With the busy lifestyle most people lead, routine housecleaning chores sometimes get pushed onto the back burner. This can result in a buildup of dirt and hair that is not all that noticeable to the naked eye, but keeps a home from smelling fresh and may cause problems for people with allergies.
Having a little robot running around the house and vacuuming the floor while you are away at work or watching TV sounds like a great idea. These innovative devices have come a long way in the past few years.
Let’s face it, who wouldn't want to turn over their floor cleaning chores to a robotic vacuum cleaner that never complains and is always available?
Here we review the iRobot Roomba 690 robotic vacuum cleaner.
- Floor Types and Carpets
- Hard floors – wood, laminate, granite, marble, tiled, linoleum
- Light colored carpets, low-pile carpets (not shag)
- Junction between carpet and other flooring
The Roomba 690 comes with rechargeable battery, charging station, line cord, dual mode virtual wall barrier, extra filter, cleaning tool and owners guide and documentation.
The setting up of the 690 is quite easy. You plug the home base charger unit into an electrical outlet and place the Robot on the charging contacts. Then you download the app and setup the wifi to enable it to be controlled via the app and receive updates. Just enter your wifi info and press two buttons on the top of the Roomba and it syncs up in less than a minute. That’s it, you’re done – simple! (It’s only compatible with 2.4 ghz wi-fi router and not with 5ghz)
The Roomba 690 can be operated with an iRobot app you download to your smart phone and can also be connected to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
With the iRobot Home app, you can clean and schedule your robot vacuum anytime, from anywhere. Here you can turn on notifications to receive real time updates on cleaning jobs and more, all from you smartphone.
The app itself is pretty straightforward with features such as:
- Registering your product
- Naming your robot
- Showing you the most recent cleaning jobs and their status (e.g. if it completed the jobs) and the date and time it was started
- Keeping track of maintenance schedules, informing you when things need to be cleaned or replaced. It has a direct link to the Roomba store to order replacement filters/brushes/etc.
- Showing the status of the robot and how charged the battery is. Pressing the central button on the app instructs the robot to clean – even if you’re not in the house!
- Pre-setting a customized cleaning schedule up to once a day for 7 days a week. The app will keep you up to date on progress and will send you a message at job completion or if there’s an iIssue such as if your robot is stuck or having any functional problems.
- Accessing Tips and answers to commonly asked questions
All of that from the convenience of your smart phone
The Roomba automatically returns to its home base charger and recharges. There have been some cases where the robot can get trapped in an area by clutter and runs the battery dead, in which case you would have to take it back to its base to recharge.f you do not have a smartphone or you just don’t want to use the app, you can just press “Clean” on the robot itself to start it cleaning.
The top of the 690 has a carrying handle for ease of carrying, a clean/power button and a dock button. If you’re not using the app and, during cleaning, you wish to send the Roomba back to its charging station, you press the “Clean/Power” button followed by the “Dock” button.
Using the app however does allow you the ease of using your smart phone to give you the best experience because then you can run the vacuum even when you’re not at home.
The Roomba 690 cleans all types of floors and has an auto-adjusted cleaning head that automatically changes its height to keep the surface bushes in close contact with the different floor surfaces as it moves throughout your home.
The Roomba can climb transitions between different floor types but doesn't pick up dirt along the very edges of those transitions very well. This is quite common with all robot vacuums.
Its low-profile design allows the Roomba robot to clean under most furniture.
The 690 moves from room to room in a fairly logical pattern – more so than previous models.
The 690 has what is called a patented “3-Stage Cleaning System”. The edge sweeping brush catches dirt, dust, pet hair and other debris from the edges and corners of the room and sweeps it into the path of a pair of counter-rotating brushes, one brush to loosen the dirt and the other to pick it up. The debris is then sucked into the filtered dust bin. This patented system works well to gather and remove dirt, dust, hair and other debris from your floors.
The built-in filters capture the fine dust and debris that the 3-stage cleaning system throws up thereby helping to reduce exposure to allergens.
The 690 will clean under your bed or furniture if they clear the floor by at least 3.6 in (92 mm). If you find that it gets stuck under some furniture, you could always purchase some furniture risers to raise the furniture further off the floor.
It handles pet hair very well! You just have to empty the bin more often and clean the brushes more often.
It can even pick up Lego sized items but it's easy enough to retrieve them from the bin and doesn't seem to hurt the unit.
The Roomba, like the majority of other robot vacuums, can sometimes get stuck on things like shaggy carpets, rugs with fringes or floor heater vents. If you find this happening, you may have to remove or replace the offending rug. Heater vents can also be replaced with less “bumpy” ones.
With regards to noise level, the Roomba 690 is about ~68 decibels when on a hardwood floor but is quieter on carpet measuring ~64 decibels. These are relatively quiet by vacuum standards although not quiet enough to sleep through.
If you have an animal that has accidents, the Roomba or any other robot will spread that around. Yuck! If your animal has this problem then you should NOT buy this vacuum (or any robot vacuum).
