Over the past few years, iRobot has unveiled perhaps two of the best robot vacuums available right now – the Roomba 880 and 980.
The first improvement addressed the issue of maintenance.
Traditional beater bars need frequent cleaning because hair and dust will always wrap around it.
The second improvement addressed the issue of inefficiency. It is perhaps the biggest complaint of consumers.
However, we will not focus on the Roomba 900 series. This article is all about the Roomba 880 and 860 comparison.
Both the Roomba 880 and 860 and is no longer in production and now has been replaced by the newer Roomba 890. All three variants are the same robot in terms of power and navigation.
However, the 890 adds WiFi connectivity so you can use an app to control this robot even when you’re not physically present at home, and it is compatible with Alexa.
The Roomba 890 is also cheaper since it is still in production.
Technically speaking, there aren’t many differences between the Roomba 860 and 880.
If you look at iRobot’s website, they no longer list the 880 in their product list, which means they might have discontinued the 880.
F.Y.I., the 860 is a few hundred dollars cheaper than the 880, and it comes with basically everything the 880 has, and that’s we’ll look into in detail below:
- Tangle-free extractors – first seen in the Roomba 880 and now present in the cheaper 860.
- iAdapt navigation – improved navigation when you compare it to the older Roombas (600 and 700 series) in that it didn’t bump into furniture as hard, thus preventing scuffs unnecessarily.
- AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system delivers up to 50% better cleaning performance compared to previous generation Roombas.
- New lithium-ion battery doubles the lifespan of older NiCad batteries used in the earlier series
- Optical and acoustic sensors detect high concentrations of dirt and then focuses on those areas that need more cleaning.
- Scheduled cleaning up to 7 times per week (or once per day)
So essentially, the 860 and 880 are the same under the hood, but why the significant price difference?
The most significant difference would be the accessories.
When you buy an 880 on Amazon, you will get a lot more goodies. These include two virtual lighthouses, a remote, three extra side brushes, and a H.E.P.A. filter.
The Roomba 860 comes with less. Instead of two virtual lighthouses, it comes with just one virtual wall.
If you’re curious how a virtual wall and lighthouse are different, it’s pretty simple.
A virtual wall is what it is – a device that uses an I.R. signal designed to block a robot’s path.
A lighthouse functions like a door that opens or closes depending on the status of the robot.
When the robot starts cleaning a room, this lighthouse blocks the path until the robot tells it through an I.R. signal that it has completed its task.
The lighthouse then opens the “door” to allow the robot to move to a different room.
Watch this video to see how it works.
If you look closely at these two robots, the differences are purely aesthetic. The 880 comes in a predominantly black/charcoal finish with five buttons. These buttons include a clean switch that activates the default cleaning mode plus four other small buttons to access the different functionalities of the robot.
The 860 has the same layout, only in a lighter shade of gray.
Both of these robots are the same in terms of size and features.
Both these variants will have the same layout underneath. This includes a single side brush and the counter-rotating extractors in-between rubber wheels.
Assuming you have a large 5,000 square foot home, you’ll have to move this robot manually to each room for the best results. If you don’t do this, the robot will most like get lost and flash an error code.
So the process of moving it per room can be a tedious one.
The 806 will run until the battery reaches a certain threshold (usually 20%) then goes back to recharge.
It does not have recharge and resume, so you’ll have to press clean for it to reengage cleaning.
If you want this feature, then you will have to spend a few hundred dollars more and go with the Roomba 960.
To get access to the recharge and resume, you’ll have to spend more on the Roomba 960, I7, or the flagship S9.
All 800 series Roombas use the same random pattern as the 700 and 600 series, the most significant improvement would be the iAdapt system that makes the robot more conservative the way it tackles corners.
It means that when it detects an obstacle, it slows down.
You’ll notice that it still bumps into obstacles but not as hard. So scuffing shouldn’t be a problem with most types of furniture. Yes, it can even detect dark furniture.
One problem with this type of navigation is efficiency. It won’t cover as much area as a Neato Botvac or a 980 because it goes in a random direction, but the advantage of this is the thoroughness.
If you live in a large home, it won’t be as effective if you just let it clean the whole area without any containment.
The chances of it missing the charging base when it docks go up the larger the area and the more room it needs to clean.
You may have to resort to moving this robot room per room and let it clean one area at a time.
Like the 880, the 860 also comes with a High-Efficiency Filter (or H.E.P.A.), which means this robot should be safe to use for people allergies.
