Robotic Vacuums

Roomba 960 vs 880 – Which Roomba is Better and Why?

(Last Updated On: May 8, 2017)

Two of iRobot’s best robot vacuums are the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980.  But which one should you buy?

There are so pretty clear reasons to go with one vs the other…

My Bottom Line Up Front:

About the Roomba 880

A Cut Above the 700 Series: The Roomba 880 utilizes a different AeroForce cleaning system that makes use of extractors made of rubber instead of the brushes used by the earlier Roombas.  The Roomba 880 is the first 800-series robot vacuum for iRobot.  At first glance, it looks very much like all the other Roombas that came before it: circular in shape, sharing the same dimensions and the same colors, and with the CLEAN button on top.

NEW Extractors: However, as mentioned above, the Roomba 880 makes use of a new AeroForce technology.  Gone are the pesky bristles of old Roombas, and instead you have rubber debris extractors in its place. These extractors rotate towards one another, breaking down debris, which is then sucked into the robot vacuum with its increased suction.

Extended Battery Life: The Roomba 880 also features the XLife battery, which stands for Extended Life Battery.  iRobot promises that the battery will give you twice the cleaning cycles compared to the Roombas using the Advanced Power System battery.  What it all means is that you get more from the battery before you find yourself ordering a replacement battery.

Core Functions: Aside from the HOME button, you also have the following buttons on top:

  • Dock: Tells your Roomba to go back to the home base to recharge.
  • Clock: Allows you to set the clock.
  • Schedule: Allows you to schedule a cleaning routine for your 880.
  • Spot: Triggers the spot cleaning mode where the Roomba 880 rotates around a small area giving it a more thorough clean.

Smart On-Board Display: There are also lights that help you understand what it is doing.  When the battery light turns amber, it means that it is charging, green light means that the robot is fully charged, and red means that the battery is drained.  The troubleshooting light comes on when there is a problem while the anti-tangle.  This also lights up when the Roomba 880 is trying to navigate itself out of a tangle.  Lastly, you also have the full bin light that alerts you when it is time to empty the dust bin.

Remote control.  The remote control gives you an easier way to dock the robot vacuum, set the clock or create a schedule.  The remote control also allows you to steer the Roomba 880 so that you could be sure that it covers a certain area that you want to clean, or, admit it, just to have a little fun with it.

ncluding the cliff sensors, which stop the vacuum from falling down stairs.  These sensors also guide the vacuum as it goes under furniture pieces or moves around obstacles.

What’s in the box

Aside from the Roomba 880, you will also find the home base, a pair of Virtual Wall Lighthouses with batteries, a remote control with batteries, and a free HEPA filter.

What you’d like about the Roomba 880

The Roomba 880 allows you to maintain the cleanliness of your house without having to interact with it often.

  • Smart Scheduling: You can set a schedule or press the clean button, and it will start cleaning as well as find its way back to its base for a recharge.
  • Good Navigating (Compared to Previous Versions): It has virtual walls and lighthouses that help it stay away from areas you do not want it to go and that help it find its dock.  Other than these, you can pretty much just forget about it.
  • Excellent New Extractors: If you have pets and they shed a lot, you would love the Roomba 880’s debris extractor.   It is much better at cleaning pet hair than the old Roombas.  That being said, the 880 is probably one of the best-performing Roombas in cleaning different types of dirt and debris.  It can go from carpets to hardwood floors to tile floors, and leave it all clean.

What needs to be improved

The dust bin is bigger than previous Roombas, but you will still find yourself emptying it a lot especially if you have pets at home.  And you have to be careful when taking out the full dust bin because if you get the positioning wrong, all the dust that the 880 has collected will end up on the floor.  In most cases, you might need to empty the bin before use.

About the Roomba 960

While the Roomba 880 was released primarily as a way to correct the faults found on the Roomba 790 – specifically how it fails at picking up some types of pet hair – the Roomba 960 was launched to offer buyers a more affordable alternative to the Roomba 980 (basically a striped down version WITH WiFi at a lower price).

