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iLife vs. Roomba

Derek HalesBy Derek Hales
Updated December 20, 2017

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This comparison is going to look at iLife vs. Roomba. Both of these vacuums are strong contenders and offer quality cleans, but have a few key differences. While iLife takes the budget approach, and comes in at only $219, Roomba brings more technology and features to the table. So iLife vs. Roomba — are the extra features worth the extra costs?

This vacuum review is going to dive into each of these robots, assessing everything from cleaning performance, features, and accessories to size, noise, value, and more. Which vacuum will take the crown? Keep reading this vacuum review to find out in today’s showdown of iLife vs. Roomba.

Roomba 690 robot vacuum review

Roomba vs. iLife: Which Is Better?

While both vacuums offer solid cleaning performance, scheduled cleanings, and other features, the Roomba 690 performed better on carpet and had more bells-and-whistles like wifi connectivity and virtual wall barriers for enhanced navigation. Overall, we feel the Roomba 690 simply offers more than the iLife A4s robot vacuum.

iLife Review

The iLife A4s robot vacuum is a budget-friendly robot vacuum that is designed for up to 140 minutes of cleaning power. This robot vacuum also comes with a remote control for maintaining cleaning cycles and scheduling. The iLife’s round shape makes for easy maneuverability, and its spinning side brushes help to capture dirt and debris from edges and corners.

iLife A4s robot vacuum review

Pros

  • There are several cleaning modes available.
  • It’s a budget-friendly option at around $200.

Cons

  • Struggles on high pile carpets.
  • There is no wifi connectivity available.

Bottom Line

The iLife A4s is a simple robot that lacks bells and whistles, but comes in at a good price. In addition, the “MAX” power mode is a nice feature for deeper carpet cleanings. Bonuses like this are not commonly found on less expensive models like this.

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Score

Roomba Review

The Roomba 690 is iRobot’s top of the line model within their Roomba 600 series. Roomba’s 600 series is more affordable in the $250-$325 range. This robot vacuum has an easy to use “CLEAN” button as well as wifi connectivity. It uses a central brushroll and spinning side brush to perform a cleaning cycle. In addition, a HEPA filter helps ensure file particles are captured for disposal.

iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum review

Pros

  • Can be controlled via your smartphone.
  • Dirt detection helps find and eliminate debris.

Cons

  • The 13″ diameter makes it a bit wider.
  • Has longer cleaning cycles.

Bottom Line

The Roomba 690 provides a nice clean, but lacks the fancy bells and whistles of newer Roombas. That being said, the 690 offers excellent cleaning performance per dollar and the lowest cost to maintain we’ve tested to date.

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Score

iLife Design

The iLife A4s takes on a sleek and simple look; using a soft gray for the body and a thin chrome accent to highlight the on / off button. A darker gray forms the edge of this vacuum and wraps the front with a soft bumper to protect the vacuum as well as your furniture.

There is a remote control that comes with this robot vacuum that has additional settings and preferences.

  1. On / Off  button
  2. Bumper
iLife A4s robot vacuum overview

iLife A4s – design overview

Roomba Design

The design of the Roomba 690 is also modern and simple. It uses a light gray and black for the body with bright green to highlight special features– such as the handle and dust bin release.

You can start a cycle with the “CLEAN” button directly on the vacuum. For wireless control, you could also use the remote control or wifi connectivity for enhanced usability.

  1. On / Off Clean
  2. Handle
  3. Bumper
  4. Dust bin release
iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum features

iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum – features

How iLife Cleans

The iLife A4s cleans using one of five different cleaning styles pre-programmed into the vacuum. These modes include mini-room, edge, spot, scheduled, and auto. Regardless of the cleaning style, the iLife is programmed to clean using a three-stage process: SWEEP the edges using the spinning brushes, ROLL the dirt and debris with the central brushroll, and SUCK it all up.

When running a cleaning cycle, you can either manually select the cleaning style or put it on auto, through which the iLife will decide for itself what cleaning cycle is best for the space.

