Roomba 880 vs 870: 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 880.

iRobot Roomba 880 Robot Vacuum
  • iAdapt Multi Room Navigation uses a full suite of sensors to navigate and adapt to your changing home
  • Room to room cleaning in up to 3 rooms with the included Virtual Wall Lighthouse beacons
  • AeroForce 3 Stage Cleaning System delivers up to 50 percent more cleaning performance
  • Tangle free extractors help prevent hair and debris clogs
  • AeroForce High Efficiency Filter traps fine dirt and dust

I remember when Roomba robots first hit the market. My mother laughed at the commercials. Recently, she asked what I know about the 800 series. She wants to add another Roomba to her existing fleet of four. Nobody’s laughing now. We’ve narrowed the choice of a robot for her beach house to the Roomba 880 vs 870.

Robotic Vacuum Shopping List

As the industry’s oldest and largest manufacturer, iRobot has established its Roomba 800 series as the reference standard within the market. That’s changing a little nowadays, with Wi-Fi connectivity, a mobile app and voice command offered in selected models both above and below the 800 series. What used to be top-of-the-line is often standard on later models.

Everybody’s got their own reasons to own a robotic vacuum, but most of them fall into a few recurring themes. Work savings, time management and ease of mind are probably near the top of most lists. If you want the highest level technology or the most powerful suction, you need to check out the Roomba 890 or the 900 series.

Large rooms and complex floor plans can use up the battery before the job is done, requiring the robot to recharge before it can finish. You need a robot with a good amount of working time between charges. One hour should be considered the minimum with modern batteries. If it uses up its charge before it’s done and then takes several hours to charge, the robot can’t really clean more than once a day in a practical sense.

While Roomba vacuums, in particular, are quieter than most upright vacuums, they’re still kind of noisy when they fire up in the middle of the night. For most people, the robot should do its work during daylight hours. Batteries should give long run time with a relatively short charge time to justify the expense of a robotic vacuum.

The 870 and 880 are both still near the top of the line. The two models share the same basic design, styling and internal components.

Factors to consider when purchasing an autonomous vacuum include the following:

  • Battery life
  • Recharging time
  • Programmability
  • Convenience features

Both the Roomba 880 and the Roomba 870 offer quite a selection of features for a reasonable cost. Here’s what we found when comparing the Roomba 880 vs 870.

About the Roomba 880

iRobot Roomba 880 Robot Vacuum

The Roomba 880 is a multi-room robotic vacuum with high-power airflow. Equipped with fairly sophisticated navigation and remote control, the 880 also offers scheduling and a HEPA filter.

Roomba 880 Pros

  • XLife nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery
  • Multiple room navigation system
  • AeroForce system has five times the suction of the entry-level 600 Series
  • Scheduling

Roomba 880 Cons

  • No Wi-Fi connection means no scheduling with your phone.
  • It’s noisy for a Roomba.
  • The remote is uncomfortable compared to the Wireless Command Center that came with the Roomba 790.

The Roomba 880 is 13.9 inches across, 3.6 inches tall and weighs 8.4 pounds, making for a substantial yet easy-to-handle robot.

The Roomba 880 ships with the following accessories:

  • XLife extended-life battery
  • Home Base charging station
  • AeroForce high-efficiency air filter
  • Remote Control
  • Two Virtual Wall Lighthouses

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Our Roomba 880 comparisons:

About the Roomba 870

The 870 is a Wi-Fi connected robotic vacuum designed for both large and complicated floor plans. It comes with a HEPA filter and the iRobot Smart Home mobile app to remotely control the vacuum. This is a high-suction vacuum with intelligent navigation, remote scheduling, and a phone texting notification system.

Roomba 870 Pros

  • Wi-Fi with Smart Home mobile app
  • Virtual Wall barrier system
  • HEPA filter
  • AeroForce high-suction vacuum system

Roomba 870 Cons

  • Virtual Wall barrier system instead of the Lighthouse system.
  • Some owners don’t like the random learning pattern the 870 uses to map the house.
  • Low-nap carpet performance is less than stellar.
  • The Roomba 870 is 13.9 inches across, 3.6 inches tall and weighs 8.4 pounds, all exactly the same as the 880.

The 870 is boxed with these goodies:

  • Home Base recharging station
  • One HEPA air filter
  • XLife extended life battery
  • Two Virtual Wall barriers with batteries

Roomba 880 Features

iRobot Roomba 880 Robot Vacuum

The 880 was the first Roomba introduced by iRobot in the 800 series. The 880 represented a step up in technology for the brand, replacing the 790.

The 600 and 700 series both used bristle brushes for the three-part cleaning system. While very effective at cleaning carpets, the bristle brushes have a tendency to become entangled in pet hair, meaning a time investment in cleaning the rollers. The 800 changed that scenario for the better. The 800 and 900 series use rubber rollers arranged into a chevron shape. This system does an outstanding job of removing hair from carpet, with a lot less cleaning than the bristle rollers required.

AeroForce Suction

The new AeroForce suction technology made its debut on the 880, improving the suction performance by an order of magnitude with five times the suction of the 600 and 700 series. This might be the most important single improvement in the Roomba technology bag of tricks. It’s resulted in a significant improvement in the cleaning ability of these vacuums. To me, it’s like night and day comparing the 800 series to the earlier vacuums.

Larger Dust Bin

Another improvement introduced by the 800 series is a larger dust bin than previous models. No vacuum will ever have enough dirt storage for me. Anything that means less fiddling with the dust bin is a necessary improvement as far as I’m concerned.

