Robotic Vacuums

iRobot Roomba 790 Review

(Last Updated On: August 9, 2016)

If you are in the market for a robot vacuum, you may have come across the Roomba 790. The problem is, there are a whole lot of robot vacuums with different model numbers. It’s hard to tell the difference between them.

This review will break down the key features and Pros and Cons of the 790, in order to help you make a decision.

What are we reviewing here?

roomba1The iRobot Roomba 790 is the top  line model of the popular 700 series Roomba’s. It takes its place in a fairly long line of a robot vacuum cleaning machines from iRobot. With the introduction of the new 800 series there is now a good window to get a 790 at a decent price. Roomba’s can be pricey, so getting last seasons “loaded” model at a lower price can be a great value.

It’s got an impressive lineage and its raison d’être couldn’t be simpler. It’s designed to trundle around your house, vacuuming and cleaning as it goes, on a number of very different floor surfaces. In short, it’s an full service hands-free (mainly) device that is well on its way to making your old upright vacuum obsolete.

In this Roomba 790 review we will be looking at what makes this machine tick and whether it is worth the price for most consumers.

Key Features of the Roomba 790

The first thing to note is that you may need to do a little bit of research if you are considering buying one of these devices, as what comes with a standard purchase may vary slightly depending upon the supplier concerned.

It’s worth keeping in mind that some online photos and videos show the Roomba 790 trundling around with accessories attached.  Some of those accessories may be optional extras.

However, you should expect to see:

  • Unique Shape: What some people have described as the main ‘flying saucer’ shaped unit;
  • User Friendliness: A touch pad control, which can be used to give the robot directions if required;
  • Upgraded Cleaning Technology: An advanced cleaning head, which is claimed to be a big improvement on earlier models and which leads to the manufacturer’s claims of 98% removal of dirt and hair from surfaces;
  • State-of-the-art Sensors: Optical and acoustic sensors – to enable the more comprehensive identification of dirt and dust particles;
  • Dual Capabilities: Multi floor capabilities – handling both carpets and hard floors;
  • Advanced Filtering: Improved filters removing dust and pollen particles from the air – down to 0.3microns, which is impressive;
  • Low Impact Bumpers: Specially softened bumpers to prevent damage and scratching to furniture and other surfaces the robot comes into contact with;
  • Thorough Cleaning: What’s called persistent pass cleaning – in other words, the robot will sense when something is particularly dirty and go over it several times until it gets an acceptable result;
  • Hands Free Use: There really is no need to touch the Roomba, once you have a good routine and route set up. The docking station that the robot will return to automatically when it needs to recharge its battery. However, it’s still important to do a few “test runs” to make sure the device can clear lower to the ground furniture and deal with various household obstacles.
  • Clear Interface: An automatic ‘bin full’ indicator – basically letting you know that it needs to be emptied!

Does it Really work? 

To some extent, reviews of domestic robots are extremely difficult, and this is the case for any Roomba 790 review as well. That’s because what they’re designed to do, in terms of visible function, is pretty straightforward.

The Roomba 790, like almost all such devices, is designed to roll happily and independently around your house, sucking up dirt as it goes.

It’s possible to give it more or less free access to all areas though you can also use what are sometimes called portable ‘lighthouses’ that effectively put out an invisible  screen to tell the little fella either not to enter a room or to restrict it to a certain area of the one it’s in.

Does it do all this?

Well, yes it does!

Each one of iRobot’s products in this family has been a considerable improvement on what had gone previously, with the top-of-the-range 790 being absolutely no exception.

To begin with, it can be slightly disconcerting to have something effectively driving itself where it pleases and cleaning up in all those odd corners and hidden edges of a room that you’d prefer to forget about. However, you’ll soon get used to that.

Cutting to the chase, it pretty much does what it says it will on the box and on the whole does it very well.

