If you are interested in a robotic vacuum, there are plenty to choose from. The iRobot Roomba line has more than two dozen itself. Of those robots, two of the more well-reviewed and popular models are the Roomba 690 and the Roomba 890.
This review will compare the iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 890, so you can make a choice about which model is better suited for your home. Both models have advantages and disadvantages that may make or break your decision. Read on to find out what they are.
Comparing the two robots side by side, it is easy to claim that the 890 is the better machine. However, with the Roomba 690 sharing a lot of its technology with the 890, it may be a closer match up than you realize.
The 890 is newer and more efficient. It has better extractors for pet hair and carpet cleaning. If you have pets that shed or a larger floor plan (over 1000 square feet), then the Roomba 890 might be the right choice for you.
If you are looking to save some money, don’t have pets or have a smaller house, then you might be better off going with the Roomba 690. Each model will offer you wireless communications, programming, scheduled cleaning sessions, and containment options.
How These Roomba Models Are Similar
Both of the robots share a lot of the same technologies. As such, many similarities may help you make your decision. Let's have a look at those similarities now.
Except for the secondary body color (the 890 is brown, the 690 silver), the two robots appear quite similar. They have the same physical buttons and in the same layout. The green LED ring around the Clean button will alert you to trouble codes and indicate when the robot is powered on.
The three-button set up is standard as of the Roomba 690 and is still being used in a similar fashion on the latest models. You can start or pause a cleaning session with the Clean button, perform a spot clean with the Spot Clean button, or send the robot back to the Home Base with the Home button.
All other controls have been moved from the user interface to the mobile app and voice commands.
Both the 690 and 890 come with wireless communications. The WiFi connectivity allows you to use more control options. The first option is the iRobot Home app. This smartphone app gives you the power to take full control of the robots.
You can schedule cleaning sessions, start, stop, or pause a session at any time and even get status updates on the robot and battery. The app also lets you give a nickname to your Roomba, which is useful for other control options.
Voice controls will let you use your nickname to get a cleaning session started. With Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can use your voice to control the robot, as well. Some of the voice commands aren’t available for these two robots since they don’t have the features of the latest models, such as Imprint Link.
However, along with Alexa and Google, you can also use the Roomba and voice commands through other smart home integration. There has been some success with integrating the Roombas with Samsung SmartThings, Wink, If This Then That (IFTTT) and a few others. You may have to set up complicated recipes, but there are methods listed online to help.
Battery Type & Life
The Roomba 690 vs. 890 debate doesn’t get any better when you look at their batteries. Both models use the 1800mAh lithium-ion pack. Each will have a similar runtime of about 75 to 90 minutes (depending on floor type), and both take about three full hours to recharge.
The two robots will monitor their battery charge level themselves and return to the dock as needed (more on this below). Once the battery is recharged, they are ready for another session.
When it comes time to replace the batteries (which for these two models will be between 18 and 24 months, on average), you will need to purchase the Roomba 1800 lithium-ion pack. Neither robot will work with the XLife battery or the 3300mAh lithium-ion that is also for sale.
The iRobot line up has never been known for their quiet operation. However, they aren’t the loudest on the market either. The Roomba 690 and 890 produce enough noise to prevent a nap on the couch while the robot is in the same room, but not so loud you’d have to exit the house to hold a conversation.
On the decibel scale, both units clock in right around 67dB on average. This is about how loud a hairdryer is when it is being used on high in the adjoining room, or city traffic at rush hour through your window.
Dust Bin Capacity
The dust bins on the robots will need to be emptied after every cleaning cycle. They aren’t the largest capacity bins around. With a capacity of 0.3 liters, the robots will fill them up almost every outing.
Of course, this depends on the amount of dirt and dust on your floors. You may find that you can skip an emptying between cycles. Just be warned that if you do and the bin fills up, the robots will shut down to prevent damage and overheating. You will have to empty the dust bin and restart the robots for them to continue cleaning.
The Roomba 890 has a few more sensors than the 690 does, but the types of sensors are the same. One of those sensor types is dirt detection sensors. They use infrared lighting to determine if the area is clear of dust and dirt.
If dust is detected, the robot is alerted that the area is still dirty and the Roomba will make a full loop to go over the area once again.
Virtual Wall Barriers
A dual-mode virtual wall barrier is included with the purchase of both the 890 and 690.
This is a containment device that uses infrared light to block the path or the robot. There are two usage modes to choose from, either linear or halo.
In halo mode the infrared light comes out in a circle, extending four feet from the device. It is useful for protecting items on the floor that you don’t want the robots to get near, such as pet food bowls.
Linear mode produces a straight line of infrared light up to 10 feet. In this mode, you can block off doorways or portions of larger rooms.
