iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Differences Explained

iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960

What sort of features are you looking for when shopping for a smart vacuum? Your primary consideration is probably convenience and the performance of the model, but it can be difficult to figure out the best suit for your home with the dozens of models that now flood the market. Some users prioritize the best of the best when it comes to features, and others are looking for a more basic model that gets the job done without breaking the bank. Today we take a look at one model in each camp — the iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960.

The Roomba 690 is one of the more budget-friendly options in the Roomba lineup. It offers good performance, WiFi connectivity, and even voice control in an attractively priced package. The 960, on the other hand, offers superior cleaning performance, smart mapping of your home, and a whole host of other features that make it one of the top options on the market.

There’s no doubt that the 960 is the superior vacuum model in terms of cleaning, convenience, and features, but are all those bells and whistles worth the extra price? Let’s break down the similarities and differences between the two models to help you figure out which robot vacuum is worth the buy.

iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Things in Common

  • iHome App – Some older Roomba models aren’t able to connect to the internet, which limits the amount of control you have over the vacuum. Fortunately, the 690 and 960 are both among the models that do support a WiFi connection. This capability allows them to use the iHome app, which offers an intuitive interface you can use to adjust settings and issue commands to your Roomba.

    One of the biggest benefits that the iHome app offers is the ability to control your Roomba from wherever you have an internet connection. While some models force you to be within 15 feet in order to control the vacuum, you’ll have equal control over your 690 or 960 whether you’re sitting on the couch or halfway across the country! It’s especially useful for when you’re out and about and want to come home to a clean house, as you can adjust the schedule or start a manual cleaning from wherever you happen to be.

    Long story short, the iHome app is a super useful utility that makes controlling your vacuum easy and flexible.

  • Lithium-ion Battery Packs – With the more recent vacuum models, iRobot has opted to replace their older battery technology with Lithium-ion Battery Packs. This technology makes for longer runtimes and faster charging, which means your Roomba will spend more time cleaning and less time heading back to its dock!

  • Auto Recharge Control – Speaking of the dock, your Roomba 690 and 960 are able to detect when they are running low on battery and return to their docks by themselves. You’ll never have to worry about your vacuum running itself down to empty since it will sense the low charge and fix the issue itself.

  • Spot Cleaning Mode – Most of the time, you’ll be fine letting your Roomba run off of its own schedule. But what if there’s a specific area of the room that needs a deep clean? The support for the iHome app opens up the door for another useful utility: Spot Cleaning Mode.

    One you activate this mode, you can direct your Roomba to a specific area of the room that needs some extra attention. Once the vacuum reaches its destination, it will make several circular passes in a three-foot diameter around the spot. The Roomba’s sensors will be able to tell when the floor is clean, and it will automatically resume its normal schedule immediately afterwards.

    Spot Cleaning is a super useful utility that is great for cleaning up in high traffic areas, or even for mopping up a mess from the kids!

  • Voice Control – The WiFi capabilities of the Roomba 690 and 960 truly make for an intelligent vacuum, and that’s easily noticeable with support for voice control through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

    It’s now possible to control your vacuum using voice commands through your Amazon Echo or Google Home. It’s a great utility to have available for a quick spot clean or to start a manual vacuuming session when the living room needs some extra attention ahead of your friends and family dropping by.

    Having the option to quickly issue commands to the Roomba is super helpful when you have your hands full — both figuratively and literally. It’s a major advantage that these models and other WiFi connected Roomba devices have over non-internet-connected devices.

  • Virtual Wall Barriers – Last but not least, the Roomba 690 and 960 both support Virtual Wall Barriers. Most of the time, it makes sense to give your Roomba free rein of your floors in order to tackle dust and debris in every nook and cranny. With that said, you may have areas that you wish to keep off limits for vacuuming — and that’s where Virtual Wall Barriers come into play.

