Roomba 790 vs 880 – Bristled brush vs Extractors, Who Wins?

Regarding robot vacuums, very few brands can match the iRobot regarding the performance-to-price ratio.

Update [March 12, 2024]: iRobot has revamped its robot vacuum lineup, which now includes options like Roomba S9+, I6+, and I3+ with self-emptying docks, making them autonomous for long stretches.

On paper, the Roomba may have primitive features like using a random cleaning pattern and infrared sensors.

However, in terms of real-world practicality, the Roomba works, though it is not perfect. That’s why it is one of the bestselling robot cleaners we have right now.

Perhaps only the Neato can keep up with it in terms of price and performance.

Even the Dyson 360 eye costs a fortune with its high-tech innovation and cleaning performance, and it won’t clean under your bed. Any robot cleaner should be able to do this.

Today, let’s compare the Roomba 790 and the 880.

The former is the most feature-rich in the Roomba 700 series. At the same time, the 880 represents iRobot’s departure from the bristled brush design and transition to rubber “extractors” that lessened the need for maintenance on the brush roll.

Look at these robots side by side and see how they differ aesthetically.

Top view

Roomba 790 vs 880


Bottom view

Bottom View

The 790 and the 880 have the same user control layout (on top). The biggest difference is the color.

Roomba 790 has a predominantly light blue finish in the middle with a gray other ring (these are the bumpers).

Note that the 790 is the same machine as the 770 and 780. The only difference is the accessories included in the package.

The 880 combines a dark gray and charcoal finish, less prone to getting dirty (at least aesthetically).

These machines have the exact dimensions – diameter and height so these robots can clean underneath beds with a clearance of at least 3.8 inches.

Another similarity is underneath the hood. These autonomous cleaners use the same vacuum motor and have HEPA filtration.

Also, the navigation system of both uses is the same – a random cleaning pattern.

Roomba Long Exposure Pattern

Roomba only upgraded their navigation system in the 980, which uses a pattern similar to the Neato Botvac.

This means a more predictable pattern with better efficiency. I’ve already compared the 880 and the 980 in this article, so check that out.

So, is the $20 difference worth it? We’ll find out in the next section.

Bristled brush vs extractors

When you turn both the robots upside down, you’ll see the most significant difference between these two robots – the motorized brush.

The Roomba 790 uses a brush similar to the one used by other Roomba robots ever since they started manufacturing robot vacuums that combine a bristle and squeegee-type brush.

The combination of these two has been very effective. It is a big reason why the Roomba has been one of the bestselling robot cleaners for over two decades.

The bristles pick up a lot of dust bunnies and hair (both human and pet), while the squeegee brush picks up dust and other fine debris.

But here’s the problem. This requires constant cleaning to remove wrapped-up hair and dust bunnies, which takes time.

Depending on how often you use your robot vacuum, you may have to spend 10 to 15 minutes cleaning the brush roll every week.

Here are detailed instructions on how to empty the bin and clean the brushes.

To save consumers time from constantly cleaning bristled brushes, iRobot has discontinued the bristle brush and developed a newer system that does not use bristles or a squeegee.

They call it the AeroForce Cleaning System, which Roomba says will provide 50% better cleaning performance.

At the heart of this is what they call the tangle-free extractors.

This is made up of two counter-rotating beater bars that supposedly are maintenance-free…

Well, not quite…

Roomba 880 Extractors

Roomba 880

If you have someone living with you at home with long hair, you may encounter the same thing and you’ll have to do your due diligence and clean those extractors to maintain performance. But the great thing about these extractors is that you don’t need to clean them as much as the 700 series.

Larger dirt bin (and HEPA filter) for the 880

Another upgrade in the 880 would be the larger dirt bin.

According to, the 700 series has a bin that is 60% larger than the 700 series. If you look at the side-by-side photo of the bottom section, you’ll see a substantial difference in bin size.

The larger bin also allowed iRobot to equip the 880 with a larger HEPA filter. This means better filtration and less chance of allergens returning from the exhaust.

