Review of the iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum

We put the iRobot Roomba 690 through a lot of tests and this article will be the results and our review. The Roomba 690 is the cheapest Roomba from iRobot. It’s based on the old 650 design which was probably the best-selling robot vacuum of all time but the 690 is updated in the sense that they added Wi-Fi capability and app controls.

It’s not a smart navigation robot. You have to upgrade all the way to the 960 if you want it to clean in straight efficient lines. So the 690, like many cheaper robot vacuums, just randomly bounces around until it cleans the house. It’s fairly efficient for a random navigation bot, though, and though it did miss a spot in one of our tests, in general, it did what it was supposed to do, even when a lot of obstacles were introduced.

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We tested the air flow on the 690’s single power setting and was surprised to measure only 7 CFM, which is the lowest I’ve ever seen on a robot vacuum. For comparison, we measured the higher-end Roombas, like the 980 and the i7, at around 17 CFM on high, and in the case of the 980, which has two power settings, 12 CFM on low power. And even though the lack of airflow on the 690 does show up in a few ways as we’ll see, it’s not a total deal breaker because the 690 has decent cleaning mechanics.

For example, on our carpet pickup tests, it did excellent, picking up all the debris in the tests including fine debris, pet hair, and large to extra-large debris, though it did kick around and blow around pet hair with its exhaust quite a bit but not as bad as it did on hard floors. On hard floors, it, again, was able to pick up all the types and sizes of debris, including pet hair, but it did struggle a little bit with fine debris due to its low airflow. It did pick it up eventually but it took a few passes.

In general, though, it was very messy, kicking around debris with its fast side brush and blowing around debris with its exhaust. This is typical for even high-end Roombas, though, which tend to be more messy than other robots but it did seem a little worse with the 690.

With deep cleaning, we rubbed 100 grams of sand into a medium pile test carpet and weighed the bins before and after. The 690 picked up 62% of the embedded sand. Because I’m trying a new system with deep clean tests, I only have one other vacuum to compare it to right now which is the Roborock E25 which scored 74%. In general, robot vacuums are not all that great with deep cleaning carpet, but I suspect that the 690 will end up being one of the worst when we complete this series.

Its edge cleaning was also pretty bad. In fact, I can’t remember seeing a worse performance on this test. The same with a crevice pickup test, where, again, robot vacuums tend to struggle with anyway, but the 690 really didn’t seem to pick up anything at all.

It did have great battery life though. iRobot says the 690 can get an hour and a half or 90 minutes on one charge and this was the first robot we’ve tested that actually outperformed the specs getting about 99 minutes on one charge. But the downside is that because of the random navigation it really needs that extra time since it’s far less efficient than a smart navigation bot with a more systematic cleaning process.

It wasn’t too loud, about 72 decibels, which isn’t as bad as the more powerful Roomba 980, but it’s not exactly whisper quiet either. The dustbin is really small even for a Roomba at 0.3 liters which we measured at about one dry cup. Compare that to the Roomba 980 at one in three quarter cups or the Neato D7 or D3 at two and a half cups. The bin is easy to remove and not terribly difficult to empty but you need to be very careful when picking up the robot since, if you tilt it the wrong way, it will spill out due to the design of the dustbin.

It does come with one virtual wall barrier which can be set to a circular perimeter or a straight line to prevent the robot from going where you don’t want it to go and the app is good for basic tasks like scheduling cleanings getting status alerts and starting and stopping cleanings. But it doesn’t have a mapping feature like you get with the smart navigation Roombas.

So I would say that while the 650 and its successor, the Roomba 690, were amazing feats of achievement back when there wasn’t that much competition, these days with even cheaper robot vacuums getting more powerful and having smart navigation, the iRobot Roomba 690 is really not a great value in our opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it does the job, and Roombas are built like tanks, they have excellent customer service, and easy to find cheap parts, but if I were you, I would continue watching this series as I’m sure you’ll find a robot vacuum that you will like a lot better than the 690.

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