But since this is a bagless vacuum, there is still a level of exposure when you empty the bin.
Also, the H.E.P.A. filter isn’t washable. One technique I use to extend the life of these filters is to use a hand vacuum with a brush attachment to clean filters.
You should be able to extend the life of the filter a little bit using this method.
2 - virtual lighthouses
3 - extra side brushes
extra HEPA filter
remote control (with 2-AAA batteries)
1 - virtual wall
Unfortunately, the Roomba 880 is no longer available, but the 860 is still on sale. The Roomba 880 model has been replaced by 890, which is a better product. It has a Li-ion battery in place of the Ni-cad battery that the 880 previously utilized so that it will have better longevity.
Please check the links below to see the latest prices of the 860 and 890.
Realize that I will earn a commission when you buy through the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for both of us!
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 675 vs. E5
- Roomba 675 vs. 690
- Roomba 690 vs. 960
- Roomba E5 vs. 960
- Roomba 960 vs. 980
- Roomba 960 vs. S9
- Roomba I7 vs. I7+ vs. E5
- Roomba I7 vs. 980
- Roomba I7 vs. S9
Comparing Roomba to other brands.
The 860 is an excellent product at a competitive price point, but it lacks several key features found in high-end robots.
Here are some alternatives if you think that the Roomba 860 does not fit your cleaning needs.
The I7 is part of iRobot’s next-generation robot vacuums, and that utilizes the first of its kind auto-empty system that automatically cleans the bin every time it docks. So in some ways, it is a game-changing product that brings convenience to another level.
The I7 is a less expensive alternative to the S9, with the same smart imprint navigation, so it’s able to save up to 10 maps.
The S9 is currently is iRobot’s flagship and their most potent robot vacuum to date. It’s the first Roomba to have a D-shape frame, similar to a Neato, so the rollers are wider.
These upgrades make the S9 the best robot vacuum for deep cleaning carpet with an average score of 96%. If you want the best robotic cleaning tech capable of thoroughly cleaning carpets, the S9 should be on your shortlist.
So, in essence, the Roomba 960 will have the same cleaning performance as the 860 but much more efficient thanks to the brand new navigation system that includes a built-in camera.
It also has a WiFi that allows you to control the robot using the iRobot app.
This means you can schedule, turn on, and monitor the robot even in your office.
This is perhaps the cheapest Roomba available right now. Despite being a “budget” option, it still has excellent cleaning performance on hard floors and carpet.
It can clean embedded sand on carpet, picking up an average of 84%, which is in the upper-echelon of robotic vacuums.
However, everything in this robot is an old tech from navigation to the dual brush system that combines a bristled and squeegee.
But make no mistake that this is one of the better performing Roombas out there – even outperforming a 700 series.
The navigation system is random, and it does bump into furniture hard, so expect some scuff marks in your furniture.
Neato BotVac D5
The Botvac D5 is a less expensive option than the Botvac Connected. It is also cheaper than the top-of-the-line Botvac and retains most of its features. This includes WiFi Connectivity, App-based control, large-capacity lithium-ion battery, and extra broad motorized brush.
What it does not have is the spiral blade brush. It has a slightly smaller lithium-ion battery that runs 30 minutes less in both cleaning modes.
Xiaomi Robot Vacuum
If you’re not familiar with the Xiaomi robot vacuum, it is a brainchild of the MI Echo System. A Beijing based manufacturer of a variety of products like smartphones and tablets.
When they designed this robot, they were aiming to compete with the Neato BotVac Connected.
It has the same laser-based navigation, S.L.A.M. algorithm, and WiFi connectivity that will not cost as much. Plus, it’s got an app that allows you to schedule cleaning multiple times a day.
If a Neato BotVac is too expensive, then this is a good budget option.
This robot costs around $280 or more than half what a BotVac Connected would cost, but the performance should not disappoint.
If you’d ask me between the 860 and 880, I’d go with the 860 only because of the price difference. I cannot justify spending more than $100 more for a product that only has more accessories included.
The remote control is a nice-to-have luxury, but I could do the scheduling directly on the robot.
A virtual lighthouse is also a nice to have, but with the random navigation of the 860, I’d rather have it clean one area at a time then move it to different rooms that need cleaning as I see fit.
In terms of performance, both of these robots are roughly the same, so the question is whether or not you want the extra goodies that come along the more premium price point.