The iRobot Roomba 880 is the most recent addition to the Roomba family. It is the “next-generation” of Roomba’s, featuring the latest mapping technology and robotic vacuum mechanics.
So what is the big deal? It can be confusing to decipher the subtle nuances between each generation, let alone the distinctions between the model numbers. While some have become expert users of these devices, most consumers understandably struggle to make an informed decision.
This comprehensive Roomba 880 review is intended to lay it all out on the table. We will look at all of the leading features, what’s new, and the various pros/cons of the Roomba that iRobot still struggles with.
By the end of this review, you will know all you need to make a clear decision. You might even find that the 880 is not necessary for your needs and you can save money by going with an older generation.
Contents (Jump to)
New Features of the Roomba 880 vs 700 Series
- AeroForce Performance Cleaning: This is the flagship improve of the 880 model and something which iRobot promotes to as the main selling point. AeroForce features dual extractors to double down on suction power and effectiveness. The vacuum is now a “brushless systems”. One of the main revolutions of this system is by “streamlining” airflow. iRobot boasts that the 880 has improved airflow efficiency over 5x from previous models. Bottom line: this feature makes the Roomba 880 a more powerful vacuum. It is being marketed as 50% more effective at picking up dirt, dust, and debris.
- Tangle-Free Debris Extractors: This is another new feature for the 800 series. This essentially leads to a more efficient process and fewer tangles. This is a very real problem for robot owners. Previous generations would occasionally become tangled and result in lower performance and/or error codes.
- Larger Dust Bin: Because the new system is more effective at picking up debris, the dust bin has been expanded over 60% in capacity. In our tests, this did not necessarily mean that the vacuum could go longer without being emptied. It only meant that the vacuum was more effective at filling up the bin in about the same period of time.
- Comes With Remote Control: The Roomba 880 may not have WiFi capability, but it does come with a handy remote control. This means less chasing and bending down to control your little robotic friend. Definitely a big plus for those with mobility concerns (or for those couch potatoes among us).
- Quieter: The 880 is advertised as being quiter than its predecessors. It was hard for us to tell, but it does seem to be a bit less noisy than the 700 series. It is not a dramatic improvement, but it’s still something.
What are the Pros and Cons of the Roomba 880?
- Scheduling: The auto-scheduling features are still best in class for the 880. While nothing substantial has changed from previous versions, this is still a key selling point. Being able to have the vacuum auto-clean at regularly scheduled times is a godsend.
- Persistent Pass Cleaning: One of the mainstays since the 6o0 series, this is still one of the best “pros” of going with a Roomba. The coverage technology developed by iRobot is still industry leading and automatically puts the Roomba in the top tier of robotic cleaners. While not a “new” feature this is still one of the top reasons to buy the 880.
- New Features: The AeroForce technology cleaning system is a significant improvement over previous versions of the Roomba. One of the biggest criticisms of the Roomba has always been that – while it has superior mapping technology – other vacuums like the Neato series had better suction power. The 880 certainly comes close to evening the score, although it is not entirely fair because we have not seen the latest next-gen improvements from competitors yet.
- Awesome for Pet Owners: One of the side benefits of having a more powerful suction system – combined with the HEPA filter – is that pet dander and pet hair are gathered up much more effectively. For pet owners with allergies, sensitivities, or just lots of messy pet hair, the 880 is the best Roomba yet at cleaning the house.
- Virtual Wall Tech Works Well: In terms of boundary management, iRobot really has cracked the code. The virtual wall lightouse devices mark the boundaries of “no go” areas via invisible lasers. In my experience, this is a lot more automated and efficient than the “boundary marking tape” used by competitors (or the complete lack of boundary containment for some).
- More Reliable: With each iteration, iRobot improves the reliability of their Roomba’s. The 800 series – including the 880 – offers a marked improvement over previous years. A lot of the common errors that plagued the early versions have been fixed. You will still occasionally run into problems, but the Roomba is starting to become a proven device (as opposed to a novelty item). Will it ever be perfect? Maybe not, but it’s getting closer.
- Noise: This has been an ongoing complaint for Roomba’s regardless of the generation. The Roomba 880 is still altogether louder than most of the robotic vacuum competition. This is a small price to pay, but it really depends on how much of concern this is for your living situation. It is still quieter than most traditional vacuums and they have made improvements with 880 model.