    These nodes are placed strategically near entryways you want blocked off, and they will keep your Roomba contained in the area you desire. The barriers also offer the option to provide a “halo” around a 4 foot area, which is great for keeping your vacuum away from breakables.


iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Differences

iRobot Roomba 960 - Extra - 04

  • Difference #1: iAdapt Sensor Technology – There are a lot of similarities when comparing the roomba 960 vs. 690, but there are also a significant number of differences — the first of which being different generations of iAdapt Sensor Technology.

    The 690 is an older model of vacuum. As such, it uses the original iAdapt sensor technology in order to navigate around your room. While this tech certainly does a passable job, it definitely has its drawbacks. Rather than mapping out your room and calculating the most efficient path, your Roomba 690 will vacuum in a seemingly random manner.

    With newer models like the 960, iRobot significantly upgraded the vacuum’s capabilities with iAdapt sensor technology 2.0. The updated sensors do a much better job of vacuuming intelligently, taking a much more deliberate path that is remarkably similar to how a human might vacuum. Your Roomba will clean in straight lines and provide a more thorough coverage of the space overall.

    Long story short, the 960 is a significant upgrade over the 690 when it comes to intelligently vacuuming a room in a predictable and efficient manner.

  • Difference #2: Camera & Memory Mapping – We talked about how the 960 vacuums intelligently, but let’s spend some time talking about how exactly the Roomba navigates your home to provide the perfect clean.

    In order to avoid obstacles and navigate around your home, the 690 relies on physical and acoustic sensors. This technology is pretty reliable when it comes to keeping the Roomba from bumping into tables or walls, but there’s really no technology to keep your vacuum from doing so again.

    The 960 addresses this issue through a feature called memory mapping. While the 690 relies on simple physical and acoustic sensors to move throughout your home, the 960 actually has a built-in camera that uses VSLAM technology to intelligently map the room. This allows your Roomba to detect obstacles and even tell whether or not it can pass underneath them in order to avoid contact or damage.

    Essentially, the 960 does a much better job not only at detecting obstacles, but also at analyzing the best way to approach them and learning the layout of your home for better cleaning in the future.

  • Difference #3: Resume Cleaning After a Recharge – Both the 690 and 960 can recognize when they are low on charge, but the latter has a significant advantage in that it can resume cleaning after a recharge.

    The 690 will return to the hub in order to top itself back off, but it won’t automatically resume cleaning. You’ll have to manually start the schedule again using the iHome app or a button on the device itself once it reaches a full charge.

    The 960, on the other hand, will return to the dock when its batteries are low and then start the vacuuming right where it left off as soon as it reaches full charge.

    Ultimately, the 960 is a much better model for those who truly want a hands-off experience, as your vacuum will be smart enough both to recharge when the battery runs low and pick up the cleaning once again as soon as it’s able.

  • Difference #4: Vacuuming Technology – Since the 960 is a new model, it also has the advantage of having an updated vacuuming technology.

    The 690 features AeroVac technology, which uses a bristle style brushroll and a curved filter. The 960, on the other hand, uses dual rubber debris extractors and a small, more efficient HEPA filter.

    The filter makes a big difference, but the most notable change between the AeroVac and the 960’s updated AeroForce technology is in the way that it picks up dirt. The brushroll on the 690 is certainly efficient, but it can often get clogged when dealing with significant amounts of pet hair or other pesky debris. The rubber extractors on the newer Roomba have a significant advantage in that they agitate debris enough that it is knocked up into the path of suction — avoiding the tangling that seems to happen so frequently with the more traditional brushrolls.

    In addition to the more efficient extractors and filters, iRobot claims that the updated AeroForce system has a significantly improved motor and up to 50% better cleaning performance compared to vacuums running the older AeroVac system.

  • Difference #5: Filtration – Roombas do a good job of cleaning your floors, but any vacuum can agitate dust which can potentially cause a problem for those with allergies. Both the 690 and 960 feature filtration that pretty much eliminates this issue, although they do so in different ways and with different levels of effectiveness.

