Robot Vacuum Review
The iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum cleaner is at the top of Roomba’s 600 series. Although it is a lower cost model, the vacuum is equipped with modern robot features, such as WiFi, smartphone / app connection, and scheduled cleanings. Value is where this robot vacuum seeks to excel, as compared to Roomba’s higher end models that strive to impress on another level.
- Allows for wifi connectivity so you can control cleans and scheduling via smartphone
- Dirt detection allows for more precise and quicker cleaning cycles
- Struggles with suction power on high pile carpets
- Doesn’t map your home, so it must rely on dirt detection and random bump-and-correct
The Bottom Line
The Roomba 690 robot vacuum is a good option for those looking for more convenient cleaning sessions. The 690’s dirt direction system means it can take a little longer to complete cleaning sessions, as it must first detect, and then eliminate dirt. However, the cleaning performance is still incredibly strong for a robot around $300.
The iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum cleaner offers a circular aesthetic combining a silver top with a black outer ring. The interface on top of the unit is simple and also contains a handle for easy pickup. Durable walls make up the perimeter of the Roomba 690 vacuum, allowing them to bump into walls, furniture, etc., and bounce right back off without taking damage.
- Auto Clean: On/Off
- Dust bin release
How It Cleans
As a robot vacuum, the Roomba 690 cleans by driving around, spotting dirt / debris through its dirt detection system, and cleaning it up. It’s as simple as that. Built with a bumper ring that gives, the vacuum is able to run into walls and bounce right back off, change its path, and continue working.
Unlike some of the higher end Roomba vacuum models, the 690 does not contain a memory feature. In other words, it can drive around your home every day and never remember the layout. That said, the dirt detection system utilized by this vacuum allows the unit to drive around and literally detect dirt and debris around your home. After doing so, it drives towards the mess and implements its three stage cleaning process; agitate, brush, and suck.
By not having to memorize your home, this iRobot Roomba robot vacuum does tend to clean a bit quicker than the Roombas that do contain a memory feature.
- Spinning brush
- Charging pins
- Roller brush
- Dust bin
Size & Dimensions
The Roomba 690 vacuum cleaner totals 3.6″ in height and has a width of 13″. The smaller, more compact design allows the unit to get into those hard to reach places most vacuums are not able to touch.
With regards to weight, this vacuum is much lighter than the earlier designs of the Roomba, weighing in at 7.8 pounds. This lightweight build means less knocking items off of chairs, tables, or anything else that could potentially wiggle and drop something onto the vacuum. Yet, if anything does fall onto the Roomba 690, it is tough enough to take a little beating.
One small situation to be aware of is the Roomba sliding under furniture and / or smaller spaces and getting stuck. This could lead to some scratches along the top. Scratches are not going to affect the performance of the vacuum, but they will definitely take away from the sleek aesthetic this Roomba vacuum cleaner comes with.
To that end, you can expect the bumper ring along the perimeter of the unit to end up with cosmetic damage, since the vacuum is designed to bump into and off of household items / walls.
Accessories & Parts
The Roomba 690 robot vacuum includes the following parts and accessories:
- Virtual wall barrier
- Charging station
- HEPA filter x 2
- Cleaning tool
- Battery (not shown)
- Spinning brush (not shown)
Parts & Accessories
- Virtual wall barrier
- Charging station
- HEPA filter
- Cleaning tool
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
Each of the aforementioned debris was spread across our testing lane. The base surface of our testing lane is an engineered hardwood floor. For our carpet tests, we slide in a low pile and high pile carpet insert on top of the hardwood floor.
Our vacuum cleaning process strives to be as consistent, fair, and true to real world use as possible. Our tests utilize the following procedure:
- Measure the weight of the testing debris and the weight of the empty vacuum debris container.
- Spread the respective debris type evenly across the central portion of the testing lane.
- Run the vacuum cleaner over the testing lane.
- Measure the weight of the now filled container and take notes on the cleaning performance.
The hardwood floor tests were simply no match for the Roomba 690 robot vacuum. Each debris field was sucked up with ease and all tests were completed within a 7-minute span. There were times where the spinning brush flung debris, such as rice, into the corners of our testing lane, but this particular Roomba vacuum was able to do a nice job of working its way into those same corners to ensure the debris was cleaned up.
