Roomba 690 vs. 960 Comparison

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 hover around $1,000, while an entry-level option can go as low as $100.

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

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 at the differences between these two alternatives.

Roomba 690
Run Time: 90 mins.
Deep Cleaning: 84%.
Noise: 71.3 Db
Bin Size: 0.3 liters
Smart Navigation: No
Virtual Wall: 1

Roomba 960
Run Time: 75 mins.
Deep Cleaning: 91%
Noise: 65 Db
Bin Size: 0.6 liters.
Smart Navigation: Yes 1
Virtual Wall: 1

*If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Introduction to the Roomba 690 and 960

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’s one of the best performing budget robot vacuums in terms of surface and deep cleaning. Despite being “entry-level,” it’s got high-features like WiFi connectivity and compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. These features enable users to access the robot remotely or through voice if it’s your preference.

The Roomba 960 is a smarter robot that’s more efficient thanks to the camera sensor and VSLAM enabling it to pinpoint its exact location and avoid obstacles.

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

To summarize, the Roomba 690 is excellent at cleaning a single room, while the 960 is better at multi-room sweeping.

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

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 got a low profile that can go under furniture with a clearance of 4 inches.
  • 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 proven effective at cleaning different dirt types from hair to dust.
  • Simple interface: One thing I love about the Roomba is the minimalistic 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.

Introduction to the Roomba 690 and 960

Roomba 690

Folks looking for a Roomba that will not break the bank should have a close look at the 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: The cleaning pattern is thorough but inefficient – it can miss some spots here and there

Bottom line:

The addition of the Li-Ion battery, WiFi, compatibility with Alexa, and Google Assistant makes the Roomba 690 attractive at its current price range. 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. It will undoubtedly be around for a few more, so you don’t have to worry about the availability of parts.

Roomba 960

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, making it efficient and capable of cleaning spacious homes.

One big reason why the 960 came about is competition. With the likes of Roborock S5 Max coming up with cheaper robotic vacuums, Roomba had to come up with an answer for it.

The Roomba 960 is still a capable robot that will clean with more efficiency than the Roomba 690. In terms of features, only the Roomba 980, I7, and S9 plus exceed 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 more extensive 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.

What’s the difference between the Roomba 690 and 960?

This section will go through the differences between the 690 and 960, starting with the design.

Roomba 690

The Roomba 690 has a lovely black and silver two-tone finish with some green accents.

In the middle is a large button with “Clean” written on it. This button initiates the default cleaning mode. Above and below the clean button are two smaller switches – spot clean and home.

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

Roomba 960

The Roomba 960 has a sleeker design with a 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 in the middle and flanked by the home and spot buttons. It doesn’t have a handle, so you’ll have to use both hands to carry it.

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

Navigation Comparison

Roomba 690

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

One the side of the robot is a wall sensor to help it detect walls.

Underneath is a dirt-detect (or acoustic) sensor that alerts the robot which areas need more cleaning, such as high-traffic zones.

This is the same principle of us using our ears to listen to the vacuum’s noise. If we hear more noise, we do more passes on the area.

A quick look underneath the 690:

  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, 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 substantial obstacle.

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

Does the Roomba 690 learn the floor plan?

Nope, it does not. The 690 utilizes a standard navigation algorithm that moves in a random direction.

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 the battery runs low and docks without unfinished areas.

The main cleaning brush of the Roomba 690 is a bristle and blade combo. It works great on various dirt like oats and even powder on bare floors, but hair will wrap around it.

Roomba 960

The Roomba 960 is part of the 900 series robots and utilizes the iAdapt 2.0 navigation. This system is a vast improvement as it is more efficient, unlike the Roomba 690 that goes in a random direction.

On top is an onboard camera sitting at a 45-degree angle that continually snaps photos. As it takes pictures, it looks for distinctive patterns. VSLAM then guides the robot to use these snapshots to remember its location.

iAdapt 2.0 is different from the 3.0 version found in the I-series robots as it can’t save maps. So it has to start over every single run.

Here’s a quick overview of the 960 underneath:

  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 robot’s motion and helps it monitor movement and direction.

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

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

The job of cleaning falls on the two counter-rotating rubberized extractors that’ll help pick up dust, hair, and all sorts of dirt. These rollers are more resistant to tangles than the 690s more traditional brush.

Comparing the Roomba 690 vs. 960’s Dimension

Both robots have the same dimensions measuring 13.8″ wide and 3.6″ tall.

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 before 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 utilizes the newer AeroForce system that has bristle-less rollers and a high-efficiency filter.

Looking closely at the filter, it has more surface area, and the material is denser. So it’ll do a better job of keeping contaminants inside the dust bin.

Cleaning Performance Comparison

Roomba 690

To determine how well the Roomba 690 cleans, I let it clean a small room with dirt strategically placed on different areas in the center, 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 in open spaces.

The dirt you see in the photos is a mixture of rolled oats, powder, dust, and some hair. Out of the 40 grams of dirt, the Roomba 690 picked up 39 grams or 97%.

