Here we are, taking a peek at iRobot’s attempt to access customers with normal-sized pockets for a change. This looks like the start of a big shift in the industry. I expect to see far more cheap robot vacuum cleaners in the next couple of year from companies such as iRobot or Neato, which were used until recently with a customer base from the “upper society”.
The entry-level line of iRobot Roombas which includes the 690 and 694 models comes feature-packed. Being a 600 series model, it’s pretty affordable. It’s a sub $350 bot from iRobot that’s Wi-Fi enabled and that offers full app-based control. There aren’t many products which can brag with these options. Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, it can also respond to voice commands. The large air intake, coupled with a good motor and a decent battery are some of the strong points of the 690/694 Roomba. But is it the right choice for your home? Let’s find out.
- 1 Design and appearance
- 2 Specifications
- 3 Wifi connectivity guide
- 4 iRobot Roomba 690 vs 694
- 5 Pros
- 6 Cons
- 7 Final comments and VGMrv
Design and appearance
Here’s my video review. Unlike the tests I’ve done with lots of previous robots, the “Dirt detection” feature makes it almost impossible to fully test it based on my ordinary routine. Still, as you can see, I’ve done my best:
iRobot has always been secretive about the suction figures of their products. What is known about the 690 is that it has a 3-stage cleaning system. A side brush drags dust from corners and edges while the suction and rotating main brush devour everything. The iRobot Roomba 690 has a 33 watt motor that delivers a pretty good suction strength. The suction is sufficient for hard flooring as well as low-pile carpeting. When tested on high-pile carpets, the Roomba performs like any other robot vacuum – it’s not really working. It shouldn’t get stuck, thanks to the grill which hosts the counter-rotating double brushroll. Here’s how the bottom of the robot looks like:
Unfortunately, users can’t adjust the suction power nor the cleaning mode. iRobot urges customers with good programming skills to try and tweak their software, yet for the rest of us, we are restricted to using a single button for turning the cleaning on or off.
The Roomba 690 comes fitted with a 2100 mAh lithium-ion power pack. You need to charge your robot for 3h before you can start using it. On a full charge, the unit delivers about 60 minutes of cleaning time before it autonomously makes its way back to the charging dock. Once the battery is fully depleted, it takes about 180 minutes to get back to 100%. For the sake of comparison, the cheaper Roomba 650 takes about 180 minutes to charge up completely, while the iLife A6 takes a significantly 200 minutes more. At first glance, the limited 60 minutes of running time may seem inadequate. However, the iRobot Roomba 690 comes with more than a few smart navigation features that helps it to get more done in less time. Here’s a pic with the robot calmly charging on its charging bay:
This is where the iRobot Roomba 690 truly excels. Armed with a mammoth 20 oz (600 ml) dust tank, it can easily store 2 to 3 days’ worth of dirt and debris. The larger dust tank capacity also makes it ideal for families with furry animals. Clearing the dust tank is a hassle-free chore that involves pressing a button, sliding the bin out of the unit, and emptying it over a trash bin. Sure, it would have been easier to access the bin from above. Here’s how the bin looks like:
Unlike most robot vacs at this price point, the Roomba does not offer HEPA filtration. HEPA filtration is a must-have feature when cleaning up fine particles such as spilled talcum powder and microscopic dust. Ditching HEPA filters, the Roomba 690 uses a dated AeroVac filter that comes standard with 500 and 600 series models. The compromised filtration system is a drawback and it can be a potential deal breaker if you’re suffering from allergies. However, if you’re a normal healthy person, you most likely won’t notice this.
Weight and Dimensions
The Roomba weighs 7.8 lbs which is about 3.5 kg. It’s a pretty standard weight, considering its competition, the Neato D5 Connected, weighs about 7.5 lbs. The Roomba 690 is actually a bit lighter than the 650, which weighs 7.9 lbs. Its symmetrically circular body measures 13 inches at its widest point. It’s slightly smaller than the 650, which grants it better maneuverability around tight corners and obstacles. The unit sits 3.7 inches off the ground. This means it may struggle going underneath furniture with low-hanging bottoms.