Spot cleaning is an operation mode that is offered by both robots. You can use the smartphone app or the physical buttons to initiate a spot clean.
In spot clean mode, you will need to manually place the robot on the area you want to be cleaned. Once you initiate the spot clean, the robot will spiral outward about three feet and then spiral back inward to the starting position.
Once the cleaning is done, the robot will shut down and await further instructions. You can then return it to the Home Base or continue with a regular cleaning session.
Self-Docking & Recharging
As we mentioned earlier, the Roomba 690 and Roomba 890 will both monitor their battery charge. When the battery charge level drops below about 15 percent remaining, both machines will begin working their way back to the Home Base charging station.
The robots will be able to dock themselves in most situations and recharge their batteries. Neither robot will resume cleaning after a recharge session, though, so if you need more cleaning done, you will need to initiate another cleaning session. A recharge cycle takes about three full hours for both robots unless you have canceled the cleaning session early.
Using the iRobot Home app, you can create a cleaning schedule for the robots to follow. With the scheduled cleaning, the robots will undock from the Home Base at the set time and head off under automatic cleaning mode to clean your floors.
You can set a schedule for one cleaning session per day for as many days as you like. There is no need to reset the program every seventh day like some older Roomba models. You don’t even need to be home to create, edit, or cancel a scheduled cleaning. As long as you use the app, and the robot is connected to your home network, the schedule will be uploaded and followed.
How These Roomba Models Are Different
It should be evident that since the Roomba 890 is two generations newer than the Roomba 690, there are bound to be some differences. Let's take a look at where these two models differ.
The Roomba 690 uses the 3-stage vacuuming technology that started it all, known as AeroVac. This system is responsible for sweeping debris, agitating carpet, lifting dirt and depositing it into the dust bin as well as filtering the exhaust air. All other Roomba models are compared to the power and filtration of the 600 series robots and AeroVac technology.
The Roomba 890 uses the newer system known as AeroForce. It uses the same 3-stage cleaning but has been upgraded to perform better. AeroForce, when compared to AeroVac of the 600 series robots, produces five times more suction power. It also has improved filtration (see below) and is overall more efficient with its cleaning skills.
Advanced HEPA Filtration System
One of the improvements of the AeroForce technology is the inclusion of HEPA filtration. HEPA filters capture allergen-inducing particles and prevent them from escaping with the exhaust air. Allergens such as pet dander or pollen can be reduced by up to 99 percent with HEPA filtration.
The Roomba 890 uses a HEPA filter that isn’t offered with the Roomba 690 and the AeroVac system. Due to changes in procedures, you may notice the HEPA filters are called “high-efficiency,” though they are the same filter.
Advanced Dirt Detect Technology
The 890 uses advanced dirt detection technology, as stated on the iRobot website. However, this statement is slightly misleading.
The Roomba 690 and 890 both use cliff detect sensors that double as dirt detection sensors. The infrared lights detect both drops higher than 1.5 inches as well as remaining dust particles in an area already cleared.
The difference is that the 890 has an extra sensor on the rear for this purpose.
The algorithms for dirt detection have improved slightly, and with the additional sensor in place, the 890 does seem to find more dirty areas, more often.
Extracting the dirt and debris is the job of the rollers on the bottom of the robots. The Roomba 690 uses two bristle brush rollers that collect the debris and lift it into the air chamber. The main roller agitates the carpet and loosens debris. The job of the smaller, secondary brush it to help separate larger debris and to keep the main roller clean.
The 890 has improved extractors. There are no bristle brushes, and there is a new cleaning head to help with tangles. When the rubber extractors do pick up something like a sock or a power cord, the robot will stop and reverse the extractors to clear the clog or tangle.
The rubber extractors are also much easier to clean and don’t hold hair or string tangles as the brush rollers do. The rubber extractors make the 890 far superior on all carpet types and when dealing with pet hair.
Memory Mapping Technology
There is a new computer algorithm in the Roomba 890 that is responsible for creating a pseudo-map of your home.
In what iRobot calls Memory Mapping, the robot creates a small program that marks distances and points like plots on a graph. The robot will remember these spots until it recharges.
The “map” it creates isn’t visible to anyone except the robot. It helps the robot maneuver through the home without wasting too much time going over the same spots again.
Some users report that the 890 appears to learn their home as it cleans. To a certain extent, it does. The 890 will remember where walls and non-movable obstacles are.
The graph in the computer memory will maintain these points even during a recharge. However, it isn’t enough to make the robot as intelligent as the 900 series robots that use camera navigation, as the Roomba 980.
Full Bin Indicator
Another handy little feature that is often overlooked is the full bin indicator. The Roomba 690 doesn’t alert you when the 0.3-liter bin is near full or needs to be emptied. However, the 890 will. This comes in handy when you don’t run the robot every day, or have it on a schedule and may forget to check the dust bin.