It also means fewer interruptions to emptying the bin – which is significant for the consumer.

Is the newer 880 quieter?

Consumers say otherwise despite iRobot’s claims that the 880 has better noise reduction. This robot will roughly produce the same decibels as the older 700 series.

A stronger motor

Another upgrade would be the vacuum motor, which iRobot says has five times more suction power, which also means better overall performance.

Though the exact figures aren’t specified, based on video reviews, the 880 scored better in terms of pickup performance.

Here’s what Erica Griffin says…

You won’t let the Roomba clean a mess like that, but it’ll be an invaluable tool for in-between clean-ups to keep dust and sand from piling up.

If you have pets, this vacuum also does an excellent job of picking up pet hair.

Other Roomba Comparisons

Roomba has several models in its product line. Find out how each contrasts with the others and compares with brands like Neato.

Comparing Roomba to other brands.

Product specifications

Roomba Model
Roomba790 table
Roomba880 compare tablle
Read Full Review
Read Full Review
Brush system
Bristle brush/squeegee combo
Brush-less extractors
Cleaning system
AeroVac Series II
Hepa filtration
Dirt detection
Series II w/Persistent Pass Cleaning
Series II w/Persistent Pass Cleaning
Scheduled cleaning
Full bin indicator
3 Virtual Wall Lighthouses

Extra Brush Set

Extra Filter Set

Round Brush Cleaning Tool

Flat Brush Cleaning Tool
1 iRobot XLife Battery

Charging base

A/C adapter

IR Remote (AA-batteries included)

2 virtual lighthouses (needs 2 C batteries that are not included)

1 extra hepa filter

1 integrated home base
Remote control
Wireless Command Center
IR Remote
1 year on robot

6 months for the battery
1 year on robot

6 months for the battery


Right now, you won’t be able to buy a brand new Roomba 880 because the Roomba 890 has taken its place. The latter is cheaper if you buy it on Amazon at less than $500!

What’s the difference between the Roomba 880 and 890? The latter now has WiFi connectivity and is compatible with Alexa. Hands down, it’s a better value.

Roomba 790 is more expensive than the 890 because a third-party seller is selling it.

To Wrap Up

If you had asked me a year ago, I would not have picked the Roomba 790 over the 880 because of the price difference. But with the 890 available right now for less than $500, it’s a no-brainer option because it’s got WiFi, a smartphone app, and Alexa compatibility.

You will get the same navigation as in the 700 series Roombas, so expect the same random pattern, which will be less efficient than a Neato vacuum. However, the great thing about the Roomba 890 is that it comes with a Virtual Lighthouse capable of cleaning multiple rooms.

The 790 is also a good product, but if you’re buying it, I suggest you get the less expensive 770 or 780. Both will give you the same cleaning performance for at least $70 less.

It does not have the Wireless Command Center, but you don’t need to. The remote included in cheaper variants is enough.

The IR control in the 790 and 780 will be more than enough.

Both the 780 and 790 come with 2 and 3 Virtual Lighthouses, respectively, which means you can clean up to 2 rooms with the 780 and up to 3 rooms with the 790. You can buy additional lighthouses for around $40

Additional virtual lighthouses can be purchased for around $50 on Amazon.

The 770 only has a virtual wall, so multi-room cleaning is impossible unless you buy the virtual lighthouse.

About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peggy Murphy Nov 18, 2018 @ 22:12

    I hate the new roomba. The bristles wer a million times better. The worst part is they dont even sell the bristles for the 800 model. The new air force whatever can’t clean glass either. That was the best thing about the bristles. Drop a glass and with the bristles you didnt have to worry about stepping in glass later. The new ones break immediately. Small glass cuts right through them. Buy an earlier version.

  • Billy F Jun 19, 2019 @ 9:15

    The 700 Series or any series with brushes WORK BETTER the extractors do not clean nearly as well,ive had both and hands down the older brush design CLEANS BETTER