Waiting for a better Roomba – iRobot is nuts

I’ve written about the robot vacuums called Roomba in the past, and my wife and I have been Roomba owners for quite a while. While we loved it when it workd, we no longer use our old Roomba Discovery because it died. After spending a lot of time cleaning and repairing the thing, it finally developed problems that required real service. The problem is there isn’t any from iRobot, who make Roomba. We can buy a new one, but they don’t service them. It’s either that, or buy a $70 battery and hope that fixes it.

So, even though we now live in a larger ranch house and a robot vacuum would be a great solution, we haven’t been using ours. Recently Susan and I were talking, and it came up, and I thought I would go see what iRobot had been up to.

They’ve gone nuts.

They have ELEVEN models. Eleven. Not only do they have way too many models, it’s very hard to tell them apart. Mostly it seems to be which accessories come with them or perhaps battery life. It’s not easy to figure it out.

They now go up to $550. For a vacuum with a life expectancy of perhaps a year and a half, with no ability for anyone to repair it when it breaks, which it will. This is crazy. It was a crazy price for a Dyson, which will last decades and surely is repairable by someone – maybe even Dyson. For a disposable appliance it’s rediculous.

They’re still fragile. Reading the reviews on Amazon, it doesn’t seem that the many design flaws of the original products have been resolved. They still need to be emptied after every use and frequent maintenance, and still have certain bits that die an early and frequent death.

The good news is that they offer a model at only $129. Even though that’s still more than I’m willing to spend on a disposable appliance, it does show they’re at least considering a reasonably priced product. They also now offer a wider array of spare parts, at highish prices, but at least they’re available.

iRobot: You need to make these things last, make them repairable so they’re not disposable, or make them cheap enough that we just don’t care when they die. My vote is to make them repairable. Preferably by anyone who’s willing to read a service manual and buy the replacement parts.

Still, it would be nice to have one with our kitchen being as large as it is. Maybe the local batteries plus can make a replacement battery…

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