iRobot updates Looj gutter bot, entry-level Roomba

The gutter-cleaning Looj 330 has a better range and battery, while the 600 series Roombas are designed to tangle hair less often.

The Looj 330 has an increased communication range, and saves you from dangerous overreaching on a ladder. iRobot

Autumn is a-comin' down the track, and with it the whiff of rotting leaves and election promises. Robots can clear away the former now, the latter after the revolution.

iRobot is updating its Looj gutter cleaner, a leaf-churner extraordinaire that reduces the time it takes to unclog your gutters.

If you're not familiar with Looj, it's a portable, waterproof, rotating scrubber on treads. You set it in your eavestrough and it trundles along, spitting out leaves, needles, and other gunk with its spinning rubber flaps. Messy but effective.

The new Looj 330 has a four-stage cleaning augur, up from three. The machine has a horizontal scraper to help clear debris from gutter floors.

Selling for $299 at iRobot.com, the 330 also has a 7.2V lithium-ion battery, a first for the company's home robots, allowing Looj to recharge faster. It cleans about 200 feet per battery charge, and still does about 30 feet in five minutes, the same as the 100 series Looj.

The Roomba 630 can clean longer without being emptied. iRobot

But the 330 has a lower profile, potentially fitting into a greater variety of gutters. You still have to reposition it in an adjacent gutter by getting up there on the ladder yourself, but the remote has a 50-foot range, so you can summon it back to you when it's done chucking muck around.

iRobot also has been updating its Roomba offerings recently, and now adds basic models, the 600 series, starting at $329.99.

The entry-level floor vacs are supposedly more effective at sucking up hair, pet fur, and other fibers, which tend to get wrapped around the bristles instead of going into the bin.

They don't need to be emptied as often, iRobot says, because the air flow and brushes are better engineered.

Meanwhile, 600 series machines have features like Virtual Wall to control where the robots clean; Dirt Detect, which uses an acoustic sensor to locate dirtier areas that need more attention; and automatic returning to the charging unit once the job is done or batteries are running low.

The 600 series Roombas may be the cheapest on the iRobot site, since the 530, at $299, is sold out.

Do you have a Roomba yet? How much would you be willing to spend on one?

 

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