I For One Welcome Our Cleaning Robot Overlords
My main gift this holiday season was a new Roomba 560 floor cleaning robot. This brings the cleaning robot population of Chez Kimber/Woods to 3, including our original Roomba 300 series and the Scooba.
I wanted the new Roomba because I found that, with a two-story house, it was just inconvenient enough to move the one roomba between floors that I was less likely to go to the trouble to run it at all. We also found that the 300 series couldn't really deal with the area rug in our livingroom (we have concrete floors with one big run in the livingroom) and that the noise of running it on the concrete floors was just a little too annoying. So in short, the robot was underused and the house tended to be not as clean as we would like (but couldn't actually be bothered to clean ourselves, not being what you would call obsessive house cleaners).
The 500 series promised to address all those problems with improved tolerance of things that would stop the 300 series (such as cords, furniture it tended to get trapped under, and the edge of the rug), reduced noise levels, and more effective capturing of pet hair (the 300 tended to just push around big clots of pet hair rather than sucking it up).
So far I have been very pleased with the 500 series--if anything it exceeded my expectations. It is significantly quieter, handles the rug just fine, doesn't get trapped where the 300 did (we have one big sideboard with these decorative bits at the base that the 300 would tend to get wedged under, the 500 never does) and seems to have a longer battery life.
So now the old 300 lives upstairs where it can focus on keeping our master bedroom clean and the 500 takes care of the downstairs.
As I said in my report on the original Roomba, these are amazingly well-engineered products that can serve as models and inspirations for all of us that build things for other people to use. Compared to the 300 the 500 is not signficantly different but there are a number of minor but important refinements that add up to a much improved user experience, from the simplified controls (got rid of one button that wasn't of much use) to the better brushes to the easier-to-empty dirt chamber. And all at a reasonable price.
And it makes cleaning the house fun.