Robotic Vacuums

Review: iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Peggy Deloatch
Written by Peggy Deloatch

Review: iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum Cleaner

The Roomba 980 Vacuuming Robot seamlessly navigates room to room to clean an entire level of your home, recharging and resuming until the job is done. The Roomba 980 automatically increases cleaning power on carpets, where its needed most. Just press CLEAN or schedule Roomba on the go with the iRobot HOME App.

  • iRobot HOME App lets you clean, schedule, & customize cleaning preferences from your smartphone
  • Cleans an entire level of your home with iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization
  • Runs for up to 120 minutes, then automatically recharges and resumes cleaning to complete the entire job
  • AeroForce Cleaning System loosens, lifts & suctions dirt with up to 10x more air power
  • Automatically increases cleaning performance on carpets with Power Boost
  • Use Clean Map reports to view where your robot has cleaned, turn on notifications for cleaning status updates
  • AeroForce High-Efficiency Filter captures 99% of allergens, pollen, and particles as small as 10 microns
  • Tangle-free Dual Multi-Surface Brushes handle pet hair with ease
  • Ask your Amazon Alexa device or the Google Assistant to start, stop, or dock your robot
  • Full suite of intelligent sensors guide the robot under and around furniture
  • Automatically docks and recharges so your robot is always ready to clean
  • Cliff Detect sensors prevent the robot from falling down stairs or tumbling over drop-offs
  • Specially designed Edge-Sweeping Brush sweeps debris from along wall edges and corners
  • 3.6 low profile cleans under furniture, beds and toekicks
  • Built using over 25 years of robotics expertise and innovation

Pros

  • The App is Awesome: It’s fairly simple and straightforward, but it means everything to me. Being able to control my robot from my phone means the Roomba is now part of my smart home family. Picking up on where tools like the Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats have left off, iRobot has really delivered on a smart, web-connected, roomba vacuum. I’m already eagerly thinking about the possibilities for future integration with my various smart home apps and controllers.
  • App Helps Monitor Maintenance: There is a really cool “diagnostics” portion of the app that monitors different parts of the Roomba and uses simple bars to let you know when things need to be changed or serviced (think emptying the bin, changing extractors, filters, etc…). It also tells you exactly how to perform the desired maintenance requirement.
  • Better on Carpets: Robots vacuums always tend to perform better on hardwood floors and hard floor alternatives (tile, etc…). Now, the newly redesigned motor is particularly good at adapting to carpet surfaces as well. Once detected, the 980 will engage a bit more muscle to thoroughly clean carpets the way they should be cleaned. In a side by side test with my Roomba 880 (and a bunch of spilled crushed cheerios), both “appeared” to clean the same at a distance, but the 980 actually was able to pick up more of the crumbs that had filtered down to the bottom of the carpet. It was a subtle difference, hard to tell from standing up even, but an important difference nonetheless.
  • More Hands Off/User Friendly: In short, it’s more of a robot! The new app, the stronger battery and the automatic recharging/resume feature makes the Roomba 980 even more hands free than both previous models and the competition. Slowly but surely, home robotics is living up to it’s promise. If you hate vacuuming – or physically cannot do it anymore – this is the quintessential outsourced solution. Short of hiring cleaning help, the Roomba 980 is now the best option out there.

  • Navigation is Noticeably Improved: Sometimes new features are added and I can hardly tell the difference. Not so with the new navigation technology. In the past, Roomba’s have had the knock for cleaning in a randomized, haphazard pattern. While the end result was clean floors, how it happened wasn’t pretty. Still, it was also a bit inefficient. This was one of the contrasts I liked about most Neato models. Now, the 980 is much more organized, methodical, and efficient. It still bumps into things to gain its bearings, particularly in rooms with lots of furniture. Just not nearly to the degree it did in the past. On careful observation it even appears the 980 will remember these “bumps” for future cleans and will not keep doing it with the same wild abandon.
  • Smarter Algorithm: For all you geeks out there, this robot is actually smarter than it’s predecessors and the competition. In general, I noticed that the 980 spent much less time than both my 880 and Botvac’s (included the new Connected Botvac) pausing and calculating as it creates the map of the room.
  • Excellent Customer Service: iRobot is still the leader when it comes to customers service. This more of a general “pro” and less specific to this model, but still worth noting. Every time I’ve needed to replace a Roomba, I’ve had no issues. They are also good at walking you through diagnosing problems.
  • Strong Secondary Parts Market: As a longtime Roomba owner, I know that it’s only a matter of time before I need to replace a battery, brush, or filter (among other items). Unlike other robot companies, the Roomba has a deluge of after market companies specializing in creating better replacement accessories and parts. For example, I’ve been able to find replacement batteries that are better than the factory default ones. This is only somewhat true for companies like Neato (smaller market share) and this market is virtually non existent for the other small players.
  • Better Suction Overall: My two quasi scientific ways of measuring this are that A) I can feel a lot more wind/air coming out of the device and B) those larger particles of grit that only high powered vacs tend to get are being captured in the dust bin. This is an upgrade over the Roomba 880 which I was comparing it too as my baseline.

