Roomba 690 vs. 960: Comparing Two iRobot Generations

Robot vacuums are fast gaining popularity because of their autonomy – the ability to clean homes with minimal human intervention.

The prices of these machines will vary greatly. A high-end robotic vacuum will cost close to $1,000 while an entry-level option can go as low as $100.

Finding the right balance between technology and price can be a delicate balance.

Some folks don’t mind spending top dollar for a high-end robot while others do not.

The Roomba 690 and 960 is a perfect representation example of this dilemma consumer’s face.

We’ll look in detail the differences between these two variants.

Roomba 690
Run Time: 90 mins.
Noise: 71.3 Db
Bin Size: 0.3 liters
Virtual Wall: 1

Roomba 960
Run Time: 75 mins.
Noise: 65 Db
Bin Size: 0.56 liters.
Virtual Wall: 1

The Roomba 690 is iRobot’s entry-level robot vacuum and their cheapest option available to date. To be more specific, the 690 is an upgrade over the older Roomba 650.

It has excellent performance, WiFi connectivity, a lithium-ion battery, and is compatible with Alexa. Not only will you have access to the robot remotely, but you can also use voice via Alexa.

The Roomba 960 is a smarter robot that’s more efficient thanks to the camera sensor, and VSLAM software makes this robot capable of pinpointing its exact location and avoiding obstacles.

This upgrade in navigation makes it more efficient than the Roomba 690.

Cleaning performance also gets an upgrade thanks to the new, bristle-less extractors that have better agitation.

So which is the better option between the Roomba 690 vs. 960?

We’ll dig deep and look into the features of these two robots to see which will best suit your needs. I’ll be comparing the features, performance and much more.

Which Roomba is better?

Roomba 690 vs. 960

So between the Roomba 690 vs. 960, the Roomba 960 is the better product overall. It comes with the more powerful motor, efficient navigation, and better overall performance. However, the big question mark is, are you willing to spend top dollar for it?

Similarities of the Roomba 690 vs. 960

Despite being a few generations apart, the Roomba 690 and 960 do have some similarities.

  • Round puck shape: Ever since Roomba started manufacturing robotic vacuums decades ago, it still uses the same round puck shape design that’s very effective at its job. It’s low enough that it can go under a lot of furniture without compromising cleaning performance.
  • Single side brush: All Roomba vacuums have a single side brush that allows it to reach dirt on the corners and edges.
  • Counter-rotating brushes: Roomba robots have a counter-rotating brush system that is proven effective at cleaning different types of dirt from hair to dust.
  • Simple interface: One thing I love about the Roomba is the three-button interface that’s easy to use.
  • WiFi, Alexa, Google Assistant compatible: These are must-have features in a modern home. It allows you to control the robot remotely or by voice command.

Roomba 690 Overview

Folks looking for a Roomba that will not break the bank should have a close look at the Roomba 690. It is their cheapest option available – yes, it’s less expensive than the Roomba 650 with more features.

Both the Roomba 650 and 690 have the same motor and Aerovac cleaning system, but the latter comes with the Li-Ion battery with WiFi and Alexa support so you can use voice to command the robot.

These two features add a touch of modernity to an otherwise old-tech design.

Pros

  • Run time: This robot will run for up to 90 minutes
  • Modern Conveniences: WiFi, Alexa, and Google Assistant compatibility gives you several options to command the robot
  • Price: Much cheaper than the Roomba 960

Cons

  • Wear & Tear: The bristle/blade brush combo requires more maintenance and wears out faster
  • Inefficient Navigation: Cleaning pattern is thorough but inefficient – it can miss some spots here and there

Bottom line:

The addition of the Li-Ion battery, WiFi, Alexa, and Google Alexa makes the Roomba 690 attractive at its current price point. This robot is great for homes that don’t have a complex layout, but it does require more babysitting. It’s still more expensive than the ILIFE and Eufy, but iRobot has been around for a few decades and will undoubtedly be around for a few more so you don’t have to worry about after sales service and availability of parts.

Roomba 960 Overview

The Roomba 960 is a downgrade from the Roomba 980 with a smaller battery and motor. But it still retains the smart mapping thanks to the VSLAM algorithm and camera up top making it efficient and capable of cleaning a larger home.

One big reason why the 960 came about is competition. With the likes of RoboRock S50 coming up with cheaper robotic vacuums, Roomba had to come up with an answer for that.

