When it comes to robot vacuum cleaners, iRobot Roomba is a household name with the Roomba 900 Series having the top of the range models. The 900 Series consists of Roomba 960 as the base model and Roomba 980 as the ceiling model.
One thing about these two models and Roombas, in general, is that they are quite expensive. But then, iRobot is among the high-end robot vacuum brands so definitely you expect it to cost much more than regular brands. The Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 in particular cost close to £1000 but offer excellent value for money. This is courtesy of the unique and features including an all-new VSLAM navigation with cameras, Generation 3 motors and a host of other innovative features.
For many homeowners, the quest for finding the perfect robot vacuum cleaner doesn’t end at settling on Roomba 900 Series. I agree that you can never go wrong with the Roomba 900 Series but then, don’t settle for the less expensive Roomba 960 if you don’t know what you are missing in the Roomba 980. I have used the Roomba 980 and also tested the 960, and my choice remains the former. Here are the top 5 reasons why I would still buy the Roomba 980 despite the slightly higher price tag.
Gen 3 Motor
Perhaps the biggest strength of the Roomba 980 is the new Generation 3 brushless DC motor. It is more efficient and amazingly better than the old Gen 2 motor the Roomba 960 has. The older robot vacuums use a 1st Gen motor that is less efficient and noisy. 2nd Gen motors are a little bit improved but still won’t match the power of Gen 3 motors. But then, the story of the Roomba 980’s Gen 3 motor is better told when it comes to the high and low power modes it can run on. It is worth mentioning that only a few robot vacuum cleaners use a Gen 3 motor.
If you are looking for a Roomba that delivers excellent action on carpets, then you must have come across Carpet Boost. Like mentioned earlier, Gen 3 motors run on two modes; low and high power. Low power mode is the standard running mode ideal for vacuuming hard floors. But when it comes to carpets, more suction power is required, and that’s where Carpet Boost comes in. When the Roomba 980 detects carpets, it automatically switches to Carpet Boost where the motor delivers 10* more air power. In this mode, the suction power is boosted to around 1,700Pa compared to 1000Pa in eco mode.
If you have a carpet, whether light pile or heavy pile, you should not settle for anything lesser than the Roomba 980. So, in as much as you don’t have a carpet right now, you never know what the future holds; get the Roomba 980 and be guaranteed all-round cleaning.
To highlight the improved performance of the Roomba 980 on carpets, I recommend you read this article that I found about Roomba 960 vs. Roomba 980 comparison. The website conducted real-time tests on different carpet surfaces, and the Roomba 980 emerged the ultimate winner.
The runtime of a robot vacuum cleaner is a very crucial aspect, Roombas are no exception. Among the advantages of the Roomba 980 over the Roomba 960 is the fact that the former has a longer runtime. That said, you want to buy the Roomba 980 if you have a large apartment to guarantee you complete cleaning cycles with every charge.
I know the Roomba 960 sounds like a great deal now that it also has the resume function. But then, it takes about 2-3 hours to recharge; that is quite a long time to wait, and your guests might arrive before the Roomba recharges and completes cleaning.
From the technical specifications, Roomba 980 can run for an average of 120 minutes. On the other hand, the Roomba 960 can run for an average of 75 minutes. The explanation for this is that the expensive Roomba 980 has been equipped with a 3,300mAh Li-Ion battery that will run for a longer time than its counterpart, a 2,600mAh Li-Ion battery.
Another thing that contributes to Roomba’s longer runtime is the efficiency of the Gen 3 motor. Though it doesn’t wholly attribute to the huge difference, it plays a crucial part.
But still, you will realize that these runtimes may vary depending on the surface the Roomba is cleaning. The condition of the robot vacuum also determines runtime.
- Advanced Cleaning Settings
As we all know, the latest Roomba models come with Wi-Fi for Smartphone operation. But one mistake most buyers make is to assume that both the Roomba 960 and 980 have the same App features. Yes, they share the essential characteristics, but the Roomba 980 has advanced cleaning settings, a feature Roomba 960 lacks.
Though many people argue that this feature is hardly used, it is something that you probably don’t want to miss out on. I’ve always held the opinion that, you’d rather have something and not need it than need it when you don’t have it.
Advanced Cleaning Settings is a feature you can access on the Smartphone App. It allows you to program the Roomba 980 further to execute more complex cleaning tasks. For example, you can set the Cleaning passes from one to two or more depending on the mess you are dealing with.
From the latest developments, we know that Roomba is scheduling for several Wireless updates, so we expect this feature to be included in the Roomba 960 as well. However, this remains a speculation, and as it stands, the Roomba 960 doesn’t have this unique feature.
Two Virtual Walls barriers
So far so good, Virtual Walls has been a success, and this boundary marking feature is supported by both Roomba 960 and Roomba 980. But then, to get the most out of these little boundary markers, you need to have more than one Virtual Walls node.
I like Roomba 980 because iRobot included two Virtual Walls nodes in the package. On the other hand, the Roomba 960 comes with only one node. For starters, a single Virtual Wall barrier will cost you an average of $40. That said, you want to save your wallet from the extra cost of buying another node.
These are the main differences between the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980. But of course, there are several other differences, for example, design, and aesthetics. However, these are non-issues as they don’t have any meaningful impact on the performance of the vacuum cleaner.
So, is Roomba 960 a waste of money?
Having seen the advantages of the Roomba 980, one would want to ask, is the Roomba 960 any good? What I will tell you is that the Roomba 960 is not a bad deal after all. It is just that bigger brother has more features. When you weigh between the money value of the features against the price difference, the Roomba 980 wins.
But what if you are on a budget? This is where the Roomba 960 comes in as it cost a few hundred pounds lesser than the Roomba 980. Even though there are a few features it misses out on, there are several key features worth mentioning.
The first thing I appreciate Roomba 960 for having is the iAdapt 2.0 VSLAM navigation that the Roomba 980 also has. Remember, this is among the features that make the Roomba 980 the best. Another thing worth noting is the auto-resume function that covers for the shorter runtime. Many vacuum cleaners lack the resume function so Roomba 960 scores highly here. Other features it shares with Roomba 980 include HEPA filters, Dirt Detect Series II, voice control and integration among others.
If you ask many homeowners, they would instead get Roomba 960 and save the few hundred pounds for a robot mop now that Roombas offer vacuum only. But unknown to many, the Roomba 980 has a better features to price ratio. Yes, you want an affordable vacuum cleaner but then, let not the slight price difference make you miss out on the significant features the Roomba 980 offers.
To bring out this picture vividly, look at where each of the two Roombas is best suited for. Roomba 960 will work on hard floors, and clean pet hair and allergens. But when it comes to carpets, it gets overwhelmed. On the other hand, Roomba 980 will clean all hard floors, carpets, pet hair and allergens making it the best all round cleaner. I think that settles the case on why you should buy Roomba 980 and not Roomba 960.