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A real mom of 4 reviewing various products & services with honesty & integrity. From natural beauty products to household items to groceries - the truth - so you can save dollars, time & sanity. No flames, no games, just a real mom reviewing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Robotic vacuums, or "Mom's finally gone hi-tech!"

So, I'd seen one of those little robotic vacuums at my aunt's home several Christmases back and I was thoroughly intrigued. I noticed that she didn't have carpet and figured that the robot was her way of dealing with the necessary daily cleaning that comes with non-carpeted floors. However, since there were so many folks there (my family is HUGE), I didn't bother to stop her and interrogate her on the qualities of her little robot friend. But, that little robot had firmly implanted itself in my subconscious for a later date. Shoot forward about a year to when we decided to get rid of our carpet due to family allergies and laid down wood laminate. It took me all of about 3 days to realize that I would never, ever be able to keep my floors looking pristine, nor even decent without a daily sweeping. And since I homeschooled with 3 kids (at that time), I simply couldn't do all that broom work. As I lamented my situation, that robot resurrected itself in my mind. "Oooh, that's what I neeeeed." So I began researching prices and, after the initial shock wore off, quickly relegated the little robot back to the recesses of my mind. At around $350, definitely NOT in my budget. Lo and behold, one day a month or so later, what did I see at my local Big Lots? A shiny, refurbished Roomba Discovery for $149. My husband quickly agreed on the purchase and we snapped up one of only 2 that were there. Score!
Now to the meat of it - My experience with Roomba: it is not perfect in it's capability to thoroughly clean, and it definitely loves hard floors better than carpet. It leaves dirt in corners, but it cleans under stuff, like my sofas and dining table. It can be set to clean while you do other things, but it will only clean one large floor before it needs recharging. While it is awesome for cleaning your hard floors, you will still need a regular vacuum for things like couches and drapes, etc. Sadly, my refurbished Roomba had to have a new battery within the warranty period (for free) b/c one of the battery brackets wouldn't stay "locked in". About half a year later the mechanics of it stopped working properly so I took it to a regular vacuum repair guy who fixed it up for $40. Then, later (about a year and a half) we had to buy another battery, as the life of this one was depleted (they run a hefty $69.99). Still, I gladly shelled it out in order to avoid my vacuum and broom on a daily basis. However, after about 3 years, the little robot passed on. It just ceased to function one day. I was definitely out of my warranty period, but, when I called iRobot, they let me know of their "out of warranty" program, whereby I got a discounted Sage Roomba for a mere $99, because they didn't need to send me virtual walls, remote and such because I already had that stuff. Pretty good. So, now I (or really my oldest son, who is in charge of roomba-ing the dining room & kitchen nightly, and the living room a couple of times a week) can breathe a sigh of relief. Because, let me tell you, for the couple of months that we went without our robotic friend, I was sooooo missing that little guy. And my floors were pretty gross. Now, I'd probably buy it again, even at full price, after saving up for it. But I'd probably look for a good deal on ebay first ; ) So, refurbished may not be a great idea, seeing as how we had a number of issues; and I probably wouldn't get it if I had mostly carpet. But for us, I'd rather spend my time with my kids, so it's hi-tech cleaning...or else...well...dirt.