The Roomba 960 is still a capable robot will clean with more efficiency than the Roomba 690. In terms of features, only the Roomba 980 and I7 plus exceeds it.

Pros

  • Efficient Navigation: VSLAM and camera makes this robot more efficient
  • Better Cleaning Performance: Will miss fewer spots than the Roomba 690 when cleaning a larger area
  • Less Maintenance: Better extractors that will last longer and require less maintenance

Cons

  • Price: This robot is very expensive
  • Struggles Cleaning Fine Stuff: Will struggle cleaning dust or sugar on carpet

Bottom line:

The Roomba 960 will shine inside homes with multiple rooms thanks to the navigation that’s efficient and smart enough to know its location. It also can recharge and return where it left off, making this a better option for cleaning larger homes.

Roomba 690 Design

The Roomba 690 has a lovely black and silver two-tone finish with some green accents upfront where the handle is and at the dirt bin.

At the middle is a large button with the “Clean” written on it. This button activates the default cleaning mode. On top and bottom of the clean button are two smaller buttons – spot cleaning and home.

On the front part of the robot is a handle that helps you carry the robot around.

Roomba 960 Design

The Roomba 960 has a sleeker design with the darker charcoal, black and gray three-tone finish.

There’s a slight difference with how the buttons are laid out. The large “Clean” button is at the middle and flanked by the home and spot buttons.

There’s no more handle which means you’ll have to use both hands to carry this robot.

Below the buttons is the onboard camera that helps map out the area it is cleaning.

How the Roomba 690 Navigates and Cleans

The Roomba 690 is part of the iRobot 600 series robots that uses a series of infrared sensors to help it measure distance and obstacle avoidance.

One the side of the robot is a wall sensor that helps it detect walls.

Underneath is a dirt-detect sensor that tells the robot areas that need more cleaning such as high-traffic areas.

It is actually an acoustic sensor that listens to the sound of dirt being picked up.

This is similar to use using our ears to listen to the sound of dirt on our vacuums when we clean. If we hear a grinding sound of dirt

  1. Charging pins
  2. Adjustable rubber wheels
  3. Side brush
  4. Main cleaning brushes (blade and bristle combo)
  5. Dust cup
  6. Drop sensors (in white boxes)

These sensors continually fire infrared signals to measure the distance between robot and obstacle – be it a wall or object. Once the robot gets close to the object it slows down and then moves in a random direction.

Over the years, iRobot has continually improved its technology. The early generation Roomba 500 and 600 series were notorious for scuffing baseboards and furniture.

That’s not the case anymore for the Roomba 690 as it almost slows down to a stop when it detects a large object like a wall.

However, if you have furniture, it may bump it a little harder – you are warned.

It toggles between edge cleaning and going in a random direction until the battery runs low then docks.

Unfortunately, it does not have the resume feature. So you’ll have to turn on the robot again if it docks in the middle of the cleaning cycle.

The main cleaning brush of the Roomba 690 is a bristle and blade combo. It works great on a variety of dirt like hair, oats and even powder on bare floor.

How the Roomba 960 Navigates and Cleans

The Roomba 960 is part of the 900 series iRobot vacuums that use the iAdapt 2.0 navigation.

This system is a huge improvement as it is more efficient unlike the Roomba 690 that goes in a random direction.

On top of the robot is an onboard camera sitting at a 45-degree angle that continually snaps photos. As it snaps photos, it looks for distinctive patterns that it stores for future reference.

VSLAM then guides the robot to remember these patterns and location in relation to the map.

  1. Charging pins
  2. Side brush
  3. Rubber wheels
  4. Counter-rotating extractors (rubberized with no bristles)
  5. Dust bin
  6. Drop sensors (in white boxes)

iRobot adds a second sensor at the bottom that detects the motion of the robot and helps it monitor movement and direction.

These two sensors help the Roomba function even in low-light conditions were other robots may struggle.

Six drop sensors help prevent this robot from damaging itself falling from stairs or edges.

The job of cleaning will fall on the two counter-rotating rubberized extractors that’ll help pick up dust, hair and all sorts of dirt.

Comparing the Roomba 690 vs. 960’s Dimension

The Roomba 690 is slightly smaller than the Roomba 960 when you compare the width. It measures around 13 inches in diameter versus the 13.8 inches of the Roomba 960.