  • Same Appearance: The Roomba 960’s appearance does not differ much from earlier models and it features the same Aeroforce debris extractors as the Roomba 880.
  • Same HEPA Filtration: It also has HEPA filters and a bigger bin.
  • WiFi Included: However, what sets the Roomba 960 apart from almost all Roombas is the ability to connect to your Wi-Fi network so that you could control it using your smartphone.
  • New vSLAM Mapping: There is also the onboard camera that gives the Roomba 960 the ability to see the area it is going to clean and map it more efficiently.  This technology is called the visual simultaneous localization and mapping, or vSLAM.  vSLAM helps the Roomba 960 know where it is and get around obstacles by tracking visual landmarks.  It is the best part of the new iAdapt 2.0 navigation technology that the 960 uses.
  • Smart App: The companion app allows you to start, pause, or stop the cleaning.  However, the best feature of the mobile app is that it allows you to manage your Roomba 960’s cleaning schedule.  The mobile app also shows you a log of your cleaning history.
  • Same Motor as the 880: The Roomba 960 does have the same motor as Roomba 880, and that is what accounts for the friendlier price tag.  Another reason for the cheaper price is that the 960 has a smaller battery than the 980, and consequently has a lower battery juice.

 

What you would love about the Roomba 960

  • Smarter Navigation: The Roomba 960 can efficiently map the area you want it to clean and it does so on its own.  What’s more, unlike earlier Roombas, the Roomba 960 resumes cleaning after recharging.  It just leaves the dock after getting a full charge and goes to where it left off and continues cleaning.
  • Smarter Features: The Roomba 960 gives you the best of what iRobot has been offering in various models, plus more.  The sensors and the camera make it more intelligent as far as mapping is concerned and the companion app and Wi-Fi connectivity help it compete with more expensive robot vacuums from other manufacturers.

What might turn you off about the Roomba 960

It is a cheaper alternative to the Roomba 980, but it is still more expensive than most other Roombas. You can check this listing for the best pricing.

Making it easier: side by side comparison

If you are still trying to decide between a Roomba 960 or a Roomba 880, then this side-by-side comparison might make it easier for you to make up your mind.

 Roomba 960Roomba 880
MSRPCheck hereCheck here
iAdapt navigationXX
AeroForceXX
Full bin indicatorXX
Auto RechargeXX
HEPA FilterXX
Carpet boost
Debris extractorXX
SchedulingXX
Manual dockingXX
Spot cleaningXX
Carrying handleXX
Built-in cameraX
Cleaning passes controlX
Full bin action controlX
Edge cleaningX
Lithium ion batteryX
Entire Level CleaningXX (with lighthouses)
Wi-Fi connectivityX
Remote controlUsing appX
Dimensions (d x h, inches)13.8 x 3.613.9 x 3.6
Weight (lbs.)8.58.4

 

Differences Explored and Explained:

The Same Motor: The Roomba 880 and Roomba 960 share the same motor, as well as several other technologies.  Both use iAdapt navigation, AeroForce vacuuming technology, HEPA filter, and debris extractor.

Same Core Features: Both models also have a full bin indicator, scheduling, and auto recharge features.  You can dock it manually or wait for it to automatically find its dock after cleaning or when recharging.  They can also give dirtier areas a good spot cleaning, but do not have carpet boost for cleaner carpets.

Both Allow a Form of Remote Control: However, while both of these robot vacuums have some sort of remote control, only the Roomba 880 has a physical remote control while the Roomba 960 relies on its app.

Slight Dimension Differences: The Roomba 880 is also a little wider and lighter than the 960, but they both have the same height.

960 is Slightly More Automated: Furthermore, while both promise entire level cleaning, only the Roomba 960 offers a hassle-free cleaning.  This is because the Roomba 880 does not automatically resume cleaning after recharging, unlike the Roomba 960 that picks up where it left off.  This means that you would need to manually resume the cleaning when you work with a Roomba 880 whereas you can leave the Roomba 960 alone to finish cleaning an entire level.

The 960 Has the WiFi App: The biggest difference between these two, however, lies in the 960’s Wi-Fi support and companion app which the Roomba 880 lacks, as well as the built-in camera.

960 Allows More Control + Edge Cleaning: Other features that are found on the 960 but not the Roomba 880 include the cleaning passes control, the full bin action control, and the edge cleaning.   The Roomba 880 also uses an older nickel metal hydride battery while the Roomba 960 uses the longer lasting lithium ion battery.

Roomba 960 vs. Roomba 880: What should you buy?

If you are the type that likes to keep the robot vacuum simple, then you can consider buying the Roomba 880.  It is a competent robot vacuum that efficiently cleans your floors without any hassles and it has great features to boot.

The Roomba 960, however, offers Wi-Fi support with a companion app that allows you to operate your robot vacuum even when you are out of the house.  You do not have to interact that much with the 960 and it can clean an entire level without your interference.

It also allows you to control how many cleaning passes it would make, and what it would do when the bin is full.  That is not a bad set of additional features for only $100 more.

Bottom Line: If you really want (and would use) the WiFi app features, go with the 960 here. Otherwise, stick to more affordable Roomba 880.

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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