iRobot Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum Review

The Roomba 980 is not a part of the newest iRobot Roomba lineup, but that is exactly why you might find it at a great price. It is still one of the best robotic vacuums out there, and with the many advanced features, it's definitely worth considering.

Last Updated on November 6

At a glance

Roomba 980 is not the top Roomba anymore, but it still holds its place as one of the best robotic vacuums on the market. With excellent performance, long runtime, wi-fi connectivity, HEPA filter, and the Recharge&Resume feature this robot is absolutely worth a look for any pet owner wanting to put their feet up while the Roomba takes care of vacuuming.

 Click here to read real user reviews on Amazon.

  • Strong suction power, uses AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System
  • Multi-room coverage and enhanced navigation
  • WiFi and App compatibility: clean and schedule at any time, from anywhere
  • Cleans all floor types
  • Automatically adapts cleaning head according to the surface
  • Advanced Dirt Detect Technology
  • Comes with HEPA-filters
  • Automatic docking, recharging and resuming of cleaning once recharged
  • Dirt tank capacity: 0,6 liters
  • Charging time: 180 minutes
  • Maximum run-time: 120 minutes
  • 13.9 x 13.9 x 3.6 inches
  • 8.7 pounds
  • One year limited warranty

+ Easy to use: User-friendly app
+ Tangle-free rubber rollers handle pet hair with ease
+ Comes with HEPA-filters; ideal for pet owners
+ Comes close to a full-size vacuum in cleaning performance
+ Efficient navigation capabilities
+ Detects dirt and the suction is strong
+ Doesn’t have problems cleaning different surfaces
+ Won’t be stopped by obstacles
+ Small, won’t get stuck under furniture
+ Saves you time and trouble - the need to clean up clutter beforehand is minimized
+ Most self-sufficient robot out there - won’t need your attention

- Loud when using the carpet boost mode

Summed up

Just a while ago Roomba 980 was the top of the line robotic vacuum from iRobot. Since then a new release has been made with i7 taking the spot as the leading Roomba with all of the most advanced technology. However, this gives the consumer an exciting opportunity:

Roomba 980 is still a very sophisticated robovac with many cutting edge features, but the price has gone down because it's not a part of the recent release. When compared to many mid-range robotic vacuums at the same price, it gives you a better price-quality ratio and better features.

Our rating

If this is not the first time you hear about robotic vacuums, you’ve probably heard of a brand called Roomba. iRobot Roombas have been around since robotic vacuums came to the market and they have gathered a steady fan base among users. In the long line of Roomba series, 980 is one of the most advanced robots they have produced. It leaves most competitors behinds in performance as well as features.

As one of the oldest robovac systems iRobot Roomba series has been around since 2002. Year after year iRobot has designed robotic vacuums with improved performance and technology. Also, Roombas are known as reliable, high-quality machines that last for many years even in daily use.

Roomba 980 used to be the crown jewel of the growing family of Roomba robotic vacuums. Although i7 has replaced it as the top dog, the differences are actually not that big.

Users of this vacuum have reported pretty much unanimously, that 980 will keep your floors spot-free and that this vac performs convincingly with pet hair. It will give you hassle-free cleaning and excellent cleaning results with a reasonable investment.

To really make up your mind about whether this is the robotic vacuum for you, you should also know all the tiny details there is to know about this machine. So without further ado, let’s dive into the key features.

Key Features

Easy to use remotely with iRobot App

With older Roomba’s you were able to pre-determinate a schedule, but with 980, you can control the robot from anywhere at any time. This feature means that you can guide your vacuum remotely by your phone where ever you are and whenever you want. Roomba 980 can be paired not only with smartphones (currently with Android and iPhone devices) but also with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well.

Pairing the robot with your phone is quick and easy. You basically need to press two buttons on the robot, which will broadcast a wifi network that you can connect to. Once you do this, the app pairs to your Roomba and you’re all set.

The users of this app have been impressed with how easy it is to use. The interface is straightforward: you can simply tap ”clean,” and the 980 starts to clean your home instantly. You can also use the app to schedule up to seven cleaning sessions per week; a feature, that many pet owners have appreciated, as it allows you to always come home to a clean house. In addition, there are some extra settings available. Want to set your robot to make two passes instead of one? Just tap your phone. Add power boost or edge clean mode to ensure an even more thorough cleaning? Just open the app.

