Advancements in technology have affected almost every aspect of our home lives, allowing more opportunities to incorporate automation and smart home devices into daily tasks that we’d otherwise have to do manually. And thanks to the continued optimization of robotic vacuum technology, cleaning your home is easier than ever.
iRobot was the first company to release the Roomba robotic vacuum for home use in 2002, and they continue to lead the pack when it comes to performance and design. In this article, we’ll focus on the the iRobot Roomba 980.
This robot vacuum is app-controlled and designed to clean carpets and hard floor effectively and efficiently, so let’s find out how well it performs.
Read on to find out more about the Roomba 980, including everything we liked about this vacuum and what we didn’t.
As far as looks go, the Roomba 980 has a sleek round shape that’s quite similar to its predecessors, but this one has a gradient brown to black color and a less cluttered interface. There are only three buttons to choose from – a large Clean button, a Spot Mode button, and a Home button.
You probably won’t need to use the buttons very often, though, since this version is WiFi-connected and can be controlled by your smartphone through a very user-friendly app that offers most of the functionality.
Since there’s no actual display on the unit itself, you’ll likely end up frustrated if you to try to do much more than manually start or stop a basic cleaning mode. That’s not likely to be an issue, though, since the vacuum is basically built for operation via the app.
This vacuum is short, at only 3.6 inches high including the camera, and this compact design allows it to fit underneath most furniture.
On the bottom, you’ll find two rotating brushes with rubber bristles and an edge sweeping brush that’s designed to sweep dirt, dust, and pet hair into the path of the brushes for a more efficient clean. This allows the vacuum to clean closer to edges and corners despite its round design.
This bot vac is designed to clean both hard floors and carpets with the Auto-Adjust Cleaning Head that optimizes its performance on any floor type.
It uses Smart Mapping and vSLAM technology to map out your home, taking note of where it’s been and where it needs to go next. The vacuum can detect the dirtiest areas in your home and spend more time on them to make sure it cleans them thoroughly, too.
Depending on the cleaning mode, you’ll get a decent 120 minutes of battery life before the vacuum returns to its station to recharge, which usually takes about 3 hours. Once recharged, the vacuum will continue to clean from where it left off before.
This vacuum comes with a HEPA filter, too, so it’s great for homes where air quality is a concern or if anyone in the home has allergies.
And if you live in a home with stairs, you don’t have to worry about your expensive vacuum taking a tumble, since it comes with Cliff Detect sensors that prevent it from falling down the stairs.
The Roomba 980 is one powerful robot vacuum, with its Gen 3 motor that claims to offers 10 times the air power of the Roomba 600 series when operating in Power Boost mode.
We’ve found that this vacuum certainly lives up to its promise of performance, and it does live up to that claim. It cleans quickly and uses an even, predictive pattern rather than random movements, minimizing the chance of any missed spots.
It provides excellent suction power and does a great job at picking up everything from cat litter and sand to even larger debris like cereal without effort. The only area where the performance lagged somewhat is on pet hair, but it still only left a slight bit behind on one pass.
This vacuum does do an excellent job at navigating itself over rugs without catching, as well as around furniture and obstacles without bumping into them. This is probably due to the fact that it uses IR sensors and an onboard camera to detect its surroundings, as opposed to previous designs that only used IR sensors.
If you have any areas that you don’t want it to go like near pet food bowls or in certain rooms, you can set up the two included Virtual Wall barriers to block off the areas. These partitions require the use of two AA batteries.
One important thing to note is that this vacuum is very loud, especially when it’s operating on carpet.
The Roomba 980 doesn’t require that much maintenance to keep it in good working order, but you will have to clean the dust bin and clear off the brushes regularly for the best performance. We would’ve liked to see a self-emptying dust bin, but that’s not an option with this version.
The dust bin is on the small side, too, so expect to empty it frequently, especially if you have pets or kids.
The HEPA filter isn’t washable, but you can tap it inside of the trash can or even use a hand vac to remove as much dust from the filter as possible. The filters should be replaced about every six months or so, depending on their condition.
You’ll also need to wipe the sensors and camera clean with a soft damp cloth to ensure the unit navigates correctly.
App and Accessibility
The iRobot Home app is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones, and it provides plenty of functionality in a clean, easy-to-use design. It also works with both WiFi and cellular data.
You can schedule cleaning dates and times, check on the status of the vacuum and get updates on maintenance, choose advanced cleaning modes, and view maps of where it has and hasn’t cleaned.
However, the app doesn’t display alerts if there are any issues with the vacuum, and you can’t assign the vacuum to clean specific spots, either.
The vacuum is compatible with Google Home, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa, so you can use voice commands for operation, too.
The Roomba 980 is quite pricey since iRobot vacuums are known as some of the best in the industry. You can find this version for around $900, and it comes with a 1-year limited warranty. This isn’t exactly the best warranty for the price you’re paying, but this vacuum is built exceptionally well.
Overall, in terms of performance, this vacuum earns high marks for suction power, efficiency, and long runtime. The inclusion of a HEPA filter is nice, too.
We liked the app’s clean and user-friendly design, but it could offer more options in terms of functionality. And the improved navigation is a big step up from its predecessors.
If you can overlook the higher price, loud operation, and limited controls for manual operation, the Roomba 980 is a great option if you’re considering a robot vacuum.
iRobot Roomba 980 Review
- Overall - 8/108/10
The iRobot Roomba 980 performs quite well in most categories, and is a decent choice if you’re looking for a robot vacuum that’s includes smart features and app connectivity.
Writer and Product Researcher
Spending the last 10 years researching and writing about various home, garden and electronics topics, Shelley is more than qualified to write for Meccano Home. Her work has been featured on eBay, Pottery Barn, SFGate, TheKnot, Williams-Sonoma and various other blogs and websites.