The Roomba 960 is iRobot's cheaper app-driven robot vacuum

It's WiFi-connected like the top-end model, but packs an older motor and smaller battery.

The $900 WiFi-connected Roomba 980 is pretty exorbitant for many folks, nice as it is, so Robot has launched the $700 Roomba 960. The new model has a less powerful motor and battery, but retains the WiFi connectivity, floor mapping and app control of the high-end model. The price is the same as Neato's BotVac Connected, so it could sway techy users who really want the extra control a smartphone brings. By contrast, the cheapest, non-connected Roomba 650 is $375.

The new model includes room mapping, adaptive navigation that lets you vacuum multiple rooms and sensors that find particularly dirty areas to focus on. It can run up to 75 minutes, compared to two hours for the Roomba 980 and three for the BotVac Connected, according to the manufacturers. Cleaning-wise, it has brushes and debris extractors to get hard-to-reach dust and has up to five times the air performance of the low-end models, iRobot says.

The WiFi and Bluetooth connected iRobot app lets you schedule and customize cleaning, start and stop the vacuum and install updates. In the connected robot vacuum arena, it also competes with the more powerful, but much more expensive $1,000 Dyson 360 Eye. The Roomba 960 is now available in the US and Canada for $700, and will come to Japan and Europe in the third quarter of 2016.