About a year ago, after years of hemming and hawing and debating whether it would be a completely self-indulgent gadgety boondoggle, we bought a Roomba.

It was initially very popular around here. The grown-ups watched it wander the house while postulating on its mapping algorithm. We contemplated attaching googly-eyes. Miss Bea (then 18 months old) squealed with delight as it bumped into walls, turned around, and trundled off in another direction.

Unfortunately, the squeals turned to screams when it came out from under the bed and nipped her ankle. And who could blame her? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

And to do him credit, Roomba turned right back around and hid under the bed.

I’m still torn on whether this was a good purchase or not, and the debate has come to the fore as I contemplate Roomba’s wet-land cousin, Scooba.  But first I figure I’d better be sure Roomba was the right call.

Like…

  • It vacuums the floor by itself. Duh.

Don’t like…

  • Self-cleaning is actually a bit of a misnomer. If you want Roomba to keep working you have to be meticulous about taking it apart and cleaning it regularly. You have to take apart bits you didn’t even realize came apart (it should really ship with a break-out photo)
  • It works best without too many obstacles (ie, the ideal is one big, square room with no furniture). It can navigate around stuff but the more complex it is, the longer it takes.  And the more battery it burns through.  And this is important because…
  • The battery sucks. There’s no two ways around it -> the thing is less than a year old and the battery no longer holds enough charge to do my entire front hall. It’s replaceable, but I’m procrastinating because I’m pretty sure it’s also pricey.

So basically I have to not only tidy before running it, I have to shift things around and compartmentalize the house into ever smaller bits in order to get it to work.

To be fair, this will probably not be necessary once our livingroom is no longer home to a toy kitchen, a Jolly Jumper stand, a playpen, and a rocking-moose.

At this point we need to decide whether to get a new battery and/or wait until the livingroom has been ‘simplified’.

But don’t just take my word for it…

I recently read a glowing review on Cool Mom Tech. If you’re thinking about a Roomba, you might want to check that out.

In fact, there are tonnes of reviews online, many of which cite the same quibbles as mine. I just wasn’t listening. I reealllly wanted a Roomba.

And as I say, there’s still Scooba to think about ;).