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iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

Clean quietly... or there will be... trouble

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Review Robots. Everybody loves them, but not many of us - unless we're members of the armed forces, cybernetics profs, supervillains etc - actually get to own one. Unless you invest in a domestic droid from iRobot.

Which brings us to the Roomba 560. We've been trying this out for about a week now, having sorted out an initial technical hitch. When it arrived, a nameless individual at Register Hardware plugged the Roomba's power brick directly into the wall using an ordinary US-UK adapter. Be warned: doing this caused the brick to emit smoke and die, necessitating a replacement.

iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

iRobot's Roomba 560: three laws safe

An adjustable-output laptop power gizmo set to the same voltage won't cut it, by the way. The Roomba's battery-management kit won't put up with anything but the company's approved amount of juice.

The correct solution for readers in Blighty is the purchase of a UK-to-US converter, which delivers a lower-voltage supply much like that across the Pond. The iRobot brick can cope with this, and the Roomba can then be charged up. The first time it does so, the machine's software needs to condition the battery and takes about 16 hours to do it, so don't expect to get going straight away.

Once charged, the Roomba is simplicity itself to operate. Just plonk it down in the area you'd like cleaned, and press the button marked Clean. The flat, low-slung unit laughs at most sofas, chairs etc, happily trundling about beneath them.

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