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iRobot may have invented the robot vacuum but, and like many industries, the people and companies that follow often end up innovating in new and important ways over the original product release. Many innovations and important changes in the robot vacuum industry can be attributed to Roborock, and that’s why we’re taking a look at what Roborock does better than iRobot Roombas.
The first vacuum that Roborock commercially produced, the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum, blew everyone’s minds with its laser-guided navigation that could simultaneously produce a scale-accurate floorplan of your home. Watching the vacuum move around the house and clean from the app on your phone wasn’t just surreal, it was clear what Roborock was planning for the future.
Many years later, there are plenty of reasons to buy a Roborock robot vacuum over other brands, but today we’re pitting Roborock against the grandfather of all robot vacuums, the iRobot Roomba, and we’re showing you 10 reasons why Roborock’s robot vacuums might be a better buy for you over a Roomba.
1.) It cleans better
What good is a robot vacuum if it can’t get to the places it’s trying to clean? One of the most important differences between iRobot Roomba robot vacuums and Roborock robot vacuums is their navigation.
Premium Roombas rely on a single camera up top to see the world around them, but this isn’t an ordinary smartphone camera, it’s a contrast camera. This low-resolution camera works by seeing the contrast differences between objects in your home. If there’s no contrast, the vacuum can’t seem them, thus highlighting the first problem: Roombas need light to work best.
Roborock’s laser-guided navigation works via a spinning laser array up top, which is not all that different from one of the types of navigation that a self-driving car uses. That spinning array bounces lasers in every direction around it and can see objects in any light due to the fact that a laser is its own light. Not only this, but lasers allow the vacuum to be ultra-precise. Millimeter-precise, in fact. That means a closer clean to every object and wall versus a Roomba’s camera.
Mapping presents the next area where Roborock excels at its job of being a home robot, and that’s because Roborock provides real-time mapping of your home, all visible within the app. At any time that the robot is vacuuming, you can pull up the app and see where the robot is at in your home, complete with the exact millimeter-precision path that the vacuum took while cleaning your home.
This map can later be used to draw virtual boundaries, clean specific rooms in the home, specify areas the vacuum also needs to mop, and plenty more. As it’s generated in real-time, Roborock’s maps are available the second the vacuum is done.
iRobot’s maps are less precise and, because of the nature of how the camera up top works, requires several cleaning runs in order to make a more accurate map of your home. iRobot even recommends that you run the vacuum at different times of day to help it better learn your layout so that it can work better in different lighting conditions, and none of the mapping or zone cleaning features are available until you’ve generated a satisfactory map.
There’s also no real-time mapping or location from a Roomba and only an approximate clean map generated at the end of runs. This map doesn’t show the path the vacuum took through the home and it only shows approximate areas where the vacuum was unable to reach rather than precise, to-scale information.
2.) Won’t beat up your furniture
You didn’t spend good money on your furniture just to have your robot vacuum mark it up, now did you? We’ve seen more than once where some robot vacuums, like Roombas, end up being too aggressive with furniture because they simply couldn’t see the legs of chairs and tables very well. This can all be chalked up to the camera that’s used for navigation.
As discussed above, the Roomba utilizes a low-resolution contrast camera to see the world around it. Small objects like furniture legs will sometimes not produce enough contrast for the robot to adequately see them, causing the robot to run full-force into your furniture’s leg.
This problem compounds itself when considering the camera’s angle, as the camera is recessed into the body and pointing forward at around a 45-degree angle. That means inevitable dead-zones in the viewing angle because the camera cannot see everything around the vacuum, only in a specific area.
Roborock’s laser-guided navigation is housed in a spinning array right at the top of the vacuum and shoots in all directions out from that array. This means everything around the vacuum can be seen and mapped, not just what’s in front of it. The 300RPM array is also unbelievably precise and can get the vacuum within millimeters of objects without ever touching them.
That means your furniture is just plain safer with a Roborock vacuum, as there’s never a worry about the vacuum smacking full-force into it. Since the robot’s laser-guided array up top can see 360-degrees in all directions, it knows what’s around it at all times and can properly plan a route for every circumstance.
Roborock further enhanced this with a recent navigation update that can more organically plan lines, meaning it doesn’t need to move in a straight grid-like fashion at all times but can deviate from its path to carefully fit into every nook and cranny.
3.) A clear voice you can actually understand
Most robot vacuums, including iRobot’s Roomba series, emit a series of beeps and clicks that are more akin to a Star Wars droid than anything. While these are cute and certainly give the device a personality of some kind, they’re not as helpful as a clear human voice would be.
Roborock’s vacuums all give clear, to-the-point messages that are easily understandable, thanks to clear enunciation and speakers that actually sound good. That means no crackled or muffled audio that you can’t understand, as you probably have had to deal with on other electronics in the past.