  1. Wheels
  2. Spinning brushes
  3. Charging pins
  4. Brushroll
  5. Dust bin release

iLife A4s robot vacuum how it cleans annotated

iLife A4s robot vacuum – how it cleans

 

How Roomba Cleans

A combination of rolling debris extractor brush, spinning brushes, and central suction come together as the Roomba 690’s core cleaning technology. Roomba uses dirt detection technology to spot clean heavy traffic areas. Any other cleaning cycle is completed by Roomba automatically adjusting, with pre-programmed cleaning modes.

Roomba’s cleaning process is nearly identical to that of the iLife, using the side sweeping brush, the central brushroll, and the vacuum suction. To navigate, Roomba uses infrared light to sense space and detect obstacles. 

  1. Wheels
  2. Spinning brush
  3. Charging pins
  4. Brushroll
  5. Dust bin release
irobot roomba 690 how it cleans

Roomba 690 robot vacuum – how it cleans

iLife Size & Dimensions

The iLife A4s robot vacuum is a bit on the smaller size at only 12″ in diameter with a 3″ max height. This makes it a little easier to squeeze under tight furniture or around difficult obstacles.

  • Diameter – 12″
  • Height – 3″

iLife A4s robot vacuum size comparison review

Roomba Size & Dimensions

The Roomba 690 is a bit taller than the iLife, at 3.6″ tall (compared to 3″). Additionally, it’s a bit wider at 13″. The slightly larger size could prevent it from squeezing under certain obstacles within your home.

  • Diameter – 13″
  • Height – 3.6″

Roomba 690 robot vacuum size dimensions

iLife Accessories & Parts

The iLife A4s comes with the following parts and accessories:

  1. Charging base – When low battery, the iLife will return to the charger.
  2. Remote control – Allows remote control of cleaning settings and preferences.
  3. (4) Spinning brushes – Sweeps dirt and debris from edges and corners into the main cleaning path.
  4. Cleaning tool – Used to maintain the vacuum and prevent dust or particle build-up.
  5. (2) HEPA filters – Helps trap fine particles and allergens.

Regarding accessories, the iLife A4s comes with everything you need to get going and a few replacement parts. The iLife does not include any virtual barriers. 

iLife A4s robot vacuum parts & accessories

iLife A4s robot vacuum – accessories

Roomba Accessories & Parts

The Roomba 690 comes with the following parts and accessories:

  1. Virtual wall barrier – Block Roomba from cleaning areas in your home by using an infrared light beam, invisible to the naked eye, but detectable to Roomba.
  2. Charging base When the Roomba is below 15%, it returns to the charging base automatically.
  3. HEPA filter – This is an internal filter that captures ultra-fine particulates.
  4. Cleaning tool – You can use this to clean the fine nooks and crannies of the Roomba.

The inclusion of the virtual wall barrier is a nice addition to the Roomba 690 package, making it easier for Roomba to navigate difficult spaces or contain Roomba in a single room without doors.

iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum accessories

iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum – accessories

Cleaning Tests

The following vacuum cleaner tests are designed to show how the iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum cleaner performs on different surfaces, picking up a variety of debris types. We test on three different floor types, including hardwood floors, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. For each floor type, we test the vacuum cleaner against:

  • Rice – 3 ounces
  • Dry Cereal – 1 ounce
  • Kitty Litter – 3 ounces
  • Sugar – 3 ounces
Cleaning test debris types

Testing Debris – From left to right: Rice (3 oz.), Kitty Litter (3 oz), Cereal (1 oz), Sugar (3 oz)

iLife Hardwood Floor Tests

The iLife A4s did an excellent job cleaning debris off of the hardwood floor. It picked up nearly all of the debris, only leaving 1% of rice and 6% of sugar on the testing field.

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 99%
  • Cereal 100%
  • Kitty Litter 100%
  • Sugar 94%

iLife Low Pile Carpet Tests

As we moved onto the low carpet, the iLife started to struggle a little more. It had the most trouble with the sugar test, where it left 40% of the sugar on the floor.

