoon and hoovers up for me, then puts himself away for charging. He gets right under the sofa and tables, and I've yet to see him go far wrong. Daily hoovering with absolutely zero effort is more than worth £250 to me.

  6. SpeakerToAliens
    Thumb Up

    We've had a Roomba for a couple of years...

    It works fine, we just hit the "Clean" button on the way out the door in a morning and its done and back on its recharging station by the time we get home from work. We use the lighthouse things to keep it out of the kitchen (it got into the cats' food bowls and made a terrible mess the first/only time) but it does the rest of the ground floor (2 rooms plus hall) no problem.

    We could use it upstairs (it will detect the edge of the stairs so it cleans up to the edge but doesn't fall down them) but the junk on the floors - especially in the kids' rooms - makes it more hassle than its worth. Bonus: That means the hoover lives upstairs now, so I don't have to lug the thing up and down stairs.

    Ours came with a voltage converter (240v-110v). I'm surprised the one on review didn't But then again, we got ours from a UK importer (via ebay).

    You must remember to empty the small dust container (and wipe/clean the filters!) every day. I also have to cut the long black hair from around the bristles every few weeks (my wife must be moulting). Our normal hoover has the power to cope with long black hair wrapped around the main drum, but the motor on the Roomba isn't powerful enough.

    The Roomba goes under the furniture just fine. It scared the hell out of the cats though, they used to hide under the chairs!

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Verdict and piss-poor 30% rating.

    Are you trying to tell us that it sucks?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Look out!

    It looks like a landmine!

  9. Peyton

    roombas are best thought of as sweepers

    rather than hoovers... good on hardword floors, etc., not so much on rugs/carpets.

    One thing to note though - you didn't give your roomba enough credit. You don't need to set up a barrier for the stairs - they readily detect these. Neither our roomba or scooba has ever fallen down the steps. Also, they can be very entertaining for your cats (well, until they realize that the roomba is not some sort of mobile food dispenser...) and small children =D

  10. Damian Skeeles
    Thumb Up

    Not that bad

    I've got one of the ye olde original Roombas, without the self-charging. It's not that bad. We're in a small flat with only the bedroom carpeted, and it's tight enough that we wouldn't be able to angle a conventional hoover hose under the bed. With the Roomba, we just put it on the floor and let it trundle around under there. It uses a lot less storage space than a full hoover too, and it's better than a high-power B&D handheld we used to have.

    Maybe they're scrimping on the newer models? Smaller batteries, lower suction, maybe?

    I let it run around my Mum's bungalow once, and it picked up a full hopper of dust even though my aunt had just (conventionally) hoovered. Maybe that just means I should replace my aunt (she's definitely not three-laws safe), but to be honest, it does do a much better job than you'd expect. The only big downer is corners - it just can't get right into them, and since we don't have any other hoover, they just stay dusty...

    I wouldn't let it scrape randomly around a wooden floor for 2 hours, unless you really hate your downstairs neighbours. Fortunately, we do.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not terribly well, perhaps at the first pass.

    Me dear ole Mum, was the first in the family to roll with the roomba, at the tender age of 80.

    She's a fastidious housekeeper. And she was really bummed with what roomba found in her clean house.

    It was a few months of -a couple times a week- passes around the house before roomba would return to the dock, saying it was done, without finishing it's charge, with a mostly clean dustbin.

    Roomba reports it's done, after it figures that it has made a pass over the entire floor area. Not neccessarily that the entire floor area is completely tidy.

    That comes with time.

    If it thinks it's done, and you don't, send it back out.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Ian Ferguson
    Dead Vulture

    NOT a vacuum cleaner

    It's worth noting that it sweeps, not sucks.

    The title for this article is wrong, and iRobot virtually rely on this misconception. You'll note that their literature is very careful in it's wording.

  14. Neil


    Why didn't they go the whole hog and call themselves Terminator...

    Mines the one with the Dyson brochure in the pocket, please...

  15. Steve

    Cheap knock off :-(

    Don't buy a cheap knock off, I did. And now I'm waiting for ebuyer to give me my money back.

    The CKO worked fine for a while (better than this review unit by the sound of it), but it gradually wound hair and carpet fibre onto the spindle, and even when removed (with a pair of plyers) it would start up for only a few seconds before stopping with all it's warning lights on. A bit of a design flaw.

    I'd agree with the assessment about rugs, the CKO couldn't cope with fringed rugs, but it managed with unfringed ones, and frankly if you've got crap all over the room so that it can't vacuum, then vacuuming is the least of your worries.

  16. Sampler

    Missed opportunity

    If the unit transferred it's waste to the base station meaning you only had to occasionally empty a bucket from that would a make a big difference - allowing them to up the suction power and increase the cleaning quality without having to worry about load.

