Last updated on November 6th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
The Roomba 960 is a great option for people looking for a robot vacuum with WiFi connectivity and Alexa compatibility. These features allow you to ditch the remote and just use your smartphone to control this remotely. If you don’w want to read the intro, jump directly to the table of contents section.
When the first iRobot came out more than 2 decades ago, it was a ground breaking appliance that did the vacuuming for you.
After two decades though, consumers demand more and with more people owning smartphones, manufacturers had to adapt and design their products with smartphones in mind.
The Roomba 694 (or Roomba 690 for U.S. markets) is the result of this adaptation by iRobot.
To give you a little history, before the 690/694 came out, Roomba had the 650. And when competitors started to come up with robot vacuums that had WiFi iRobot had to adapt thus the birth of this variant and the 890.
The 694 is the Chinese version of the 690 but both of these robots have the same motor, dual brush system and will perform exactly the same.
What’s the difference then?
It’s all about geography. If you live in Asia like I do, you wouldn’t be able to buy the 690 in Amazon because they don’t ship internationally. So iRobot did the next best thing and partnered with GearBest to distribute the 694 in the Far East.
If you live in the United States, the best option would be purchasing it direct from Amazon for less than $300.
A quick look at the features
- WiFi-enabled with a smartphone app that allows you to have access to this robot remotely
- 3-stage cleaning system that includes the single side brush, counter rotating brushes and vacuum motor
- Dirt detect sensors will tell this robot to focus on areas that has more dirt
- Has a full suite of IR sensors that help it avoid bumping into obstacles
- 2,130 mAh lithium ion battery
- Dual mode virtual wall with 2-AA batteries
- 3 hour charge time
- 60 minute run time
- 600 ml dust bin capacity
- 1 year warranty
- The dual brush system does a great job on large and fine pieces of dirt
- Robust app that’s fast and responsive
- App is easy to install
- Decent sized bin that can hold up to 600 ml of dirt – that’s more than a Dyson V8 handheld
- Battery is easily replaced which bodes well for the longevity of this robot
- Thorough cleaning pattern
- Random cleaning pattern is not the most efficient
- Short warranty
- Taller than the ILIFE robot so it may not fit under as many furniture
First things first, the Roomba 694 is the same robot as the Roomba 690. Both variants have the same motor, side brush, counter rotating brushes, etc. Expect the same performance.
The only difference I see would be the packaging and manual. Everything inside the manual is written in Chinese.
Before I continue, please watch this video where I unbox, explain the features and test this robot…
I really like the packaging of iRobot. It’s made from high quality recyclable cardboard and the contents are securely packaged.
The Roomba 694 comes in a nice black and gray two-tone finish with 3 buttons on top. These include the clean, spot and home button. On top of it are LED lights for the battery and WiFi.
It also has a handle for carrying but don’t even try because it might break with the robots massive body.
Flip the robot upside down reveals a twin beater bar system that Roomba has been known for. The 694 comes with the same setup as the 650 and 690. These include the bristle and squeegee brush that work great on bare floor and carpet.
It also comes with a single side brush that surprising works well in the cleaning test.
WiFi and Smartphone App
One feature I like about the Roomba 690 would be the smartphone app that comes along with it. This app is compatible with both Android and IOS so anyone with a smartphone can use this.
If you live in the United States, just open the app store or Google play to download. But if you live outside North America, you may not be able to download the app directly.
So what I did was open iRobot.cn then get the app from this page.
The app itself is simple yet very stable. It does not have as much features as the Xiaomi. But it has all the necessary ones like cleaning and scheduling. One important thing is having access to the robot remotely.
Here’s the great part about the scheduling feature. You can schedule the robot to clean at different times on different days. There’s also an option for you to clean on specific days only.
For example, you only want it to clean only on weekdays. That is possible with the app.
Returning to base after pausing the robot
The iRobot Home app has a feature that gives you to continue cleaning or returning to home base after you pause the robot.
No access to spot cleaning
Unfortunately the app does not have access to the spot cleaning mode.
Connecting the app and robot
One device you need to connect the robot and app would be a router. If you don’t have WiFi connectivity at home, this would not be possible.
Once you’ve installed the app, just follow the steps laid out on the screen. Don’t forget to turn on the WiFi on the robot for the connection to take place.
To do this, just press the home and spot buttons simultaneously. These buttons are located on top and bottom part of the clean button.
Again, please watch the video above to see how it’s done.
Counter rotating brushes
This robot relies on three brushes to clean floors – one side brush and a counter rotating brush system.
This is one of the few brands that use such system and is the best at doing so. All Roomba variants use the same dual brush system.
Lithium ion battery
Powering this robot vacuum is a 2,130 mAh lithium ion battery that takes around 4 to 5 hours to recharge. But it only runs for about 60 minutes.
Before the Roomba 900 series came out, all their robots used a random navigation pattern. But before the 600 series came out, iRobot’s algorithm was very aggressive. Aggressive means it bumps into furniture hard.
This helps clean edges better but the downside is a lot of scuffing on furniture.
When first 600 series robot came out, iRobot toned back this aggressiveness and it did not bump as hard.
Despite this change, edge cleaning is still good. Please watch the cleaning test in the video above to see what I mean.
The Roomba 694 also comes with a spot cleaning option that cleans a small area inside the room. Unfortunately this option is not available in the app. You’ll need to press the button on the robot to get access to this feature.
What you do is place the robot in the area you want it to clean and press the spot cleaning button.
Not very high tech but it’s effective.
So far, I’m only able to test the Roomba 694 on bare floor.
And the results are very good.
Out of the 40 grams of oats and powder, it was able to clean 39 grams. What was impressive was the cleaning capability of the counter rotating brushes.
The floor didn’t feel dusty after the cleaning test. Even though it was not efficient because of the IR navigation, it was very thorough.
Another downside to the inefficiency is the inability of this robot to clean multiple rooms without getting lost and not getting back to the charging dock safely.
Despite having only a single side brush, edge cleaning is also was great. It was able to pick up dirt on different edges and corners I scattered dirt on.
This particular variant is available in GearBest for around $400 but you can use the coupon code “IROBOTRB” to get a lower price.
You can also buy the Roomba 690 which is the exact same robot as the 694 in Amazon for less than $300. One advantage buying in Amazon would be the availability of the 2-day shipping when you join Prime.
The Roomba 694 or 690 is a great option is an oldie but with a modern twist. It has a lithium ion battery instead of a NiCad battery and WiFi connectivity with a smartphone app.
Cleaning performance is great and thorough. But don’t expect this to be efficient like the Roomba 980. This will work best cleaning one room at a time.
This will be able to clean multiple rooms but the more complex the room the higher the risk of it not going back to the charging dock.
If you don’t mind these limitations, this robot is a great option that’ll help you keep your home clean in-between deep cleaning cycles.