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Hands-on with the smarter, WiFi-equipped Roomba 980

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By iRobot's own admission, the Roomba 980 is its most important consumer product since the launch of its first vacuum bot in 2002. It builds upon the innovative brush-less design of the Roomba 880, but adds a whole load of new gear to make it a better robot. It can actually map your floors and make sure it thoroughly cleans your entire house. And it also marks iRobot's entry into the smart home arena -- the Roomba 980 works with the company's new "HOME" app, which allows you to control and monitor it from anywhere in the world. But like every new Roomba, it's pretty pricy at $899. Is it worth it?

Gallery: Roomba 980 hands-on | 10 Photos

Roomba 980 Hands-on

In the video above, iRobot product manager Shilpi Gupta gives us a good look at how, exactly the Roomba 980 does its magic. The combination of a brush-less design (which means you don't have to worry about getting hair and gunk out of dirty brushes) and its new smarts makes it the first Roomba you don't have to actively babysit. I've gotten used to clearing the floor and being prepared to leap in to save my Roomba 600-series whenever it gets into a spot of trouble, and I hear similar tales from other Roomba owners.

While it looks similar to past Roombas, the 980 features a small camera on its top and a slightly reworked handle. It's also significantly heavier than earlier models, owing to all of the new electronics inside it. We'll have to spend some serious cleaning time with the new Roomba before we can make any final judgements, but at this point it's certainly tempting.

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