Roomba 960 vs. 690: Which is Best?

In today’s smart home market, more and more people are turning to robotic vacuums to clean their floors. And why wouldn’t they? If you can program your vacuum to clean at certain times, isn’t that easier than dealing with dragging out the vacuum, plugging it in, vacuuming, then packing it back up? It’s a win for everyone.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at two of the more popular robot vacuums in the industry. Roomba is perhaps the most recognizable name in today’s smart vacuum market, so it’s no surprise that it puts out quality products. The Roomba 690 and the Roomba 960 are both great devices with some similarities and varying differences.

Commonalities

The two Roomba models have several similarities which are worth pointing out. Understanding these commonalities which help you in making the decision between which vacuum you choose. One such similarity, for instance, is that both model support wifi network connectivity. This means you are able to use Roomba’s mobile application to control your robot vacuum.

Both the 960 and the 690 include rechargeable batteries made of Lithium-Ion, and both provide automatic scheduling. With automatic scheduling, you can set your robot vacuum to clean at any given point in the future. It’s a pretty nifty feature to use if you have a weekly vacuuming routine.

You can use the spot cleaning functionality through the mobile application with both robots as well, and they will both return to their respective docks when their batteries begin to run low. If you have a smart home assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, both robots can link to them, and if you have the need to create virtual barriers in your home to control certain areas, both the 960 and the 690 are capable of doing so.

Differences

When making a decision on which robot vacuum you want, you’ll want to see the differences too. While there may not be many visible differences between the two devices, there are several inconsistencies between the two that may help you make your decision.

One difference between the two is the cleaning technology each uses. The Roomba 690 relies on the three-stage Aerovac technology for cleaning, while the 960 takes things to the next level by utilizing the newer, more advance AeroForce cleaning technology.

You’ll also notice that the 690 uses an AeroVac micro-filtration system for filtering, while the 960 has a HEPA anti-allergy filter. Additionally, the 960 has rollers that do not have brushes, while the 690 employs counter-rotating brushes.

If the 690 is not explicitly told to continue cleaning after it recharges, it will not do so. However, the 960 will return to its dock automatically, recharge, and then continue cleaning, picking up right where it was. You’ll receive alerts when the 960 bin is full of debris and dirt, which allows you to clean it out as needed. The 690 does not provide such an alert, which means you have to keep an eye on the bin and clean it out regularly.

Lastly, there are a few differences in the way the Roombas use navigation. The 690 uses iAdapt technology for navigation and mapping, while the 960 uses the newer iAdapt 2.0 platform. While the 960 has a camera mounted for navigation and mapping purposes, its counterpart does not.

Features

Now that we’ve visited the similarities and differences between the Roomba 690 and 960 let’s take a look at some of the features they offer. Some features you will realize are nice to have, but you can live without, while others are ones that you require in a robot vacuum.

Navigation

With the integration of the iAdapt 2.0 technology into the 960, the Roomba robot vacuum made took a huge step forward in the mapping and navigation department. Not only does the newer platform allow for improved navigation and mapping, but it also provides better movement around obstacles when vacuuming.

The initial version of the iAdapt technology works fine but does not include navigation. As a result, the 690 navigates an entire area, but without rhyme or reason. With the newer version, the 960 behaves in a more natural manner by using straight lines and providing more thorough coverage throughout the home.

Camera

In regards to camera availability and usage, the 690 lacks both. It relies on physical and acoustic sensors, which allow it to navigate obstacles and obstructions. As mentioned in the previous section, the navigation and mapping on the 690 work fine, but if these are important to you, you’re better off going with the 960.

The 960 does have a built-in camera that sits atop the robot vacuum. By using the newer VSLAM technology, the 960 has much greater navigation and mapping capabilities. This means that the robot can provide a more accurate map of an area since it can better determine the layout of a given room.

Extractors

Roomba’s 690 robot vacuum makes use of counter-clockwise rotating extractors made of bristle. The robot uses these extractors to loosen up dirt and other hard to remove debris. You might find something similar to these rotating bars on your upright vacuum. The problem with these types of extractors is that threads, string, and hair can easily become tangled in them, which means you’ll have to clean them off regularly.

The 960, on the other hand, has brushless extractors, which means fewer tangles with long hair or string. This means that maintenance required on the 960 is much lighter and easier since you’re not constantly fighting with trying to untangle pieces of string and hair.

Filters

Roomba’s robot vacuums have always used microfiltration, and these two models are no different. The 690 has an AeroVac filtration system that collects smaller particles in its AeroVac filter. Its counterpart, the 960, uses a HEPA filtration system, which boasts that it can collect up to ninety-nine percent of the allergens and dust you find in your home.

If you’re a home with allergies or pets, the 960 and the HEPA filter is the way to go.

Level Cleaning

Both Roomba robots have the ability to clean an entire area if you specify doing so. However, the 960 is the only one that provides what Roomba refers to as “entire level cleaning.” This means that when the 960 begins cleaning, it will continue to do so until it determines it is finished. If necessary, the robot will return to the dock and recharge, then resume where it was once finished charging.

