There is, I'm told, a revolution happening on the floor beneath my feet. I've got to admit, I wasn't anticipating how loud such a thing would be -- though revolutions are rarely quiet, and besides, I never let on that my new apartment is pretty much wall-to-wall hardwood floors. Next time we'll just attach a speaker to the thing to make the most out of the noise. The aforementioned "revolution" that iRobot references in its press materials is the abandonment of bristle brushes, those mainstays of robotic and non-robotic vacuums alike.
In their place is the AeroForce system (one word in the press materials and two, strangely, on the device itself, a fault we're told of our device's early demo status), featuring Extractors, two rubbery rollers covered with a series of dashes. The idea here a pretty simple -- the solid masses don't get tangled nearly as easily as the old bristle brush system. Behind this is amplified suction, which, well, promises to suck more than on past models. The Extractors themselves have a fair amount of give to allow objects past. The Roomba picked up a stray penny or too, no problem. As promised, the rollers didn't get too tangled with hair. After a quick trip around my Queens apartment, there was a stray strand wrapped around one, but thankfully it's much more easily removed than with the bristles. And while a scrap of paper managed to work its way around an Extractor, the units can be easily pulled off the Roomba for cleaning and maintenance.
Roomba drops the bristles for 880 modelSee all photos
Another big bonus here is the fact that the new system makes it possible to put a 60-percent larger rubbish bin on the vacuum, which, obviously, means you don't have to empty it out as often. The 880 resides at the high end of the Roomba series, bringing with it such 800 series mainstays as Dirt Detect 2, automatic docking, scheduling and a light to let you know when you've filled the aforementioned larger bin. There's also a HEPA filter on board, which, along with the less tangle-susceptible cleaning system, makes the 'bot all the more tempting for sneeze-prone pet owners. Of course, top-of-the-line robotic vacuums come with top-of-the-line price tags. The Roomba 880 will set you back $700. You can pick it up now through iRobot's site.