Remote Control

The Roomba 880 comes with a remote control that schedules and operates the vacuum, even allowing you to directly drive your robot through the remote control. You can steer it where you want to take care of any missed areas or to chase your cat. I like to use it for delivering a can of soda to a guest.

Even though it’s not as trendy as using a mobile app or voice command, it’s a great feature that lets you take care of just about everything you might need to do with your robot. If it could remotely empty the dust bin, it would be perfect.

Virtual Wall Lighthouse

The 880 comes equipped with the Home Base charging dock and two Virtual Wall Lighthouse sensors to more precisely control the robot’s area cleaning focus. The standard Virtual Wall barriers act as a wall to limit the movement of the robot past a particular boundary. This system has been replaced by the Dual Mode Virtual Wall, which is backward-compatible to earlier vacuums with the Lighthouse feature.

The Lighthouse system works as a gateway, keeping the robot in one area like the barrier system. The difference is that the robot can signal the Lighthouse module when it’s done cleaning the current area, and the Lighthouse will grant access past the barrier to the next area. With the two included Lighthouses you can clean up to six rooms in one session.

Restyled Housing

The 880 ushered in new styling cues, standardizing the black, utilitarian appearance for the Roomba brand that blends well with just about any home décor. However, I actually prefer the colored body the 790 had before the 880 replaced it. It reminded me of old cars and refrigerators, but with a modern tech style.

All the normal appearance cues remain the same. The 880 includes a removable caster wheel on the front. The big Clean button is still in the middle of the machine’s top. Minimalism is the keyword when describing the Roomba style language.

Patented 3-Stage Cleaning System

The Roomba 880 features the iRobot signature 3-Stage Cleaning System. Two counter-rotating multi-surface rubber rollers loosen and remove debris. Then the AeroForce suction system moves the dirt to the dust bin. A special brush with a 27-degree sweep will clean along the edges.

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Roomba 870 Features 

Virtual Wall Barriers

The 870 uses the Virtual Wall barrier system, not as technically advanced as the Lighthouse system used on the Roomba 880. The Virtual Wall barrier also more precisely defines the robot’s work area but lacks the ability to act as a gatekeeper to allow passage.

The Virtual Wall barrier only works as a sensor device, preventing the vacuum from entering sensitive areas. It may be positioned anywhere but near the recharge dock. Buy more Virtual Wall barriers separately to closely define complex shapes or to use in hallways with multiple doors.

Wi-Fi Connection

The Roomba 870 connects through a mobile phone or a digital assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant using Wi-Fi. The Smart Home mobile app lets you schedule cleaning times and remotely start cleaning. This amazing technology is voice-command ready.

Once it’s set up, you can control the Roomba 870 through its Connect To Clean function by mobile device, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

The iRobot Smart Home app receives notifications from the Roomba 870 if it gets stuck. The mobile app also lets you check on the robot’s dust bin.

iAdapt Navigation Technology

The Roomba 870 uses numerous sensors for navigation around your home. Once the robot learns the floor plan and optimizes its cleaning patterns, you are free to move furniture or change the layout. The robot’s sensors tell it that something has changed and it adapts constantly to these types of changes around the house.

This is the biggest reason I was looking at the Roomba 880 vs 870 for my mom. She constantly rearranges her living room at the beach house and does a lot of entertaining. Some chairs and coffee tables are rarely in the same place for more than a few days at a time.

XLife Battery

The Roomba XLife NmH technology gives the 800 series a very long-lasting battery. This battery doubles the service lifetime of the standard lithium-ion type. However, the run-time per charge is the same 60-minute length as the Li unit.

Roomba 880 vs 870: Roomba Owners Speak Out

One of the main ways I read between the lines when there is so much sales lingo and propaganda-type language is to surf buyer reviews. I check them specifically to see what the people who actually laid out the money and own the machine have to say about it. This is one way to find out about small recurring problems the manufacturer may not have even noticed yet, but which might help some buyers avoid specific issues. Verifying for myself that iRobot’s performance claims mostly ring true is well worth the effort.

Owners generally had some good words for the Roomba 880. Both robots consistently rank above 90 percent for satisfaction across the web.

  • Jeffrey in Trussville, Alabama works from home and likes being able to multitask.
  • Helga in Brooklyn says the Roomba 880 is a must-have for a lazy or busy person.

What about the 870? Owners are pretty happy with their Wi-Fi connected Roomba, giving it overwhelmingly positive reviews anywhere it’s sold.

  • ZekeB in Asheville, North Carolina is impressed with four years worth of service with his Roomba.
  • This is the third robot for Agdiaz1 in Houston, who says the 870 is “Better than ever.”
  • Janes’ better half in Fairhope, Alabama thinks it’s one of the best products she’s ever purchased.
  • Michele in Tracy, California writes that her Roomba 870 even collected an AA battery in the dust bin. That’s the AeroForce 5x suction for you.

Envelope, Please

The 870 is a refinement of the 880 with an eye towards convenience and modern technology. Both vacuums feature wireless control. The 880 uses a sophisticated remote control and you can also operate the robot directly with the remote.

You can’t steer the Roomba with the Smart Home mobile app on the 870, but you can schedule and start cleaning from the traffic jam on Interstate 5 while you’re waiting for signs of movement.

The LightHouse system is a really good reason to go with the Roomba 880, offering trouble-free cleaning for six rooms. However, with its Wi-Fi capability, Smart Home app and its ability to notify you by text, the Roomba 870 is hard to not recommend!

Other 800 Series reviews:

More 800 Series comparisons:

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