When the indicator illuminates, it means the dust bin is near full and should be emptied right away. The robot will continue cleaning until the bin is packed to the brim. When this happens, the robot will shut down to prevent overheating and damage until you empty the bin.
The final difference is the price. The Roomba 690 is a lot cheaper than the Roomba 890. However, the Roomba 890 lives up to its price tag and performs better than the 690.
If you have a smaller home or a home without shedding pets, the lower price of the 690 might be enough reason to sway your purchase. Otherwise, in almost every other situation, the Roomba 890 will be the go-to robot.
Performance of the iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 890
Features and prices aside, you need to know how the robots will handle certain flooring types and circumstances. Let’s see how the two vacuums compare in the real world.
The Roomba 690 will clean low and medium-pile carpeting and collect your pets shed fur. The bristles on the roller s get tangled easily and will need to be cleaned regularly. However, for smaller homes with carpet, it will keep them clean.
The 890, though, with the rubber extractors will clean high-pile carpeting as well. The cleaning power is also improved so the 890 will get a deeper, more thorough clean on carpeting than the 690 can.
Because hardwood floors are easier to sweep than carpet is to vacuum, the two robots are about equal when it comes to the overall clean. However, the 890 is more efficient when it comes to hardwood flooring of all types.
The bristled rollers of the 690 have also been reported (though extremely rare cases) of scratching some softwoods and sealed surfaces. With the rubber paddles on the 890’s extractors, this problem is eliminated.
There is no question that the Roomba 890 is far superior when it comes to collecting pet hair. The rubber extractors pick up more hair and separate it for easier collection. The rollers are easier to keep clean compared to the bristled rollers of the 690.
Even with the cleaning tool, the 690 will still take you 5 minutes or so to clean off and reassemble the rollers. The 890’s extractors can be removed, wiped clean and reinserted in about 30 seconds.
When it comes to the area size of your home, the two robots are again, evenly matched. Both robots will cover about 1100 square feet on a single charge. What you should note, though, is that the 890 will cover more area in total, requiring fewer outings to complete an entire home cleaning.
If you run both robots daily, the 690 will cover every square foot about three times in 7 days. The Roomba 890 will cover every square foot about 4.5 times in 7 days.
Roomba 690 vs. 890 Comparison Chart
Several accessories come with the purchase of your new robot. You will receive the battery and filter (both pre-installed), as well as the Home Base charging station, an extra filter and the dual-mode virtual wall barrier.
For the 690 you will also receive the cleaning tool for the brush rollers. All of these items can be purchased separately. When you do make another purchase, such as a replenishment kit (extra filters, side brushes, and roller), you will need to ensure you get the items specifically for your model.
The battery, for example, can only be replaced with the Roomba 1800 lithium-ion battery pack. The XLife battery and 3300mAh will not work in these two models.
You can also purchase extra virtual wall barriers if the one that is included isn't enough for your needs. All items can be purchased through Amazon; just ensure that they are sold by iRobot so you won't void your warranty.
Setting Up the WiFi Connection
Setting up wireless connections will require two things. First, you must have a wireless home network. The Roomba wireless connects using the 2.4gHz band. You should know your SSID and password for the network.
Next, you will need the iRobot Home app, which is a free download from your respective smartphone's store.
After you download and install the app, you will need to log in or create an account (also free). From there, the set up is near automated.
The WiFi will connect to the Home Base, not the robot itself, so you should ensure the Home Base charging station is set up correctly (see further below) and plugged in.
The app will scan for the Home Base and when found, will begin the setup process. You will be asked to add your Roomba model and to enter the password for your WiFi network. After that, the app will sync the Home Base and the robot to itself and your network. The entire process takes about five minutes.
How to Charge these Roomba Models
Charging the Roomba 690 and 890 is the same; you don’t have to charge them yourself. Both robots will monitor their battery charge level and return to the Home Base under their own power when the battery level drops.
The only time you will have to take action manually, is when you first purchase the robot and in the rare case that it dies before making it back to the charging station. When this happens, you just lift the robot by the carrying handle and place it in the cradle. The Home Base will take care of the rest, charging the batteries.
Positioning the Roomba Home Base
Correctly placing the Home Base charging station will ensure that the robot can find the base and get into the charging cradle without issue. There are a few simple guidelines to ensure there are fewer instances when the robot cannot dock.
Tips for Using a Roomba
To help your Roomba perform at its best, you need to follow a few simple tips. You can prolong the life of your robot with regular maintenance and replacing worn parts as required. Here is what to look for:
Roomba Maintenance Tips
Having a regular maintenance routine is essential to the longevity of your machine. Some owners report that keeping up on maintenance has allowed them to keep and operate their 400 and 600 series robots for almost 20 years.