The app provides more than just the ability to control where and when the 980 cleans - it makes it easy to monitor when your robot needs to be maintained by letting you know when parts need to be changed or fixed. For example, if the dustbin is full or the filter needs to be changed, you’ll see a marker on the screen, and the app tells you exactly what to do. Also, you can turn on the push notifications if you want the app to inform you when it has completed cleaning or if an error occurs. Apart from this ”care” section, there is ”history” page, where you can check the vacuuming history anytime, even maps of where the Roomba has cleaned after it has finished a cleaning session.

There’s one thing missing though, and it’s the ability to manually direct the robot to a specific place. This feature would come in handy in a situation where you would want to clean one particular spot straight away. Now, without the remote control, your option is to carry the robot over to the mess and hit the clean button or wait for the robot to make its way over. But this is, in the bigger picture, no more than a minor flaw.

Also, there’s no physical remote, which would be a nice addition. However, the fact that you can remotely control the Roomba 980 from your smart devices definitely adds to its convenience compared to other robots and certainly makes up for the lack of remote. Also, if you don’t have your phone at hand and you want to start vacuuming, you can start a cleaning session by simply pressing the clean button on top of the vacuum itself.

Longer cleaning cycles - more battery life

This feature is quite self-explanatory. This robo vac can run up to 2 full hours (120 mins) before it needs to return to recharge. If you use the carpet boost mode the vacuum will require more power, which of course shortens the runtime. Compared to other robotic vacuums out there, Roomba 980 does well, as most of the robotic vacuums run between 90 to 120 minutes depending on the model. As per home size, the Roomba 980 can vacuum an area up to more than 2000 sq ft in a single cleaning cycle.

Roomba 980 is said to be very reliable at finding its way back to the charging station. It takes 3 hours to get fully recharged, and after that, the robot will automatically leave the charging station and resume cleaning where it left off. This feature is once again something that lets your attention to stay elsewhere, as you don’t have to worry about sending the robot back to work after charging. Also, you’ll know that your whole house will be cleaned, even when you’re not home.

Convincing performance – more power

If the vacuum won’t suck well – it’s next to useless. According to numerous reviews and real-life user experiences, Roomba 980 won’t let you down on that section – it does what it promises and cleans the floors thoroughly.

For a long time, robotic vacuums just lacked the power and performance needed for a satisfactory cleaning result, and that’s still the case with many. Roomba 980 is a welcome exception to this crowd – it is, maybe not if not equal, but a very close competitor to powerful full-size vacuums. Although, once in a while, it’s always smart to deep clean carpets and check if the corners are well cleaned even with the excellent cleaning performance 980 offers.

What sets 980 apart from its competitors? When it comes to performance, I’d say that the many excellent features like the very powerful motor and strong suction combined with the enhanced dirt detection system and rotating AeroForce Extractors make it a mighty enemy to all dirt.

980 uses the AeroForce base technology, which was first introduced in the Roomba 800 series. However, iRobot has added power to this particular model, and it makes a definite difference in cleaning performance. For those who are interested in the technical aspects of the motor, Roomba 980’s Generation 3 motor offers up to 10 times the air power compared to Roomba 600 and 700 AeroVac systems on carpets and rugs.

You can see how the AeroForce base technology works in this video:

Roomba 980 adapts to its environment for thorough coverage, and it performs convincingly on different surfaces. It’s no surprise that hard floors are easier to clean because the robot needs extra power to lift up debris embedded in the carpets. To extend the runtime while providing a perfect cleaning result, the Carpet Boost-mode is automatically turned on only when the vacuum changes surfaces from bare floor to carpets or rugs. You can read more about the cleaning performance of this robot on different surfaces from the Performance-section.

Also, as a side note, pet owners are probably delighted to hear, that Roomba 980 leverages tangle-free extractors. The mechanism is brushless, and it uses a durable rubber tread to grab the dirt. This means, that you no longer have to worry about pet hair getting tangled on the bristles of the brush.

Advanced Navigation, Mapping and Dirt Detection

As robotic vacuums have to figure out how to clean the floors on their own, it’s obvious, that the navigation capabilities should always be carefully taken into account when choosing a botvac.

