A few nights ago, the BaldMan came home with a maid...
OK, not a real, human-type maid. And mine just does floors- no windows, laundry, or dishes. She's an iRobot Roomba 545, and, in case you don't know about the Roomba, it's a robotic vacuum cleaner. The one we got is supposed to be good for pet hair, and since we have one chocolate Lab and five cats, that part was a no brainer. I've used it for a few days now, and I gotta say, I like the thing. It's picked up more crap off the floors than I ever thought it would- including a boatload of pet hair.
How does it work? Basically, you set it down where you want it to vacuum and press the Clean button. Off she goes, spinning and rotating around the room in a wildly random looking pattern that is actually amusing to watch. You'd never think the thing could vacuum the whole room watching the way it spins, zigs, zags, and bumps its way along. But it does. And it does a pretty good job of navigating around obstacles. It gently, very gently actually, bumps into walls or furniture (or the dog if he doesn't get out of the way!), turns and takes off. It navigates doorways, carpet, and varying height room divides without any trouble at all. The only time it had trouble was up in the bedroom, under the bed. And that was only because there is a lot of stuff stored under there, and she got lost in the maze of equipment cases, expansion board for the dining room table, and storage bags. Other than that, she's been able to just go around or over anything she encounters. (Yes, I think of the thing as "she". I'm looking for a good name, also.) When the rooms are done, set her near the recharging station, push the Dock button, and she rolls right onto it and recharges, ready for the next time.
If you want to confine the cleaning to one room or area, there is a sensor that you put across a doorway or whatever boundary you choose. The robot senses it and won't go across the boundary. It came with one, but I think I want to get another. That way, I can confine her to cleaning one room if I want.
Drawbacks? It doesn't fit everywhere, so some corners don't get swept. The collection cup isn't huge, and if you have a particularly dirty area, you may need to empty it a few times. Minor stuff, to me, compared to the convenience of just putting it down and being able to go do something else while the vacuuming gets done.
What I like? It works. We have a guinea pig who resides (in her cage) in the living room. She gets hay every day, like all good guinea pigs should. The hay is messy. There are times when the living room floor looks like I've decided to strew herbs across the floor. She handled it fine, just needed emptying a few times. It's also easy, so I think the rooms will get vacuumed more. Since it sits on the dock in the corner of the living room, it's easy to grab for a quick pick up (it has a Spot setting for small jobs), rather than having to pull out the big vacuum hose and attachments.
Here's a little video of her, cleaning up the kitchen:
I think I'm going to like my maid!