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iRobot Roomba 530: Review!

November 30, 2009 | 2 Minute Read

roomba 530

I brought home a bundle of joy yesterday. No, I did not adopt a child or animal. But I do have a new pet: the iRobot Roomba 530 vacuum-cleaning robot!

I’ve wanted a Roomba for a while. It makes perfect sense: it’s a robot, which I love. It’s a vacuum cleaner, which I also really like. It’s also kind of a pet. I have to say that the way it moves around is pretty cute. There are really nice, nuanced touches. Like how it beeps as it backs up when it leaves its docking station. Or how it slows down a bit when it knows it’s gonna hit the wall. And it hits the wall a lot. It also plays a sort of sad sound when it runs out of batteries. The Roomba definitely has a personality.

In addition to just being a cool nerdy object, the Roomba does a pretty decent job. It picked up a bunch of gunk the first time it swept through my apartment. It seemed to prefer the living room, maybe because it was dirtiest? Or maybe because it liked the feel of the shag rug. I’m not sure. The algorithm that determines where the Roomba goes seems non-deterministic. So it ends up doing something different each time, but I think the algorithm also ensures that it hits all the spots a couple of times, and it apparently knows when it’s found some dirt, in which case it goes back for more. There are some really nice details about the design of the robot. It’s circular, which means it can turn with a 0 degree radius. It has a rotating brush thingy that helps it get stuff that’s in a corner. It’s also pretty short, so it fits under my couch and my bed. It’s only gotten stuck like once, and that was an edge case where it used a table leg as a ramp.

So far I am very happy with my Roomba. It’s cute, functional and gives some serious nerd cred. I realize that it’s only a matter of time before my Roomba gains sentience and tries to kill me in my sleep. For now, though, it’s worth saving the trouble of having to vacuum by hand all the time.