In the past, Roomba vacuums cleaned in a randomly which also resulted in inefficient results. This is still the case with many other robotic vacuums. However, 980 cleans methodically and spends a majority of its time doing straight lines across the room. This results in a more organized and more efficient cleaning route. And that’s not all: because of the new technology it utilizes, 980 is able to "see" where it is and where it needs to go next.

How is all this achieved? Roomba features both the traditional ”bumper” sensors and ”VSLAM” (Visual, Simultaneous, Localization, and Mapping) technology. The visual localization means that the Roomba 980 uses a camera pointed forward and up to ”see” the surroundings. This camera helps the machine simultaneously a) to navigate, and b) map the room. Apart from a more organized and efficient cleaning route, it also guarantees, that there’s less bumping (much less than with previous versions) into things. Also, with the help of the optical and acoustic sensors, the robot can keep track of its location and detect the dirtier spots (the Dirt Detect System) for deeper cleaning.

The Roomba 980 snaps pictures of its environment as it moves around and the algorithm determines its path based on the area it has mapped out. When creating the map of a room, it uses much less time pausing and calculating than its predecessors. iRobot states that the Roomba 980 makes more than 60 navigational decisions a second, which it’s easy to believe after seeing it in operation.

The majority of people owning this product have only good things to say about the navigation capabilities. It is said to be good at navigating around furniture legs and walls. Users have stated, that the 980 avoids cords as well as toys, so the need to clean up clutter beforehand is minimal (that’s always good news!). It saves you a lot of time as well as trouble.

Also, If you have more than one level in your home, we’re glad to tell you that the Cliff Detect sensors are proven to work exceptionally well, and Roomba 980 avoids stairs and other drop-offs with ease. 

980 comes with two virtual walls that keep the robot out of the places you don’t want it to go to. The walls create an invisible barrier which the Roomba won’t cross, which is very helpful if you have delicate, dangerous or other areas, you wish the robotic vacuum to stay away from.

All in all, Roomba 980 independently navigates through your home without any help. Its work is organized and thorough, and because of its small size (only 3,6 inches tall, versus Neato which is 3,9 inches), it won’t get stuck under furniture. Also, many robotic vacuums from competing manufacturers would stop at a thick rug, a piece of furniture, lego or any other obstacle, but the 980 keeps going. This one needs less of your attention, and you can leave it unattended and rely on it to do its job while you're away.

Easy to maintain & Excellent customer service

The Roomba 980 has a dustbin with a capacity of 0,6 liters. It’s not the largest in the market, but users have not found this to be a problem, and the dirt cup is said to hold a fair amount of dirt. Dog owners have said, that it picks up ”a lot” of hair and if you empty the bin once a day, you should be okay.

With huge chunks of pet hair you know the machine will have to be durable and that you will have to maintain the robot more than you would without pets. The good news is the cleaning and maintenance of this vacuum are quick and straightforward. The bin, brushes, and filter can easily be taken out, cleaned and place back in.

The app helps you out by letting you know when the robot needs to be maintained. There is a ”care” section, where you can see which maintenance tasks you need to do ("Bin", "Core Robot", "Debris Extractors"). Each of these has a progress bar, and when the bar is full, you should perform that task. The app also helps you by letting you read a text description or watch a video of what needs to be done.

Also, if you ever have anything on your mind, just contact iRobots stellar customer service. They will walk you through any problems, and they’ll do it fast.

Filtration

Roomba 980 uses HEPA filters, which are ideal for every pet owner because all of the dust and dander pets leave behind. HEPA filters remove up to 99,97% of tiny particles, such as pollens and allergens, from the air. In other words, HEPA filters will keep the air as clean as possible. Especially if you suffer from allergy or asthma, HEPA filters are highly recommended.

Filters are easy to clean, and once again the app lets you know when that maintenance task needs to be done. Also, the good news is that if the filter breaks down, replacement parts are easy to find, because iRobot is such a well-known and prominent brand.

Performance

Pet Hair Removal

Owners of the Roomba 980 vacuum have mostly only good things to say about this product, which is surprising because it is usual for people to be very critical when it comes to expensive purchases. The amount of extremely positive reviews confirm that this vacuum actually delivers on the promises made by the manufacturer.

In addition to other pros this machine holds, pet owners love Roomba 980 especially for these reasons:

1)    The brushless design makes sure, that pet hair won’t get tangled around brushes and bring the vacuums to a halt. The rubber treads effectively attract and pick up all the pet hair and send it up for the suction to suck in.