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 100%
  • Cereal 100%
  • Kitty Litter 90%
  • Sugar 60%

iLife High Pile Carpet Tests

Similar to the low carpet, the high carpet tests showed the same issues with the iLife. Larger debris like rice and cereal were not a problem, while the kitty litter and sugar tests showed signs of a struggle.

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 100%
  • Cereal 100%
  • Kitty Litter 85%
  • Sugar 49%

Roomba Hardwood Floor Tests

The Roomba 690 did a fantastic job of cleaning on the hardwood floors, capturing at least 95% of the debris for each test type.

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 99%
  • Cereal 100%
  • Kitty Litter 96%
  • Sugar 95%

Roomba Low Pile Carpet Tests

Similar to iLife, the low pile carpet test began to show some signs of struggle with the fine debris types, capturing only 72% of sugar. The other debris tests were excellent.

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 100%
  • Cereal 100%
  • Kitty Litter 98%
  • Sugar 72%

Roomba High Pile Carpet Tests

Like the low carpet, the Roomba high carpet tests showed signs of struggle with the sugar, capturing only 66% of debris. Rice, cereal, and kitty litter were not a problem (99% captured).

See before and after test images.

  • Rice 99%
  • Cereal 99%
  • Kitty Litter 99%
  • Sugar 66%

iLife Usability

Setting up the iLife robot vacuum was incredibly easy. Just unbox the vacuum, snap on the spinning brushes, remove the foam pads from the bumper wall, charge it, and let it go. If you decide to use the remote, simply add the AA batteries and you’re set. Run on auto for the easiest usability. 

iLife A4s robot vacuum usability

iLIfe A4s robot vacuum – usability

Roomba Usability

Setting up the Roomba was also virtually pain free. Similar to iLife, unbox, install the spinning brushes, charge it up, and you’re ready to clean. Starting a new cycle is as easy as pressing the large “CLEAN” button or you can schedule cleaning cycles. Setting up the app took only two minutes and I was ready to clean.

iRobot Roomba 690 - close up shot of the top

Roomba 690 robot vacuum close up

iLife Maneuverability

The iLife A4s is incredibly light and it’s smaller body style makes it easier to squeeze into tight corners or next to furniture. Similar to other round robots, the circular shape of this vacuum really helps it to maneuver within the space effectively.

  • Weight – 4.9 pounds
  • Width – 12″
  • Height – 3″
  • Turning – 360 degree

Roomba Maneuverability

The maneuverability of the Roomba 690 is quite good, with its round body style and navigation technology. Additional features like Roomba’s dirt detection and drop detection makes it easier for the vacuum to navigate difficult areas without getting stuck or falling from stairs or lofted spaces.

  • Weight – 7.8 pounds
  • Width – 13″
  • Height – 3.6″
  • Turning – 360 degree

iLife Maintenance

There are limited parts on the iLife A4s that require special maintenance, and the parts that do require maintenance are generally affordable. To prolong the filter life, be sure to wash it after every 15-30 days, depending on use.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyReplacement Cost
HEPA Filter6 months$2 / per - Buy
Brushroll12 months$10 / per - Buy
Spinning brush6 months$1.60 / per - Buy
Battery12-24 months$35 / per - Buy

The maintenance for the iLife A4s is relatively easy and the low cost of the battery is a nice bonus. Both the iLife and Roomba have 6 month battery warranties.

The cost to maintain the unit is around $44 / year.

Roomba Maintenance

Maintenance on the Roomba 690 is painless and inexpensive. The HEPA filter needs to be replaced every 2 months, spinning brushes every 6 months, and the brushroll every 1-2 years.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyReplacement Cost
HEPA filter2 monthsCheck Price
Spinning brush6 monthsCheck Price
Front wheel12 monthsCheck Price
Brushroll12 monthsCheck Price
Battery18-36 monthsCheck Price

Due to their popularity, replacement parts for Roomba’s tend to be more widely available and less expensive, compared to other robot vacuums.

