Recently I ordered one of those cool robot vacuums called a Roomba. It’s pretty amazing. It will quietly clean an entire floor while only mildly terrorizing the cats. And when it’s all done, it returns to its charging station and goes to sleep.
We’ve had it now for a couple weeks. In the interest of science, and to my great chagrin, my wife decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the Roomba and her previous ‘Go-To’ method of vacuuming – her humanoid husband, Tim. For purposes of this peer-to-peer product review, my wife’s once indispensable husband will henceforth be referred to as “Timba.”
Roomba: Elegant, smooth, circular shape. Compact. Less than 24 inches wide. Has rotating soft but powerful whiskers that brush dirt into the machine, which then sucks it up. Great along walls and corners.
Timba: Also comes with a circular shape – mainly around the belly. Has two-day old extremely abrasive whiskers (because it couldn’t locate its razor). Tends to skip walls and corners, which it figures will go unnoticed.
Roomba: Like clockwork. Can even be programmed to repeat the cleaning process daily.
Timba: Like a broken clock. Not noted for its reliability, often responding to multiple chore reminders with the phrase, “I know. I’ll get around to it. Stop bugging me.”
Roomba: Minimal. Comes with one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Receives 4.5 stars on Amazon customer reviews.
Timba: According to a focus group consisting of its wife, the Timba is high-maintenance, especially when it’s hungry or didn’t get its usual ten hours of sleep. Requires regular infusion of pizza and peanut butter to stay focused. Needs constant reinforcement from the wife for accomplishing the bare minimum on the ‘to-do’ list.
Ability to get under furniture
Roomba: With a height profile of just 3.6 inches, this model makes it under most couches and beds with ease.
Timba: Not happening. The last time this unit ventured under the bed, it got its head stuck and injured its lower back. While reaching under furniture is not currently available on the Timba, it is rated 5 stars at getting under your skin, according to family members, friends, and the staff at the neighborhood grocery.
Roomba: With its patented AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System, the Roomba uses dual counter-rotating extractors and the Gen 2 motor for improved cleaning performance to deliver 5X the power of comparable robot vacuums.
Timba: Not really sure about the its suction power. But their kids report that in longitudinal studies, the Timba sucks 5X more than their mom.
Roomba: Comes with free shipping from Amazon.
Timba: Extremely fragile (ego). Recommended to purchase the extra bubble wrap packaging option.
Roomba: Will run for up to 90 minutes. Automatically recharges and resumes cleaning if unable to complete cleaning on initial charge.
Timba: On a good day, this model might run for 20 minutes before getting distracted by a phone call, funny YouTube cat video or squirrel outside the window.
Roomba: 14.3 pounds.
Timba: The Timba would rather not say. Its weight is a very sensitive subject.
Roomba: Equipped with AI (Artificial Intelligence), over time the Roomba will learn the dimensions of its operating space and optimize its pattern to provide full area coverage in the least amount of time. Excellent memory storage.
Timba: Equipped with IA (Insufficient Acuity), the Timba can’t remember whether it brought in the mail today, let alone whether it vacuumed the laundry room. Manufactured in 1955, the Timba is way out of factory warranty, and replacement parts are no longer available. On occasion, the unit has difficulty extricating itself from its reclining docking station in front of the giant screen.
Roomba: Can program cleaning schedule and type of cleaning using any smart phone. Uses the acclaimed iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with visual localization, which enables the Roomba to navigate an entire floor and avoid falling down stairs. Compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Timba: Programming capability appears to be marginal at best. Unable to navigate a TV remote – or the attachments to the vacuum. Even Alexa refuses to listen to its commands.
Roomba: Watching the Roomba methodically map out the room is highly entertaining, particularly when our two cats attempt to attack it or ride on it.
Timba: Watching the Timba attempt to vacuum the living room in only its underwear, while singing AC-DC’s Highway to Hell off key is not the least bit entertaining. Scary? Maybe. Entertaining? No way.
Roomba: No problem. Its navigation sensors recognize stairs and turn away. Easily migrates from hardwood floors to carpeting and vice versa.
Timba: The owner’s manual advises against having the Timba go anywhere near a stairway while vacuuming. Recently the Timba fell down a flight of stairs carrying groceries. The watermelon could not be saved.
Roomba: Powerful suction, quiet, easy to clean, recharges automatically.
Timba: Powerful ability to suction food through the oral intake cavity. Relatively quiet in snoring mode. Periodically self-cleaning. Recharges nightly – and for long stretches during the day.
The Roomba wins hands down (and it doesn’t even have hands). Based on the results of this in-depth review, we wonder why anybody would want a Timba when they’d get consistently better results and value with a Roomba.
With the explosion of powerful home automation tools like robot vacuums and remote control home monitoring from a smart phone, along with the advent of self-driving cars and even home companion robots like Kuri, perhaps the question is no longer “Should you buy a Roomba?” but rather “Do you really need a Timba?”
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Check out Tim Jones’ latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time