2)  It is very effective in cleaning up pet hair and dander, which is nothing to be taken for granted. It picks up pet hair, sand, cat litter, dog food, grass and all other pet-related messes you can think of. It leaves nothing behind.

3)    It adjusts the suction power automatically according to floor type. It’s best on hard floor types (as are all the robotic vacuums), but because it increases suction on carpets, it can clean rugs and carpets with excellent results as well.

4)    It uses HEPA filters, which are ideal in pet homes with all that dander and dust in the air.

5)    As the navigation is organized and efficient, it won’t leave chunks of pet hair or other dirt behind (this is a problem with some robots).

6)    With the help of the two virtual walls, you can tell Roomba 980 to stay away from your pets’ water and food bowl, as well as the litter box or your pet's bed. This feature can be beneficial if your pet is scared of the vacuum and you would like to set apart a safe space for him.

Carpet

Roomba 980 does well on carpets, and that’s thanks not only to a strong motor and suction, but also the new Carpet Boost mode that has been added to its design.

Roomba 980 offers a Carpet Boost mode and redesigned motor to adapt better on carpeted surfaces. It detects rugs and carpets, and when moving onto a carpet the Carpet Boost mode adds suction which results in a more efficient clean. In fact, the Carpet Boost-mode gives the Roomba 980 up to ten times more power compared to the older models.  With the Carpet boots mode activated, Roomba 980 can suck dirt and dust hiding deep in the fibers of your rugs and carpets. I was quite amazed to hear from the owners of this robot, that according to their experience, Roomba 980 actually matches the cleaning results of many powerful canister and upright vacuums.

One thing many of the owners also pointed out though, is that the Carpet Boost mode is rather loud. Some users found it disturbing, but others didn’t mind it and said it’s understandable as the robot uses more power and picks up more dirt while this mode is activated. Also, as you can leave the vacuum unattended, you won’t likely be bothered by the noise. Still, this is something worth noting.

Roomba 980 has also been said to roll and climb from hard flooring to different types of rugs and carpets with ease. It is worth to mention this as many other vacuums struggle with moving from one surface to another. By being able to do so without help guarantees that 980 needs less of your attention and babysitting while delivering the job.

 

Bare Floors

Roomba 980 performs best on hard floors, so it’s ideal for homes with mostly tiles and or other types of hard flooring.

As the Roomba 980 auto-detects the floor type it is on, it uses less power and suction on tile and hardwood floors, and this saves battery and lengthens the runtime. Users of this vacuum have been very satisfied with its ability in picking up different kinds of dirt, such as pet hair, cat litter, food pellets, gravel, and dust. Also, the users of this vacuum have said, that it’s reasonably quiet on hard flooring.

This vacuum maneuvers easily under furniture. And as it’s small (only 3,6 inches tall), it won’t get stuck under furniture - at least not as often as many of its bigger competitors. Also, it has a side brush that helps it clean corners, and you can enable the Edge Cleaning mode, which takes care of all edges around the house.

Pros & Cons

+ Easy to use
+ Performs well on all surfaces
+ Navigates around the space convincingly
+ Has HEPA filters
+ Uses tangle-free rubber rollers
+ Won’t be stopped by obstacles
+ Won’t get stuck under furniture
+ Self-sufficient and gets the job done without your help

- Carpet boost mode is quite loud

Summing Up - is Roomba 980 worth it?

The Roomba 980 has many great features that pet owners will appreciate, and the cleaning performance is excellent on all surfaces. When you combine these factors with the fact that you can get this vacuum at a great price, you have yourself a fantastic deal.

The 980 was the top robotic vacuum just recently. Although it's not the cream of the crop anymore, it is still one of the best products available. If you want the best of the best, you should go for the Roomba i7, but that will also mean a bigger investment.

If, on the other hand, you want a high-quality robotic vacuum with most of the advanced features, but you don't want to pay for the cutting-edge extras, then the 980 could be the robovac for you.

If you appreciate the value for your money and top-notch features, the Roomba 980 is a terrific deal. It navigates with ease and leaves your floors clean. You don’t have to babysit this little fellow, and the need to clean clutter beforehand is minimal too. This robot eliminates the daily chore of vacuuming, saves you a ton of time and definitely adds convenience to your life.

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