Pros:

  • Good Design: Nice ergonomic design and what looks like good robust construction;
  • Good Suction: A surprisingly good basic vacuuming action.  It picks up pet hairs and dust, with the post-cleaning result being very visibly different and better than it was before your robot made its way around the surface;
  • Smart Navigation: It’s mobile and overcomes obstacles.  It will handle varying floor levels, say between hard and carpeted floors and gets ‘stuck’ far less frequently than you might imagine. It’ll even go over or around obstacles but of course, don’t expect it to climb stairs;
  • Covers Baseboards Well: Unlike some earlier models, its more advanced technology allows it to get right up alongside edges and into many, if perhaps not quite all, awkward corners;
  • Good Sensors: Not too many bits are ‘missed’;
  • Great value: As mentioned previously – with the 800 series out, prices have been decreasing for this higher end, but older, model. 
  • Truly Hands Free: It really is possible to forget all about it and just let it get on with its work! 

 Cons:

  • Price: Yes, prices may vary considerably depending upon where you’re shopping but you will need to be thinking about somewhere in the region of around $500-$650 for your new robot pal. I’ve had good luck finding deals here.
  • Might Not Quite Measure up to Upright Vacuum: Truth to tell, good as the basic cleaning is, it still doesn’t quite compare to some of the meatier-performance conventional vacuum cleaners. If you run one of those over a floor previously cleaned by the 790, there is a fair chance you’re going to find that you have still picked up some additional dust and hair. That may lead some to conclude that this is a subsidiary rather than a sole vacuum cleaner – and that might be seen by many as being something of an expensive luxury;
  • Not the Newest: If it’s important that you have the latest gadgets, the Roomba 790 is missing some minor upgrades that the 800 series has. 
  • A bit Noisy Still: Though quieter than many, it’s still a tad noisy to some ears.   

How does it compare to the competition?

It’s never really easy to compare a number of robot cleaners to each other because to be accurate, you’d need the controlled environments normally associated with a lab rather than a humble sitting room.

However, it’s possible to make some general observations about the 790 when compared alongside some of its major competitors like the VK range, Samsung and Mint.

Firstly, it seems to be right up there at the top in terms of technical sophistication.  Now some techno-heads might find obscure points to argue with on that but the 790’s twin sensors and other innovations make it ‘clever’ – however you want to define that.

OK, there are some new models in Japan that apparently have voice-recognition built in (if you can face talking to your vacuum cleaner) but they’re still largely novelty items.  The 790 and maybe VK are leading the pack right now in technology.

Secondly, it comes from an established stable and that suggests expertise and past success.  iRobot must be doing something right and you’ll get a good insight into that if you give the 790 a spin.  By contrast, some robots arrive, make an initial impact and then are never seen or heard of again – nor are their makers in some cases.

Given that consumer confidence in the manufacturer and guarantee are important, that track record counts for quite a bit.

Thirdly, with this being a slight negative, it’s also ahead of much of the field in terms of pricing – and not positively from the consumer’s viewpoint. If you’re price-conscious or to put it less discretely, a bit strapped for cash, there are far more attractively priced models around and that might hurt the 790’s commercial prospects somewhat.

Most of the competition at this price point comes from other Roomba’s or Botvac’s. In particular, these two stand out:

Roomba 860: What’s the difference? Well, the 860 features updated (more effective) cleaning technology. It get’s you closer to a true upright vacuum replacement. What you sacrifices is all the little accessories that come with the 790, but – to be completely honest – you can add these later as you need them. The Roomba 790 is also a lot harder to find in retail or online. When you can find it, it’s generally still pretty expensive. The Roomba 860 is a great mid-point price (check this listing). While it’s not the latest 900 series, it does offer significant improvements over the 700 series.

Conclusion – Worth it?

There’s no doubt that this is a very clever box. It also works well – and that’s not something that could be said of some earlier robots and maybe not all of the lower-cost models around today either.

For the seriously robot-orientated with some healthy disposable income, this will be a very popular model.

For those with budgets on their mind, some of iRobot’s lower-cost competitor or some of the cheaper competitors’ boxes might prove very tempting though. Hopefully this Roomba 790 review has helped provide some context and useful information for viewers. Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the page if you have any questions/concerns or user experiences to share.

UPDATE: The 790 has been essentially discontinued by iRobot. It’s increasingly hard to it, even online. I would recommend checking out our page on the top Roomba models here, to find a more cost effective alternative.

Where to Get the Roomba 790

You can find some of the best prices for this model by following this link to this particular product page on Amazon. This is the lowest price we have been able to find online and is a discount off of what you can expect to sell for retail price in store.

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn't have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

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