    The 690 uses micro-filtration through an AeroVac filter in order to eliminate 99 percent of dust and allergens in the home. However, it isn’t capable of blocking microscopic substances like pollen that can often cause a significant issue for those with bad seasonal allergies.

    The 960 offers superior filtration through an anti-allergen HEPA filter. While both models do a good enough job at filtering to meet the needs of most any homeowner, there’s no denying that the newer model goes above and beyond when it comes to filtering out allergens.

  • Difference #6: Extractors – Since the 690 uses AeroVac technology rather than the updated AeroForce system, it uses a more traditional counter-rotating bristle extractor rather than the brushless rollers of the 960.

    What this means in practical terms is that the 960 is much more resilient to tangles and clogs from pet hair and other debris. That’s not to say that you won’t ever have to clean the vacuum out, but you should need to do so far less frequently, and the process should be much easier overall without any bristles to worry about.

    While both vacuums do a great job of getting your floors clean, the 960 takes the cake due to the ease of maintenance and the fewer instances of actually needing it. Your 690 will need to be looked after far more often just due to the way that the bristles are designed.

  • Difference #7: Full Bin Indicator – Part of the appeal of the Roomba vacuums is the ability to pretty much forget about them and let them clean your home on a daily basis. However, the dust and debris from cleaning gets deposited in a bin that will need to be emptied from time to time.

    The 690 does not have a full bin indicator so you’ll need to check it pretty regularly to make sure the container isn’t full. Conversely, the 960 will provide an audible alert when the bin needs to be changed.

    Essentially, this means that it’s much easier to maintain the 960 on a day to day basis. Rather than having to check frequently to make sure the bin isn’t overflowing, you’ll be able to leave the vacuum alone until it’s truly time to empty.

  • Difference #8: Edge Cleaning Mode – Both the 690 and the 960 are equipped with side brushes that do a pretty good job at cleaning the edges and corners of the room. However, the 960 takes things a step further with an Edge Cleaning Mode that will specifically target out hard to reach areas and pay attention to them separately.

    When you activate this feature, your Roomba will specifically run along the edges of the mapped area in order to provide a more slower cleaning. One thing to keep in mind with these mode is that the robot cleaner will run slower due to the more thorough vacuuming, so the battery life will diminish more quickly.

    Simply put, the 960 does a much better job at keeping hard to reach areas clean and well-maintained.

  • Difference #9: Multiple Pass Control – One of the coolest features that was first introduced with the 960 model robots is Multiple Pass Control.

    Both Roombas do a good job of getting your floors thoroughly vacuumed during their scheduled cleanings, but what if a certain area needs extra attention? Perhaps you have pets that shed a lot or children who make an excessive mess in the kitchen or dining room. Sometimes simply being a high traffic area is enough for a room to accumulate an extra helping of dust and debris. Multiple Pass offers a solution to that problem, allowing you to instruct your vacuum to pass over an area a second time for a more thorough clean.

    You can set pass control to be triggered manually, but what’s really cool is the default Automatic setting. Your Roomba will be able to tell when an area is especially dirty on its own using its sensors, and make a multiple pass without any input from you whatsoever.

    The 690, unfortunately, does not support multiple passes. You can tell it to spot clean, but that’s really no substitute for this useful feature.

  • Difference #10: Noise – In testing using a decibel meter and standing around 3 feet away from the vacuum, the 690 was slightly louder than the 960. This might not make a significant difference in the grand scheme of things since the difference isn’t significant, but it may be worth taking into account for those who really want to make sure they have a quieter vacuum.

    With that said, both vacuums are relatively noisy and may hamper your ability to watch TV or hold a conversation. We recommend setting your schedule to have the Roomba clean while you’re away from home in order to avoid an interruption to your day.

  • Difference #11: Battery Life – Last but not least, there’s a noticeable difference between the 690 and 960. While the disparity isn’t as large as comparing a Lithium-Ion battery to the older battery tech in earlier Roomba models, the 960 will run about 15 minutes longer with a 75 minute runtime versus 60 minutes. The batteries also take about 2-3 hours to fully charge.

