It is no secret that newer is usually better. In the case of iRobot Roomba robotic vacuums, the case is almost always true. The Roomba 960 is one of the top-rated and most reliable robot vacuums available. Every aspect of the vacuum is superior to the much older Roomba 690.
Why are we talking about it then? Because the Roomba 690 is an ideal robot vacuum for many homes, including yours. This review will showcase the Roomba 690 vs. the Roomba 960. While all of the technical categories will be a resounding “win” for the 960, you may be surprised with how the 690 is a much better fit for your home. Or, maybe not. Read on to find out.
The Roomba 690 has WiFi capabilities that allow you to use the smartphone app or voice commands. You can create schedules through the app and keep up on your floor-cleaning chores from anywhere. The 690 also uses a dual multi-surface brush roller system to collect dirt and hair from any surface.
Like the 690, the Roomba 960 has WiFi as well, and it comes with more mobile app and voice control commands. The upgraded 960 uses camera-based navigation to map and move through your home. This enables other features that the 690 doesn’t offer — things such as Recharge & Resume and enhanced scheduling.
The Roomba 960 is suitable for all homes but specializes in homes with multiple rooms and more extensive floor plans. The Roomba 690, though, is better equipped to handle apartments, condos and small houses with mainly hardwood flooring.
How These Roomba Models Are Similar
Even though these two robots are three generations apart, they share more in common than you might think. Let’s take a look at how they are similar.
Both of the robot vacuums use the iRobot lithium-ion battery packs. There are a few lithium-ion batteries of different capacities, and each of these two models utilizes the 1800mAh battery.
When you need to replace your battery (about 18 to 18 months) make sure that you purchase the iRobot 1800. There is a 3300mAh pack that looks identical, but it will not work in either the 690 or the 960.
Spot Clean is a mode of cleaning where the robot will start in the spot you placed it and spiral outwards about three feet. The machine will then spiral back to the original placement spot, awaiting further instructions.
Spot Cleaning is available on either the 690 or the 960 by either using the smartphone app or the physical button located on the top of the robot. The cross-hair icon identifies the Spot Clean button.
WiFi Connectivity & Smartphone App
You will find that both the 960 and the 690 come equipped with wireless technology. They allow you to use other forms of controls besides the physical buttons.
This is an excellent benefit seeing as how the physical buttons have been diminished to the bare essentials.
With the WiFi connectivity, you will be able to download and use the iRobot Home app.
With the app, you can get status updates, name your robot, and create schedules.
In the case of the Roomba 960, you will also be able to see the map that it crates and keep up with where the robot is, has already cleaned and what areas remain.
Self-Docking & Recharging
Another feature that both robots share is the ability to monitor their battery charge level. When the level drops below about 15 percent, the robots will stop cleaning and head back to the Home Base charging station.
Once docked, both robots will recharge their batteries until full. The process of recharging will take about three total hours, at which point the 960 and 690 will be ready to resume cleaning duties.
Voice Control Capability
Because of the WiFi technology, each robot is also capable of using voice controls. You can sync your Roomba with either an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant component. After they are linked, you can use your voice to make control commands.
Much like the smartphone app, you can start and stop a cleaning session, create and edit schedules, and get status updates on the robots and batteries. The commands are simple and easy to set up as well as use. Unlike the app, you will have to be home to use them, so the device can hear your voice to pass on the commands.
Virtual Wall Barriers
For containment purposes, the Roomba 690 and Roomba 960 are compatible with the dual-mode virtual wall barrier. This barrier uses infrared technology to block the robot’s path. The top-mounted RCON sensor that directs the robots back to the Home Base also detects the infrared beacon from the barrier.
The barrier can be set in two modes, either halo or linear. The linear mode is ideal for blocking off areas of a room or entrances.
Halo mode, on the other hand, is perfect for preventing access to items on the floor you don’t want the robot to get near. A single barrier is included with the purchase of either robot.
