Comparison models Roomba: 860 vs 870 vs 880 vs 890 vs 960 vs 980

Are you in a dilemma of what Roomba to buy from the 800 and 900 series? If yes, you’ve come to the perfect place. Also you can read our Roomba comparison review in 2018. In this article, we are going to dissect the Roomba 800 and 900 series and see how they rank against each other in terms of features and performance. These vacuum cleaners are the Roomba 860, 870, 880, 890, 960 and lastly, 980. In the comparison, we will solely dwell on the features and performance, but first, a short introduction about iRobot’s dedication to innovation.

iRobot has always been committed to invention and technological exploration. For this reason, they have been able to come up with several new technologies. Each of their robots is equipped with these cutting-edge technologies for efficiency.

So, without further ado, let’s go straight to the Roomba 860 vs. 870 vs. 880 vs. 890 vs. 960 vs. 980 comparison review. To help you understand better, here is a Roomba comparison chart that lists what features are available for which Roomba models.

Recap of the Roomba 800 and 900 Series

Now that we have seen how these vacuum cleaners compete in terms of performance, we are going to review each one of them and see the pros and cons. This will help you make a quick decision on which vacuum cleaner you will buy.

Remember, the Roomba 800 and 900 series have the best value vacuum cleaners and the most sophisticated vacs respectively. But before we discuss how they compete in terms of features and performance, we will shortly review each of the Roomba in this series and see what each is best known for.

1. Roomba 860 & Roomba 870 – Low Budget Roombas

The Roomba 860 and 870 are low-budget vacuum cleaners in the Roomba 800 series. They both offer reliable cleaning and their suctioning is exceptional. These vacuum cleaners come with Dirt Detection Series II which ensures more intensive cleaning of areas with more dirt. We have discussed them both under one segment because their features are more or less the same.

What We Liked

  • 1. Low profile design – The Roomba 860 boasts a low profile design that enables it to maneuver under sofas, beds, and furniture.
  • 2. 5 times more vacuuming power – This cleaner offers 5 times more vacuuming power making it a great low-budget vacuum cleaner that offers quite some good [performance on carpets as well as pet hair and allergens.
  • 3. New design debris extractors – This is among the improvements from the previous models which replaced the old brush system.
  • 4. Dirt Detection Series II – This technology helps to detect where there’s more dirt for the cleaner to focus more on such areas.
  • 5. Full bin indicator – The Roomba 860 also has a full bin indicator to notify homeowners when it’s time to empty the bin.

What We Didn’t Like

  • 1. Lacks Wi-Fi – This cleaner lacks Wi-Fi which is a new and pretty awesome technology in vacuum cleaners.

2. Roomba 880 – Best for Multiroom Cleaning

The Roomba 880 is another great vacuum cleaner that boasts the native AeroForce Cleaning system. Besides this, it has anti-tangle debris extractors and a spinning side brush. Other notable features include multiroom cleaning, remote control, and a nickel-metal-hydride battery.

What We Liked

  • 1. Multiroom Navigation – This vacuum cleaner has multiroom navigation that enables it to execute multiroom cleaning smoothly for entire level cleaning.
  • 2. Remote Control – It also has a remote control that allows homeowners control it from a distance of 15 feet.
  • 3. Affordability – When you look at the features of this vacuum cleaner and the price, I could say that it is very affordable and offers value for money.
  • 4. Boundary Marking – This cleaner also comes with 2 Virtual Wall Lighthouses for restricting it from reaching certain areas.

What We Didn’t Like

  • 1. Battery Type – NiMH batteries are less popular with the coming on the newer technology, Li-Ion.

3. Roomba 890 – Wi-Fi & App Compatibility

The Roomba 890 is the last vacuum cleaner in the series and comes with Wi-Fi and App compatibility. Besides, it offers detailed cleaning and has a precise navigation system. You can also control it with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant making it such a conventional vacuum cleaner.

What We Liked

  • 1. Tangle Free Extractors – The tangle-free extractors prevent hair tangling thus making the vacuum cleaner ideal for pet hair cleaning.
  • 2. Wi-Fi Support – This cleaner supports Wi-Fi thus enabling you to operate it from the iRobot Home App.
  • 3. Voice-Activated Control – You can also issue commands to this cleaner using Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • 4. Pet Hair and Allergens – This vacuum cleaner also works well for pet owners and those suffering from allergies.