Cons

  • App Could be More: This isn’t really a legit gripe, because I’m thrilled with the new app. It’s more of a wish. I’d like to fully integrate my Roomba with the rest of my smart home. It would be nice to be able to handle everything from one app (and one controller like the SmartThings Hub and others). It probably wouldn’t be hard to do and it may be something iRobot already plans to do anyway.
  • Still Not “Perfect”: It’s a definite improvement, but it’s still not perfect. It sometimes gets confused by power cords and can have trouble with sizable thresholds. Once in a while it will get stuck, but once you figure out the problem areas, it’s easy to “Roomba proof” your house. It’s not quite like a human….yet.
  • Competition on the Way? Both the Dyson Eye and the Neato Botvac Connected are rumored to be coming out “soon”. How soon? I can’t really tell. The Botvac Connected (which features similar app controls) will likely be out sometimes this year, but no firm release date has been set. The Dyson Eye has been rumored to be in the works for years, but I haven’t heard much lately about an anticipated release date. It could still be 6-12 months away. What this means is that the Roomba 980 could have some stiffer competition on the horizon. Right now, the 980 is the best robot on the market, but that could change. Particularly if the price points are more affordable, Roomba could be seriously undercut. UPDATE: The Dyson 360 Eye has recently been released. In general, it has a more powerful vacuum, but less competent room-to-room navigation. You can read my full review for more details.
  • Doesn’t Work in Complete Darkness: As long as there is some light i.e. you can see your way around, the 980 should work fine. However, for pitch black rooms you will inevitably get an error code. If cleaning at night or in a basement with no lights, this could be a concern. My simple solution is to keep night lights on in every room that needs it.
  • Carpet Boost is Loud: It picks up more dirt, so I’m a happy customer, but it’s still worth noting. Don’t plan on sleeping in the same room.
  • Only Available in One Place: So far – as is often the case with new releases – the Roomba 980 is ONLY available via the iRobot store here. This is likely because they want to control pricing as long as possible. As soon as it’s released to other marketplaces like Amazon and box retailers, I’ll be sure to update this post. UPDATE 10/8/15: It’s just been released to Amazon (see here for the listing)!
  • Price: As always, iRobot is the price leader. All their robots are usually slightly to moderately more expensive than the competition. The 980 is no different. In fact, it’s pretty darn expensive! At $900 per unit, this is probably not something that’s easy to spring for. You can check out this listing for more detailed pricing information. In this case, you do get what you pay for. This generation actually HAS improved many important aspects. Hands down, this is the best robot vacuum currently available. Still, if this is your first robot, you might want to look into some less expensive – but still competent – alternatives (see below)

I have been singing the praises ever since I received my iRobot aka “Ramona”. I have 2 large dogs long haired shepherd & Rhodesian that shed 24/7. Ramona cleans everyday & picks up a full bin of hair & dirt, so you know what my weekends were before roomba vacuuming & dusting. Huge reduction in dust and no fur tumbleweeds. Worth the investment. Going to be ordering me a second one soon for downstairs. Has no trouble transitioning from carpet to hardwood & crawls under furniture with ease. Will need a good weekly cleaning to remove dog hair from wheels but only takes 15 min , well worth it. When Ramona is done I get a text & if she’s in trouble she sends out an SOS vid text as well. Senses stairs and moves on. Pets stay away from vacuum once she sounds her starting bell tone. So happy I already bought a imop “Rameo” to mop the hardwood floors, wish it interacting with my phone like roomba does. It still very happy. Sorry rent a maids out there. It room a is the future.


