When it comes to keeping your floors clean efficiently and conveniently, you can do a lot better than Roomba. The 890 and 960 represent some of the best the brand has to offer, and both have a real leg up on competitors. With that said, however, the 960 certainly comes out on top when comparing the iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960.
With more technology and a whole host of additional features, there’s no denying that the 960 is one of the best smart vacuums on the market. That’s not to say that the 890 isn’t an excellent cleaner in its own right, however, and it has definitely garnered great reviews from many happy homeowners.
Below we break down the differences between the two smart vacuums to hopefully help make your decision a little bit easier. Read on below for the full picture, or use the navigation bar below to jump to the areas that interest you most!
iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960 — Things in Common
iHome App – With how important the Internet has become for the technology that most of us have lying around our home, it’s important that our devices can connect to our network to offer the best possible features and convenience. Your smart vacuum should be able to integrate into a smart home, and both the Roomba 890 and 960 can do just that through the iHome app.
The iHome app is free to download for both Android and iOS, and is the primary way that you’ll control your vacuum. Create and delete schedules, direct your robot to start spot cleaning, and even give your vacuum its own name through one convenient app.
The app also provides useful statistics like such as battery life remaining and charging time, and can even let you control your Roomba while away from home. Set your vacuum to start cleaning while you’re away at work and come home to immaculate floors, it’s as simple as that!
AeroForce Vacuum Tech – Both the Roomba 890 and 960 use AeroForce vacuum technology, which is the company’s most recent cleaning system. It’s a significantly upgraded system from earlier models, leading to a deeper and more efficient clean with either model.
Virtual Wall Barriers – Another advantage that the 890 and 960 have over some of their competitors is their support for dual mode virtual Wall Barriers.
Setting your Roomba up on a schedule and letting it handle the vacuuming on its own is one of the biggest perks of owning the smart vacuum, but what if there are areas you wish to block off? For one reason or another, there are certain areas that some homeowners may wish to keep their vacuum from entreating, and they can do just that using virtual Wall Barriers.
These barriers are little nodes that you can set up in one of two ways.
Wall barrier mode will emit a beam that the Roomba vacuum can pick up with its sensors. When you place it in the entrance to area where the vacuum would naturally clean, it will cause your 890 or 960 to turn around and avoid the area as soon as it detects that it’s unwelcome. It’s a great way to keep fragile items safe or block of a particularly messy room that the Roomba might have trouble navigating over.
But what if there’s just a specific place within your room that you’d like your vacuum to bypass? That’s where radius mode comes into play. As the name suggests, in this mode the mode will project a bean in a diameter around a specific object – essentially forcing the Roomba to correct course and navigate around this circular blocked spot.
Manual Schedule – One of the most useful perks of these Roomba vacuums comes in their ability to support scheduling. You’ll be able to set your vacuum to clean up to once a day, 7 days a week, and you can do so either in the iHome app or on the 890 or 960 unit itself.
Full Bin Indicators – Having a robot cleaner is excellent by default, but it becomes a whole lot less convenient if you have to keep manually checking the vacuum after every clean to make sure it’s not full of dust and debris.
With full bin indicators, your 890 or 960 will provide an audible alert when the dustbin is full – taking any guesswork out of the equation.
Spot Cleaning Mode – Most of your Roomba’s cleaning will probably be handled through the schedule you set, but what if there’s a specific area that needs a little extra attention? In an ideal world, regular cleanings would be enough to keep your floors pristine, but add kids or a pet into the equation and there are bound to be some unexpected messes that need cleaning.
Both the 890 and 960 can take care of this problem through spot cleaning mode. When activated through the iHome app, you can choose a specific area that needs extra cleaning. Your Roomba will then leave its scheduled cleaning and go directly to the area in question, spinning in circles that cover around 3 feet beyond the dirty spot to ensure it remains clean. Once the vacuum sensors detect that there is no more dirt or debris, your Roomba will pick its assigned cleaning back up right where it left off.
Brush-less Debris Extractors – Accompanying the newer AeroForce technology on the 890 and 960 is the elimination of traditional brushes in favor of brushless debris extractors.
Traditional brushes do a good job of keeping floors clean, but they are not without issues. While picking up dust and debris, they can potentially get tangled on stuff like pet hair, fringes, and carpet tassels. This leads to situations where you need to frequently unclog the brushes in the vacuum, and it’s not exactly an easy or pleasant process!