Creating schedules is another feature that both units share. You can use the mobile app or voice commands to create, edit, or remove a scheduled cleaning session. Unlike models that don’t use WiFi technology, the 690 and 960 can be scheduled out into the future and aren’t restricted to the 7-day cycle scheduling limitations.
You can schedule a cleaning for any time of day or night whether you are home or away. If you need to cancel a scheduled cleaning or adjust the time, you can use the smartphone app to do that from anywhere as well.
How These Roomba Models Are Different
Since the robots are three generations apart, there have been several advancements and upgrades made. The 960 is far more advanced than the 690. Let's take a look at where they differ.
AeroVac is the cleaning technology that started it all. The Roomba 690 makes use of this 3-stage cleaning system that all other Roomba models vare rated against. The AeroVac system uses motor speed to turn the wheels, rotate the brushes, collect the dirt, and filter the exhaust air.
The Roomba 960 uses the newer AeroForce technology that has advancements in motor speed, suction power, and filtration. Compared to the 690, the 960 will produce five times more suction and cleaning power to get even deeper into your carpets.
You should note, whenever you see a report about the suction power that says “5X,” 10x,” etc. the suction rating is being compared to the AeroVac system of the 600 series.
The filtration of the Roomba 960 also received an upgrade over the 600 series robots. Along with the AeroForce technology comes the use of the anti-allergen HEPA filtration. HEPA filtration will help reduce allergens in your home by up to 99 percent. The more capable filters capture particles such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen.
The Roomba 690 has a micro-filtration AeroVac Filter. It won’t always capture allergen-inducing particles, and it isn’t designed for that. The primary function of the filter is to keep the motor area clear of dust build-up and to filter the exhaust air before it returns to the home.
One of the most improved features is the extractors of the 800 and 900 series robots. The Roomba 690 uses dual counter-rotating brush rollers. The primary roller uses soft bristles to sweep hardwood floors, agitate the carpet, and lift debris for collection. The secondary roller uses stiffer bristles to help keep the primary roller clean and to separate debris to prevent clogs.
The brush rollers work well, though they tend to get tangled with hair and strings easily. As anyone that has ever tried to get the string off of a vacuum brush roller before knows, tangles are a nuisance. The Roomba 960 answers this problem by using rubber-paddled bristle-free rollers.
The counter-rotating extractors still work to sweep hardwood flooring and agitate carpet fibers. They also lift, separate, and prevent clogging during collection. The difference (besides the lack of bristles) is that when tangles do happen, they only take seconds to remove instead of minutes.
As we know, both robots will automatically recharge when their battery level gets too low to continue cleaning. However, the Roomba 960 will use the mapping feature to mark where it left off. If the job isn’t complete, it will resume cleaning where it last was located.
The feature, known as Entire Level Cleaning or Recharge and Resume, isn’t available on the 690. The 960 will use the created map to know where it has cleaned and where it hasn’t. After the recharge cycle, the 960 will leave the Home Base and continue cleaning until the job is complete.
Full Bin Indicator
A small but useful feature is the full bin indicator. In the dust bin of the 960 is a sensor that is designed to tell the robot the bin is full. It has two settings that alert when it is almost full and needs to be emptied and when it is completely full.
When the first alert goes off, the 960 will alert you with a blinking trash can icon on the faceplate. The indicator is located just above and to the right of the Clean button. If the robot continues cleaning without the bin being emptied, the robot will shut down.
The Roomba 690 also has sensors in the bin to let it know the bin is full and to shut down to prevent damage or overheating. However, there is no indication on the robot to alert you that the bin is full.
Edge Cleaning Mode
One notable difference is that the 960 uses a feature known as Edge Cleaning Mode. This is a cleaning mode that will send the robot to the wall and have it move along the baseboards. The 960 will clean the edges without cleaning the rest of the room.
The 960 will navigate around the edge of the room until it encounters a doorway it cannot pass. Once this happens (or the robot makes a complete loop) it will stop the cleaning and return to the Home Base.
You should be aware that the edge cleaning is thorough but is also quite slow. The robot will move at a much slower pace to ensure a decent clean along your baseboards. It is recommended that you perform a full battery charge before running the robot in automatic mode to clean the rest of your floors.
