We tested iRobot's robotic vacuum cleaner and it's worth the price

Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored
Updated Wed January 24, 2018

Story highlights

  • The iRobot Roomba 690 roams your home picking up dirt and debris
  • It can be controlled using the iRobot app or through Amazon Alexa devices

A home that stays clean with little to no effort is the ideal. And while you've still got to put in a bit of elbow grease to make your abode sparkly clean, smart technology is making hands-free cleaning more and more of a reality.

Take robotic vacuum cleaners. These devices aren't new; the first one was put into production back in 1997. But the latest crop of cleaners features futuristic advances, like voice integration, that make vacuuming by hand a thing of the past.

So even if you're like me and are about two decades late to the robotic vacuum cleaner game, it's never too late to hop on the bandwagon.

Recently, I got my hands on the iRobot Roomba 690 ($374.99; irobot.com) and it's completely changed how I view cleaning my home. The device roams around your bedrooms, living spaces and bathrooms to pick up dirt and debris. All you have to do is charge it up, hit the "clean" button on the app (or ask Alexa to to start the device), and kick back and relax. The Roomba will do all the vacuum cleaning for you. And when it's done, the cleaner goes back to its dock to recharge. It either does this based on cleaning time, or by your telling the device to end its cleaning job through the designated app or through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices.

Other notable highlights of the Roomba 690 include a multisurface design that can pick up particles and larger debris on a variety of surfaces, including carpet and hardwood floors. Dirt-detecting sensors also alert the Roomba to double down on concentrated areas of dirt for an even deeper clean. The Roomba's sensor also guides it around your furniture and appliances to help steer it in the right direction.

The Roomba 690 is currently the cheapest WiFi-enabled option from iRobot, which means that it doesn't have as many high-tech features as other iRobot offerings. It's priced at $374.99 but can also be bought with a monthly payment program through Affirm for just under $33 a month. If you're looking for something a bit more heavy-duty, the Roomba 980 ($899.99; irobot.com) features up to five times more power, can clean for longer and performs a deeper cleaning. This makes it especially great for pet owners.

For me, however, the Roomba 690 works just fine.

After a solid month of using the Roomba 690, I'm completely impressed with the device. After the first cleaning, I was shocked to see how much dirt and dust the Roomba found around my house. It got into the nooks and crannies, like under my bed and sofa, that I never really thought about cleaning. It's great for picking up hair, both human and pet, around my apartment, as well as crumbs lying around in the kitchen after a meal prep session. Because of that, it's a staple in my apartment almost daily, even if it's just for a quick spot check around the living room.

The sound level is lower than your typical vacuum cleaner, so I'm not too bothered letting it roam around the home while I'm watching TV or cooking. I even let it wander around when I'm not home, through the scheduling section in the app.

I will say, though, that you'll want to be at home during your first cleaning or two, so you know how to properly Roomba-proof your space. While the cleaner could navigate and not get caught up in electrical wires or carpets, mine does have trouble if the cords from my blinds are touching the floor. On the first cleaning job, it got entangled on those, as well as a small plastic grocery bag. Think of it as normal vacuum cleaning -- you'll want your floors to be relatively clear.

Robotic vacuum cleaners certainly have a bit of a learning curve, but once you've figured the device out, you'll wonder why you ever vacuumed your home by hand.

Note: The prices above reflects the retailer's listed price at time of publication.