iRobot launches new Roomba 500 series robot vacuum cleaners. Puny earth dust stands no chance!

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Roomba560_onFloor.jpg

Remember the days when robo-vacs were greeted with slack-mouthed awe like they’d stepped out of a sci-fi movie? Those days are gone now: vacuum cleaning robots are on sale, they work, and for an increasing number of people, they’re just a part of daily life. iRobot has been one of the prime movers behind that trend.

Now it’s unveiled its latest line of Roomba bots, the 500 Series. The company claims they deliver “100% improved vacuum performance” (there’s a corking infomercial to be made out of that stat), and are cleverer, so able to extricate themselves from most household obstacles without your help.

I’m particularly loving the “anti-tangle technology” to get free of tassels and cords. Bet the Daleks don’t have that.

There’s also a built-in voice tutorial, so your Roomba will tell you how to use it, and a redesigned dustbin that holds more stuff before needing an empty. Meanwhile, Roomba’s motion system has been revamped, so it can cope with thicker carpets (hello dusty shagpile!) and move between different floor surfaces without blinking.

Oh, and Roomba now comes with personalisable faceplates, so you can choose between white, steel blue, champagne, burnt orange, silver, charcoal and chestnut. That’s right: chestnut.

The two you need to know about are the $299 Roomba 530, and the $349 Roomba 560. The main difference is that the latter has ‘Virtual Wall Lighthouses’, which are 4.25-inch towers that help the bot to navigate using RF communications, then send it back to base when it needs a recharge.

Both bots are on sale now in the US from iRobot’s own website, as well as Amazon and the Home Shopping Network, with more retail partners to follow this Autumn. No news on when they’ll make it across the Atlantic sadly.

iRobot Roomba 500 Series

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Stuart Dredge