What We Didn’t Like

  • 1. Quite Expensive – This vacuum cleaner is quite expensive but all the same, worth every penny.

4. Roomba 960 – Cheaper Alternative to the Roomba 980

The Roomba 960 is the 980’s, little brother. It has the same features with the 980 although the 980 has a few tweaks that make it better than the 960. This vacuum cleaner is great for cleaning and its price is relatively cheaper. Here are its pros and cons.

What We Liked

  • 1. Better Cleaning – The Roomba 960 offers better cleaning compared to the 800 series.
  • 2. Superior Navigation – This vacuum cleaner has been engineered with iAdapt 2.0 navigation system with local visualization.
  • 3. Wi-Fi & App Compatibility – This vacuum cleaner has Wi-Fi and App compatibility making remote operation easy.
  • 4. Boundary Marking – Just like the Roomba 980, the 960 has Virtual Walls. However, this cleaner comes with only one Virtual Wall compared to the two that are available in the 980.

What We Didn’t Like

  • 1. Short Battery Runtime – The Roomba 960 can run for an average of 75 minutes which is very short for such an expensive vacuum cleaner.

5. Roomba 980 – Best in Performance

The Roomba 980 is the latest and most expensive vacuum cleaner in the Roomba series. It comes with a range of superb features that make it the best vacuum cleaner from iRobot. It offers the best-in-class cleaning and offers a wide range of convenience features. Here are its pros and cons.

What We Liked

  • 1. Best in Cleaning – First, the Roomba 980 offers excellent cleaning performance. It can clean all floor types and has a low profile design that makes it maneuver almost anywhere.
  • 2. Precise Navigation – Its navigation system is also more elaborate and precise. Besides the iAdapt 2.0 navigation, there’s local visualization that uses cameras for real-time navigation.
  • 3. Versatility – This vac is also very versatile as it serves more cleaning needs. The high-efficiency filters make it ideal for pet hair cleaning while the Carpet Boost mode gives it an upper hand in cleaning carpets and rugs.
  • 4. Convenience – This vacuum cleaner offers many conveniences to its users. It supports Wi-Fi and has App compatibility. Besides, you can control it with Alexa or even Google Assistant.
  • 5. Enhanced Battery Life – The Roomba 980 can run for a straight 120 minutes which is quite enough to clean your entire house on a full charge.

What We Didn’t Like

  • Price – Even though the Roomba 980 has top class features, it is very expensive. However, it offers the best value for your money.

Technology Expertise

iRobot has always been committed to invention and technological exploration. For this reason, they have been able to come up with several new technologies. Each of their robots is equipped with these cutting-edge technologies for efficiency. Here is a Roomba comparison chart that lists what features are available for which Roomba models.

Navigation Technology

Navigation is a major concern in robotic cleaners. iRobot outshines its competitors courtesy of the iAdapt navigation. This technology uses optical and acoustic sensors that find dirt and cleans in a back-and-forth pattern. Besides locating dirt, it enables wall vacuuming and prevents falls by using cliff-detection sensors.

With the Roomba, you don’t need to worry about the cleaners safety when working. It comes equipped with Light-Touch Bumper Technology. This technology accurately differentiates soft barriers from solid barriers thus preventing hits that may damage the cleaner. It also allows the vacuum cleaner to go under curtains, bed skirts, and even couch skirts.

It is important to note that there are two variations of iAdapt. All Roombas use the first iRobot iAdapt technology, except the Roomba 980 and 960. These two have the new iAdapt 2.0 which has a visual localization camera for mapping. This helps the Roomba navigate your home and ensuring detailed cleaning.

To prevent the Roomba from reaching some rooms, iRobot brought on board three technologies; Virtual Walls, Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barriers and Virtual Wall Lighthouses.

Vacuuming Technology Roomba

All the Roombas in this series use AeroForce® Cleaning System. AeroForce is iRobot’s technology that guarantees detailed cleaning. This technology blends three features.