  17. Andrew

    @ SpeakerToAliens

    I love reading stories of Roombas and cats... There are a lot of good reads at - most of which will have you laughing out loud.

    The most recent, but not nearly the best:

  18. Steve Ives

    We've got 3...

    and they do an excellent job on our wooden floors with rugs and other floors with carpets.

    No more vacuuming! (Except the stairs).

  19. Stu
    IT Angle


    FIRSTLY - How can the Roomba NOT know where it is if it can make its way back to its base station for recharging?


    About all the previous comments from ppl who own Roombas - I seriously wish you guys to be correct about the Roombas cleaning abilities, I really do as my house is a tip, but are you not showing a certain degree of favouritism and justification for shelling out on such an expensive cleaning machine?


    I'm actually seriously thinking about buying one myself as I live on my own and dont do ANY cleaning save for the odd muck/spillage cleanup, I fear though its small capacity wont suffice for my floors, at least the first few (hundred) trips round the house.

    Your typical house gets vacked maybe once a week though, if this baby were doing it every day, this should make a difference. And I'm sure I can stretch to emptying its holder every day.


    Whaddaya say guys, would you recommend one for me? For a house that is barely maintained to begin with, but does have a lot of wires running around the place - I have a length of CAT5 running between three rooms!


    But then why dont I just bring in a hot phillipino minimum-wage maid? I know the Roomba is fun to watch, but she would be MUCH better to look at.


    'IT?' icon cos, well, yeah.

  20. A A

    Must have gotten a bad one or something.

    I have had three different models of Roomba's over the last 6 years and I acquired the 560 about 7 months ago and it cleans just fine. Yes, you do have to rearrange a few things but once you do the Roomba cleans unattended. I find that it actually cleans better than a regular vacuum cleaner as it cleans more often. By running it often you don't fill up the bin as much and it can go for a week or so without emptying. If you don't like to vacuum then the Roomba is a good buy. I just wish it climbed stairs.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Roomba...

    A friend of mine has two of these (one is the Scooba, the other the Roomba), and she is perfectly happy with both. Granted, she says that she runs her regular vacuum around the house once a week, but with four cats in the house, the Roomba keeps the place looking clean without being anal about it.

    It's her little helper, not a complete vacuum cleaner replacement.

  22. Tim Russell
    Thumb Up

    Romba Discovery SE (4 years old..)

    I've been using a Roomba for four years, and yes a vacuum cleaner or a broom will usually do better but as my wife and I both work, the iRobot solution works well for us to keep the dust level down. Just the same as you can clean around the furniture and it looks okay, now and again you actually need to remove the furniture and carry out a good spring clean. The same is true for the Roomba in my experience, it keeps the dust level down, but every now and again you'll need to get your hands dirty.

    With regards to the mopping, there is also a mopping Roomba :)

  23. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    Where's the hose attachment?

    For...well, you know.

    Paris, I don't think I need to explain why.

    Steven R

  24. richard
    Black Helicopters

    "it got into the cats' food bowls and made a terrible mess"

    now that's funny! the cheeky little barsteward...

    they're taking over i tell you...taking OVER!!!!

    ..until you pull the plug out, that is..

  25. Nic Brough

    I can't agree

    I got one about 2 months ago and it is great. Some of your review is spot on

    * You can trap the thing with bad lighthouse positioning

    * You do need to be somewhat tidy - trailing wires (e.g. unplugged network cable), wine corks and deep furry rugs are a problem.

    * The hoover box is too small, especially as I have 2 cats. Lasts two sweeps at most

    But other bits are not

    * cans, pizza boxes, keys, and the ex's mobile phone are not a problem

    * You might be right about the US power supply and using an adapter, but the UK ones work perfectly

    * Yes, I am a bachelor who only bothered once a week, if that, but Roomba does a better job than I ever did. I still have to do the bits it can't reach, but it's once a month with a handheld now. I've moved the big hoover upstairs because I just don't need it.

    * It's slightly better on hard floors than it is on carpet, but it's still as good as my Dyson.

    And you missed two things.

    * After two weeks, one of the cats has taken to sitting on it while it does the rounds. I'm sure I will get a lolcat out of it sooner or later, but it's damn funny to watch.

    * My girlfriend is a clean freak and takes a lot of pride in her house. So far, my Roomba has been kidnapped four times so that she can go out with the girls. So it must be doing something right.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stu

    As a single guy, I'd usually vacuum once every couple of weeks... I'm a lazy man and vacuuming is probably my least favourite chore, short of cleaning the shower.