The Roomba 690 did well at picking up surface dirt on carpets such as Fruit loops, pet hair, and dust bunnies.

It also had a decent score in deep cleaning carpet, picking up 84% of embedded sand on a medium pile carpet.

Is the Roomba 960 good for pet hair?

Since the 690 utilizes a standard brush and a squeegee-type brush, it isn’t ideal for tackling pet hair. Pet hair will stick on the brush since the bristles are stiff. Between these two, the 960 is better-suited with the rollers. The Shark IQ  and Roomba S9 are other excellent options with its anti-tangle system.

Roomba 960

The Roomba 960 will do a respectable job on most surface dirt on hard floors. It will pick up stuff like fruit loops, hair, dust bunnies, and quaker oats without any issues, thanks to the rollers’ great pick up.

In the tests that I’ve seen, it was able to pick up almost 100% of the dirt on hardwood surfaces.

It also does better than the Roomba 690 when it comes to picking up dirt on corners.

On carpet, the Roomba 960 performs well at picking up surface dirt.

Cleaning stuff like Cheerios, dust, and pet litter won’t be an issue.

When it comes to deep cleaning, it also does well picking up 91% of embedded sand on medium-pile carpets, close to the much more expensive Roomba S9.

Usability Comparison between the Roomba 690 and 960

Roomba 690

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

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 with 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

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.

Maintenance Comparison

Roomba 690

There are tasks you need to do periodically for maintenance.

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
  • Primary brush roll: replace every twelve months
  • Front caster wheel: replace every twelve months
  • Battery: replace between 18 to 36 months

Remember, these are recommendations. 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 once or twice a week.

Remove any hair and dust that accumulate on the axles.

Roomba 960

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
  • Primary brush roll: replace every twelve months
  • Front caster wheel: replace every twelve months
  • Battery: replace between 18 to 36 months

Run Time and Battery

Roomba 690

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 90 mins. 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, there are lots of options from OEM and third-party brands. You can even opt for a higher capacity battery without spending a lot. You can easily replace the 690 battery by loosening four screws.

Roomba 960

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 negated by the resume feature where the robot continues cleaning after charging if it does not initially complete the task.

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

More Roomba Comparisons

Roomba has a bunch of models in their product line. Learn more about the similarities and differences between the various options available.

Comparing Roomba to other brands.

Value for Money Comparison

Roomba 690

The Roomba 690 offers a lot of bang for your buck. When you consider that this robot has a lithium-ion battery, WiFi, an app, and compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, the current price is a great deal.

Looking at the performance comparison, it isn’t far off. The Roomba 690 cleans almost as well as the Roomba 960; as long you let it sweep one room at a time, there won’t be any problems.

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

If your home has a vast or 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 scheduling options.

Roomba 960

The Roomba 960 is a smart navigating robot that will clean larger areas without issue thanks to the VSLAM software that maps and tracks its location in 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 comes 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, enabling this robot to navigate more proficiently and avoid obstacles.
  • Better filtration: This variant comes with a High-Efficiency Filter that does a better job keeping allergens from seeping through, thus keeping the environment cleaner.
  • New brush roll: All Roomba robots (starting with the 800 series) have bristle-less counter-rotating extractors that offer better agitation and less maintenance.
  • Resume feature: The 960 will resume cleaning automatically after recharging if there are areas it hasn’t covered.

Product Specifications

Model
Roomba 690
Roomba 960
Width
13.8"
13.8"
Height
3.6"
3.6"
Self-Emptying Base
Yes
Yes
Recharge & Resume
No
Yes
Smart Mapping
No
Yes
Run time (Turbo mode)
90 mins.
75 mins.
Power (Turbo mode)
7 cfm
9 cfm
Warranty
1-year limited
1-year limited
Price

Where Can I Buy These Robots?

The Roomba 690 and 960 are available in online stores like Amazon and Walmart. Please check the links below to see the latest price.

Please note if you buy through any of the links above, I will earn a commission, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for both of us!

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 better perform 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 option.

This Roomba will shine in such environments thanks to the navigation system that’s smart enough to proceed 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 feature, which makes the Roomba 960 a clear winner in this comparison.

While the 960 is better for large homes, the 690 is a good alternative inside smaller houses. The standard algorithm may be inefficient, but it is thorough – as long as you let it clean one room at a time.

Parts will not be an issue with the 690 as there is an abundance of it. So with proper upkeep, it will last for years.

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 it has a more powerful motor.

Operating costs are 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 convenience features like scheduling and 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. It will also 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 most significant 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.

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 less 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 enables it to clean larger homes with lots of rooms with better efficiency.
  • Have lots of carpets: The 960 score a 91% in deep cleaning tests, which just a few percentage points lower than the S9.
  • 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, so allergens stay inside the bin. The rubber extractors also go a great job of removing pet and human hair with fewer tangles.

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.

Parts are abundant, both OEM and third-party brands. You don’t have to worry about looking for a spare part because chances are, it is available on Amazon.

Here’s the best part, Roomba is a DIY-centric product, meaning it’s easy to replace the parts with simple tools.

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