Review: Roomba 960
A robot vac that actually works.
When it comes to robot vacuums, Roomba has been a household name for many years. The company has a large selection of robot vacs to choose from giving you lots of different options. Their product line spans from the Roomba 690 that retails for $375 to the Roomba 980 which sells for $900. In the middle of the pack, you will find the Roomba 960 that will only set you back around $700. We’ll be checking out this model as the subject of our review.
While the 960 robot vacuum model is cheaper than the 980 by several hundred dollars, it shares some of the important features of the higher end unit. Below we are going to take a deeper look at the Roomba 960 and see what it can offer you. We will test this model to see if it meets our expectations. So if you are in the market for a new robotic vac you just might want to pay close attention to this helpful review.
The Roomba 980 Vs. The Roomba 960
When it comes to visuals the only difference you will notice between the 980 and 960 model is the color of each unit. The Roomba 960 is lighter grey than the 980 model which helps to set them apart. Both robot vacs measure 13.8 inches in diameter and are 3.6 inches tall. The controls of each model are located in the same area with a big clean button in the center. When you flip each of the units over you will find the same hardware which includes a side brush, two rollers, a front wheel and cliff sensors. As you can see both units functions the same when it comes to mechanical parts.
Now let’s talk about what sets these two models apart. If you were to place each of the units on the scale, you will notice the 960 model weighs 8.5 pounds and the 980 models weighs in at 8.7 pounds. Additionally, you will find the battery for each model is slightly different. The battery of the 980 will give you up to 90 minutes of vacuuming action on a single charge before returning to the charging station, while the 960 will give you about 70 minutes.
Another thing that is different about these two vacs is the operating menu. The 980 comes standard with a cleaning preference and will provide you with greater control of the vac. However, when it comes to the app, the Roomba 960 also features Clean Map Reports in the iRobot HOME App, which includes details such as Dirt Detect events, which are marked on the map with green (+) symbols. The only difference in the app between the 980 and 960, is the option to adjust Carpet Boost, which is found only on the 980.
Performance and Testing
So now that you have learned about the differences between the 980 and 960, it’s now time to focus on the 960 and how it performs. Most robotic vacuums clean in random patterns, which can cause them to miss important areas and leave behind more than a few dust bunnies. This can become very frustrating, especially after spending so much money on the unit that promises to keep your home’s floors clean. But the Roomba 960 follows a different route. Setting up the 960 was simple and I did so by linking it to Amazon Alexa. You can control the 960 with several different devices which will give you more options. The best suggestion is the iRobot’s smartphone app.
After testing the 960 model in my apartment, I was quite impressed with how it navigated each room. The 960 carefully and methodically avoided obstacles that included furniture by using the onboard camera system located on the top of the vac. The unit would even pause at times to calculate its route. While you should try to remove cords and other obvious obstacles, you don’t need to break your back to declutter the entire room before you send in the 960.
Many other types of robot vacs have a difficult time navigating different floor surfaces and even rugs can become a problem. When I tested other robotic vacs, the dark rug in my apartment always stopped them dead in their tracks. They would avoid the rug as if it was a brick wall. But the 960 smoothly transitioned from my hardwood flood onto the rug with ease.
However, when it came to cleaning underneath my TV stand the 960 got stuck. But with a few adjustments, you can use the unit’s virtual walls to block these hard to reach areas. This will help the bot save time and you won’t have to worry about digging it out from under your sofa. The virtual wall option is perfect for areas of the home that have a lot of furniture like couches and TV stands.
The Roomba 960 Is an Efficient Cleaner
As you have learned above the Roomba 960 is a very efficient and effective cleaner. While the unit’s battery only allows it to clean for around 70 minutes it really utilizes its time wisely. During my apartment test, the 960 did two cleaning runs in the living room, kitchen and hallway in just 45 minutes. After it thoroughly cleaned my floors surfaces twice, it did not have any trouble docking automatically. This was impressive and in our opinion, the unit is perfect for those who live in smaller homes and apartments. While this model might not be able to handle a larger home on just one charge it certainly can accommodate apartment dwellers.
Purchasing a Roomba 960 is quite the investment. You will have to shell out $700 for the unit but we feel that its money well spent. Compared to the more expensive Roomba 980, you are really getting great value for your money. The 960 has many of the same advanced features of the 980 for a fraction of the price.
If you are still torn between the 960 and the more advanced 980 it really all comes down to one thing. The size of your home is a big determining factor. If you have a large home that full of carpeted floors, then you may benefit from spending the extra few hundred bucks and purchase the 980. It has a larger battery which will last longer and a carpet boost feature. On the other hand, if you are like most of us with a normal sized home and a mixture of hardwood floors and some carpet the 960 is your best bet.