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iRobot makes all sorts of household small appliances, but the company is best known for its Roomba robot vacuums. And as of right now, there's a new Roomba in town -- the $700 Wi-Fi Roomba 960.
You'll only find the 960 in the US and Canada today, but the team plans to expand overseas later this year. At the current exchange rate, that $700 price tag coverts to roughly £525 in the UK and AU$920 in Australia.
According to iRobot, the 960 shares the same software smarts as its $900 980 predecessor, but costs just $700. But for all of its app-enabledness, the 960 doesn't seem as clever as the 980 for two key reasons:
iRobot first announced its now-popular Roomba line back in 2002. Since then, brands like Neato and Dyson have swooped in with autonomous cleaners able to snatch up competitive amounts of the rice, sand, and pet hair we toss on our test floors. That makes all of these bots useful from a strictly you-won't-have-to-actively-clean-your-floor-quite-so-often standpoint.
But robot vacuums are expensive and Roombas are no exception. That's particularly true for the small, but growing selection of app-enabled self-cleaning vacuums on the market.
The connected Roomba 980 iRobot introduced in 2015 costs $900 and the similarly smart Dyson 360 Eye that made its US debut in 2016 will set you back $1,000. Neato is the one robot vacuum company that's managed to maintain mostly-reasonable prices. Its app-enabled $700 Botvac Connected performed better than either the Roomba 980 or the Dyson 360 and costs hundreds less.
That price difference makes Neato appealing from a pure value standpoint, but the new Roomba 960 complicates things a bit. $700 is still really pricey, but at least it's only Neato-level pricey.
Given that the older Roomba 880 performed better than the newer app-connected 980, the 960's old motor might actually be a good thing. We're tracking down a unit to test now, so we'll be able to compare the 960 with the 980 and the Neato Botvac Connected. Stay tuned.