The Roomba brand nowadays is synonymous with the entire robot vacuum niche, and that’s due not just to their capable marketing department. It’s also due to the fact that Roomba vacuum cleaners actually do work very well, and this is a fact attested to by an ever-increasing horde of delighted customers.
Roomba doesn’t have just a single model of iRobot to offer, however. There’s a selection of models to choose from ranging from the simpler and more affordable models to the most advanced and most expensive. The iRobot Roomba 960 is among the most advanced, but it’s not the most advanced as that’s the 980.
However, the 960 offers a more reasonable price and still a very impressive set of advanced features. This combination of features and price makes it the best value for money model in the entire Roomba lineup, as the 980 is much more expensive but the additional features may not be worth the additional expense.
The 960 Design
The iRobot 969 has the same basic look that Roomba introduced in its first generation of robot vacuums. It basically is a round dish a few inches or so high. To be more specific, it has a diameter of 13.8 inches and its height is 3.6 inches. The size and more specifically the short height of the iRobot allows it to get under most types of furniture to get at the dust on the floor.
It’s not too heavy at 8.5 pounds. The weight is light enough that you’d have no trouble carrying it from one room to another. Yet it’s not too light that it’s easy to overturn.
On top, you can find the home button and the spot cleaning button, and in the middle there’s the prominent “clean” button. These buttons allow you to control the 960 manually, in case you can’t be bothered to find the other controllers.
At the front of the robot vacuum cleaner, you can find the embedded camera that functions very much like the unit’s eyes. This is the component that helps the iRobot navigate itself around the room. At the back, you have the usual dust bin which you empty whenever it’s full.
Underneath the unit you’ll find a couple of roller brushes, which actually do much of the hard work. They work together to loosen and lift all types of debris, including the large clumps of dirt and tiny particles of dust. There’s also a side brush that you can activate to sweep along the baseboards, walls, and the legs of your furniture.
The underneath of the 960 also contains sensors that detect higher concentrations of dirt that need a more vigorous type of cleaning. Of course, here under the robot vacuum you’ll find the wheels that allow it to move efficiently throughout the room.
The iRobot Roomba 960 has Wi-Fi capability, though this is limited to just the 2.4GHz band. So you can use your smartphone to control the 960 with the iRobot Home app, which you can download from Google Play and the Apple App Store. Setting up the app isn’t all that hard, as you get precise instructions on how to connect it to the Wi-Fi.
This is also compatible with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands, so you can just verbally order it to work.
Cleaning with the 960
If you just got the iRobot Roomba 960, you will have to charge the robot vacuum in the included docking station. You’ll need about 3 hours to get it fully charged. During this time, you can of course download the app to your smartphone and set it up.
Also, you can prepare the room you’ll want to try cleaning first by getting rid of clothes and other items like pens on the floor. You may also want to neaten up your cables.
To start cleaning, you can of course use the manual buttons though you should just use your smartphone instead. The voice assistant control works fine as well.
One of the advanced features that you get in the 960 that you won’t get from the cheaper models is that you have several cleaning pass settings to choose from. You can opt to have the 960 make a single pass over the entire area of the room. You can choose to let it do a double pass over all the areas, which does help tremendously in case it missed something the first time.
The third option is to let the robot vacuum decide for itself how many passes it should make. Usually, this decision is based on the size of the room, with smaller rooms getting a couple of passes or perhaps even more. A larger room gets a single pass so as to not waste time.
You can also select the “edge clean” option so that the unit will also clean along the wall edges and the sides of your furniture legs.
Your other options here include scheduling the 960 to work for the next 7 days at the times of your choosing. You can also get various stats from the app, like the number of cleaning jobs it has done and the total time it has on the job. In fact, it can even tell you how many times it has detected dirt.
Dealing with Different Floor Types
What happens when it encounters different floor types like hardwood and carpets? Its sensors can effectively handle these different types of floor surfaces, with a set way to clean for each type. Its performance on carpet is just as good as what you’d get from a stick vacuum, due to its “power lifting suction” and “premium 3-stage cleaning system”. On hardwood and linoleum, it’s even better.
Some other robot vacuums can be confused by rugs with dark colors and borders, and even the Roomba 690 has problems with those rugs. The 960, on the other hand, has no problems with such things.
It can suck up all manners of dirt and debris, from dust, food crumbs, tracked-in dirt, and even cat litter. You try spreading around small bits of torn paper on the floor and the vacuum would get them all too.
If you have pets, then this is truly worth your money as it can get pet hair extremely well. Even in rooms where you think there’s not much pet hair, you’d be surprised at how much pet hair it can get.
If the dustbin fills up, then you’d get an alert so you can pause the cleaning and empty the dust bin. You’d also get another alert on the phone when it’s done doing its job.
So how does it move around? Does it do a bump and then turn style of movement? How does it deal with stuff on the floor like toys and pens?
The camera under the unit acts as its eyes, and it can sense other objects in its path. It hardly ever bumps anything at all, and it never even tries to just roll over an item on the floor even it was just a pen. Its default mode is to try to move around it.
So that’s how it goes—it movers around the room and avoids everything from items to furniture. It moves methodically instead of seemingly randomly, as it starts from one end of the room and then left to right systematically as it moves across the length of the room.
It is possible that its height may get it stuck in some places, so at first you need to monitor its performance. If you do find some problem areas, you can “wall” them off with the Virtual Wall Accessory.
Once it’s done, it automatically goes back into its docking station. It will also dock if its battery gets very low, and the battery life is about 70 minutes or so.
- It can really suck up all types of debris very effectively.
- Its navigation is almost flawless as it maps the area very well, and it moves methodically.
- It has no problems with different floor types.
- You can control through the app, or through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands.
- It has a high efficiency filter that captures up to 99% of allergens and dust as small as 10 microns.
- It’s very quiet.
- You can’t control it manually.
- It can be a bit expensive.
All in all, the iRobot 960 is perhaps the best value for money proposition in the entire Roomba lineup. While it’s not cheap, neither are its features. You get what you pay for, and here you get an extremely effective vacuum cleaner that can clean a room in about an hour with no trouble.
It’s true that the 980 is more advanced, and it’s probably what you should get when you have a large house with plenty of carpeted surfaces. That’s because the 980 has a longer battery life and the Carpet Boost feature which can really increase the suction power on rugs and carpeting. But those features will require you to shell out a couple of hundred bucks more.
However, if your home isn’t all that large and you don’t really have too many rugs, then this iRobot Roomba 960 is a great option. It really is like having a robot vacuuming your floor. Just keep the dustbin empty and schedule its cleaning time, and you’d get a week clean floors with no worries.