It’s safe to say that robotic cleaners have come a long way since they first launched back in 1997. Those early models looked a lot like a boozy uncle at a Thanksgiving gettogether, repeatedly crashing into doorway over and over and over. Today’s models have sobered up and are packed full of features that have redefined automation and convenience.
You wouldn’t think that there would be a huge difference between various robotic cleaners and while many of them operate on the same platform, there are subtleties that help you choose the perfect component for your individual needs. One of the biggest factors that consumers look for in the robot is size which can be a slippery slope. On one hand you want a robot that is compact enough to get into the most cramped spaces but at the same time a mini robot will fill up its dirt tray on the first swipe and you’ll work more dumping that than just dragging the stand-up vac out of storage.
Comparisons of home robotics from the same manufacturer can be tricky, mostly because they bill themselves with many of the same features that ‘sets them apart from industry leaders.’ Even so the Roomba 650 and Roomba 760 have enough differences that could have consumers pondering over the two. We’ll put away the cranberry wine and turkey dressing and delve into those differences:
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About the Roomba 650
The Roomba home robotics vacuum is an interesting product in regards to style, functionality, and some of the other traits that usually set consumer items apart. For example how important is a sleek design or a robotic vacuum that runs fast when all you really want it to do is pick up all the excess pet dander and other allergens littered all over the floor? For the most part consumers would or should be happy with a device that cleans up the dirt and debris efficiently and doesn’t cause too many headaches from running into the wall repeatedly or instantly making a bee-line for electronics cords.
If you’d like to read my full review of the 650 that I did a few months ago, check out this article.
In a way it’s the functionality that sets apart the Roomba 650 from the Roomba 760. Most robot vacuums have the same basic designs from the floor creeper to the brush that gets in corners to the dirt bin and top mounted controls. Much like a regular vacuum you aren’t going to really win any style points from robotic vacuum to robotic vacuum, especially two from the same manufacturer.
As one of the cheapest Roomba’s out there (save more here) it’s not asking too much for high performance from the Roomba 650, especially considering that competitors low-end models can be purchased for around $100. It should be noted though that the Roomba 650 is still considered a medium-level product mostly because there are robotic vacuums that retail upwards of $1,000 believe it or not (and they don’t even make breakfast or feed the dog.)
Roomba 650 Functionality
Since most robotic vacuums are very similar in looks and functionality, what helps decipher them amongst each other is the onboard computer system contained within. How a robotic vacuum ‘sees’ is determined by a combination of room mapping, wall deciphering, spiral patterns, and randomized directions. How elaborately these are programmed and the power behind them determines how well a robotic vacuum can sense dirt while constantly moving and also knowing when to ‘go home’ to recharge.
The great thing about robotic vacuums is that if there are issues that arise they generally aren’t due to operator error on the human end. This is because the controls contained on the robots are really very simplistic. In the Roomba 650 for instance there is a hard to miss ‘clean’ button on top of the device. This flashes green when ready to use, yellow when charging and red when the battery has died. The other two main buttons on the robot are a dock button and a spot button. “Dock” tells the Roomba 650 to go recharge itself while the spot invokes a deep cleaning, more intense cycle. The Roomba 650 is considered more of a higher end model within iRobot’s 600 series as it also includes a scheduler feature accessed via a button as well as another button to display the date and time.
Roomba 650 Performance
Something to be prepared for when using any robotic vacuum is ‘potty training’ them so to speak the first few cycles. What this means is that you’ll want to watch the Roomba 650 as it cleans first off to eliminate obstacles that it might repeatedly encounter and second to dump the dust bin frequently. The Roomba is going to go places you may not have since move in day like under beds and nightstands and into other crevices of the house. One of the common complaints with any robotic vacuum is that the dust bin isn’t large enough but for catastrophic messes a handheld vacuum or ripping up the carpet completely is generally recommended.