Both robots measure 3.6 inches tall – great for cleaning under furniture.

Filtration (AeroVac vs. AeroForce)

Another difference between the Roomba 690 vs. 960 would be the filtration.

The Roomba 600 series robot vacuums use the AeroVac system that consists of a bristle and blade brush combo and one curved filter.

All Roomba robots prior to the 800 series use the AeroVac system.

If you look closely at the 690’s filter, there isn’t much density and surface area.

The Roomba 960 uses the newer AeroForce system that has the bristle-less counter rotating extractors and the High-Efficiency Filter.

Looking closely at the filter, it has more surface area and the material has more density. So it’ll do a better job at keeping allergens inside the dust cup.

More Roomba Comparisons

If you’re looking for more Roomba comparison, please check out the links below to give you a better idea on how each variant differs from one another or other brands.

Roomba 690 Cleaning Performance

To determine how well the Roomba 690 cleans, I let it clean a small room with dirt strategically placed on different areas such as the middle, edges, and corners.

I let the robot run for about 25 minutes to try and mimic a real-world setting.

Doing this does two things. First, it lets you know areas that the robot will tend to miss. Second, it helps measure cleaning performance on open spaces.

The dirt you see on the photos is a mixture of rolled oats, powder, dust and some hair.

Out of the 40 grams of dirt, the Roomba 690 was able to pick up 39 grams or 97%.

The Roomba 690 also did well on carpet. In the blogs that I read, it did great on stuff such as cereal and rice.

However, it will struggle picking up fine stuff like powder and sugar on low and medium pile carpet, picking up less than half of what was scattered.

It also does a decent job on hair, but you’ll need to frequently clean the brush roll as hair will wrap around the two brushes.

Roomba 960 Cleaning Performance

The Roomba 960 with its stronger motor will clean hard floors almost flawlessly.

In the tests that I’ve seen, it was able to pick up almost 100% of the dirt on hardwood surfaces. It will do well whether it’s powder, dust, hair, cheerios or pet litter.

One potential issue would be how it cleans corners as it is an Achilles heel of a lot of robot vacuums.

On carpet, the Roomba 960 will pick up larger bits of dirt like rolled oats, cheerios, and pet litter better.

Be warned though, it will struggle with cleaning stuff like powder, sand, and sugar.

In several cleaning tests I’ve seen, it was only able to pick up less than half of what was scattered.

Roomba 690 Usability

Out of the box, the Roomba 690 is easy to use. You can actually, start using it without even charging it as it comes in partially charged.

All the major parts of the robot are already in place. One part you’ll have to attach would be the side brush, but that’s easy to connect – you need a Philips screwdriver.

After removing all the contents from the box, plug the robot, charge then hit the clean button.

The app is also easy to install. Just search the iRobot Home app or scan the QR code in the manual.

All Roomba robots use the same app, but functionality will differ depending on the model.

Roomba 960 Usability

The Roomba 960, like the 690, is easy to use out of the box. Everything comes pre-assembled, and that includes the two main extractors and side brush.

All you need to do is plug in the charging dock, charge the robot and clean.

Don’t forget to download the iRobot Home app to get access to all the functionalities.

Roomba 690 Maintenance

To keep your Roomba 690 in tip-top shape, there are tasks you need to do periodically.

These range from removing hair and debris caught up on the roller brushes to removing the side brush to remove any hair that may wrap around it.

Another part that needs some TLC would be the filter. iRobot recommends replacing it every two months. You’ll need to empty the dust bin after every cleaning cycle and once a week (twice if you have pets), give the filter a thorough cleaning.

Take note that the filter of the 690 is not washable. To extend its service life, you’ll have to use a brush to remove dust and contaminants that stick on the filter or use a handheld vacuum.

You’ll also need to wipe down the four cliff sensors using cotton buds.

Here are the recommended replacement intervals:

  • Filter: replace every two months
  • Side brush: replace every six months
  • Main brush roll: replace every twelve months
  • Front caster wheel: replace every twelve months
  • Battery: replace between 18 to 36 months

Remember these are recommended intervals. Like with any machine, if you religiously clean each of the components, it can last longer than the interval.

Two parts that can outlast the service interval would be the main cleaning brushes and caster wheel. Make sure to clean these parts one or twice a week.

Remove any hair and dust that accumulate on the bearings.

Roomba 960 Maintenance

The Roomba 960 requires almost the same type of maintenance as the Roomba 690.

