by Garrick Dee
Updated December 3rd, 2018
The Roomba 880 is iRobot’s first product to use rubber extractors removes bristles from the equation.
They say that since it doesn’t have any bristles, it’s maintenance free.
But real world experience by consumers suggests otherwise.
Still the bristle-less nature of these extractors means less time pulling out hair and dust and more time cleaning.
Take note that the Roomba 880 is no longer in production and has been replaced by the Roomba 890.
What’s the difference?
The newer 890 features that’ll suite the 21st century home like WiFi connectivity and a smartphone app. It also uses newer Li-Ion batteries that’ll last and run longer without any power fade.
A quick look at the features
- AeroForce system uses bristle-free extractors and stronger suction from the vacuum motor to improve the 880’s cleaning performance
- Uses the iAdapt Response Navigation System – this is basically the same navigation system used in previous Roomba series
- Equipped with the improved XLife extended life battery that essentially doubles the cleaning cycles
- Scheduling feature up to 7 times a week (once a day)
- When the battery is low, it goes back to its charging station on its own to recharge and then goes back out to finish its mission
- Comes with an infrared remove that does not need direct line of sight to work
- Self-adjusts to clean different types of surfaces
- Wall following technology allows this to clean edges of walls
- Cliff detecting sensors prevents this from falling of stairs
- Beater bar has no bristles which means less maintenance
- Long battery life
- Stronger suction and redesigned brush roll has improved cleaning performance dramatically
- Great for multi-surface homes
- Great at picking up pet hair
- Still has an inefficient but thorough random cleaning pattern
- Can bump into objects hard – if you have expensive furniture avoid this
- Takes too long to clean a room
- Noisy particularly on hard floor surfaces
- Small dust bin
What to expect from the iRobot Roomba 880?
The biggest improvement of the Roomba 880 is the two rubber extractors that replaced the bristled brush in previous Roombas.
This means that hair and dust bunnies will not get tangled as easily as with bristled brushes. But very long strands of hair can still get tangled the extractor body and on the sides (more on that later).
If strands of hair roll up on the extractors, it’s easier to remove clean than cleaning it from a traditional roller bar with bristles.
The 880 comes with the same navigation system as the 700 series which means it’ll still clean in a random pattern.
Remember that this robot isn’t Rosy where it can make decisions on its own so you’ll need to help it do its job better.
Just in case you’re curious how a Roomba navigates, have a look at this illustration:
Roomba’s cleaning pattern…
Photo credits: http://signaltheorist.com/?p=91
When you read online reviews, one of the biggest complaints of consumers is that this struggles to clean in-between legs of chairs.
Here are some hacks that’ll address complaints people have and what’s great about this is it’s so simple to do…
Will it clean stairs?
Like the 900 series, the 880 can be scheduled to clean up to 7 times a week or once a day.
Charging and run time
This will take around 3 hours to fully charge. A full charge will run for up to 4 hours.
Robot clean up
The rubber extractors will be easier to clean up compared to robot vacuums that uses bristled brushes.
Roomba also makes it easy to access these extractors so clean up should not take very long.
All iRobot vacuums get 1 year warranty on the robot and 6 months on the battery.
Based on reviews, it does a fairly good job on linoleum and a little less effective on hardwood floors.
One of the biggest benefits of using this is that it picks up a huge amount of dust you think wasn’t there because it’s barely visible under normal lighting conditions – you’ll need a bright LED light to see exactly how much dust is on the floor.
Cleaning sugar on tiled flooring…
Out of 50 grams of suger, the 880 was able to clean around 42 grams, with the random cleaning pattern it is still impressive!
It does bump into furniture hard. In the video the table in the middle was moved out of place. So this will be something to think about if you have expensive furniture at home.
The rubberized extractors will shine on this surface because it does a great job agitating and picking up large to fine debris quite well.
Here’s a demo of the 880 cleaning M&M’s…
Here’s another video of the 880 cleaning sugar on carpet…
Take note that even though it performed well on carpet based on reviews, it will struggle picking up embedded dirt under shaggy carpet, it simply does not have the suction power to do so.
Here’s a big mess test (you’ll have to skip to the 3 minute mark of the video to see it though)…
That was fun but seriously cleaning that much mess is the exception rather than the rule because if you run this everyday, you won’t have a mess that big.
It won’t match an upright in terms of cleaning performance but you don’t have to lift a finger.
It won’t have trouble transitioning between hard surfaces and rugs because the wheels underneath have a decent amount of clearance.
However, it may struggle though getting over really plush rugs a few inches tall.
It does a good job of not getting stuck on tassels and wires based on the video reviews I’ve seen. But to get the most out of this robot, you’ll have to tidy up wires and remove any area rugs.
Damon Darlin shares his experience with the Roomba 880 in this video…
Another strong point of these rubber extractors is its ability to pick up pet hair without needing too much maintenance. In the older generation Roomba 650 and 690, cleaning pet hair would leave a mess like this…
Image courtesy of spectrum.ieee.org
However, if there’s someone in your home with long hair, it will wrap around the extractors like this…
image courtesy of CNet
The photo above is the worst case scenario if you don’t clean these extractors regularly. But even with this much hair around the extractors, cleaning it won’t be an issue because there are deep groves that make cutting it easy.
To be honest, I was surprised it got very positive reviews from Amazon and iRobot’s online store.
The hefty $500++ price tag is a little too much for me but for consumers this wasn’t an issue after all.
Some consumers were sceptical as well because of the price but most of them came out all smiles after using this.
Most of them loved the way it picked up pet hair on carpet and hard surfaces. Several of them had more than one dog!
Vacuuming is a monotonous task and while the Roomba is slow in terms of the time it takes to clean a room. It shines in picking up dust bunnies, fine debris and pet hair on both hard surfaces and carpet.
Consumers were surprised with how much dirt it picked up on their clean looking floors.
The virtual lighthouse also received positive reviews because it allowed the 880 to clean multiple rooms efficiently.
It can be used as a virtual wall, meaning it’ll completely block off the door so the robot cleans only one room or as a lighthouse, were it blocks the robot until it signals to the lighthouse that it’s ready to move to another room.
Several people who’ve had back issues also were happy with their purchase because they don’t need to push a heavy upright or canister vacuum anymore which eases the burden on their backs.
The biggest complaint by consumers is the navigation system that will tend to miss spots here and there.
It is also prone to getting stuck when there is a lot of clutter so you’ll have to do your part and clear up that clutter to maximize the cleaning efficiency of this robot.
You can buy the Roomba 880 from Amazon for around $520 but it won’t be brand new. As I’ve mentioned earlier, iRobot no longer has this variant in production.
The newer Roomba 890 is a better option as it has the same features plus the WiFi connectivity and smartphone app for around $450. And it’ll be eligible to their free 2-day shipping if you join Prime.
They also sell extended warranties of up to 4 years if you want that extra peace of mind.
This robot will suit homes with multiple cats or dogs as it will do a very decent job picking up pet hair on both carpet and hard surfaces.
It isn’t the most efficient robot in terms of how fast it will clean a room but it will do a good job picking up dirt you thought wasn’t there.
However, this is not a replacement to upright vacuums because it does not have the suction power to deep clean plush carpet.
If you have don’t have plush carpeting at home then you probably could get away with a robot vacuum. But I’d suggest that you still invest in a good upright for the occasional deep cleaning.
Navigation is another weak point but with the proper preparation and the hacks I’ve shared with you above, you’ll be able to maximize this little helper.