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iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

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

But how does it do at actually cleaning the floor? That mundane task is what it's supposedly for, after all.

In short: not very well. Roomba certainly didn't pass the wife acceptance test, and in this case we can see where she's coming from. The machine takes its time, going over every bit of floor repeatedly before it's satisfied, but the results after it eventually gives up are frankly unimpressive.

iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

Inspired by The Fifth Element?

We saw best performance on a smooth tile floor, but even here an ordinary broom seriously outclassed the pricey robot - and you'll still have to mop tiles occasionally, if the 560 is your only robot. In some rooms, the time taken to get rugs etc out of the machine's way and put them back afterwards meant that an ordinary vacuum actually demanded less user time as well as doing a much better job. The only area where the Roomba really scored was in cleaning under beds, sofas etc.

As a plastic pal that's fun to be with, the 560 is great - as a way of cleaning floors, not so much.

Verdict

There are plenty of reasons to buy a Roomba. Buy it because you want to bring the day of the proper robot butler a bit closer; buy it because you like neat gadgets; buy it because you'd like to own a nice piece of animatronic artwork, which is elegant and fun to watch. Even if you live in a single-level house with smooth floors and no obstacles, though, £250 is a lot to pay for a distinctly lackadaisical cleaning robot which will still need frequent help from you.

All that said, if your current domestic situation is such that any cleaning at all would be an improvement (bachelor flat, perhaps?) the Roomba 560 could help. At least until the dirt tray fills up - or it gets trapped under all the pizza boxes.

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iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

As shiny and cunning as you could ask for - it just doesn't clean floors terribly well...
Price: £250 / $500 RRP