The cost to maintain the unit is around $32 / year.

iLife Battery

The iLife battery is 2,600 mAh and takes 3-4 hours to generate a full charge. With a full charge, you can expect to run your vacuum 120-140 minutes. I must admit, this estimated run time by the manufacturer feels a little long, compared to other comparable vacuums (which usually run about 60 minutes). In addition, this battery only has 2,600 mAh, but with its lighter weight, it is possible that it doesn’t take as much battery to move around the space.

BatteryDetails
Size2,600 mAh
Charging Time3-4 hours
Run Time120-140 minutes
Replacement Cost$35 - Buy

Roomba Battery

The Roomba battery has a notably larger capacity compared to the iLife, at 3,000 mAh. Additionally, it’s quicker to charge at 2 hours. Based on manufacturer’s claims, the iLife has a longer battery life for cleaning cycles (120 minutes vs. 60 minutes), but the Roomba has a quicker charge time.

BatteryDetails
Size1,800 mAh
Charging Time2-3 hours
Run Time60 minutes
Replacement Cost$20 - Buy

iLife Noise

All vacuum cleaner reviews on Modern Castle are put through our standard noise test. For this test, we use a sound meter to measure noise in terms of decibel level approximately 3′ away from the vacuum. Compared to the Roomba 690, the iLife A4s was noticeably quieter.

iLife A4s robot vacuum decibel test

At 3′ away, the iLife A4s robot vacuum emits 54 dB of sound.

Roomba Noise

All vacuum cleaner reviews on Modern Castle are put through our standard noise test. For this test, we use a sound meter to measure noise in terms of decibel level approximately 3′ away from the vacuum. Compared to the iLife A4s, the Roomba 690 was noticeably louder.

Roomba 690 robot vacuum noise test

At 3′ away, the Roomba 690 robot vacuum emits 68 dB of sound.

iLife Value

The iLife A4s robot vacuum is available for $199, so it’s quite a bit less expensive than the Roomba 690, and for what you get, it still maintains a solid value. On hardwoods, the cleaning performance was excellent and really only dropped when it moved to carpeted floors or when it was trying to capture fine debris.

For people who mainly only clear hard floors, the drop in carpeted performance may not even be an issue. Even so, the only significant cleaning performance issue remained ultra fine particles on carpets.

The remote control was also a nice add, especially considering the lower price point. Its lack of wifi connectivity or virtual barriers was a little disappointing, but again, not unexpected due to the low price.

  • Warranty – 1 year
  • Returns – 30 days
  • Company – Great
  • Value – Great

Roomba Value

The Roomba 690 is an excellent value, in my opinion. Priced at $299, it lacks some of the fancier bells and whistles of a newer Roomba models, but compared to similarly priced robot vacuums, it really shines. Beyond just cleaning performance, the addition of the virtual wall barrier and wifi connectivity are both big bonuses for the Roomba.

In addition, the low maintenance costs are an added bonus, averaging about $12 less per year over the iLife.

During the company analysis, we did not find any major red flags or questionable business practices. iRobot also offers a 1 year warranty and 30-day return policy, via Amazon.

  • Warranty – 1 year
  • Returns – 30 days
  • Company – Great
  • Value – Great

iLife Specifications

Specifications 
TypeRobot
ManufactureriLife
ModelA4s
Length (inches)12
Width (inches)12
Height (inches)3
Weight (pounds)4.9
Floor TypeAll (indoor)
Battery2,600 mAh
Dust Bin Capacity0.4 L
CordlessYes
BaglessYes
Returns30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited
BuyBuy

Roomba Specifications

Specifications 
TypeRobot
ManufactureriRobot
ModelRoomba 690
Length (inches)13
Width (inches)13
Height (inches)3.6
Weight (pounds)7.8
Floor TypeAll (indoor)
Battery1,800 mAh
Dust Bin Capacity0.3 liter
CordlessYes
BaglessYes
Returns30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited
BuyBuy

iLife vs. Roomba, Which Should You Buy?