First, there are tangle-free extractors that grab and break down dirt debris regardless of the floor type. There’s also an airflow accelerator that concentrates airflow in a sealed channel to enable suctioning. Lastly, it uses a more powerful vacuuming system with up to 5 times air power.

With this technology, you can capture and filter out 99% of allergens, pollen, and dirt as small as 10 microns. This technology is ideal when cleaning carpets and rugs

Even though all Roomba robots are designed to clean dirt and pet hair, the 900 and 800 series are the most efficient. For example, the Roomba 980 has the Carpet Boost feature that increases air power by up to 10 times.

Entire Level Cleaning.

These days, robots have been engineered to work fully without human interference. Technologies like self-programming are really working this out by ensuring the work is done fully within schedule.

In Roomba, only the 980 and 960 have been programmed to resume cleaning after the interruption. For example, when it has a low charge when working, it will have to go to Home Base for recharge after which it will resume work by itself. However, with the other models, you will have to restart the machine by pressing CLEAN.

This cleaning and recharging process will continue until the whole area is cleaned. Also, other Roombas like the 880 come equipped with Virtual Wall Lighthouse that enables it to clean up to 3 rooms without interruption. This is why this capability is called Entire Level Cleaning.

Wi-Fi Support

For new age robots, Wi-Fi communication is such a plus. Wi-Fi capabilities enable users to connect to the robot via the iRobot Home App.

The newer models of the Roomba support Wi-Fi. With the 890, 960 and 980, you can easily connect your Android or iOS device to your robot. You can then give the robot commands on Cleaning, Scheduling, Edge Cleaning and so on.

You can also monitor the cleaning process remotely. Besides this, homeowners can see the status of cleaning schedules and also customize their cleaning preferences.

Filtration Technology

The type of filter systems also matters when it comes to evaluating the robot’s performance. IRobot adopts the popular Aerosoft filters that filter even the smallest debris. Besides detailed filtering, they are also durable and require little maintenance.

All the Roomba robots use AeroForce High-Efficiency Filters.

Carpet Boost Mode

Carpet Boost Mode is another unique and fantastic feature. It is, however, a very new feature that is only in the Roomba 980.

This mode improves drastically the robots air power. With more air power, vacuuming is enhanced. In this mode, you are guaranteed 99% of allergens, pollen, and dirt as small as 10 microns.

Edge Cleaning Mode

While all the older versions of the Roomba only have side brushes, the 960 and 980 have a new and better technology.

The new 960 and 980 can clean tight edges. This is courtesy of the Edge Clean Mode that ensures edges are cleaned after the floor. It is important to note that this mode is always on by default.

Full Bin Indicator

The full bin indicator is important as it notifies the user when the bin is full. All the Roombas have this important indicator.

However, the feature is more advanced in the 960 and 980. With these models, users have two options.You can choose ‘Finish Job’ or ‘Pause immediately. Finishing the job will end the cleaning immediately while ‘Pause Immediately’ will stop the cleaning until you empty the bin.

You can do all these right from the iRobot Home App.

Debris Extractor

Debris Extraction technology grabs and breaks down dirt and debris. This prevents hair tangles and jams in the vacuuming system. The air accelerator further improves the process by concentrating air flow for more suction power.

This technology replaced brushes that were used in previous models, i.e., the 600 and 700 series. Right now, models in the 800 series going upwards have this technology.

Visual Localization

These days, many robots come with cameras for better and improved navigation. This technology has recently been adopted by Roomba.

The latest versions of the Roomba, the 960 and 980 come with visual localization cameras for easy mapping. This mapping allows the cleaner to seamlessly maneuver around your home. It can further track its location to quickly locate the Home Base when necessary.

iRobot® XLife™ Extended Life Battery

Battery life is equally important, and that is why iRobot has invested in research. This company has built specific Roombas with XLife™ Extended Life Battery technology that boosts battery life. The Roomba 880 is among the cleaners with this technology.

The 870 and 880 use a Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery while the 860, 890, 960 and 980 have a Lithium-Ion battery. It is, however, worthy to note that Lithium-ion batteries provide extended cleaning time.

The Roomba 980 and 960 robots can run for 120 minutes and 75 minutes respectively. Also, note that running time is also determined by the complexity of the job.