By swapping out brushes for a brushless debris extraction system, the 890 and 960 use rollers to agitate dust and knock it into the path of their powerful suction. That’s not to say that this system is completely tangle-proof, but you’ll have to deal with clogs far less often and it will be far easier to address in the event that you do.
Lithium-ion Battery Packs – Some older models of Roomba used battery packs that weren’t super efficient – leading to shorter run times and more time spent charging between scheduled cleanings.
The 890 and 960 trade out this outdated tech for lithium-ion batteries, meaning your vacuum will spend more time cleaning and less time heading back to the charging station. And when it does need to charge, it will do so much faster, leaving it ready and waiting for any spot cleaning tasks that might arise.
Voice Control – Voice control really makes it feel like we are living in the future, and being able to control smart technology with simple spoken commands is super convenient and enjoyable. The 890 and 960 take part in that action, with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Using an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you’ll be able to start, stop, pause, resume and locate your robotic vacuum, as well as get a report on its status – all through the power of your voice.
iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960 — Differences
Difference #1: Camera – While there are a lot of similarities when comparing the Roomba 890 vs 960, it’s pretty clear that the two vacuums aren’t created equal. One way in which that is readily apparent is in the 960’s inclusion of a camera.
The camera on the 960 is super low resolution so you won’t have to worry about it spying on you, but it does make a significant difference in the vacuums ability to read a room and map out an efficient path for cleaning.
Using sensors and the camera, your Roomba 960 will create a digital map of your space. That map is then used in order to complete a scheduled cleaning or navigate to specific points in the home for spot cleaning.
The camera is also continually scanning the area for obstacles, which means that the 960 does a much better job of avoiding bumping into things than the 890 does.
Long story short, the 960 is much more efficient when it comes to learning your home and avoiding obstacles. It certainly makes the device feel significantly more intelligent than the 890.
Difference #2: iAdapt – Another way in which the 960 outpaces the 890 and many other older models is through the newer mapping technology.
The 960 uses iAdapt 2.0 while the 890 uses older and less efficient iAdapt 1.0 software.
While the camera on the 960 is a large part of why it’s able to navigate so much more efficiently, the onboard navigation and mapping software is also a major contributor.
Simply put, iAdapt technology allows the onboard sensors to detect things like walls, obstacles, stairs, and more. It’s also a major contributor in the Roomba’s ability to detect if it has been trapped on something like fringe or a cord, and will prompt the rollers to run backwards to try to free itself.
Both the 890 and 960 can do everything mentioned above, but the upgraded software on the latter works in tandem with the camera to help it detect obstacles much earlier. This means your robot will spend less time bumping into obstacles since it can correct for any errors far sooner, which is a major contributor in this model’s more efficient cleaning.
Difference #3: Clean Map Report – Your Roomba will spend a good amount of time covering the entirety of your home to make sure all the floors are swept clean, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to track its progress?
The 960 offers a Clean Map Report feature that will allow you to see where your vacuum has already covered and where it has yet to be. The iHome app will also give you easy access to a battery level as well as information on where it spent more time – perhaps if there was a particularly soiled area or if it got stuck.
The location feature and battery readout is also quite useful if your Roomba runs out of charge if it got itself trapped or couldn’t find the base, as it allows you to easily locate the device.
All in all, while not a crucial feature by any means, it makes keeping track of your little robot friend a little bit more convenient and information-rich.
Difference #4: Multiple Pass Control – By default, your Roomba will only make a single pass over an area. Because they are so effective at cleaning, this is generally enough to get the job done. However, it’s always nice to be able to direct your vacuum to double back on an area that it’s already cleaned, and that’s possible on the 960 through Multiple Pass Control.
When you adjust the setting, your Roomba will clean each area twice rather than once – leading to a more thorough and deeper clean.
There is no such option on the 890.
Difference #5: Full Bin Indicator Continuous Cleaning – Since both robots have a notification when their dust bins are full, you should never be left guessing as to when your vacuum needs some attention. However, daily life can sometimes get in the way and make it difficult to come to your Roomba’s rescue.
The 960 is actually able to continue cleaning when the bin is full, which gives you a little leeway as to when you take the time to empty the dust and debris. Through a setting in the iHome app, you can prompt your 960 to either stop immediately when full or keep on cleaning.
The 890 has no such option, and will stop wherever it happens to be as soon as that notification sounds.
Difference #6: Resume Cleaning After a Recharge – While both the 890 and 960 have an impressive battery life due to the lithium-ion technology, they are bound to need a charge during a cleaning at one point or another. However, only the 960 has the ability to resume cleaning once it’s topped itself back off.