Roborock even offers several different languages for its error messages, which are all regionalized and created to best fit the markets they’re sold in. Beeps and boops are a universal language, of sorts, but nothing is quite as good as the clear, understandable language in your native dialect like Roborock offers.
4.) A better side brush
The little rotating brush on the side of the vacuum probably isn’t something you’ve ever thought about, but Roborock has you covered there, too. All of Roborock’s 2019 vacuums (the S4, S5 Max, and S6) all ship with a brand new type of side brush that’s made of a durable silicone material that’s both more resistant to the effects of time and simultaneously does a better job of getting dirt and debris out of corners.
The Roomba s9 on the right in the picture above is already showing significant wear on its side brush, even though the vacuum has only been in use for about 6 months. The same age Roborock vacuum on the left still looks like it did the day it came out of the box.
What’s more, this brush doesn’t just spin and spin without merit. Roborock created a motor that reacts to the environment around it and adjusts the rate of spin based on what type of floor it’s on and where the vacuum is in the house.
When these Roborock robot vacuums get into a corner or against a wall, the side brush spins up to knock debris back into the middle of the room for cleanup by the main roller brush and suction motor. While iRobot, too, launched a new side brush design this year with the Roomba s9, that side brush is still made of standard bristles that get bent over time and become less effective the more the vacuum is used. This is particularly true on carpets, which cause greater friction during cleaning, meaning the more carpets you have, the quicker this brush is going to need to be replaced to be most effective.
Roborock made a name for itself when it launched the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum in 2016 for a mere $350. With better navigation than any robot vacuum on the market, yet somehow a significantly lower price, Roborock etched its name into the minds of many consumers who quickly understood that a brain is a robot vacuum’s greatest strength.
That same mindset continues with all of Roborock’s robot vacuums, from the incredibly affordable E-series (also known as Xiaowa), to the premiere S-series with its mopping and advanced navigation. With a price range between $200 and $650, you can find a vacuum that fits your needs without spending an exorbitant amount of money on one.
No matter which robot vacuum you choose from Roborock, you can rest assured that it includes state-of-the-art navigation that’s not going to get lost and won’t have trouble finding its way around at any time of day, or worry about choosing a robot vacuum that’s going to have lackluster performance because you couldn’t afford the top-of-the-line model.
iRobot, too, makes a significant number of models with wildly varying prices, but you’ll have to pay a premium to get a Roomba with any kind of intelligent navigation on board. iRobot’s least expensive robot vacuum with visual navigation is the Roomba 960, which typically retails for $699.
That price gets you a vacuum with less effective navigation than Roborock’s laser-guided navigation, and none of iRobot’s robot vacuums include a mopping accessory; that’s all going to be a separate purchase and another robot taking up space in your home.
6.) Single-robot vacuuming and mopping
More homeowners are ditching carpet in favor of hard floors like wood or tile and, as such, are looking for a way to keep these surfaces cleaner than a simple vacuum can. There’s a reason things like Swiffer Wet Jets exist; people don’t want to mop but they have to do it every so often, but are looking for a way to make this irritating task less cumbersome.
Roborock has the best answer to that problem: let your robot vacuum do it for you.
Two out of the three robot vacuums that Roborock launched this year include mopping accessories (the Roborock S5 Max and S6). The Roborock S5 Max, in particular, is specially designed to provide a premium mopping experience in a number of ways. Hard floors need a different kind of cleaning treatment than carpets and, as such, having a mop attachment for cleaning these types of floors is vitally important to having the cleanest home possible. Not only that, but you can schedule the vacuum to mop every day, if you’d like, insuring your floors feel awesome all the time.
While Roomba’s do a great job on carpeted surfaces, a Roomba’s inability to scrub the floor limits its cleaning ability in this capacity. iRobot even makes a line of robot mops, known as the Braava series, but who wants to buy two robots when one can do the job? Certainly not me.
7.) Area rugs won’t trip it up
The Roborock S4 debuted a brand new type of drivetrain that’s better suited for homes with area rugs and tough to reach spots. In a home like mine, for instance, I have area rugs that jut right up against furniture. Typically, when my Roomba tries to clean under this furniture it gets stuck in the awkward space as the wheels can’t properly push it up and over the edge of the rug.
The Roborock S4, in particular, is built for this exact scenario and has no issues traversing even the most awkward area rugs and uneven corners of the house. That drivetrain works by providing twice the power to the wheels as previous motors and, while its maximum climbing threshold is half a centimeter lower, the double power means it won’t get stuck in the same annoying places that other robot vacuums will.
Even the high-end Roombas, like the i7 or s9, will get stuck when the space between the end of an area rug and a wall isn’t large enough for the vacuum to power through the hump.