Mapping & Navigation
The navigation technology is another difference you should be aware of. The Roomba 690 uses the original technology known as iAdapt. This technology allows the robots to move around your floors, avoiding obstacles and prevents falling off of ledges or stairs.
The 960 upgraded iAdapt to include a camera to aid in navigation, and to create a map of your floor plan. Using iAdapt 2.0, the 960 includes vSLAM (visual Simultaneous Location and Mapping). The camera takes thousands of low-resolution photos that the computer inside combines to create a 3-dimensional map.
The map is viewed through the smartphone app so you can keep tabs on the robot and the cleaning progress.
Multiple Cleaning Passes
The final feature difference is the utilization of cleaning passes. The Roomba 690 will only do a single pass through an area. It doesn’t have the technology or mapping ability to know where it has or hasn’t been.
The Roomba 960, though, will recognize the size of the room and automatically decide if a room needs more than one pass. Smaller rooms and areas will usually get two passes over each line, while larger zones will get a single pass.
If you need a deeper clean once in a while, you can use the app to enable multiple cleaning pass mode. The robot will do at least two passes over every line for the entire area. It isn’t recommended to use this feature often. It will take longer to clean the home, and the battery drains faster, requiring more recharge cycles per outing.
One advantage the 690 does have over the 960 is the price. You will find that there are significant savings with the purchase of the Roomba 690. Because of the dated technology and the release of newer robots, the price continues to drop.
If you have a smaller budget, or you don’t want to spend as much as a 960 will cost, the 690 is a viable option for those looking to aid in their floor cleaning chores.
Performance of the iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960
How do the two robots compare on various surfaces and cleaning situations? Let’s take a closer look at their performance.
When it comes to cleaning the carpeting in your home, both robots will do their job. The 690 will clean any area rug, throw, or wall-to-wall that is low or medium-pile. The 960 will also clean these carpet styles as well as high-pile carpets.
The main difference is the suction power and the rubber extractors of the 960, which perform much better than the 690 counterparts. With fewer tangles and more power, the 960 is superior when it comes to cleaning carpeting.
The two robots are equally matched on hardwood flooring. Both will take on any hard flooring without problems. While the 960 has more suction and will clean in a more human-like pattern, the debris and dust collection is about equal.
Where the 690 falls short is when it comes to softer surfaces. The brush bristles have been reported (although quite rare) to leave small scratches on softwood flooring and some sealants.
Pet Hair Removal
Where pet hair (or human hair, string) is concerned, the 690 is no match for the abilities of the 960. The rubber extractors are less likely to get snagged, tangled or clogged with pet hair, and when wrapped hair does happen, it takes mere seconds to remove.
The rubber paddles lift and separate pet hair with ease, allowing the robot to collect more hair and perform more thoroughly than the 690 can. If you have shedding pets and need the extra cleaning of the rubber extractors, the 960 is the right choice for you.
The size of your home will play a part in your final decision. For larger homes, houses with many rooms, or those that have a lot of floor-based obstacles (lamps, potted plants, etc.) the Roomba 960 is the better option.
With the Recharge & Resume feature, it doesn’t matter how large your floor plan is, the 960 will get the job done.
For smaller spaces such as apartments, condos, or single-family homes with few bedrooms, the 690 might be a better option.
Instead of paying for power and runtimes you won’t need or make use of, you can save a bit of cash and purchase the capable Roomba 690.
Roomba 690 vs. 960 Comparison Chart
Now take a look at how the two robots compare side-by-side to see if the one you are leaning towards has the features you need.
When making a purchase, you will have some extras included. For the 960 and the 690, the included items are almost the same.
When you open your box, besides the robot itself, you will get the Home Base charging station and power cord along with several other pieces. These include an extra filter and the owners manual as well as one dual-mode virtual wall barrier and batteries.
With the 690 you will get a cleaning tool to help clean the brush rollers. In the 960, though, there is no need for the cleaning tool, and instead, you will receive an extra side brush.
