iRobot hasn't released a new, proper Roomba servantbot since late 2004's Discovery (Scooba, of course, excepted). Today that changes, with the 560 and 530 we caught wind of back in May. There's a lot going on here, so we'll start at the top:
- iRobot is touting these new Roombas as being "totally redesigned" from the ground up.
- The new vacuum system is supposedly 100% more effective at picking up the grime in your floors. Really makes the old model suck. Thanks, we'll be here all week.
- The 560 features 2.4GHz RF that activates its new Virtual Wall Lighthouse system (we'll get to that in a sec. The 530 doesn't have RF.
- Scheduling is now built into the robot. Friggin FINALLY!
- The new Roombas have IR sensors built into the bumper, and have a second, slower running speed. When Roomba is approaching an object, it slows down so as not to bump it so hard.
- Lighthouses are Roomba's new RF-based progress tracking system. Place one in each doorway, and they switch on via RF when your Roomba does. When Roomba's done with a room, it won't re-enter until the next time it runs.
- The battery is still removable, but you have to unscrew the bottom plate to get it out. Oh, and now you can add faceplates.
- The system is far better sealed off, so most of the crap you're vacuuming up supposedly won't actually get inside the robot anymore. Extra bonus: that black arc between the bumper and buttons is a handle that lies flush.
- The 560 goes for $350, the 530 goes for $300 -- snag 'em both starting now.