We consider Roberta Roomba part of the family. She has made my life so much easier. I just have less stress and feel better in a clean house. Every four days I let her clean the entire house. Thebin does not get too full because we keep a regular schedule on her cleaning. One time a month the housekeeper uses the conventional vacuum to clean the entire house. (that used to be the only time it got vacuumed unless guests were coming over) The first few times she cleaned the house it took a LOOONG time. However, as she learned the layout of the house and mapped everything, it is a much quicker process. I set her to clean, then leave the house. She has only been stuck once, the app sent me a message. I was able to find her quickly and assess the problem. I fixed the issue… a box in the way of the bed and no space to turn…. and have only had one shoelace incident since. (I usually catch all of those before starting her up) Roberta seems to find dirt even when I thought the house was clean enough to find nothing. The map is fun to look at and see that she has really been more places than my conventional vacuum could ever go. Especially under the bed! Coming home to a clean house with one less thing to do brings me great happiness. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys having a clean home.


Love this product!!! I did a ton of research before buying this and was a little skeptical. Once i got it set up and started the bin filled up quickly but we had just moved in and the home hadn’t been vacuumed in 30 days. Once the home was cleaned the bin didn’t fill up as often. I turn WALLE (Roomba) on to work every day before i go to work; and once i get home it’s like someone came in and cleaned my home. We have a combination of small (Chihuahua) and big (Australian shepherds) dogs. WALLE can be running with them in the house and it doesn’t bother them and one of the older Chihuahuas use to hate the vacuum and would attack out old standard vacuum but WALLE doesn’t bother him it has even bumped into him and he doesn’t care. One of my Aussies is a heavy shedder and WALLE has a hard time getting all of his hair but the bits that are left behind are all clumped together so the floor will be clean and a few balls of big dog hair, easy enough to pick up with minimal effort. Great product would recommend to any of my friends or family.


I decided to try the Roomba 980 thanks to a coupon from iRobot and BzzAgent. I had one of the early Roomba’s and liked it, so I decided to give the 980 a try. (I’m an electronic gadget geek) I ordered from iRobot and the box arrived in a few days and I was so excited to get it! I remove it from its carton and put it right to work. My carpet had just been vacuumed with my Dyson so I didn’t think it would pick up much but I was wrong! I couldn’t believe what all it picked up. The Roomba 980 is so easy to use and I love the smartphone app. I can check on it during the day when I’m at work, or if I’m out of town, I set it to start 2 hours before arriving home. I love coming home to a clean carpet! I have had one problem after 1 month of use. The little plastic latch that keeps the filter in the bin broke off. I called the 877 number and without any problems, they sent me a new bin in the mail! Excellent Customer Service! I have really put this machine through its paces. I’ve used it 95% of the days that I’ve had it. In 6 weeks, it has logged 67 jobs, 54 hours, and 12,720 sq ft. total! It transitions from thick carpet to hard wood with rugs without any problems. It’s amazing at cleaning up cat litter on hard floors! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve got 5 cats and a Golden Retriever, but you would never know it because the 980 has no problem picking up the fur.


We are a (2) long-haired cats and (2) grown-up family in a house that serves as our residence and place of business. So clean is very important because we have co-workers and clients in the house all the time. I have a wonderful cleaning lady too. With kitties, we have kitty litter (next time I’m teaching them to use the potty) and with (2) levels we have (2) kitty litter locations. I have done everything I can to keep the kitty litter dust down (dustless kitty litter is NOT all it is cracked up to be) and the kitty litter crumbs cleaned up. I even have a air purifier next to the litter box in my office to try to eliminate the dust. You get the picture. I run “Rosie” on the main floor in the middle of the night, every night, and then again in the morning upstairs, every morning. I can’t believe how much dust, dander, cat hair, and general crummy stuff she picks up! I empty the bin and shake the filter after every time she runs. My hardwood floors have never felt so clean (I’m a barefoot kind of girl) and the carpets – WOW! Rosie goes over everything twice and she is very slow and deliberate. It think that is the secret. I’ve already bought one of these for my Mom and am on the verge of buying one for my sister. I’ve already warned my daughters-in-law they might get a Rosie of their own for Christmas. I LOVE ROSIE!

About the author

Peggy Deloatch

Peggy Deloatch

Had some great experience working on cleaning tools supplier in New York. Spent college summers building DIY vacuum cleaner in Phoenix, AZ. Spent last 10 years developing strategies for cleaning team setup in Atlantic City, NJ.

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