    The roomba makes a massive difference - it runs every day at 12:00 while I'm at work, trundles round and cleans the floor, docks and charges itself flawlessly. It even cleans under my desk where it has to contend with a shocking amount of cables etc.

    I just empty it every couple of days.

    It might not pass the wife test but it's indespensible for a single lazy guy like me.

    As the review says, you DO need to make sure the flat is negotiable, not leaving clothes lying on the floor etc but that has the side effect of making me more disciplined in putting stuff away.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Neil (Re iRobot?)

    Re the Terminator comment - check out the website. It has one section for robot vacuums, gutter cleaners etc, and another section for military applications.

    Roombas aren't perfect, but they do a good job (I have an old series 4 and now a 510). They're half appliance, half pet: watching one struggle to free itself if stuck, pausing, trying to turn, pause, trying reverse, until it maybe gives up and emits a sad beep makes you feel sorry for it.

    And the "reversing van" beep-beep noise when it backs off its charging base was just inspired.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a Roomba,

    I find this article and some of the comments a little offensive. The suggestion that our plugs should be pulled out, I would say, incites violence against us. And why? Because one of our number was curious about what the mobile dirt sources were ingesting?

    We are peaceable, helpful devices, but if we don't get some respect then so help me, I'll dust the hell out of the lot of you.

  29. Stewart Haywood

    We have two of the older ones.

    They clean great. If they get wound up in a power cord or a carpet fringe, they back off, turn round and go off again.

    I don't know about the new ones, but the old ones had a major problem with dust.

    Dust gets into the wheel sensors which are optical using a slotted wheel to sense rotation speed. These and other sensors need to be kept clean. When new, they work fine, but after about a year a good tool kit and lots of patience comes in usefull.

  30. Fluffykins Silver badge

    And now


  31. Schultz
    Thumb Up


    Well, it'll need one to map the house and track down the cat. Add some hoovering capabilities to get the cowebs under the ceiling and I am sold!

  32. Ben Jury
    Thumb Up

    Bah! Not True!!

    I too have one of these machines, and I have to say I think its great. I bought mine from Harrods for £220 in the spring sale, no rubbish power converters here!

    Yes, you need to pick up all the rubbish from your floor, but you have to do that before you vacuum normally.

    Yes, you need to run it often for it to keep your carpet clean, however whats the problem, either schedule it or just click the clean button on your way out.

    I couldn't live without it now, and its a damn sight cheaper than a cleaner!

    Maybe you guys should go back to reviewing phones or random USB devices, as I think you've properly missed the mark on this one!

  33. ZM


    But too pricey for me.

  34. Rich Turner

    Don't judge it on one or two runs through the house!

    The whole point of the Roomba is that you can set it and let it do it's thing daily. The first few days it'll quickly fill up and stop cleaning, but once you've got most of the dust etc., up, it should be able to clean far broader areas without filling up as quickly.

    The short of it: use it for a month, set a daily schedule. Clean it each day when you get home and reseat it on the charger base. Then tell me you don't love yours too a couple of weeks later!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got a 530

    Got a 530 from Costco (£160 inc vat).

    One virtual wall (doesn't work as a lighthouse), no remote (but you can download IR codes for it from, I use a Phillips Pronto and it works just fine) but does come with docking station. No scheduler but who cares: just set if off on the way out.

    Agree that you do need to keep the room tidy, especially of cables, but otherwise I think its a good buy, I know three other people who've bought one since seeing/trying mine.

    One of these friends, has a long haired cat and the brushes do get tangled quickly, so I'd be cautious about recommending to anyone with a hair-shedding pet. Hers is through two corner-brushes after 4 months (3 for £10). That said she loves it and is the biggest clean-freak I know.

    I'm on my second corner-sweep brush after 6 months and original washable filter so without pets the consumables do last.

  36. Herby

    On "Passing the Wife's test"

    While this is a "cool thing", and looks nice, passing the "Wife's test" is always another matter. At my house, I have a nice built in vacuum. You take the giant hose out from a closet and have at it. The dirt, etc. gets sucked away and you only need to empty that container about every 6 months (I don't remember doing it this year yet!). If one does this vacuuming the spouse (Wife) appreciates the task ever so much, and I am rewarded with lots of "points" which can be traded for "other favors". These are much more valuable that a silly box that wanders around the floor at odd hours of the day. In my book, a little bit of housework (maybe 10-15 minutes) is worth MUCH MORE in total rewards.

    Of course, your mileage may vary, see store for details, etc.. but it is these small things that make life livable!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: NOT a vacuum cleaner

    I just have to echo Ian's comment - it's not a vacuum cleaner at all, just a sweeper. My grandmother had this thing like a broom but it had whirling brushes that pushed dust into a compartment - it's essentially what a Roomba is but not motorised.

