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Both These Popular Robot Vacuums Cost $500 – Which Is Best?
*Prices accurate as of time of writing.
Despite their similar price points, the Xiaomi Roborock exceeds all expectations over the Roomba 694 in terms of cleaning power, features and overall smarts.
Same prices, different brands - who wins?
As with any home appliance, price is always a huge factor when investing in a robot vacuum. Sure, powerful cleaning power and a wide range of functions are great and all, but the big question remains – is it worth paying for?
While some might argue that iRobot’s (high-end) range of robot vacuums may be worth thanks to its reliability and performance, Chinese brand Xiaomi has been increasingly popular as a decent, budget alternative. However, prices have converged - with iRobot's affordable entry model Roomba 694 and Xiaomi’s latest Roborock, both matching up to a price tag of $500 or so*.
Which begs the question – which of the two models should you spend that $500 on? Here, we ask homeowner Rachel to test both in her pet-friendly apartment to find out:
- Dimensions: 335 X 335 X 93mm
- Weight: 3.56 kg
- Bin Capacity: 0.6L
- Sensors: iAdapt Navigation Sensors, acoustic sensors, cliff sensors, virtual wall barriers.
- Features: Suction and spot clean, app functionality, voice-control enabled (via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), dirt detection technology.
- Dimensions: 353 x 350 x 96mm
- Weight: 3.5 kg
- Suction Power: 2000 Pa
- Bin Capacity: Approx. 0.45L
- Sensors: 13, including 4 cliff sensors, Laser Distance Sensor (LDS) wall, drop, and charging back sensors.
- Features: App functionality, mop, suction and sweep functions.
The Testing Ground:
A two-storey maisonette style apartment facing the road. Home to two people and a dog who sheds moderately.
1. Set-Up and Design
iRobot Roomba 694
Rachel (R): The design of the Roomba 694 definitely wins from a practical perspective. Its small size and lighter weight was more convenient to move about. Plus, its black body also has the additional benefit of masking any dust/dirt.
R: In terms of set-up, the Roomba was pretty straightforward for me – just plug in the charging dock, wait for it to fully charge and start up. There were barrier sensors that I had to set up to make sure the robot vacuum doesn’t go where it shouldn’t (like off the stairs).
R: As much as I didn’t like that the Roborock 2 was in white (which meant dirt or stains could easily show up), I loved it’s overall minimal, rounded look. Like the Roomba, there wasn’t much to do in terms of set-up too. Just plug and play! However, there were more accessories for users to piece together, due to the Roborock’s mopping function.
The Verdict: It depends. For practicality, the Roomba 694. For aesthetics, the Roborock.
2. Smartphone App Control
iRobot Roomba 694
R: The Roomba 694 works with iRobot’s HOME smartphone app. From there, users can schedule cleaning sessions, access troubleshooting and cleaning tips or receive push updates on the robot vacuum’s progress. That being said, the HOME app is still pretty basic. I wasn’t able to control where it goes via the app, nor see where it has already covered. I could only pray that it covered all the spots.
R: On the other hand, the Roborock's Mi Home app was leaps and bounds better. Besides scheduling and push notifications, the app also allowed me to control the Roborock’s movements and execute ‘spot clean’ for specific areas. I could also check my cleaning history, map out my entire home’s area to see where the Roborock has cleaned, and pick up the vacuum if it’s stuck during cleaning using the ‘Find Me’ function.
The Verdict: The Roborock and Mi Home app definitely wins in this aspect.
3. Cleaning Performance
iRobot Roomba 694
R: The Roomba 694 seemed to collect more debris than the Roborock, though only slightly. It could be because of the vacuum’s 3-stage cleaning system, which uses 2 main brushes and a Spinning Side Brush to loosen, push and pick up debris. It efficiently sucked up most of the human and pet hairs on my tiles, parquet and carpet floors. However, there were some drawbacks. The iRobot was about twice as noisy as the Roborock, and it took longer to clean - approximately 1.5 hours for a 28m2 room.
R: Similar to the iRobot, the Roborock has a main brush and side sweeper to push and pick up debris. It captures more or less most of the hairs on different floors. However, it is significantly quieter than iRobot’s engine – even on default mode. (There’s a quiet mode users can choose as well). In terms of speed, the Roborock worked faster than the iRobot – only 30 minutes for a 28m2 room.
The Verdict: The Roborock. Though it did collect slightly less debris than the iRobot, it was quieter and faster.
iRobot Roomba 694
R: Unfortunately, the Roomba 694's navigation and cleaning left much to be desired. While it does have a full range of sensors to help it move and avoid obstacles or drop heights, plus acoustic sensors to detect higher levels of hidden dirt, it cleaned rather haphazardly. There was no set pattern to its cleaning mode, though I didn’t see any noticeable areas of dirt left behind.
R: The Roomba 694 tended to change directions the moment it bumped into an obstacle instead of cleaning around it. Thus, it was not as efficient in areas where there were more objects. Nevertheless, it was also able to sense the drop height at my stair landing and did not have a disastrous fall off the staircase.
R: With laser sensors to help map the space out, the Roborock moved more systematically than the iRobot. It usually starts off at the edge, and moves in a zig-zag pattern throughout the area. It also breaks bigger spaces into smaller sections. I was really surprised that it managed to cover almost my entire home.
R: And unlike the Roomba, it navigates around the obstacles instead of ‘bouncing away’, carefully attempting every angle around obstacles (e.g. between the legs of the bar stools). Similarly, it was also able to sense the drop height and not commit suicide off my staircase.
The Verdict: Once again, the Roborock stands out.
iRobot Roomba 694
R: The Roomba was easier to clean than the Roborock, as it had a larger, accessible bin, which meant that it didn’t have to be emptied as frequently. However, cleaning the brush was quite tedious as the tool given wasn’t as effective in removing debris from the bristles. Also, the housing of the dirt bin trapped a bit of stubborn dirt, which was hard to clean.
R: While the Roborock doesn’t have a bigger capacity, I liked that the cleaning tool provided was able to remove debris better. Plus, the robot vacuum had a handy slot within it to hold the tool!
The Verdict: The Roborock was easier to clean and maintain.
Other than the nicer appearance and easy use, the Roomba 694 was average. It did what it was supposed to do (cleaning up dirt, dust and hairs) but was rather loud and haphazard when doing so. The smartphone app was also lacking, only able to schedule cleaning sessions. Alternatively, the Roborock managed to include a better navigation system, more comprehensive app features and a wet, mopping function, all without compromising on cleaning effectiveness. Thus, the Roborock definitely gets my vote!
Overall Verdict: Roborock
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