For the complete list of what’s included in the box, check out the specifications section above. What I really liked about this Roomba is that it packs in everything you need to start using it right out of the box. For example, iRobot even gives you a pair of AA batteries to power the virtual wall barriers. Including an extra filter, iRobot shows that they still have their eyes on the details. The cleaning tool is a helpful addition that allows you to remove tangled hair and dust particles from the main rotating brush. The 690 also comes with virtual wall barriers that allows you to cordon off areas with much ease. Here’s the full contents of the box:
The 690 delivers all the features you expect from a mid-ranged bot and more. It also comes with the reliability and durability of a typical iRobot product.
- App-Based Control – The 690/694 are the only 600 series models which are compatible with iRobot Home app. Using the app, you can schedule, start, or stop a cleaning session and get cleaning updates on your smartphone when you are outside.
- Voice Command Compatibility – If you connect the iRobot Roomba 690 to your home’s Wi-Fi network then you can control the device using voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
- Dirt Detection – Armed with iRobot’s patented Dirt Detection Technology, the Roomba 690 prioritizes spots that are dirtier than others. This allows the bot to spot spillages and dust piles on the floor and clean them before cleaning the rest of the house.
- 2 Virtual Walls – there are many other robot vacuums out there which don’t feature these, although they are even more expensive.
Usability and Algorithm
The Roomba 690 does not have a laser scanner to map the floor area. However, it does come with iRobot’s iAdapt Navigation technology that uses a gallery of sensors to allow the bot to smartly navigate around complex obstacles. The sensor suit includes a cliff sensor that prevents it from falling down from stairs. iAdapt also includes a special wall-hugging navigation pattern to clean the edges of a room. All 3 buttons, “On”, “Spot” and “Home”, are located on the top of the case, for a facile access:
Unfortunately, you can not run the Spot cleaning, nor you can command the robot in a specific direction from the app. All you can do (except looking at the stats of the machine) is either start the robot, or send it back to its base.
Much like most robot vacs, the iRobot Roomba 690 comes with a 12-month limited warranty. Perishable parts such as filters and brushes are not covered under the warranty. If you buy from Amazon or GearBest, you shouldn’t worry – you can enjoy their great warranty/return policy.
On Amazon, you can enjoy a faster shipment of the model 690, especially if you’re a prime member. On GearBest, you will find the best price of the 694. Use the coupon code “IROBOTRB” and get enjoy a great discount which will lower the price even more.
Wifi connectivity guide
First and foremost, you need to download the iRobot Home app. It’s available on both IOS and Android:
Next, you need to follow the guide of the app. You will have to connect your robot to your home WiFi. Make sure you are using the 2.4 GHz router, not the 5 GHz. The WiFi module on the robot is not supporting 5 GHz networks. To do this, you need to simultaneous press both “On” and “Spot” buttons until you hear a distinct sound. After setting the network, your robot will look like this:
Notice the white WiFi sign which should remain continuously on. Honestly, it took me 5 minutes to set this up, and I’m not even a tech person like most youngsters these days, so I guess you’ll do just fine.
iRobot Roomba 690 vs 694
The Roomba 690 is exactly the same with the 694. The only difference is that the latter has a Chinese manual, and the writing on the box on on the top button of the robot is also written in Chinese. Everything else, from motor to side brush is the same.
- Huge Dust Tank: A bigger dust tank needs less frequent clean ups and is perfectly suited for big homes with multiple pets.
- Smart Navigation: The iAdapt navigation technology by iRobot is a proven tech that cleans efficiently while protecting the bot from collisions and falls.
- Affordable: Considering the fact that this is a Roomba offering app-based control, there is no denying that the product is well priced.
- Dated Filter: iRobot saves cost by ditching HEPA filters for cheaper AeroVac filters and it’s definitely a drawback.
- Poor app control: I couldn’t operate the robot from the app like I wanted.
Final comments and VGMrv
Apart from the AeroVac filters, the iRobot Roomba 690 is a solid mid-range pick. If you suffer from dust allergy, we suggest buying a model that does offer HEPA filtration. If not, the compromised filtration system of the Roomba 690 is well-compensated by other features such as voice and app-based control. The cleaning power is more than decent, and the package contains all you need to get things going straight away. That being said, here’s like always, the VGMrv (VacuumsGuide.com Mark for robot vacuums):
VGMrv table for iRobot Roomba 690
|Weight and Dimensions||10|
(VacuumsGuide.com Mark for robo-vacs)
What do you think about the Roomba 690/694? Was iRobot right to release a cheaper Roomba version for the masses?