So iLife vs. Roomba, who is the winner? This vacuum battle was a tough one, mainly because the price points of each of these vacuums was such a jump. Both iLife and Roomba have some great features, but overall we feel the Roomba is the better choice compared to the iLife.

Additional accessories, better cleaning performance, smartphone control, lower replacement part costs, and a larger capacity battery are a few of the major advantages of the Roomba vs. iLife.

That said, the iLife is still a great choice. The iLife has a smaller body dimension, slimmer height, is quieter, and had excellent cleaning performance on almost all debris types, only struggling with sugar on carpets.

Check Roomba Price on Amazon

Check iLife Price on Amazon

Roomba 690 robot vacuum review

iLife vs. Roomba Winner? Roomba 690

Is the iLife A4s a poor quality vacuum? Absolutely not, but compared to the performance and features of the Roomba 690, it’s just hard to beat. If you’ve got the money, the added value that Roomba provides makes it a true investment in a quality product.

Winner by Category

 

Edit
Category Winner? Explanation
Accessories
The addition of the Roomba’s virtual wall barrier was a nice addition to help with navigation. iLife lacked this accessory, and while the remote control was a cool feature, it couldn’t really compete with Roomba’s smartphone connectivity.
Cleaning
Roomba was comparable or outperformed the iLife on all cleaning tests. The difference was most significant on low and high pile carpets, especially for sugar.
Usability
Both vacuums were easy to use. The Roomba edged out iLife here, simply due to the wifi connectivity, a nice feature that the iLife just didn’t have.
Maintenance
Rooma’s annual cost to maintain is around $32, whereas the iLife is around $44. While not a huge difference, again, Roomba takes the price for maintenance too.
Battery
Roomba has a larger 3,000 mAh battery compared to the iLife’s 2,600 mAh.
Noise
iLife was noticeably less noisy at 54 decibels compared to the Roomba 690’s 68 decibels.
Value Draw Value was a tie for this comparison. While Roomba clearly offers better performance and has more accessories, the iLife is around $100 cheaper.

 

 

Should You Buy the iLife?

The iLife A4s is a smaller vacuum and had good cleaning performance. In addition, the remote control was a nice feature for better cleanings. Compared to other vacuums, the maintenance costs may also be considerably lower, but compared to Roomba it was slightly higher ($44 / year vs. $32 / year).

You Should Buy If…

  1. You want a lower price – Priced at only $199, the iLife A4s is a great deal and offers solid cleaning performance across the board.
  2. You want a slimmer profile – Overall, the iLife is 1″ narrower all the way around compared to the Roomba, and it’s also 0.6″ shorter, meaning better maneuverability in some cases, especially if you have low furniture.
  3. You want a quieter robot vacuum – At 3′ away, the iLife A4s was 14 decibels quieter than the Roomba 690 model.

For more information or to buy, check out the iLife A4s on Amazon.com.

Should You Buy the Roomba?

The Roomba 690 is an excellent value. Overall, it simply offers more than the iLife A4s with better cleaning performance, wifi connectivity, a larger capacity battery, and lower maintenance costs. It costs around $100 more, but the added features and lower annual maintenance costs will quickly make up the gap, in our opinion.

You Should Buy If…

  1. You want lower maintenance costs – The Roomba has the lowest annual maintenance costs of any robot vacuum we have tested to date.
  2. You want better cleaning performance on carpet – While hardwoods test results were comparable, the carpet tests really showed the difference in cleaning power. The Roomba 690 was notably better on low and high pile carpets compared to the iLife.
  3. You want wifi connectivity– The iLife offers a remote control, but it’s hard to beat the usability of an app on your smartphone, which Roomba provides.

For more information or to buy, check out the Roomba 690 on Amazon.com.

Derek Hales

Derek Hales

Editor-in-Chief

Derek Hales is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ModernCastle.com. He is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to testing and reviewing products for the home. When he is not testing new products, Derek enjoys golf, tennis, and PC gaming. Derek lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Samantha, and poodle, Tibbers.

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