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iRobot Roomba 650 ReviewPrice: $375 List
Pros: Easy to use, inexpensive,
Cons: Struggles to pick up pet hair, below average at cleaning hard floors, single room only
Bottom line: Good for studio apartments, dorms, or a single room, but not great for anything else
The Roomba 650 was the least expensive out of the models we reviewed, and we found its lower price did translate to a below average performance in our tests. The 650 is only designed for a single, medium sized room with its semi-random navigation pattern, and in our opinion, this isn't really sufficient when the technology has come such a long way for robotic vacuums. The 650 did do a great job at navigating itself out of a tight location, but it underperforms in the large-scale navigation of the room. Our Best Buy award winner, the Neato D75, is not that much more expensive ($75), and comes with a drastic increase in cleaning and navigation performance.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Roomba 650 was the only robot vacuum we tested that continues to rely on a semi-random navigation pattern with obstacle avoidance. Most comparable manufacturers seem to be switching to a mapping based system, where the robot creates a map of the room as it goes, cleaning in a much more systematic way. Even iRobot is following suit, with their newest Roomba model having a similar navigation system. Nevertheless, the Roomba 650 held its own with the highest end models in our tests, even surprising us on some of them with its performance.
To start off, the Roomba started off at a significant disadvantage in this category. The 650 is really only meant for cleaning one room at a time, as manufacturer recommends that you cordon it off to one room to maximize cleaning efficiency. All other models that we tested have multi-room navigation capabilities. We put the 650 through our gauntlet of tests, and while it did perform poorly in the multi-room and huge room tests, it did surprise at its ability to navigate out of very cluttered situations with lots of furniture. It even did well enough in the cluttered room to offset its poor performance in the multi-room test and receive an overall score than the Samsung POWERbot.
The 650 would be a good choice if you only have one, small to medium room that has a large amount of clutter. For almost everything else, we would recommend just paying a little more and getting one of the other models.
The Roomba did an average job cleaning our carpets. It scored towards the end of the pack of the models we tested, but it still made a decent attempt at getting the job done.
The 650 left a large streak after its first pass, but it did pick up additional debris ons subsequent passes. We did appreciate the higher clearance of the 650, and the large intake to the collection bin, as this seemed to give it an advantage with our largest test particles.
Hard Surface Cleaning
In our opinion, the Roomba 650 was a below average performer when it came to cleaning hard surfaces. The rotating side brush seems to throw debris all over the place, rather than sweeping it into the main extractor. The main extractor also does not seem as effective as some of its competitors.
Corners and Edges
The 650 was one of the best vacuums for getting medium sized particles, like rice, away from the edges of our course. It did struggle with the finer dust, with the rotating edge brush just kicking the flour around, and leaving a significant amount behind.
The Roomba 650 left an average of a 4" perimeter uncleaned, almost double what our top performing robotic vacuum left.
The Roomba delivered a lackluster performance with the pet hair in our tests, and most of the hair that it did pick up was tangled up in various moving parts of the vacuum, rather than in the collection bin.
We even ran some of the other vacuums after the 650 ran its cleaning attempt, and they picked up more than the 650 did.
Ease of Use
This is the instance where the 650 really shines and outpaces the competition. It was quick to set up, with an intuitive set of buttons right on the robot to schedule cleanings, and to initiate different cleaning modes. The scheduling is reminiscent of setting an alarm clock, and while the menus may be bare-bones, you can easily set up all the features that you would want.
In our opinion, the 650 is low cost, but not necessarily a good value. There are much cheaper models available if you are looking for something as more of a novelty, or models that aren't that much more expensive that will provide much better performance.
While still a best-selling vacuum, it seems to us that the Roomba 650 has been outpaced by the increases in technology in other robot vacuums. It does an acceptable job, but there are many other types that will do a much better job.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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