You’ll need to regularly clean the filter, dust bin, side brush, main brushes, caster wheel, and sensors to keep this robot running in tiptop shape.

One advantage that the Roomba 960 has is the design of the main brushes. Since it does not have any bristles, there will be less muck that clings on it.

If you live with someone or a pet with long hair, it will still wrap around the extractors, bearings and side brush.

Make sure to remove any stray hair that could add friction and compromise performance.

Here are the recommended replacement intervals:

  • Filter: replace every two months
  • Side brush: replace every six months
  • Main brush roll: replace every twelve months
  • Front caster wheel: replace every twelve months
  • Battery: replace between 18 to 36 months

Roomba 690 Battery

The 1,800 mAh lithium-ion battery in the Roomba 690 gives it a longer run time than the Roomba 650. Fully charged, it will run for about two hours. Recharging will take between two to three hours.

The run time of the Roomba 690 is longer than the more expensive Roomba 960 since it has a less powerful motor that doesn’t consume as much power.

One neat thing about owning a Roomba is the availability of parts. If the battery dies, you have lots of options OEM and third-party brands. You can even opt for higher capacity battery without breaking the bank.

Roomba 960 Battery

The Roomba 960 has a slightly bigger lithium-ion battery at 2,600 mill amperes. It will run for only 75 minutes because it has a larger motor.

But the shorter run time is somehow negated by the resume feature where the robot resumes cleaning automatically if it does not finish cleaning an entire area.

Robot
Roomba 690
Roomba 960
Size
1,800 mAh
2,600 mAh
Recharge time
2-3 hours
2-3 hours
Run time
90 mins.
75 mins.
Replacement cost

Other Roomba Comparisons

Roomba has a bunch of models in their product line. Find out how each one contrasts with the other plus also comparisons with other brands like the Neato.

Roomba 690 Value for Money

The Roomba 690 offers a lot of bang for your buck.

When you consider that this robot has a lithium-ion battery, has WiFi, an app and compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, the current price is a great deal.

Looking at the performance of this robot, it isn’t far off. The Roomba 690 cleans almost as well as the Roomba 960. As long you let it clean one or two rooms at a time, it will be able to do the job.

However, the way it does it is very inefficient. This robot does not have the advanced navigation that the Roomba 960 has and will struggle cleaning large areas without missing spots.

If your home has a complex layout, forget about the Roomba 690 as it isn’t smart enough to do the job.

The addition of WiFi and compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant helps you save time and provides more options in terms of scheduling.

Roomba 960 Value for Money

The Roomba 960 is a smart navigating robot that will be able to clean larger areas without issue thanks to the VSLAM software that maps and tracks its location real-time.

This feature results in a more efficient cleaning robot that will clean one, two, three or more rooms without much human intervention but technology come at a price.

To summarize, here are the four significant upgrades that the Roomba 960 has over the 690:

  • Smarter navigation: The iAdapt 2.0 navigation is a considerable upgrade allow this robot to clean more efficiently and avoid obstacles
  • Better filtration: This variant comes with a High-Efficiency Filter that does a better job at keep allergens from seeping through thus keeping the environment cleaner.
  • New brush roll: Starting with the 800 series, all Roomba robots have the bristle-less counter rotating extractors that offer better agitation and less maintenance.
  • Resume feature: If the robot needs recharging and does not complete cleaning, it goes back to recharge and resumes where it left off without any intervention.

Product Specifications of the Roomba 690 vs. 960

Model
Roomba 690
Roomba 960
Diameter
13"
13.8"
Height
3.6"
3.6"
Weight
7.8 lbs.
8.6 lbs.
Battery capacity
1,800 mAh
2,600 mAh
Dust bin
0.3 liters
0.3 liters
Warranty
1 year (limited)
1 year (limited)
Cost

The Verdict: Which of These Two Robots Should You Buy?

So after reading everything above, the question on your mind must be “which of these two robots should I buy?”

There’s no question that the better robot vacuum between these two is the Roomba 960.

It has smarter navigation and a more powerful motor that will provide better performance overall versus the Roomba 690.

Remember that price does not always dictate the choice. If you live in a large home with lots of rooms, then the Roomba 960 would be the more logical choice.

This Roomba will shine in such environments thanks to the navigation system that’s smart enough to navigate through different rooms with little risk of getting lost.