- Edge Cleaning: Despite it’s best efforts, the Roomba still can quite beat the optimal shape of the Botvac (Neato) robots when it comes to cleaning along the baseboards. The little edge brushes are helpful, but circular devices don’t play nicely with corners.
- Random Cleaning Pattern: This isn’t a “problem” in terms of technology, but some people don’t like the random cleaning patterns of the Roomba. Every inch gets covered, but not in a linear or organized fashion. This is a key distinction between Roomba and the competition.
- Price: $700 is still a lot of dough to shell out for a vacuum. While robotic vacuums are now maturing as a consumer product, the price tag for the 880 might not necessarily justify the improvements made. This Roomba 880 review is not about convincing you to buy this model. Some of the older models still perform well, but sell for a steep discount. In many ways, it’s like buying the latest iPhone. Depending on whether the new features matter to your lifestyle, it may be worth investigating other options and saving the money. UPDATE 9/10/15: The price was recently dropped by about $100 at the end of the Summer (in time for Holiday shopping). It’s now significantly less here.
Video Review of the 880
Roomba 880 Alternatives – How Does it Compare to the Competition?
Most of the competition for the 880 comes from the other Roomba models. In terms of functionality, both the Roomba 780 and 790 are worth looking at. One thing neither of them have; however, is a the vastly improved suction power and effectiveness of the 880.
Taking a broader look at other companies, both LG and Neato give Roomba a run for the money. Since the Roomba 880 is the latest model on the market, the LG HomBot 3.0 and Neato Signature Pro still have some catching up to do.
The case can be made that the Signature Pro is a more powerful vacuum, but the mapping system is still not as advanced as the Roomba series. Similarly, the HomBot is far more quiet than the 880, but is not quite as reliable from a general maintenance standpoint.
On the whole, the 880 is a solid step forward for iRobot. While not revolutionary across the board, they have made improvements to justify the sticker price. Ultimately, whether the new features are worth the price depend on the usage needs of each individual user.
UPDATE 9/10/15 – Neato BotVac Series: Neato has been hard at work trying to make up ground with iRobot. The released their Botvac series. At the time my experience was that it was just a re-branding of the Signature Pro, with not much fundamentally changed.
However, they have just released the Botvac “D” series. Key Improvements? 1) The Botvac D80 (full review here) has better suction than the original Botvac series. 2) They have ditched the main brush with the non sealed bearing. Instead, they’ve installed a brass bearing for the brush.
This is a bit technical, but basically this is an improvement. The original non sealed bearing caused problems with hair getting tangled frequently. The BotVac D80 has closed the gap some. It’s a much tighter race than before. You can find it here for a decent price.
UPDATE 1/7/2016: The Roomba 880 is no longer the latest generation. The new Roomba 980 was released in Q4 2015 and is now the flagship Roomba from iRobot.
Notable improvements include better suction, “carpet boost mode” and a revolutionary app-controlled WiFi functionality (probably the biggest game-changer overall). This allows you to control, monitor, ull analysis, check this article out.
UPDATE 10/19/2016: iRobot recently released a “mid-point” device between the Roomba 980 (above) and the 880. The Roomba 960 (full review here), is essentially the Roomba 880 + WiFi capability.
It doesn’t have some of the more advanced suction power of the 980, but by enabling WiFi iRobot has delivered a core feature (that almost everyone wants), without breaking the bank. The 960 is available here for a better price than the 980 (but more than the 880).
Overall: Neato robots clean in a straight, organized fashion. This is in contrast to the Roomba which appears to bump around somewhat randomly. A lot of people see this as a point against Roomba; however, in my experience this doesn’t lead to any difference in cleaning quality.
So, if you are OCD “how” the sausage is made then maybe the Botvac/Neato is for you.
Where to Buy the Roomba 880
The Roomba 880 is not an easy product to find right now. As an experiment of sorts, iRobot has only made the 880 available exclusively through their proprietary marketplace. For now, you can’t even find the 880 on Amazon. The only way to purchase it is by going directly to the site (following our link below).
Update: The Roomba 880 is now available here on Amazon, sometimes at a discount!