With the 890, you’ll have to manually tell it to start cleaning again using the iHome app or through pressing a button on the device itself, which makes it a lot more difficult to just ignore the Roomba as it gets your home clean.
Long story short, it’s much easier to take a completely hands-off approach to cleaning with the 960 when compared to the older 890.
Difference #7: Edge Cleaning Mode – Every Roomba vacuum has side brushes that will clean along the edges of furniture, as well as on walls and in corners in order to knock debris from hard-to-reach places into the path of the suction. In most cases, this should be more than enough to keep your entire room clean. However, the 960 takes things a step further with a dedicated edge cleaning mode.
When you activate edge cleaning mode, your Roomba will run around the edges of the space for a more thorough cleaning of just the edges. If you feel that your vacuum hasn’t done an adequate job getting into all the various nooks and crannies around the perimeter of your room, the 960 offers a solution to the problem that just isn’t present on the 890.
Difference #8: Battery Life – Both Roomba vacuums have a decent battery life, but the 960 does come out ahead with a 75 minute runtime on a single charge when compared to the 60 minutes on the 890.
It’s important to note that these run times aren’t a hard and fast rule, and you may end up getting a significantly shorter charge depending on the conditions in your home and how hard your vacuum has to work. For example, edge cleaning mode on the 960 is a much slower process and will drain your battery much quicker than normal operation.
But what’s more important than the battery life disparity between the two models is the way that they handle running out of juice. SInce the 960 is able to charge itself and then pick up where it left off, it has an even stronger lead than the 890 that needs to be prompted to resume its cleaning duties.
All in all, the 960 both runs longer and can resume charging once it finishes its charge, which puts the 60 minute runtime of the 890 to shame.
iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960 — Comparison Chart
|iRobot Roomba 890||iRobot Roomba 960|
|iRobot Home App||Yes||Yes|
|IR Remote Control||No||No|
|Recharge & Resume||No||Yes|
|Run Time||Up to 120 minutes||Up to 75 minutes|
|3-Stage Cleaning System||10x Suction||5x Suction|
|Carpet Boost Mode||No||No|
|Virtual Wall Barrier||Comes w/ 1||Comes w/ 1|
|Virtual Wall Lighthouses||No||No|
|Voice Control||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant|
|Diameter||13.9 inches||13.8 inches|
|Height||3.6 inches||3.6 inches|
|Weight||8.4 lbs.||8.5 lbs.|
iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960 — Accessories
All you really need for a more convenient clean is the 860 or 960 itself, but there are also some accessories you might want to consider to keep your vacuum in tip top condition or make day to day operation more efficient.
For both the 890 and 960, we recommend looking into the Roomba 800 and 900 Series Replenishment Kit. This package contains multiple filters, brushes, and extractors that essentially sets you up for quite a while with all the tools you need to make repairs.
The 890 does have a smaller battery than the 960 and a less efficient runtime, but you can somewhat remedy that disparity by purchasing the iRobot XLife Extended Life Battery or Roomba 3300 Lithium Ion Battery.
For the 960, we recommend purchasing an additional Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier if you have extra spaces you want to block off from your Roomba, or perhaps another Integrated Home Base for more choices for docking.
iRobot Roomba 890 vs. 960 — Our Thoughts
Ultimately, it’s pretty clear that the newer model has the advantage when we compare Roomba 890 vs 960. With that said, we don’t think it’s a good idea to write off the 890 completely.
At its core, the 890 is a good vacuum with many of the necessary features that make a smart robot cleaner so great. The AeroForce filtration system is still there and does an impressive job, and some testing actually showed that it did a slightly better job at getting floors clean. It’s safe to say that the actual cleaning of the robot shouldn’t be called into question, and it’s available at a significantly lower price than the newer 960.
While the two devices might be equal in cleaning prowess, however, the 960 is objectively a lot more “smart.” With the ability to intelligently map out floors, run for longer on a single charge, and even resume its cleaning once it has topped itself off, it’s frankly a much more convenient device to own.
To sum it all up, either device does an excellent job when it comes to cleaning, with the differences in actually getting your floors clean being pretty minor. The 960 introduces a huge number of quality of life features, however – many of which make the cleaning incredibly efficient.
It’s up to you whether the added convenience of the 960 is worth the extra cost, but in our opinion they are just too good to pass up.
- iRobot Roomba 890
- iRobot Roomba 960
Let us know what you think!
Have you noticed other differences between iRobot Roomba 890 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 2019-04-18 at 14:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API