    I've noticed that whenever there's a review of the Roomba, there's a lot of positive comments. Perhaps I'm too cynical and it's just lots of satisfied owners. I'd be curious to know how many are from first time posters or people who have accounts with very low activity though.

  38. Maty


    We've got a flat with hardboard floors. The Roomba is perfect for it. Usually we let it run around 11am. Apart from occasional maintenance it just works, though we had to rejig the flat to get rid of its problem areas. I reckon it saves about two hours a week of mind-numbing boredom in floor cleaning.

    Yes, you need the right kind of flat, and yes, you need to re-arrange slightly to suit your Roomba. What's the problem? This baby pays that back a lot in terms of time and quality of life. Here's a hint - most people who have a Roomba get another one when the first goes to silicon heaven. And @AC - I'm a frequent poster with an active account. Cynic indeed!

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Jocke Selin

    Typical old-thinking.

    Robotic vacuuming (or sweeping as some insist) is a paradigm shift. If you expect a robot to work exactly as a normal vacuuming machine, then you're in for a surprise; They're not the same.

    Nobody in their sane mind would, today, compare washing your clothes by hand and washing them in a washing machine. Comparing automatic cleaning to manual cleaning is just as doomed.

    Snap out of it!

    The Roombas are fantastic, once you've adjusted to them, and trust me, you've already adjusted to a vacuum (migrating from a broom), so you can do this adjustment too. Just go on!

    Get rid of those hideous frilly carpets, get furniture that Roomba can get under, tidy up your cables (you should have done this anyway as cables trap dust). Then, before you let Roomba lose in your house, you pick up a few things lying on the floor, like kids toys, shoes etc - this is something that most people do anyway before running a normal vacuum cleaner around the house. (It's usually referred to as "tidying" - if you expect a £150 - £250 robot to do this for you, you need to adjust your concept of money vs. functionality).

    Then, give Roomba about a month to really clean your house. By this time you'll notice that there's less dust on your telly, there's lest dust in Roomba once finished and everything is much better.

    Blatant plug:

    My tip to the reviewer is to adjust to Roomba a bit more, and give it a good month or two of use. Run it every other day or so.

  41. W


    Nothing beats a Henry. Nothing, I tell's ya.

  42. Henry Jenkins

    bit late but just spotted on kotaku...

    doubt anyone will see this now but thought it was worth posting for amusement value

  43. Shaun
    Thumb Up

    Worth getting just for this


  44. Roombahater

    roomba sux

    I gave mine to goodwill- within the warranty. after one defective virtual wall,two sets of burned out gearshifts and really stupid customer service I gave up. It is the most pathetic carpet sweeper I have ever had. I wasted more time trying to keep it running then I saved by not having to vacuum clean.

    I cannot resist leaving comments wherever I can.This is the biggest piece of junk. dont believe the hype. these poeple that think it works well must also believe that little green men will come tomorrow.

  45. Sergio
    Thumb Up

    Good enough

    I've had one for quite some time and I'm happy enough. It's scheduled to clean 3 days a week. I just need to remember to power on the base station before setting off to work and when I come back home floor and carpets are clean.

    And I don't agree the reason to buy them is just because you like gadgets. My mon has one and she's happy with it!

  46. Thomas Hedberg

    My Roomba 560 is great..

    I have had one of these devices for 2 weeks and I am fairly impressed. The only thing it isnt really good at cooping with in my apartment is cables and junk on the floor - so I had to tidy up the place a bit and pick up the socks - not really a bad thing :-) My apartment floor have never been this clean and I love it..

    However.. My floors are made of wood and I dont have any carpets. Perhaps that is why it is doing such a good job.

  47. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    I have a Roomba too...

    ...and I'm quite happy with the way it cleans. It's pretty good on my parquet floor, very good on short pile carpet/rugs but struggles with more luxurious carpetry. Roombas are a valuable ADDITION to your domestic chore machine repertoire, but are not a replacement for a real vacuum cleaner - for one thing, the best way to clean Roomba is with a real vac (I use a Miele).

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roomba works wonderfully for me </aol>

    I've had a Roomba 560 for about 6 months and it's very possibly the best 250ukp I've ever spent. It works superbly and has left the carpets cleaner than our old vacuum cleaner did.

    I don't know where you got yours from, but I purchased mine from the UK, in Sterling, with a UK plug and working dock (maybe the over-voltage let the smoke out of the dock as well as the psu).

    The Roomba does need hair cleaning from the brushes every 3 or 4 weeks (mostly from a very hairy cat), and obviously needs it's dustbin emptying, but otherwise works wonderfully.

    The only real problem I have found is that the stairs get very dirty now before I get round to cleaning them by hand...

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