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iRobot "Roomba", 2nd gen in our house
We all know about the dangers of robots. The final episode of Battlestar Galactica contained the warning that our toying around with cute dancing robots will ultimately lead to blond big-bosomed artificial girls and cute Asian girls (called "Boomer") [yeah OK, so where's the problem?].
.... eventually destroying humankind [well, they are women, aren't they?]
; and after watching my weekly episode of Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles I am pretty scared of artificial intelligence finally taking over the military and nuking humankind. However, I still like my little robots at home; I am thinking to name the blue one Boomer and the red one "Six" (isn't the Cylon girl called Six always wearing red dresses?).
However, like always with women, things are not hassle-free. They don't always clean when they are supposed to [that's a joke, actually HE did the cleaning at home before his wife allowed him to buy the robots],
they want an occasional massage to work and might sometimes refuse to provide any services alltogether [that explains the missing buttons on your shirt].
Our old iRobot Roomba Discovery in happier days
Reason for the new iRobot Roomba appearing is the fact that the old one, which we acquired in May 2007, has finally given up. Or, to put it differently, it refused working once again, making noises as if some kind of power transmission belt is broken inside and stopped cleaning, so we decided not to bring it a 3rd time into the repair shop, it broke down in March and thus did not quite get to be 2 years old.
In 2007, iRobot Roomba Discovery had a German store price of around 750 Euro and the Taiwan price was similar, we finally bought a grey import from the US for half price those days. However, that gave us trouble finding a repair shop. So if the thing keeps breaking down convincing repair guys to repair it becomes a real hassle and we finally gave up on the old (white and grey) one. It had the following defects:
The charging station on which old and new Roomba can auto-dock. But don't let it charge all week!
- charging board (it's inside the robot!) fried, because we followed the instruction manual and kept it 24h/7 days a week on the charging station. A bad idea...
- it attempted suicide by falling down the stairs when cleaning. It has a sensor to stop at the stairs, but it breaked too sudden and kind of jumped a bit in the air with it's tail and then fell down the stairs, when it was about a year old. It still worked but started only after making some ugly noises.
Finally, when I let it drop only from 20 cm height, because I carried it on it's rear at his dust compartment with only 1 hand (always use two hands when carrying the robot!) it didn't work anymore. The repair guy said it's totally worn out.
- A few month after fixing it, I let it drop again, this time only from 2 cm height (yes, I tried to carry it on it's rear again) and it broke down. We had it fixed.
- In March it made mechanical problems for no reason, see above
The new (cheaper) model came without a charging station, but it just docks automatically on the charging station of the old one!
Note: The new iRobot Roomba Discovery and the basic model both were below 200 Euro this time in Taiwan; likely grey imports again. Basic model was 25 Euro cheaper.
Charging time for the more expensive "Discovery" model and the cheaper (red) basic model is significantly different if you plug in the power cord directly instead of using the charging station (in the pic we use the charging station). Discovery charges in 3 hrs when plugged directly to power, the basic model in 7 hrs!
Discovery comes with a charging station, the basic model not. However, if you buy (have) one, also the basic model can automatically detect and dock to it and will also charge in 3 hrs.
Battery life is 90 minutes for new batteries and 45 minutes or so for older ones. We now have 3 (one came with the new one) and while the new one has it's full capacity the 2 older ones have much less, but usually provide 45 min.
Note the battery in front. All parts are fully compatible between the old and new robot, no matter if Discovery model or not.
So we stripped the poor old robot of it's components and found we can still use it as a charging station for batteries, even with fast 3 hrs charging time. Note the back of the robot, which is not properly connected in the picture. This dust compartment easily comes loose with our old model (a bit worn out by use I guess).
Speaking of the (dirt) "Discovery" function. Actually, for our old Discovery model it hardly ever worked. When it works, a blue light will turn on an the machine will alter its course to take up dirt. However, I could never see dirt where the old model saw some and I only saw this function 3 times in 2 years, so just forget about it, it's not important.
Our new (red) basic model is not supposed to have a dirt discovery function, but it has one and it even works great! Probably the discovery function has been improved for the new model, but Marketing decided the basic model should not admit it has one. Don't ask me, it has, and it works. But don't sue me if your basic model doesn't provide it.
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...... that's the sound
Another difference between old and new is the way it drives around. The old model seemed faster to me, but the high speed it had when it crashed to walls (it has a bumper in front) did not strike me as being too elegant. I like the more careful way the new red one is going around. Also, the new model seems to have improved software on board, it sometimes stopps before turning back when it has hit an obstacle, thats seems more clever to me. Again, 2nd gen has improvements.
Both models do fine on tiles, remember they are only vacuums, not floor sweepers.
The Discovery version came with two "virtual walls", those are electronic devices projecting a beam (invisible) which will make the robot stop. However, we stopped using these as they require frequent battery changes. We just put a chair on the floor, having it lie down, that's better.
This bro' rocks. Floor sweeper iRobot Scooba. Works and works for over 2 years now!
While I am not satisfied with our old Roomba for breaking down a bit often, I really like our Scooba model from the same company. It just works since 2 years now. In its second year it has developed a bit of a habbit: When you didn't use it for a long time, it will always say "check tank" and then you need to leave it open and let it dry for 45 minutes or so. Alternatively you may want to try shaking and emptying and refilling the tank. Taking a straw and blowing (or sucking?) air from/into the little strut between the tank (the upper part) and the base can also help, especially when it is a new model. In that case, some air is stuck somewhere. But no big deal, just leave it open a while when that happens.
Scooba is really good at washing the floor, however we had used 4 batteries so far, with No. 3 still having 45 minutes capacity and No. 4 having full 90 minutes still. No. 1 and 2 are retired, no chance to get them working again.
Some people complain Scooba would make a mess, like not sucking up the water again, which it uses for cleaning. In that case, and when it gets uneasy on its wheels, it just needs cleaning of the brush area. Take it out and hold it under water.
Scooba is a fine guy (he must be a male), working and working and I really hated to wash these white tiles of ours. Good chap.