iRobot Roomba 980 Review – The Good, The Bad, & The Bottom Line

As if we needed an excuse to hang out on the couch a few minutes longer, iRobot’s Roomba 980 has given us just that – app control to conduct your easiest floor cleaning efforts ever. In this article, we’re going to review the Roomba 980: what it is, pros and cons, and the ways it can be controlled. Basically, if you have a smart phone and this robot vacuum, you can clean your floors from anywhere in the world with this robot vacuum. Interested? Let’s dive in.

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What is the Roomba 980 ?

The iRobot Roomba 980 is a robot vacuum that, essentially, cleans floors without someone physically manipulating the vacuum. It’s a self-sufficient cleaning device.

What the Roomba 980 Looks Like: Design & Features. The Roomba 980 is, like other Roombas, a flat and round vacuum. It is nearly 14” in diameter and 3.6” high, and it weighs a little under 9 pounds (8.7 pounds, to be exact). There are two primary rotating brushes and an additional spinning side brush to cover both the floors themselves and the wedges of the floor next to walls. The Roomba 980 houses a removeable dust bin (it’s smart, but not that smart).

Get it from Amazon: iRobot Roomba 980.

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There is a user-friendly focus with its centrally located and minimalist CLEAN, HOME, and SPOT MODE buttons. (CLEAN is the largest button, with the other two smaller buttons flanking it.) You can manually control the starting and stopping of cleaning cycles with these buttons. In addition, a row of LED indicator lights above the buttons indicate wi-fi connectivity, troubleshooting required, battery charging, full dust bin, and dirt detection.

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The robot vacuum comes also with two AA battery-powered Virtual Wall Lighthouses, which can be easily set up to serve as a projected boundary, across which the Roomba 980 will not pass. Also, a Halo mode can be used for protection around sensitive areas, such as pet food and water bowls.

What Makes the Roomba 980 Different from Other Robot Vacuums. What has just been described, however, isn’t anything all that different from many of the robot vacuums on the market today. Yet the Roomba 980 is different. How? This robot vacuum is equipped with wi-fi connectivity, which means that you can control the vacuum via its smart phone app. You can schedule routine cleaning cycles, control suction boost on carpets (“Carpet Boost”), request two cleaning passes for an extra-clean floor, and even use a perimeter clean mode (“Edge Clean”).

It should be noted that the added features, such as Carpet Boost, require more work from the motor, which of course will decrease the battery life for that cleaning cycle. On hard floors and in the standard cleaning mode, the Roomba 980 can clean continuously for up to 2 hours.

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Pros & Cons Of the Roomba 980

Pros of the Roomba 980.

Based upon a variety of reviews, the following features are Roomba 980 benefits:

  • Self-sufficient robotic vacuum that is practically unstoppable during cleaning and that can differentiate between hard floors and carpets/rugs, altering cleaning methods automatically for the best clean on that type of floor.
  • Wi-fi connectivity (on both android and iOS devices), which allows the robot vacuum to be controlled remotely via a smart phone app and/or Amazon Alexa.
  • Long-lasting lithium ion battery (an upgrade from other Roomba models’ NiMH batteries). This new battery type is designed to maintain consistent powerful suction for longer during the Roomba 980’s cleaning cycles, as well as have a longer overall lifespan before needing to be replaced.
  • Three cleaning brushes (two 6.2” rotating brushes, one spinning side brush) and a dust bin that are all easy to remove and clean.
  • Additional sensors, such as a floor-tracking sensor, which allow the Roomba 980 to adeptly navigate through and clean your house’s floors despite changes in floor types, furniture placement, and even clutter. These sensors give the Roomba 980 more information as to where it’s already been and where, map-wise, it still needs to go to clean.
  • A low-resolution camera. Coupled with the added sensors, Roomba 980 is able to use grid-based movement mapping for greater efficiency and accuracy in cleaning.
  • Two Virtual Walls, included, which are powered by AA batteries and can be set up to define boundaries to keep the Roomba 980 out of specified areas.
  • Sleek, matte look, with a color that’s somewhere between black, brown, and even grey. Modern, simplified interface with just three buttons on the Roomba 980 exterior: Clean, Home, and Spot Mode.
  • A voice to communicate what is needed, such as error numbers or the fact that it is stopping because it needs to be recharged.
  • Satisfying transitions onto/off of rugs, along with a good cleaning capacity on rugs of various piles.