Having said all the advantages of the Roomba 960, the 690 is still a good product albeit for a different type of homeowner.

The Roomba 690’s cleaning performance is almost up to par with the 960. But what it lacks is the smart navigating system which makes the Roomba 960 a clear winner in this comparison.

A Close Look Why

If you’re looking for an affordable robot from a great brand that will stick around for the next 10 years then the Roomba 690 is a great option.

It’s got options like voice activation (through Alexa and Google Assistant), remote access (via WiFi), smart scheduling (through the app), and great performance.

Cleaning performance is you discount the navigation is almost the same. The most significant advantage you’ll get from the Roomba 960 would be navigation and the rubber extractors that don’t have any bristles.

It’s got more autonomy than the Roomba 690 in that can resume cleaning on its own after recharging.

The counter-rotating brush system in both these robots did an excellent job at cleaning hard floors.

On carpet, both also did well cleaning larger bits of debris like cereal, oats, and cheerios but will struggle with the fine stuff like powder.

The Winner: Roomba 960

Despite the price difference, I have to give the nod to the Roomba 960. The iAdapt 2.0 navigation with its smart mapping feature using the VSLAM gives it more autonomy and the ability to clean a larger space with more efficiency. That means there’s less babysitting involved and more time to do more productive stuff. It’s a smarter version of the Roomba 690 with a brush roll that won’t need as much maintenance.

Final thoughts on the Roomba 690

The Roomba 690 isn’t the smartest robot or the most advanced but it offers homeowners a machine that will clean their homes at their command. Cleaning performance is up to part with the more expensive 960 which is a surprise for me considering the latter has the more powerful motor.

Operating costs is low as long as you maintain it regularly.

It scores high in usability because it has WiFi and compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. The smartphone app unlocks lots of convenience features like scheduling and push notifications when something needs to be replaced.

The biggest weakness of this robot is navigation. It will not clean larger homes with the efficiency the Roomba 960 does. Also, it will miss spots when cleaning more than one room so keep your expectations in check.

You should buy the Roomba 690 if you:

  • Want something cheaper: The biggest difference between the Roomba 690 and 960 is the navigation. Cleaning performance is almost even despite the 960 having the larger motor. So if you don’t mind the random, inefficient cleaning pattern, then the 690 is a great choice.
  • Live in a small home: The random navigation pattern won’t be as big of an issue for folks living in a small house. You can even let the robot clean one room at a time and take advantage of the thorough cleaning the 690 brings to the table.
  • Need WiFi or Alexa compatibility: Not many robots in this price range have the combination of WiFi and Alexa (and Google Assistant) compatibility. If it’s something you need, then this is a great option.

Looking for more information or planning on purchasing one? Check out the Roomba 690 on Amazon.

Final thoughts on the Roomba 960

Between the two the Roomba 960 is the smarter robot capable of navigating through more complex layouts and clean with better efficiency.

Yes, it is more expensive, but if you don’t mind paying for the technology, it will help keep your homes cleaner with minimal supervision.

The resume feature is one of my favorites because if the power runs low, the robot recharges and resumes cleaning right where it left off. If you live in a large home, this is the robot you want over the Roomba 690.

The upgrades found in the Roomba 900 series and beyond aim to give the robot more autonomy. More autonomy means less time spent on babysitting the robot and more time to do other stuff.

You should buy the Roomba 960 if you:

  • Live in a large home: The smart navigation and mapping feature of the Roomba 960 makes this robot capable of cleaning larger homes with lots of rooms with better efficiency.
  • Have lots of carpets: The carpet boost feature helps this robot clean carpet better.
  • Have pets: Pets demand a lot of TLC especially in the cleaning front. The Roomba 960 will provide you with a tool capable of cleaning pet hair on floors. It has a HEPA filter that keeps allergens inside the dust cup. The rubber extractors also go a great job with removing pet hair and human hair will less tangle.

Looking for more information or planning on purchasing one? Check out the Roomba 960 on Amazon.

Why should you consider a Roomba?

iRobot has 70% of the robot vacuum market which means lots of folks own one. This market dominance spills over the aftermarket when it comes to parts.

There is an abundance of parts both OEM and third-party brands. You don’t have to worry about looking for a spare part because chances are, you can buy them in Amazon.

Here’s the best part, Roomba makes their products in a way that you can replace these parts yourself.

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