Just like the 960, the 690 will find its way back to the dock when it determines it is time to recharge. The difference is that it will not resume cleaning automatically unless you manually tell it to do so, which can be done via the Roomba mobile application, or by pressing the clean button on the robot.

Multiple Pass Control

Something new available on the 960, but not on the 690, is what Roomba calls Multiple Pass Control. This feature lets you initiate a second cleaning over a specific room or area in order to get a deeper clean.

This functionality is ideal if you have pets, small children, or people in your home with allergies. For areas that are continually messy, like under the dining room table, then you may need to send the robot through a second time for a more thorough cleaning.

You can set this option to automatic so that the robot doesn’t have to be told every time to give a particular area a second go round. If the 960 senses that there is additional cleaning required, it will automatically return to the necessary area and go over it again.

Edge Cleaning

A new technology that the Room 960 has that its counterpart does not is the Edge Cleaning Mode. The 690 does have the ability to clean corners and edges with its side brushes, but the 960 takes things to the next level. Edge Cleaning Mode allows you to dictate to the 960 which corners or edges require more cleaning.

When Edge Cleaning Mode is enabled, the robot will revisit the specified areas on the map and use its side brushes to dislodge debris and dirt from the corners and edges. Edge Cleaning Mode allows for a more thorough and deeper clean. The disadvantage of using this mode is that the 960 runs slow, which means your battery life will not last as long as it usually would.

Spot Cleaning

A fun feature for both the Roomba 690 and 960 is spot cleaning. Controlled by Roomba’s mobile application, you can tell your Roomba where you want it to go and which specific area needs a more thorough cleaning.

When you activate the Spot Cleaning function, the Roomba robot vacuum will make its way to the indicated spot, make a few passes in a circular motion, then send you an alert that the selected area is clean. Once the Spot Cleaning is complete, the robot will continue on its course, picking up where it left off during its cleaning cycle.

Mobile Application

Your Roomba 690 or 960 robot vacuum has the ability to connect via wifi to your home network. Doing so will allow you to establish connection and control to your smart vacuum through a smartphone mobile application.

Roomba’s mobile application lets you start a Spot Cleaning event as mentioned in the previous paragraph, start a cleaning cycle, make your vacuum dock, or schedule cleanings. There’s also the ability to name your robot vacuum. The beauty of the mobile application is that it allows you to control your robot no matter where you are. If you need to schedule or start a cleaning while you’re on vacation or traveling for work, you can do so.

Smart Assistant Integration

Both the 690 and the 960 are able to connect to your home wifi network through not only the Roomba mobile application but also through additional smart home technologies.

For example, you have the ability to use voice commands through the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to control your robot vacuum. This type of functionality really comes in handy if you are busy doing something else and you see a spot that needs additional cleaning.

Roomba 690 Summary

The Roomba 690 is a great robot vacuum for anyone needing one, and has many features that you’ll enjoy. Here are a few of them:

  • You don’t have to worry about recharging your 690. It will dock and recharge on its own when necessary.
  • Spot cleaning is a useful feature that will be put to use more often than you might expect
  • It integrates with both Google’s Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • Virtual barriers keep your 690 confined to a specific area or room
  • Roomba’s mobile application lets you take control your robot vacuum

Roomba 960 Summary

In comparison with its counterpart, the Roomba 960 provides more features, some that may appear optional but might eventually turn into something you consider a must-have. Here are some you might like:

  • The 960 has a built-in camera with advanced technologies that improve navigation and map creating within your home
  • Extractors without brushes require less maintaining
  • With the Entire Level Cleaning mode, you know each area will be thoroughly cleaned, even if it requires your robot to recharge
  • If you have pets or allergies, the HEPA filtration system is a must have

Comparison

Let’s take a look at how the Roomba 690 and 960 stack up against one another. The table below provides a good idea of how they compare side-by-side.

  Roomba 690  Roomba 960 
Vacuum Tech  AeroVac  AeroForce 
Navigation Tech  iAdapt  iAdapt 2.0 
Built-In Camera  No  Yes 
Entire Level Cleaning  No  Yes 
Virtual Wall Barrier  Yes  Yes 
Filter  AeroVac  HEPA 
Full Bin Indicator  No  Yes 
Smart Home Integration  Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa  Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa 
Spot Cleaning  Yes  Yes 

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a new or updated robot vacuum, you can’t go wrong choosing either the Roomba 690 or the 960. While the Roomba 960 has more features than the 690, the initial purchase will also cost more. Is it worth it to you to have the features? Or would you prefer to save the money?

If you’re the type of person that needs to have complete control of your floors, you may want to consider going with the Roomba 960. You’ll get additional and updated features like Entire Level Cleaning and advanced navigation and mapping.

However, if you would prefer to save a little money, but still get a quality robot vacuum, the 690 might be the right answer for you. Your home will still get a good, thorough cleaning, and you still have plenty of features to use.

If money isn’t a factor, you’re better off going with the Roomba 960. While you’ll spend a little more money, you’ll soon find the additional features are worth the cost.