Empty the dust bin before it gets full. Emptying the container after every cleaning session is advised.
- Inspect the robot and its parts using the guidelines mentioned above.
- Wipe all sensors and the robot body with a dry cloth.
- Clean the battery contacts on the robot and the Home Base.
Troubleshooting Your Roomba
From time to time, your Roomba may experience some problems. These can be battery-related issues or mechanical issues. In either event, your robot will alert you to a trouble code through a series of beeps or a battery icon blinking. The chart below will help you identify what the problem is and offer advice to fix it.
Code/Number of Beeps
What to do
Collection bin is inserted improperly.
Remove and replace the collection bin, making sure it is inserted correctly.
Something is caught in the extractors
Remove the extractors and wipe them off, clearing out any tangles you find.
One (not both) of the wheels is stuck.
Inspect the wheels for anything wrapped around it, preventing it from spinning.
Cliff sensors dirty/ robot is high-centered on a ledge
Clean the sensors or move the robot to a new location and press the Clean button to restart.
Bumper sensor is dirty, or the bumper cannot move.
Tap the bumper a few times to ensure it is working properly, or clean the bumper sensor.
Both wheels are stuck.
The Roomba is unable to move so you must move it to a new location or unclog the debris from both wheels.
Battery Indicator Blinks
What to do
Battery not inserted.
Ensure the battery is properly seated and that you have removed the plastic tabs.
Battery current is too high.
If in warranty, make a battery claim. Outside of warranty period, replace the battery.
Battery contacts not making connection
Return to manufacturer for service, or try cleaning the battery contacts.
Charging contacts not making connection
Clean the contacts on the bottom of the robot and the Home Base to ensure proper seating.
Move the Roomba to a cooler spot, along with the Home Base. Make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight and that nothing is on the robot while charging.
Battery cannot cool.
The sensors regulating temperature detect the battery is hot longer than 4 hours after use or charging. Remove the robot from the charger for an hour and try again.
Cannot communicate with the battery
The battery needs to be replaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let us now answer some common questions about the two robots and iRobot in general.
Will the Roomba get caught on cords and carpet fringe?
Both the Roomba 690 and 890 will suck up cords and carpet fringe. When tangled, the 690 will shut down to prevent damage until you can clear the tangle yourself. The 890 will reverse the extractors in an attempt to free itself. If unsuccessful, it will shut down as well. If it can free itself, the robot will then maneuver around the cord or fringe to prevent another snag.
Will the Roomba transition between hardwood floors and thick braided rugs?
Yes. The climbing height of the two robots is about ¾ of an inch. Attempting to get on thicker carpets from a lower, hard flooring surface may cause issues from time to time, but both will try various angles to get a wheel on the rug to continue cleaning. Transitioning down is easier and more fluid for the robots.
Do I need WiFi in my house to use these Roombas?
No. WiFi is not required to use the robots. You will be limited in your control options, though. Without WiFI, you won’t be able to use voice commands or the smartphone app. You can still use the physical buttons to perform cleaning sessions, however.
Will the Roomba mark or mar my white baseboards?
We can’t say it is impossible. However, the solid rubber bumpers are molded in black coloring, not painted. The instances of marring surfaces through contact are limited and have rarely occurred. In the cases when it has happened, mineral oil and a clean cloth removed the marks.
Can a Roomba battery be replaced?
Yes. Each Roomba has a latched panel to access the battery. You can use the tabs to pull the old battery out and lock in the replacement battery without the need of professional assistance.
How do I reset a Roomba unit?
To reset the Roomba 690 and 890, you first need to remove them from the Home Base. Then, press and hold the Clean button for approximately ten seconds. The robots will beep after you release the button to alert you the reset has been completed.
How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?
You can contact iRobot customer support by calling 1-800-727-9077.
Where are the best places to buy a Roomba 600 series?
With the 600 series becoming harder and harder to find, the best place to make a purchase is Amazon. There you will find a new-in-box 600 series robot, complete with all accessories and full warranty.
Where can I buy Roomba replacement parts?
The best place to purchase replacement parts is Amazon. You should, however, make a note of a couple of things. First, check with the iRobot accessories website to get the correct item model number and cross-reference it with those listed on Amazon. Second, ensure that you only purchase from the iRobot storefront on Amazon, at least until your warranty period is over. 3rd party parts will void the warranty if used.
The Roomba 690 vs. 890 is a much closer debate than it seems at first. Even with the newer technology and improved features, the 890 may not be the best option for you.
The Roomba 690 offers a practical clean on a tight budget. For houses with smaller square footage, less pet hair and more hardwood flooring than carpet, it may be wise to go with the least expensive option.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of pets, or a pet that sheds a lot, more carpeting or need the allergen reduction of HEPA filtration, then the Roomba 890 is the better choice.
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