Nana has been wanting to buy a Roomba since we moved, and last week she spoke to a salesman at Bic Camera about the various models. She also was interested in the Braava model which automatically mops the floor. (We have all hardwood floors, no carpet.)
The salesman told us the Roombas need 10cm of clearance, so we decided to measure the clearance under our bed and sofa before proceeding.
Yesterday we were preparing to go to Bic again, and I measured the clearance under the bed: 8cm, and not a millimeter more. The sofa is fine at 14cm.
So we talked to the same guy again and he said (despite varying appearance) all the Roomba models are the same height. I confirmed this with the spec sheet and in fact they’re all 9.2cm. Nana told him to let the maker know we wanted a slimmer model. He said that was a popular request, but the spec hasn’t changed on that for the past 15 years.
So we looked at other makers. We thought we might find a Panasonic or Hitachi. They had models on display. We couldn’t find the specs, but they looked about the same size as the Roombas (and I hadn’t brought a tape measure). Then we found one that clearly said it was only 5.7cm high. It was quite a bit cheaper than the Roombas — only one-third the price. Nana asked the salesman about it and he confirmed it’s a Chinese company: Ecovacs.
We looked around a few more minutes, but it was clear this was the only one that would fit under our bed. And we were surprised to discover that it combined the sweeping and mopping functions, so we don’t need two separate machines. For the price we knew we couldn’t expect much, but we decided to take the leap.
The moment we got home I unboxed the thing. “Do they have instructions in English?” Nana asked. I pointed to the quick set-up guide: it’s all diagrams and iconese. Within a couple of minutes the robot was scuttling around our flat, quieter than we’d expected, and Nana had immediately decided it was a “he.” “Where is he now?” she’d ask. And when he got tangled up in anything, she’d say, “He has to learn to do that.”
(I’m not sure how much learning capability this cheap model has, but we were joking about its giving all our information to the Chinese.)
Nana would take to following him around the flat, worrying where he was from minute to minute and going to watch as, for example, he was busy pushing all our shoes around in the entrance foyer. “That’s more entertaining to you than the TV, eh?” I asked her. (I’d include a video of her following the thing around, but she’d have my head for it.)
Things that he gets caught on or confused by:
- The table pedestal
- The chair legs, unless we push them close to the pedestal
- The window blinds
- Electrical cords
- The bath mat
- Papers or other bric-à-brac on the floor (as in my den)
I’m sure we’ll discover more to add to the list.
After leaving him to charge up all night, we’ve set him going again this morning. We’ve left the bedroom door open, but so far he’s ignoring the allure.