    It’s actually possible to replace the battery on either device for a longer runtime, and it’s relatively inexpensive too — especially if you go with a non-iRobot brand.

    With that said, when comparing the roomba 690 vs. roomba 960, it’s clear that the latter comes out on top when it comes to battery capacity and runtime.

Sale iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum-Wi-Fi Connectivity, Works with Alexa, Good for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors, Self-Charging
Sale iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors

iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Comparison Chart

iRobot Roomba 690iRobot Roomba 960
iAdaptYesYes, 2.0
iRobot Home AppYesYes
IR Remote ControlNoNo
Recharge & ResumeNoYes
Run TimeUp to 60 minuteUp to 75 minutes
On-board CameraNoYes
Brushless MechanismNoYes
Edge-Sweeping BrushYesYes
3-Stage Cleaning System5x Suction5x Suction
Carpet Boost ModeNoNo
Virtual Wall BarrierComes w/ 1Comes w/ 1
Virtual Wall LighthousesNoNo
Avoids StairsYesYes
Cleaning SchedulesYesYes
Coverage MapsNoYes
Voice ControlAlexa, Google AssistantAlexa, Google Assistant
Diameter13.0 inches13.8 inches
Height3.7 inches3.6 inches
Weight7.8 lbs.8.5 lbs.

iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Accessories

iRobot Roomba Integrated Dock Charger

All you really need to get your cleaning robot up and running is included in the box itself. With that said, there are some additional accessories that you might want to consider purchasing in order to better maintain your vacuum over its lifetime.

The 690 and 960 are durable little devices, but with daily cleanings it’s inevitable that parts will wear out and need replacing. For the 690, we recommend investing in the Side brush 3-pack to keep this crucial part of the 3-step cleaning system intact. Another worthwhile buy is the Roomba 600 & 500 Series Filter to replacing the included filter as it starts to lose effectiveness. For more flexible docking options, consider purchasing the Compact Home Base.

The 960 also has some useful products for maintenance, and they even come in a convenient package with everything you need included. The Roomba 800 and 900 Series Replenishment Kit offers 3 high-efficiency filters, two side brushes, and a replacement extraction setup for when the rubber rollers start to go. Just like the 690, there’s also an Integrated Home Base option to give your Roomba another convenient place to park itself.


iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960 — Our Thoughts

iRobot Roomba 690 - Extra - 01

When comparing the 690 vs. 960, it’s immediately apparent that the 960 is the superior device. With a whole host of intelligent features due to updated technology and more efficient cleaning from rubber rollers that replace traditional brushes, it just does a better job overall at delivering a comprehensive smart vacuuming experience.

With that said, you have to compare the 690 and 960 with one major point in mind: the price. If cost is no concern, we highly recommend the 960. For most of us, however, a robot vacuum is a significant investment as is — and the newer Roomba models are significantly more expensive than previous generations.

When you dig past all the bells and whistles on the 960, does it really deliver a much better clean than the older 690? In testing it didn’t seem like there was a significant increase in performance with the newer Roomba. There were definitely disparities in how well the vacuum was able to navigate a room, but when it comes down to actually picking up dirt and debris, the two models are surprisingly similar. It’s important not to discount the benefits that superior navigation offer, but the 690 definitely performs admirably given its far more affordable pricing.

Ultimately, it’s a little difficult to say which product is truly the better buy. It’s really going to depend on what is most important to you when shopping for a new vacuum. If you’re looking for the ultimate in convenience and a truly hands-off experience, the 960 is likely the perfect fit for you. If you’re looking to save some cash and still get a Roomba that gets the job done, however, the 690 is certainly a viable entry-level option.

Our Score:
  • iRobot Roomba 690
  • iRobot Roomba 960
4.7

Let us know what you think!

Have you noticed other differences between iRobot Roomba 690 vs. 960? Feel free to add them or share your experience with the products in the comments section below. Your input can help other people make the right choice!


Last update on 2019-05-25 at 11:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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