Thinking of a new pet? Get a Roomba instead.

We are excited to be giving away an iRobot Roomba 980 and were lucky enough to be sent one to test. Keryn Grogan, mum and member of our team, put it through its paces. Here is her review.

Before I became a parent, I’d heard stories of babies crawling around on the floor, picking up raisins abandoned in corners of living rooms and thought that I’d never neglect vacuuming long enough to let my kids do that. Five years and two kids later, my kids have probably eaten many dusty raisins, and worse, off the floor over the years. Let’s face it, vacuuming is not a task enjoyed by many, including me. So when I was given the chance to test drive an iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuuming Robot, me and my abandoned-raisin floors were pretty happy.

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It was great timing, in the week leading up to my daughter’s third birthday party. The robot would have a chance to be tested in the requisite pre- and post-party cleaning. The robot was even switched on during the party – not only does it clean, but it provides great party entertainment.

I was so excited to get it home and take it out of the box. Like all new toys, I wanted to play with it straight away, so I was impressed when I read the quick-start guide and found it comes partially charged so all I had to do was press the CLEAN button, and off the little robot started, buzzing its way around my living room. I watched the magic in amazement. My husband was sceptical and stood his ground when it buzzed toward him. It gently nudged his foot, then turned around and went the other way. My five year old jumped up and down like it was his birthday. My nearly three year old ran away. As I watched, the Roomba moved over a speck of something on the floor and it actually picked it up! Amazing.


The Roomba’s intelligent – it has an in-built navigation system that maps the whole room to ensure it doesn’t go over the same spots more than once. When it gets to walls or barriers it gently nudges them then turns around. It gets into corners and sides of rooms by slowly sweeping side to side, sort of like a mini street-sweeper. Watching it head straight towards the top of the stairs was nerve-wracking, but the instructions had said that it doesn’t go over them, and sure enough, it zoomed right up to the edge, stopped, and turned around. One of its most impressive tricks was my son’s favourite – simply press the home button and it turns around and heads back to its charger, where it manoeuvres itself on to the charging pad and goes to sleep, patiently waiting until the next time it’s called upon.

There’s an accompanying app so you can set it to clean your house while you’re out. Imagine coming back to a clean house, with your favourite circular robot asleep in the corner, having worked hard while you were out doing other, non-vacuuming stuff. This is the thing I loved about the Roomba, its multi-tasking abilities. Turn it on, and you can literally do the vacuuming while cooking dinner, playing with the kids, or even out and about. It would be a life-saver for pregnant women, older people, or those with back issues.

Of course, you still have to pick up toys, clothing, and tiny things like LEGO pieces off the floor, but when you vacuum you have to do that anyway. The Roomba is remarkably intelligent and handles most things it comes across. I watched it repeatedly nudge up to blown-up balloons leftover from the birthday party and it hardly moved them, let alone popped them.

We have a combo of hardwood, laminate, and carpet floors in our home and the Roomba handled them all. It understandably has a small rubbish compartment but it’s ridiculously easy to empty. I lent it to a friend who has a two-level, carpeted house with a cat and she said it picked up everything, cat-hair and all, with ease. The Roomba however can’t clean stairs, and if you have a walk-in shower you would have to watch it (or set up an invisible barrier using the Virtual Wall barriers provided), as it can’t handle water.

As I used it over a couple of weeks, my husband joked that the Roomba had become my pet. I talked to it like it could hear me, telling it to, “Come over here”, “Look at that!” and even complimenting it on the good job it was doing. If I’d kept it much longer I probably would have given it a name. After all, who wouldn’t like a pet that does what you ask, and cleans up after itself. That’s my kind of pet, and my kind of vacuum cleaner.