One thing about the Roomba 600 series as a whole and especially the 650 model is that they are really only feasible for single room cleaning. If the 650 is not confined by either permanent or temporary boundaries it will simply bob from room to room without really deep-cleaning any of them. When a Roomba 650 is confined to a single room the combination of random algorithms determining its cleaning path and bump sensors sending it all sorts of directions looks like a patient in a strait jacket bouncing off padded walls – albeit with clean floors afterward.
Roomba 650 Features
The Roomba 650 does contain a ‘dirt-detect’ feature which is a sensor that can identify excessive amounts of debris in an area and pay extra attention to that spot. Also any of the early Roomba owners will tell you that one of the most frustrating things about owning the product was the inconvenience of the machine getting stuck on anything from floor thresholds to padded rugs. The Roomba 650 is one of the first of iRobot’s robotic vacuums to focus on improving artificial intelligence to help prevent these hangups, which ultimately drain the battery and leave the floor just as dirty as the start. It should be noted that the Roomba 650 is far from being ‘trap free’ but the add on accessory of virtual wall beams can help cordon off potential trouble areas.
Roomba 650 Intangibles
One thing that should be noted is that the Roomba 650 is much quieter on carpet than it is hardwood, stone, and other flat loud surfaces. This is beneficial not only to the purchaser but also if they live in an apartment with fussy neighbors. Some other things to take into account is that the recharge time for the 650 can exceed 6 hours compared to 45 minutes of cleaning which means a whole house may not be done over the course of a work day.
About the Roomba 760
The way iRobot defines their products is that the higher up in the series the more ‘top end’ the devices become. For this reason it’s not hard to assume tha the Roomba 760 offers better performance and offers more features than the 650. For only a $50 price increase (see here for latest pricing), many consumers would simply opt for the 760 model but if that’s the case what’s to stop a person from buying the top end 800 series? Value needs to come in features that will be used and price compared to its predecessors.
Similarly to the 650, I’ve done a full review of the Roomba 760 at this page.
Roomba 760 Functionality
The main difference between the Roomba 760 and 650 is that the higher end model is listed for both pet and allergen cleanups whereas the 650 is recommended more for pet only. The main way that the 760 accomplishes trapping more dander is with a dual HEPA filter that encapsulates up to 98% of the debris it encounters. The Roomba 650 on the other hand may allow a lot of the dander it cleans up back into the room due to its lack of filter. Two other significant areas where the 760 outperforms the 650 are in run time (90 minutes compared to 60) and charge time (3 hours to 6 hours). Since both devices can be scheduled to clean when a homeowner is gone, the product that charges quicker and runs longer has a better chance of completing the task.
Roomba 760 Performance
Obviously more would be expected of a higher end Roomba vacuum and the 700 series does offer some significant improvements over the 600 predecessors. One of the biggest advantages of the 760 is the built in virtual walls that keep the machine cleaning while avoiding obstacles that could send it to another room or trip it up. Also including some room defining beacons the 760 is built more for room to room cleaning rather than being stationary in a single spot. The 700 series also have an optical sensor compared to an ultrasonic one so large messes are easier detected while snags are more likely to be avoided.
Roomba 760 Features
The Roomba 760 has similar features to the 650 although they may work better because of advanced robotics. There is scheduling and auto-docking and the 760 even features remote control operation. The Roomba 760 is also $50 less than other models in the 700 series which does offer some value. Either way it, like almost any robotic vacuum, is far from exempt from the issues that plague the machines from tangling, clogging, and other things that prohibit efficiency.
Tale of the Tape: Roomba 650 vs 760 Head to Head
|Roomba 650||Roomba 760|
|Dimensions||13.39″ x 3.62″ , 7.9 lbs.||13.9” X 3.6” , 8.3 lbs.|
|Battery Time||60 minutes, 5 hour recharge||90 minutes, 3 hour recharge|
|Warranty||12 month robot, 6 battery||12 month robot, 6 battery|
|Price||see here for latest||see here for latest|
Of course different qualities are more important for various consumers but personally for an extra $50 the more efficient battery and charge time is worth an extra $50. A HEPA filter (and remote control) make that choice that much easier.