All of the necessary parts can be purchased again separately as they wear out. This includes the iRobot 1800 lithium-ion battery, filters, side brushes, and even new extractors. If you want more containment, you can find dual-mode virtual wall barriers in single or multiple-count packs.
How to Charge these Roomba Models
Both Roomba models will monitor their batteries and decide when there isn’t enough charge remaining to continue cleaning. When this happens, they will begin making their way back to the Home Base on their own and recharge as needed.
The Roomba 960 will resume cleaning after a charging cycle if it is needed, but the 690 will require a manual restart. When you first receive the robots, they will need to be placed on the Home Base manually. Once the initial charge is complete, you shouldn’t have to place them on the charging station again manually.
In some instances, though, the robots will die before making it back to the Home Base. If this happens to your robot, you place it on the Home Base yourself, and it will begin recharging.
Positioning the Roomba Home Base
Proper positioning of the Roomba Home Base is crucial to the functionality of the robots. If they cannot dock properly, they won’t be able to recharge their batteries. A robot with a dead battery won’t be able to run on a schedule.
To position the Home Base, there are a few simple guidelines to follow.
Tips for Using a Roomba
Regular use of your Roomba will keep it in tip-top shape. There are a few other suggestions to help you get the most out of your vacuum.
Roomba Maintenance Tips
It is crucial for the performance and longevity of your robot that you have a regular maintenance routine. The more diligent you are with maintenance, the less likely you are to have issues with the robot, and the longer your Roomba will last you.
Troubleshooting Your Roomba
From time to time, there may be an issue with the machine. When this happens, they will send out a trouble code. The 690 will beep at you while the 960 will beep as well as flash a trouble code icon on the LCD panel. The blinks or beeps will correspond to the issue at hand.
Use the chart below to identify which issue your Roomba has with suggestions on how to fix that particular issue.
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 battery
The battery needs to be replaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some questions that often come up about the Roomba 690, Roomba 960 and iRobot in general.
Does Roomba resume after charging?
Only Roomba models that use iAdapt 2.0 or iAdapt 3.0 can resume a cleaning session after recharging. This is because the Recharge & Resume feature requires a map for the robot to know where to return. The Roomba 690 will not resume after recharging. However, the Roomba 960 will continue a cleaning session.
Can a Roomba battery be replaced?
You most certainly can replace a battery in a Roomba. It is encouraged. When purchasing a new battery for replacement, though, you should ensure you buy the correct one. For the Roomba 690 and 960 models, the replacement battery is the iRobot 1800.
How do I reset a Roomba unit?
Resetting a Roomba to factory defaults is a simple process. For both the 690 and 960 you need to remove the robot from the Home Base (if it is docked) and then press and hold the Clean button for 10 seconds (20 for the 960). The robot will beep once you let go and the reset completes.
How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?
If you want to contact iRobot Roomba customer support, you can call toll-free 1-800-727-9077. For other contact methods, including the live chat option, you can see the customer support page.
Where are the best places to buy a Roomba 600 series?
The best place is Amazon when looking to buy from the 600 series. iRobot has authorized Amazon as a verified vendor and has its own shop there. Complete with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty, you can purchase through Amazon for expedited service (Amazon Prime eligible). You also get the backing of Amazon and easier return service if it is required.
Where can I buy Roomba replacement parts?
You can purchase Roomba replacement parts through Amazon. However, it is better to go through the iRobot accessories shop. Going through Amazon may result in a wrong item being purchased (an 3300mAh battery instead of the 1800mAH, for example.). Shopping on the iRobot website will ensure the right item number for your Roomba model is selected.
It is easy to see that the Roomba 960 is far more advanced and technologically capable compared to the Roomba 690. For larger homes, houses with pets and those looking for a more thorough clean, the choice is natural. The Roomba 960 is the right choice.
However, the Roomba 690 shouldn’t be overlooked. This fully capable machine is ideal for those on a tight budget, are looking for a second robot to help on a different floor, or for those that have less square feet of floor space.
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