Roomba 650 vs 860: Which Robot Vacuum to Choose in 2020?

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the winner is, then we recommend the Roomba 860.

Winner
iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum
$199.00
$160.83
Winner
iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum
$199.00
iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum
iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum
$160.83

When we first welcomed a new dog into our home, we were ready for daily walks, feeding and other needs. However, I was surprised at the amount of hair I had to clean up. Every day it seemed like our new friend shed half its weight in fur. It felt like I was vacuuming all the time, so I started to think about getting some help from a robotic vacuum. I have looked at several of the many options on the market. Keep reading to hear my comparison of the Roomba 650 vs 860.

What to Think About Before Buying a Roomba

If you are like me and cannot stand a dirty floor, a robotic vacuum like one of iRobot’s Roombas might be just the solution for you. These electronic helpers can cover a single floor of your home, handling just about any floor plan. A Roomba vacuums the floor until its electric charge becomes low. Then, it makes its way back to its charging dock for a rest. All you have to do is empty its dirt bin when it is full. A robotic vacuum is a convenient solution for homes that require a consistent clean.

However, a robotic vacuum may not be the right solution for everybody. Although cleaning technology has come a long way, these robots are not perfect. Their round shape is well-suited for avoiding obstacles but can limit their ability to reach corners when they clean. Their navigation system leads them in a somewhat random pattern, based on the obstacles and barriers they encounter. Some people feel this means they pass over one area several times while rarely hitting others. If their imperfections will lead to frustration, you may just want to buy a regular vacuum and do it yourself.

Another consideration is the cost and quality of your furniture. Although the designers programmed the robots to avoid obstacles, they often come into light contact with them. This may not be an issue if you do not mind some light scuffing. However, if you have antique wood furniture, you may want to think twice before letting a Roomba brush up against it. Once again, you should probably buy your own vacuum cleaner. Be sure it has the right attachments so you can clean carefully around your special items.

Getting to Know the Roomba 650

iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum

The Roomba 650 is a robotic vacuum without many bells and whistles. It is designed to do a basic vacuuming job on both carpeted and non-carpeted floor surfaces though it tends to work best on hardwood, vinyl, and tile. When you purchase the 650, along with the robot you will receive a docking station, extra filter and a single Virtual Wall device. Unlike other Roombas in the 600-line, you can program the 650 to clean your floors at any time of day. In addition to its basic cleaning mode, this robot has a special Spot cleaning mode that helps it deal with larger messes.

Pros

  • Reliable, simple operation
  • 60-minute cleaning life on a full charge
  • Easy, button-controlled scheduling

Cons

  • Struggles with pet hair
  • Speed can lead to scuffing
  • Noisy operation

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Our Roomba 650 comparisons:

Getting to Know the Roomba 860

iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum

iRobot improves its Roomba cleaning droids with each new line. Many of the features of the Roomba 860 are similar to the 650. They are both the same size and shape. However, the AeroForce cleaning system of the 860 is a great improvement on the AeroVac cleaning system of the 600-line Roombas. There is more vacuuming power which allows other improvements such as a more powerful, high-efficiency filter as well as better performance on carpeting. The brushes of the 650 have been replaced with rubber extractors that are less likely to get tangled with pet hair. Like the 650, the 860 comes with a charging dock, extra filter, and a single Virtual Wall device.

Pros

  • More vacuuming power
  • Improved cleaning on deep pile rugs
  • Full bin indicator for fewer interruptions

Cons

  • Random navigation can miss spots
  • Can run out of charge before reaching its dock
  • Small dirt bin requires frequent cleaning

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Other Roomba 860 comparisons:

Helpful Features of the Roomba 650

iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum

Even though the Roomba 650 is a basic model, it is still a powerful cleaning tool. It is ideally suited for homes with a simple floor plan and uncarpeted surfaces. The added benefit of a programmable interface gives its owners flexibility in choosing the best time to clean. Here are some more details on the important features of the 650.

AeroVac Cleaning System

The AeroVac Cleaning System is a three-stage process that gets dirt, debris, and hair off of your floor surfaces. First, two brushes work to extract dirt and debris from the floor. A spinning side-brush pulls dirt from the side and into the path of the main brushes. The 650’s brushes are great for general cleaning, but some customers complain that they can get tangled with pet hair. Once loosened, the dirt is then sucked up by the vacuum into the dirt bin. The air passes through the Roomba filter that catches dust and dander, leaving it in the bin. While the AeroVac filter can gather a fair amount of dust particles, it is not a HEPA filter. If you need something that will help remove pollen and other small irritants from your home, you will want to upgrade to a model with a more powerful filter. The AeroVac vacuum does great on uncarpeted surfaces and low-pile carpet. If you have a good deal of deep pile carpeting, you may want to look for a model with a stronger vacuum.

Programmable Scheduling

The top of the Roomba 650 looks like many standard Roomba models with three central buttons: Clean, Dock and Spot. However, the 650 includes a group of smaller scheduling buttons. These operate like the buttons on a digital alarm clock. When you first power up the unit, you will need to program the current day and time. From there, you can program a daily time for the Roomba to start a cleaning cycle. I like to send mine out when I know the house will be empty. You can also program a weekly schedule that takes into account different family schedules on weekend days.

iAdapt 1.0 Navigation

The iAdapt 1.0 Navigation system is what the Roomba uses to make its way around your home. In this system, the Roomba temporarily remembers places in your home where it encounters an obstacle. Each time it meets a solid obstacle, it changes direction and marks the point in a mental map. This means of navigation can lead to a random cleaning pattern. It is fun to guess which direction my Roomba will go next. However, it does seem like the droid is traveling over the same spot several times in one session.