Once the Roomba 690 is in the charging unit, its lithium battery takes about 2 hours to get fully charged. You should always store your robot charging on the Home Base charging unit so that it is always ready for action.
Cleaning time obviously depends on the size of the space to be cleaned as well as how dirty the floor is but runtime can be up to 1.5 hours.
irobot Roomba 690 Sensor/Safety Technology
The built-in dirt detector sensors warn the robot where there are concentrated areas of dirt on the floor allowing it to carry out additional cleaning to those areas. This does help to keep these areas cleaner to a certain extent. However, in the most trafficked areas, dirt can sometimes build up so fast and be so dense that only a steam clean every so often is able remove it
The Anti-drop/Cliff-detection sensors which are operated by infra red are located under the front bumber. These actively look out for stairs and other drops and prevent the Roomba from falling off. These sensors should be cleaned regularly with a clean dry cloth.
The Roomba can sometimes get stuck on dark carpets because it senses the dark color as a “cliff” or a drop off. If you are concerned with the dark carpet issue, there is a simple fix – Stick a piece of clear masking tape onto a piece of white paper and then cut out 4 small pieces to cover the sensors on the underside. It should then work on dark carpets. If you do block off the sensors, make sure that you block off any stairs so it doesn't fall down them.
Roomba incorporates light touch bumper technology which identifies walls and other obstacles. This allows the robot to slow down and gently touch the obstacle with its bumper before changing direction.
The Roomba 690 also comes with a Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier that tells the robot not to clean certain areas. As the name suggests, this can be used in either of two modes to suit the cleaning needs of your home:
- The first mode is “Virtual Wall Mode” where you set it to block off certain doorways or openings up to 10 ft (3m) wide where you don’t want your robot to enter. The device creates an invisible cone-shaped barrier up to 10 ft long that only the robot can see.
- The second is called “Halo Mode” where it creates a circular invisible wall that the robot will not enter. This is very useful if you have areas you want your robot to avoid such as a particular corner, under a desk or to protect such things as pet feeding bowls etc.
2 AA batteries are required for the virtual wall barrier.
The dust bin capacity is 300 ml. It is recommended that you empty the bin after each cleaning session.
13 inches dia. x 3.7 inches high (33cm dia. x 9.3 cm high)
Weight – 7.8 pounds (3.5 kg)
The iRobot Roomba 690 is constructed out of plastic with some metallic moving parts. The color is a combination of black and silver.
The iRobot Roomba 690 comes complete with home base charging station, line cord, Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier (DMVWB), 1 Extra Filter, a Flat Cleaning Tool and owner’s guide and documentation package.
There is only one DMVWB that comes with the vacuum and which enables you to block off one doorway or open space under 10 feet long or a curved zone. If you want the 690 to go between rooms and clean a larger area, then you will need to purchase another DMVWB.
As with any vacuum, there is some maintenance involved for example when hair inevitably gets stuck in the rotating brushes. The brushes and filter as well as the front wheel all need regular cleaning. This can be carried out with the cleaning tool provided and takes about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.
The filter and brushes will eventually need to be replaced, probably yearly, depending on how much you use your device. Replacement kits can be obtained from iRobot. The app tracks when you should be replacing/cleaning various components.
To keep your robot running at optimum performance, it is recommended that the front caster wheel is cleaned regularly. The caster wheel can be removed for this purpose.
1-Year Manufacturer's Limited Warranty
- App is easy to set up and takes you through every step
- Scheduling cleaning times is easy
- Cleans effectively, handling multiple surfaces and adjusts to carpets
- Low profile allows it to glide easily under furniture
- Good battery life
- Accurate dirt detection
- Quiet in operationConnects with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Can occasionally struggle to find its charging station
- Like many other robot vacuums, it can treat dark carpets like a drop/cliff
iRobot Roomba 690 Reviews and Ratings
There are over 1800 reviews on Amazon, the majority of which are positive although there were a few people who were unhappy with it. Some people suggested that the app should have a setting to allow the robot to clean dark carpets which the robot senses as a cliff. There should be a way to let the robot know that it is on dark carpet so it can turn off the cliff sensors.
Good value for money considering all the features you get.
It is interesting to note that the majority of customers really loved the device, but some were unhappy with it. In fact, 75% of reviews of the iRobot Roomba 690 tended to either be 5 stars or 4 star. This could have something to do with the customer's expectations for what a robot vacuum can actually do.
This robotic vacuum cleaner differs from the Ecovacs Deebot N79S which we review elsewhere on this site in that the Roomba has the addition of virtual wall barriers for sectioning off areas. It is also approx. $100 more expensive than the Deebot N79S.
As with all robot vacuum cleaners, even though they clean very well, it is still necessary to do some regular vacuuming every so often.
If you are looking for a robotic vacuum cleaner that can deal with pet hair, dirt, dust, allergens and more, and take advantage of the automation and virtual wall barrier, then the iRobot Roomba 690 could be the vacuum for you.