|Where to Buy the Roomba Vacuum Cleaner|
|The Roomba vacuum caught our eye last year.
The Roomba -- a robotic vacuum cleaner --
is one of the first practical household robots.
It is basically a vacuum without the handle,
with a brain, and with a bit of techno-glitz
(buttons, lights, etc.).
How good is it? The Roomba is a light-cleaning machine that is designed for daily use, not industrial-strength dirt removal. The fact that it first appeared in techno-gadget stores (for example, the Sharper Image) and not Sears should be your first clue that this is a gadget rather than an appliance.
However, keep in mind we're talking about vacuuming, which is 90% pushing a machine around the floor. With the Roomba, the robotic, self-directed machine takes care of the 90%. That is what makes it, unlike other gadgets, a worthwhile gadget: not only can you impress your friends with how "high-tech" and "cutting edge" you are as you demonstrate how this robotic rover fetches dustballs, but you actually will have cleaner floors, too.
Last year, we shopped around online and in traditional stores looking for a place to buy the Roomba, and we found the pricing to be pretty firm -- $200 for the basic model and $250 for the top of the line. The factor that swayed us to spend an extra $50 was the "max clean" feature, which allows you to set the Roomba loose to clean multiple rooms. This year, the maker (iRobot) has updated the old line and added a new top model: the Discovery SE. Prices still remain pretty firm.
Now, the Roomba is showing up in a lot more stores -- evidence that this is more than just a fad -- it's a practical machine. And with the Discovery SE's ability to return to its recharging station automatically, it's even more of a "turn it on and forget it" convenience.
By the way, the name is "Roomba" -- not "Rumba" or "Romba." Think of "room" and you won't confuse the Roomba with the dance.
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Updated November 17, 2004 - go to our home or commerce page