Do you Roomba? No, this isn’t a dance move or the latest workout craze. I’m talking about the Roomba from iRobots – the Vacuum Cleaning Robot. That’s right ladies, a vacuuming robot.

I have three boys and a very hairy black Lab so I could easily justify vacuuming my house every other day. Unfortunately I lack both the time and the passion to vacuum this often. So I jumped at the chance to try out Roomba.

Roomba has a number of different models, but here are a few features they all have:

Round shape helps it navigate into and out of tight spaces

Side-brush design and placement allows it to clean right up to wall edges and all the way into corners

Squeegee-like design to the vacuum that maintains close contact with the floor to pull up very fine dust and debris

Makes multiple passes to ensure that your entire floor is thoroughly clean

Dirt Dect function senses the dirtier areas and stays in those areas for longer.

Anti-tangle technology allows Roomba to extract itself from tassels and cord tangles

Light-touch intelligent sensing system can detect when Roomba is approaching a wall or obstacle and automatically slows the robot for a gentler touch and quieter operation

iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology, an advanced system of software and sensors that actively responds to the environment to make smart cleaning decisions in the real world.

iRobots sent over the Roomba 532 Pet Series for me to try. After charging it for 24 hours, my boys hopped up onto the living room couch to watch as I pressed the “Clean” button and Roomba went to work. In hindsight sitting a watching a robot vacuum floors was counterproductive for two reasons – first, instead of actually getting something else done and having the robot save me time, we spent that time watching. the. robot. But it is a vacuuming robot which is pretty cool in and of itself, so really we had to watch it at least the first time. Second – when you watch it, you notice when it maneuvers right past a dust bunny of lint flake. I spent much of that first use thinking, “A little to your left, a little more, oh no! You missed it! Okay, there’s another just right next to….arg, you just passed it!”

My main living area is more of a “great room” set-up with an open entry way, living room, dining room and kitchen. We watched for about 25 minutes as Roomba made its way around corners, piano legs and ottomans. We saw it transition from our mostly hardwood floors on and off rugs. We noticed how it used a variety of cleaning patterns to cover the floor. And one of the coolest things? How it makes its way back to the dock to recharge when it’s all finished.

But….the end result was just so-so. My floors weren’t spotless and of course I had foolishly wasted 25 minutes watching it do a job that I could do better and faster. I was disappointed, but my husband convinced me to try it again in our bedroom. This time I plugged it in, turned it on and closed the door. Twenty minutes later I had a completely clean bedroom floor, even – hallelujah – all that dust and fur under the bed! Roomba was quietly docked back in her charger and I had folded a load of laundry, made breakfast and enjoyed a latte. Over the next week, I would turn Roomba on every other morning on my way out of the bedroom in the morning and also put it to work on the hallway, the nursery and the kids’ room.

And now I think I’m in love.

Granted, it didn’t work great in my great room. But it worked fabulously in the other rooms. I think my open living room/entry way/dining room had too many things to maneuver around and too few clearly define boundaries for Roomba to live up to its highest effectiveness. It performed much better in clearly defined spaces. The Roomba does try to help you with this by providing two Virtual Walls which allow you to create a virtual barrier to keep Roomba from going through doorways, but they wouldn’t work for my great room set-up.

Still, it is pretty amazing. Roomba’s aren’t cheap ($200 for a refurbished one up to $600 for the latest model) but they will definitely save you time and hassle.

What do you think? Would you Roomba?

Mother’s Day is coming up. Husbands always get a bad rap for getting their wives useful but utterly unromantic household and kitchen appliances for Mother’s Day, but the Roomba might just be one appliance you’d be happy to open. Start dropping hints now.

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