I’ve seen this more than once with my Roomba s9+, which will have trouble undocking because its situated near the large area rug in the living room and will occasionally fail to vacuum the home because it can’t muster up enough momentum to hop over the rug.
8.) It won’t get lost in your bathroom
Bathrooms are a great example of why laser-guided navigation is superior in many respects. Bathrooms are often in the interior of the home and don’t typically have windows to the outside world.
While this isn’t a problem for humans (since we can just turn the light on), it is a problem for robot vacuums that rely on cameras to find their way around the house. As Roombas rely on cameras that need some sort of light to see, you might find your Roomba getting stuck in these spaces or not cleaning them as thoroughly as they would if a light were on.
Meanwhile, Roborock’s laser-guided navigation can see in all directions at the same time and, since the laser is its own light source, doesn’t need external lights to operate at peak efficiency.
In addition to that, the advanced navigation on a Roborock vacuum sends its location to your phone’s Roborock app in real time, meaning you can track the vacuum as its cleans your house and know exactly where it has been. The cleaning path taken is also displayed in the app, letting you know where the vacuum was able to clean and where it wasn’t. It’s also a great way to find the robot if, by odd chance, it does get stuck. Roombas will only sing a tune while you play hide-and-seek.
9.) Controls over multiple-pass cleaning
Sometimes a mess needs more than one cleaning pass in order to pick everything up. iRobot has a nice feature that’ll automatically make additional passes on a spot the robot deems dirty, but what is the robot mis-identifies a spot? You’ll just have to hope the robot gets it right.
You can manually tell the Roomba to make two passes during its cleaning, but this applies to the entire cleaning cycle, not just to one or two areas that might need an extra bit of TLC.
In the Roborock app, you can specify specific ‘zones’ in the house to clean, and you can choose to have each of these zones cleaned up to three times in a single run. That means the vacuum will make up to three passes in each individual section of the house, ensuring that all the bits of food under the dining room table get cleared away after every meal.
10.) Ultra-quiet operation
Vacuums aren’t typically known for being quiet. After all, powerful suction created by a motor has to generate some kind of noise, and most vacuums aren’t terribly concerned with whether or not they’re disturbing your peace. I’d bet more than a few kids out there have had their gaming sessions rudely interrupted by their parent’s vacuuming.
Robot vacuums changed this paradigm in a significant way, as they allow the adjustment of the suction to prioritize noise or suction level, introducing a vastly improved way of vacuuming a home. Roborock has been working tirelessly to improve its suction while simultaneously reducing the amount of noise its vacuums make. The result is a suite of vacuums that can not only pick up AA batteries in its highest suction mode, but one that’s barely audible in its lowest suction mode.
Roombas typically have two speed controls: Eco or performance mode. By default, the vacuum is set to auto and will switch between these modes, but two main options isn’t exactly generous.
Most of Roborock’s robot vacuums offer at least 4 speed settings; silent, balanced, turbo, and max. The Roborock S5 Max even introduces a new mode that’s intended specifically for mopping and makes almost no noise at all: gentle.
That’s a huge range of suction options to fit all sorts of different circumstances, and each of these suction modes can be used while scheduling cleanings with the vacuum.
Want to clean your dining room after dinner but don’t want to interrupt family time? Set it on silent and you’ll barely notice it’s there. Want to make sure all the junk in the carpet gets cleaned out while you’re away? Set it to max while you’re out of the house for the very best clean.
The best name in value
Roborock has been offering robot vacuums with unparalleled value for years now. With every release, Roborock has proven that it can provide top-tier robot vacuums without the expected premium price tag.
Every house is different. Some have lots of carpets, and others have no carpets at all. Some people love big, shaggy dogs, while others can’t stand the idea of shoes or dirt in the house. Whether it’s the economical Roborock E series or the versatile Roborock S series, there’s a robot vacuum to love for every household, every budget, and everyone.
Those looking for the least expensive way of entering the robot vacuum world should look no further than the Roborock E25. This robot vacuum features an "electric eye" on the front that can see where it is going and plan an efficient route accordingly. You won't get all the snazzy mapping features from Roborock vacuums with laser-guided navigation, but it will still show you a map of your home including the cleaning path after the vacuum finished the job.
Folks looking for a bit more features on their robot vacuum should check out the Roborock S4. This robot vacuum works best in homes that don't need to be mopped and retails for $100 less than the Roborock S5.
The upcoming Roborock S5 Max is designed for homes where mopping is a daily need. Homes that have wood and tile floors will find this robot vacuum particularly useful, as the app-adjustable liquid mopping controls will make a huge difference in many situations.
The Roborock S6 is the company's most well-balanced model that offers options of every kind, including a powerful suction motor, an ultra-quiet vacuuming mode, robust mopping functionality, and a feature set that continues to grow with regular software updates.