Spot Clean

Spot Clean is a unique feature of the Roomba. When activated, it can spiral in a 3 feet circle thus ensuring intense cleaning. This feature is ideal for cleaning stained areas.

All the Roombas have this feature.


Self-program makes these robotic cleaners schedule cleaning times. Roombas can be programmed for seven straight days.

Whenever a time reaches when it has been scheduled, the Roomba leaves the docking station and starts to clean the house.

This feature is also available for all the models

Control Mode

Roomba cleaners have two control modes. There is a remote control and also smartphone App.

With the Roomba 890, 960 and 980, you can control the cleaner via App. There is no physical remote provided. These models are also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa.

On the other hand, the 880 is compatible with only the remote as it is not Wi-Fi enabled.


The Roomba will automatically go to Home Base when it needs a charge. In addition to this, all the Roombas have the ‘Home’ button that sends the robot to dock in the Home Base.

Clean Passes Control

Typically, Roombas remove dirt with a single pass on each area unless when Spot Clean is activated. To ensure accuracy, iRobot built the 960 and 980 with a two-pass cleaning system. This guarantees accurate cleaning by going once more on the cleaned area.

This feature is only in the two latest models and can be accessed from the App.


All the Roomba’s come with a one-year warranty on the robots. There also a 6-months warranty for batteries.

Roomba Navigation Control Devices

Roomba robot vacuum cleaners have three navigation devices. They are Virtual Walls, Virtual Wall Lighthouses, and Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barriers.

Virtual Wall uses infra-red beams to mark areas where the Roomba is allowed to operate in. This technology is used in the Roomba 870.

On the other hand, Virtual Wall Lighthouses are also small devices set to either Virtual Wall or Lighthouse Mode. This device is available in the Roomba 880.

Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barriers is the most common and quite similar to Virtual Walls.This device blocks off open doorways and restricted areas within a room. It is available in the Roomba 860, 890, 960 and 980.

Choosing the Best Roomba

This discussion will narrow down to Roomba 980 vs. 960. This is because the two are the most advanced in the Roomba series. When you are shopping for a Roomba, it is recommended that you go for one with the latest features. Here, the key aspects to look at include connectivity, Carpet Boost mode, navigation technology and so on. For this reason, the Roomba 960 and 980 are the best. They have several additions regarding features that offer user convenience and most importantly, detailed, hassle-free cleaning.

However, it is important to stick to your budget. Weigh your options so that you don’t end up spending more than you should have. Note that the more the features, the higher the price. But at the end of the day, you will see value in the two latest robots.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most powerful Roomba vacuum?

All iRobot vacuums of the 800 series feature the same 1000 Pa suction. This is a nice result for hardfloors and low-piled carpets. Roomba 960 has even a bit lower suction of 900 Pa. The most powerful Roomba robot vacuum of the review is Roomba 980. This model provides 1700 Pa, which is enough for medium-piled carpet cleaning.

Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980: which robot vacuum is the best for carpets?

Roomba 960 is a decent model that offers 900 Pa suction and a set of tangle-free rollers. However, Roomba 980 is a better option for carpet cleaning. Here we see almost twice higher suction of 1700 Pa and Carpet Boost tecnology for more thorough pile vacuuming.

What is the most durable Roomba vacuum?

Roomba 980 is equipped with a 3300 mAh battery and lasts for 120 minutes. This is the best run time compared with other Roombas of the 800 and 900 series. These vacs run for about 60-75 minutes.

Can I schedule my Roomba 890?

Roomba 890 supports WiFi connection and app control. This feature allows you to run your vac remotely through the phone and set any schedule you`d like. Just choose the days and hours of cleaning, and your Roomba 890 will turn on automatically.

Does Roomba 980 learn my house?

iRobot engineers equipped Roomba 980 with Smart Mapping technology. It means the vac saves plans of your house and uses them for further navigation.

Wrap Up

Like earlier said, the Roomba is revolutionary. It has been created to offer improved cleaning and convenience. With new cleaning and vacuuming technologies, the Roomba is just the best. If you are looking for a reliable and effective robotic vacuum cleaner, get the Roomba and be part of the millions of Roomba users worldwide.