In addition to the navigation sensors, all Roomba robots have Cliff Detection sensors. These sensors are located on the bottom of the unit and keep the Roomba from falling down the stairs. If Roomba senses too large of a drop, it will change directions. Some people have found that dark carpeting can trigger these sensors, causing the Roomba to avoid a whole section of the floor.

Spot Cleaning Mode

The Spot button on the top of the Roomba 650 allows you to handle big messes right away. You can pick up the Roomba by its handle and carry it to the spill. When you press the Spot button, the Roomba vacuums in a spiral pattern until it covers a circle about three feet in diameter. My kids have a habit of spilling popcorn while watching television. The Roomba 650 lets me take care of those kinds of messes quickly.

Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery

Roomba robots use a lithium-ion battery for power. The strength of the battery has been improving, which gives later Roombas more cleaning time and stronger vacuuming power. The 650 gets about 60 minutes of cleaning time with each charge. After that, it automatically finds its charging dock. It takes two to three hours to return to a full charge. Some owners have complained about the Roomba getting stranded and not making it to the charging dock. It is important to locate the dock in an open area that the droid can easily access.

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More Information on the Roomba 860

iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum

When you open the box of the Roomba 860, you will find a robotic vacuum that looks quite similar to the Roomba 650. The two droids share many of the same features. They both use the same sensor-driven navigation system, though the 860 has been adjusted to reduce potential damage to furniture. They both have onboard programming buttons for easy scheduling. They both have a helpful side-brush that allows the units to do a better job cleaning near walls and corners. However, the 860 has several improvements that make a big difference.

AeroForce Cleaning System

The biggest difference between the 650 and the 860 is the upgraded cleaning system. The AeroForce system has five times the suction power of the 600-series AeroVac system. Because of this power, the system incorporates a high-efficiency filter which can strain out 99 percent of the dust particles it encounters. It also has better performance on carpeted surfaces, cleaning deeper into the pile.

The AeroForce system also replaces brushes with rubber extractors. These do a great job of loosening dirt and pulling debris to the vacuum. Importantly, they do not get tangled with pet hair. This means less maintenance and more pet hair out of your life. These are features that pet owners will appreciate.

Improved Navigation

The 860 uses the same iAdapt 1.0 Navigation system. However, it has been slightly improved. One of the complaints about earlier models like the 650 was that they could be rough on furniture. When the 860 encounters a barrier, it slows down and touches it gently. If the barrier is solid, it will change directions. If it is passable, like a fabric bed skirt, the unit will go through. The 860 is designed to be a kinder, gentler vacuuming robot.

Dirt Detect Technology

Another improvement from previous versions is the series of Dirt Detect sensors on the bottom of the 860. These sensors help the unit find larger messes that require more time or vacuuming passes. When the unit encounters a deeper mess, the vacuum power increases and the Roomba spends more time on that particular area, vacuuming until the sensors indicate that it is clean.

Full Bin Indicator

All Roomba vacuums stop when their dirt bin gets full. Earlier generations of Roombas just stopped and waited until you realized they were not vacuuming. This could be a real problem if the Roomba stopped in a place where it could not be seen. The Roomba 860 includes a full bin indicator that sounds when the dirt bin is full so you can clean it quickly and send the vacuum on its way. Some customers complain that the bin is too small because they have to clean it so frequently in the first weeks after they purchase the droid. However, in many cases, this is because the Roomba is vacuuming in places that have never been cleaned before. As the dust from under the furniture disappears, the Roomba dirt bin will not need to be cleaned out as much. Many users also make a habit of cleaning out the bin after a cycle as it only takes a minute or so.

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Positive Reviews for the Roomba 650

I have been searching the internet to find out what customers think of their Roomba robotic vacuums. For the most part, customers are pleased with the Roomba 650, especially if they are working mainly with uncarpeted floor surfaces. They like the reliability of the droid. They enjoy the flexibility that comes with the ability to schedule the cleaning cycle. Most importantly, several users commented on noticing how clean the robot kept their home. They never realized how much dust was hiding underneath their beds and couches.

The Roomba 860 Makes a Strong Impression

Roomba 860 owners are also fans of their devices. The most positive comments come from pet owners. If they launch their cleaning droid every day, they see much less pet hair around the house. They feel that the Roomba not only sucks up pet hair on uncarpeted surfaces but also does a good job getting the hair out of carpeted surfaces. They also like the scheduling ability, giving them the power to come home to clean floors after work.

The Roomba 650 vs 860: My Choice

Both of these Roomba models have excellent reputations and helpful features. I also appreciate the ability to schedule the cleaning cycle for consistently clean floors. However, my recommendation is for the Roomba 860. The primary reason for my choice is power. The upgraded AeroForce cleaning system and improved navigation system give this device the ability to be helpful in more situations. The Roomba 650 may be enough for a simple home with hardwood or vinyl floors. The Roomba 860 is my recommendation for a Roomba that can give reliable cleaning for most homes.

iRobot Roomba 860 Robot Vacuum
  • iAdapt Navigation uses a full suite of sensors to navigate and adapt to your changing home
  • AeroForce 3 Stage Cleaning System delivers up to 50 percent more cleaning performance
  • Tangle free extractors help prevent hair and debris clogs
  • Conveniently schedule up to 7x per week, or just press CLEAN on the robot
  • Lithium Ion Battery delivers up to 2x the battery cycle lifetime
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