BREAKING: The next-generation Roomba 570, Roomba 560 and Roomba 530 have been released by iRobot and they look AWESOME. More powerful, better cleaning, lower maintainance, a SMARTER robot that remembers where it's been and has IMPROVED navigation, anti-tangle technology to easily coexist with carpet fringe and power cords, improved cleaning of edges and corners, new "SAFE AND GENTLE" impacts on objects because of new SENSORS that detect objects BEFORE Roomba hits them so it can decelerate, improved brushes and filters, improved Virtual Walls (including a snazzy "Lighthouse" effect), LARGER dustbin, and improved filtration of dust and allergens.
You can check out the New Roombas direct from iRobot, listed at $299, $349 and $399. (Get them as cheap as $212.49 SHIPPED in our Roomba Buyers Guide! That's for a new Roomba 535 mid-range model.)
The top-of-the line Roomba 570 features a "Wireless Command Center" and will ship in September. The Roomba 560 and Roomba 530 are shipping today. The Roomba 570 and 560 feature a Scheduler as well as Lighthouse Technology; with Lighthouse, a "Virtual Wall Lighthouse" ensures a Roomba has completely cleaned a room before allowing it to move on to the next room. The Lighthouses are also available for $39.99 separately. The Roomba 530 lacks a Lighthouse but still features a self-charging home base, so it is roughly the equivalent of the old White Discovery model. The base Roomba 510, expected to not include a home base and cost $250, is not yet listed on the web site.
Did I mention the new Roomba also TALKS TO YOU? That's right, no more mysterious beeps and flashing lights to try and figure out what's wrong with your Roomba. It will tell you how to set it up and tell you when something is wrong. Now that's what I want in a robot! (I envision future upgrades -- Roomba Shrink will see you now -- Roomba will order your pizza -- Roomba will tell your children to clean their room.)
More details: the new DustBin holds 33 percent more dirt, and the filter is 34 percent larger. There is a new high-capacity battery for $89.99 (pretty steep, $20 more than with the old Roomba, probably due to the surge in Nickel prices). The battery lasts for 100 minutes of cleaning. That appears to be slightly less than the old Roomba, but it appears the engineers wisely made the tradeoff of more power for less time. The new Roomba advertises that it will clean 3 rooms, versus 2 rooms for the older series. With the extra efficiency of the Lighthouse, the Roomba 570 and Roomba 560 clean 4 rooms.
iRobot also promises that the new robots will be MUCH more reliable, lasting 3 to 5 years of DAILY use, and even longer, if, like many folks, you vacuum a couple times a week. They also feature a modular design that is MUCH easier to clean. (No more straining your fingers to get behind the brush holder to the nooks and crannies behind). Almost everything is user replaceable, so that should keep down replacement and repair costs for the company. All of that adds up to more profits, happier customers and the dawning of a truly new age for iRobot and consumer robotics.
The older Roomba Sage, Roomba Red and Roomba 400 remain for sale from $119 to $199, but the Scheduler, Roomba for Pets and Roomba Discovery models have gone to a new "Clearance" section and are presumably discontinued.
You can also had colored faceplates to personalize your Roomba for $19.99.
The web site shows new animated videos featuring the Roomba in action.
Here is the official company press release. Quote: "It took three years and the latest in robot technology innovations to create appliances that can clean as effectively and autonomously as the new Roomba 500 series," said Sandra Lawrence, president of iRobot Home Robots. "Life today is so busy, we rarely have the time or the energy to clean our homes as often as we'd like. If you wish you could have clean floors every day, this one's for you."
iRobot says the new robots will be available in its retailers "this fall" but it appears they are only available direct from iRobot for now.
Gizmodo has the first web review featuring pics and videos of the new Roombas.
Investor's Business Daily was first out of the gate with details of the Roomba 500 series.
More Roomba coverage in Business Week (4 Stars!), CNET ("It swallowed a pit from a plum"), CNET's Photo Gallery, Boston Herald, Engadget , TG Daily and Reuters.
Tags: iRobot, robot