iRobot Roomba 630 Review by Janyce Raynolds
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Design and Specs
Like all Roomba units, the 630 is round and low to the ground. It measures a modest 13.4 inches in diameter and just 3.6 inches high. It weighs only 7.9 lbs.
Those specs make it a tad smaller and lighter than the Roomba 790, but for style points I actually prefer this one. The light gray body contrasted with dark highlights appeals to the gadget freak in me.
Looks aside, the 630 has most of the features that have made iRobot one of the leaders in robot vacuum technology. That includes a three stage cleaning system, the company’s AeroVac technology, and the intelligent iAdapt algorithms.
Sounds fine, but what do all those buzzwords mean to someone who just wants a clean room with minimal effort?
Three Stage Cleaning
Spinning side brushes let the Roomba travel along a wall and brush all the pesky hair and dust found there into the intake path. Counter-rotating rollers push debris in there as well as the robot moves forward. A powerful vacuum draws it all in, including removing most of the hair caught on the rollers.
None of these mechanisms is perfect; in fact, they’re not generally as powerful or effective as a good upright model. But for day-to-day maintenance they save a lot of effort, reducing the need to get out that ‘manual’ model as often.
This is actually more than just a marketing buzzword, though it’s undeniably that. The way the ducting is shaped and the motor assembly are designed, AeroVac helps pull the hair off the rollers and stuff it into a bin in the back. That keeps the bristles working reasonably well and minimizes the frequency of emptying the container.
It’s not perfect either. String and thread is often beyond its ability, so you will have to clean off the rollers by hand from time to time. But even my powerful Dyson requires taking a pair of scissors about once a week to remove dog hair caught on the roller.
Here again it would be easy to charge iRobot with leaning too heavily on techno-thrilling marketing words. But actual use shows that the iAdapt algorithms the 630 employs do make this model pretty good at getting around the room properly.
It isn’t quite the wonder of, say, the Roomba 780 but it navigates well along walls under bed skirts and around furniture while avoiding cliffs like stairs. The firmware directs the robot to make multiple passes over those areas when needed or move on when it’s done.
One feature that helps the iAdapt software operate so well is the Dirt Detect sensor system. An acoustic sensor lets the robot ‘hear’ how dirty the floor is. When needed, it spends more time on a given path.
The box houses one Virtual Wall unit. This is a tiny tower that resembles a desk computer speaker. It sends a signal that the Roomba 630 can detect to prevent it entering a room. That keeps the 630 in, say, the living room instead of wandering off into a bedroom.
The Virtual Lighthouses included in higher-end models like the 780 or 790 are a little more useful. They are dual mode, blocking entry like a Virtual Wall or – alternately – guiding the robot intelligently into the other room.
Even so, the Wall is still useful. It helps avoid wasting battery. Better to clean one room well than two rooms poorly. You can shut it off with a flick of the finger if you judge the 630 can do both in your house.
Speaking of the battery, the Roomba 630 comes with a charger/Home Base like most other iRobot models. The robot ends there after its duty cycle, charges, and is ready for another session in a few hours.
The battery itself will drive the 630 for about an hour and can clean a large room – up to 450 square feet or so – very thoroughly in that time.
What It Lacks
I said at the beginning that the 630 lacks some of the bells and whistles of the high end 7 series models. Whether they’re important, only you can judge.
For example, there’s no Full Bin Indicator. It’s an odd absence since such a sensor is exceedingly inexpensive to incorporate. How much you’ll miss it is hard to say since how much the 630 picks up per session can vary so much from home to home.
It’s equally hard to say how much you’ll miss the scheduling system some other models include. The up-to-7-day system in the 790 is especially nice since it can be programmed from the wireless remote control.
That remote control is another feature the 630 lacks and it can be important for those buyers who have difficulty moving about. I’m not just referring to couch potato/gadget freaks like me but the elderly or handicapped. They really benefit from being able to start/stop or direct the robot from a small handheld, especially one that can operate through walls, like the 790’s Command Center. Let your circumstances be your guide here.
All that said, it is nice that the Roomba 630 is among the lowest priced iRobot vacuum cleaner models. Even though it’s on the bottom end of the current lineup, it offers most of the features – and therefore much of the value – of the best.
The iRobot Roomba 630 couldn’t be easier to use. Once charged, you just hit Clean on the top and it does the rest automatically, including returning to the charging base. The lack of more sophisticated sensors and a remote control might encourage some buyers to look at more expensive models. But what is here is first rate.