Robot vacuums keep getting stronger and smarter and more automatic. But we still love the basic Roomba 694, and really any model from the 600 series, which has barely changed since 2012, when we first recommended it.
iRobot Roomba 694
This tried-and-true robot vacuum is much more durable and repairable than similar bots from other brands. It’s better at cleaning rugs, too. It’s a nimble navigator that rarely gets stuck, though it works best when it only has to clean three or four rooms at a time.
Unlike newer bots, which use cameras or lasers to systematically navigate an area, the Roomba 694 basically just bumps into stuff and scoots away semi-randomly, over and over until the battery dies. It’s too aimless to be effective in big homes, and some people can’t get over how dumb it looks.
But in most spaces, the simple system works great.
Another advantage is that the Roomba 694, like other Roomba models, has two counter-rotating brush rolls, mounted in a suspension system, whereas every other bot at this price has a single brush sitting at a fixed height. The Roomba 694’s design helps it work better on rugs, especially when it needs to pick up a lot of hair. The Roomba 694 also has a dirt-detection system, which helps the bot reliably clean the most obvious piles of debris as long as it encounters those piles on its semi-random travels.
The Roomba 694 (but not all Roomba 600-series models) can connect to your home Wi-Fi network, so you can use its smartphone app to turn it on or off even if you aren’t home. It can create a cleaning schedule, check if the filters need replacing or the sensors need cleaning. You can also control it through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri Shortcuts.
Colin Angle, the chairman, CEO, and founder of iRobot, called the 600 Series “the most optimized and refined Roomba.” It’s the culmination of a decade’s worth of tweaks to the original Roomba design.