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Cons of the Roomba 980.

Nothing is absolutely perfect, and the following features are Roomba 980 disadvantages:

  • Expensive, coming in at around $900 USD. This is a couple hundred dollars more than several other popular robot vacuums.
  • Advanced features are available only through the iRobot Home app; there is no remote control with this robot vacuum, because the smart phone IS the remote control.
  • Suction performance isn’t superior enough to some of the previous Roomba models or other robot vaccums on the market to justify the added cost.
  • No readout or notification for remaining battery life.
  • Doesn’t connect with third-party devices, such as smart home automation systems.
  • Noise level. Not the quietest robot vacuum on the market today; while it’s not blatantly noisy, it is difficult to watch television or have a normal conversation in the same room as the Roomba 980.

How does the Roomba 980 Work?

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Manual Control of the Roomba 980.

If you’re looking to use the Roomba 980 via manual control, you’ll see three distinct buttons on the outside of your vacuum. These are easy to spot because there’s nothing else on the outside of your vacuum.

  • CLEAN button: Press the large, centrally located CLEAN button one time. This will “wake up” the robot vacuum. Press CLEAN a second time to start the vacuum on its cleaning cycle. If you need to pause the vacuum while it’s going, press CLEAN again while it’s running. Holding CLEAN button for a couple of seconds will end the cleaning cycle.
  • HOME button: Pressing the smaller HOME button (on the side of the CLEAN button) will return the Roomba 980 to its docking station, where it will recharge as well as shut down.
  • SPOT MODE button: Press the smaller SPOT MODE button (also located on the side of the CLEAN button) one time to focus Roomba 980 on one specific area. The target area will be about 3’ in diameter. This button is specially designed for particularly dirty areas (not the whole floor), where a concentrated cleaning effort is required.

Smart App Control of the Roomba 980.

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Those who have smart phones, either android or iOS, will greatly enjoy the added controllability of the Roomba 980 via the iRobot Home app. To get this feature up and running on your phone, you’ll simply need to download the app while your Roomba 980 is docked in a plugged-in charging station. Setting up the app typically takes just a few minutes when connected to your local wi-fi network.

The Roomba 980 will actually emit audio cues during this process to let you know you’re on your way. Once you’re set up, you can play around in the app, easily navigating to a variety of controllability options. These include automatic scheduling for your Roomba 980 to do its thing, along with cleaning extras such as Carpet Boost, Two Cleaning Passes, and Edge Clean.

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Regardless of how you control the Roomba 980 initially, it is enabled with smart technology and sensors so that, the more it cleans, the smarter it gets with regard to areas that it’s already cleaned, areas that need additional cleaning, etc. Eventually, the Roomba 980 will get to a point that its open area cleaning consists of systematic cleaning swipes in parallel lined passes.

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The bottom line

Get it from Amazon: iRobot Roomba 980.

The wi-fi-enabled iRobot Roomba 980 is certainly an exciting and impressive smart vacuum in many rights. Some reviewers feel it is the best robotic vacuum on the market to date. It pushes the envelope in a variety of ways and with useful and interesting features that make hands-off cleaning much easier. However, coupled with the high cost of the Roomba 980, this convenience comes with a significant price tag. And some claim that the very cutting-edge features have somewhat sacrificed the aggressive and thorough cleaning capabilities one would hope for in a smart vacuum. But, overall, if you want to be able to just forget about your robot vacuum and come home to floors that are cleaner, the Roomba 980 is an excellent choice.

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