New Roomba 880 has 'extractors' that really suck

The latest iRobot floor vac skips the big brush for rubber rollers, but does a superb job of hoovering dirt.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Roomba 880
The new Roomba 880 cleans up to 50 percent more dirt, iRobot says. Colin West McDonald/CNET

After 11 years and dozens of models, the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has seen plenty of improvements. iRobot has just unveiled the 800 series, and the cleaner-bot has a significant design change: no more big brushes.

The Roomba 880 has a pair of rubber rollers that make it outperform its predecessor, the 790.

The 880's AeroForce cleaning technology is the subject of what's probably the most over-the-top robotic vacuum cleaner video ever produced, embedded below. The music alone makes it worth a watch.

AeroForce is essentially two treaded rubber rollers in Roomba's belly that spin in opposite directions. Angled treads on the rollers enhance the sucking power of the air flow by creating a sealed channel to the floor.

iRobot says this cleans up to 50 percent more dirt, hair, and debris than previous models.

CNET's detailed review of the Roomba 880 shows than it cleans significantly better than the 790 and rival bots when it comes to sucking up rice, but it doesn't do as well as the cheaper Neato XV Signature Pro in tests with pet hair and a mix of sand and sawdust.

While the extractors tangle less with pet hair than the long brushes in previous Roombas, they still choke on long hair shed by pets even though iRobot says the 880 is "virtually maintenance free" (see pics here).

At $699, the 880 outdoes many of its competitors but remains an expensive supplement to the best upright vacuums, which are often a hassle to use but more effective at cleaning.

Still, no upright can do double duty as a cat chariot. That's where Roomba wins paws down. Now if only cats could star in in the vid below.