I had never used a robotic vacuum before, so I was really excited when Julie told me that she had a Roomba Scheduler that needed to be tested out and reviewed. I gladly volunteered.
Julie handed me a big cardboard box and a plastic bag of extra accessories. I couldnâ€™t resist but to open it up right there at work. Inside the box was the Roomba, the battery, the docking bay and charger, an extra brush and squeegee and a virtual wall. In the bag was another virtual wall, another extra brush and squeegee.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so the office was all but deserted. So, we plugged it in, let it get a charge on it and then let it loose on the office floor (which is supposed to be vacuumed nightly). This test pointed out a few things to keep in mind when bringing a Roomba into an area where only human-propelled vacuums have been used in the past. For instance, the Roomba has a habit of finding any unsecured cable or wire that is touching the floor. The Roomba tried to eat no fewer that two network cables and three power cords before we got everything secured and out of reach. The other thing that the Roomba taught us was that either the office doesnâ€™t get vacuumed every day or the vacuum that they use needed to have the bag changed somewhere during the Reagan Administration. Within about 45 minutes, the bin on the Roomba had to be emptied four times, due to all of the crud that was on the floor.
So, the Roomba then made the trek home and I setup the Roomba with the docking bay (charger) under a rocking chair, in the living room. Others online had mentioned that they had success with putting the bay under a chair. Apparently these other Roomba owners had carpet and not hardwood flooring, because the Roomba continually had trouble docking, because it scooted the charger rather than docking.
Once again, the Roomba pointed out a few places that needed some attention to make my home Roomba-friendly. I setup the schedule to have the Roomba run at 7:00pm each evening (mostly so that we could actually watch it run). The Roomba ran every night for almost two weeks without any issues, then it happened. The Roomba found its way under another chair in the living room and came at its docking bay from behind. He did an excellent job of cleaning back there, but somehow found the power cord and got caught on it. He rolled back and forth several times and ended up breaking the connector in the side of the docking bay, where the power cord connects. Luckily, the charger can be plugged straight into the Roomba, which charges the Roomba, but also disables the schedule.
Overall, the Roomba does an excellent job of cleaning, even though it was challenged in our house by dog and cat fur. Initially, it was louder than I originally anticipated, but we quickly became accustomed to the sound, especially in exchange for not having to run the regular vacuum.
The virtual walls work well, but I was unable to find any way of scheduling these to turn on with the vacuum, so we had to remember to turn them on a few minutes before the vacuum turned on. The vacuum actually stops a couple of inches short of the virtual wall, but this wasnâ€™t normally enough to worry about.
The schedule for the Roomba is programmed via the remote control. I had no problems with the programming, but at times, other commands sent from the remote, such as manual â€œdrivingâ€ commands and the â€œreturn to docking bayâ€ command seemed to go completely ignored by the Roomba.
The only negatives that I found were that the docking bay does not work well on hardwood or other smooth floor,the noise was initially louder than expected and the Roomba apparently ignores the remote at times. If I buy a replacement docking bay, I think that I will mount one of those thin, transparent cutting boards to the bottom of the docking bay, so that the Roomba will be sitting on the cutting board before it tries to dock with the bay, preventing it from scooting.
All said, Iâ€™d give the Roomba Scheduler a rating of 3 on a scale of pi.
This particular model appears to be discontinued, but you can find it on sale on various online stores such as Amazon.com.