- Hardwood – Rice 99%
- Hardwood – Cereal 100%
- Hardwood – Kitty Litter 96%
- Hardwood – Sugar 95%
Low Pile Carpet
The Roomba 690 handled low pile carpets with relative ease as well. It was dominate for rice, dry cereal, and kitty litter. The one area that the 690 faltered on was sugar. The fine and heavy sugar particles proved to be more difficult for the 690 to successfully suck into its bin. As a result, the Roomba 690 only eliminated 72% of the sugar particles.
- Low Carpet – Rice 100%
- Low Carpet – Cereal 100%
- Low Carpet – Kitty Litter 98%
- Low Carpet – Sugar 72%
High Pile Carpet
The high pile carpet performance testing was similar to the low pile carpet. Again, rice, cereal, and kitty litter were all handled with ease. The Roomba 690 sucked up 99% of each of those respective debris types. Sugar was the only area where it struggled to perform, only cleaning 66% of the total debris field.
- High Carpet – Rice 99%
- High Carpet – Cereal 99%
- High Carpet – Kitty Litter 99%
- High Carpet – Sugar 66%
Setting up the iRobot Roomba 690 vacuum is as easy as it comes. Unbox it, charge it, and let it clean. Everything already comes pieced together, so you don’t have to worry about building the robot vacuum once it arrives.
Using the Roomba 690 vacuum is just as easy as setting it up. Simply click clean or set up a scheduled time for the unit to make its rounds.
When clicking clean, you actually have the option of doing so on your smartphone, through another app from a WiFi enabled device, or by simply clicking the word “clean” on the Roomba itself. If you decide to schedule a specific day and time for the vacuum to clean your floors, you also have the ability to do so on either the unit or on your smartphone. Both options are self-explanatory and easy to complete.
The signature “CLEAN” button on the Roomba, makes this robot vacuum extremely easy to use.
Simply press to start a cycle and you’re done. When the space is clean, the 690 will return to the charging base on its own.
All things considered, it’s hard to beat the ease of use you get from the Roomba 690 vacuum cleaner. Hardly any effort is required from you. Simply click “CLEAN” or set it to clean and you’re good to go.
Setting up control via the smartphone app was extremely simple. It took less than 2 minutes and effectively provides complete control of the Roomba via the app. You can turn the Roomba 690 on / off, set a schedule, view past cleanings, pause / resume a cleaning in progress, and more.
Maneuverability is a strong suit of the Roomba’s. Built with a circular design, the vacuum is able to turn at 360 degrees. Adding the low profile height into the mix creates a vacuum that is able to get under low spaces easier than a vast majority of other vacuums.
As with all of the iRobot Roomba robot vacuums, the circular design can be less effective when trying to clean corners. The spinning brush attached to the bottom of the unit does its very best to reach into corners when near them, but it does not always clean them completely. If you need better corner cleaning, you may want to add a quality handheld vacuum cleaner- like Bissel’s pet hair eraser.
360° turning radius
The following table indicates the frequency at which you will likely want to replace the various parts and components of the vacuum. The following replacement frequencies are what the manufacturer recommends. However, your individual experiences may vary.
|Accessory / Part||Replacement Frequency||Replacement Cost|
|HEPA filter||2 months||Check Price|
|Spinning brush||6 months||Check Price|
|Front wheel||12 months||Check Price|
|Brushroll||12 months||Check Price|
|Battery||18-36 months||Check Price|
Although the Roomba 690 robot vacuum may seem like it has quite the list of maintenance tasks, they are all quite simple. Removing the dust bin is as easy as pressing a button at the front of the vacuum, pulling the bin out, and dumping the debris in the trash. While emptying the dustbin, you’re also able to clean the filter, if needed.
To do so, there are two yellow tabs that need to be pinched at the same time. As you pinch the tabs, you can pull out the filter and clean it off. This combination of maintenance tasks can be completed in less than 2 minutes for most people.
As you move onto the debris extractors and spinning brush, you may have to use the provided tool to cut any hair, strings, or other debris that could be in a tangled mess. Again, this is not a difficult task, but it may require a bit more time.
All things considered, maintaining the Roomba 690 vacuum cleaner is not overly difficult, but you will want to pay attention to these areas to ensure full functionality from the vacuum.
The annual costs to maintain the vacuum, following the manufacturer’s recommended replacement schedule, would be approximately $32 per year.
One final note: Keep an eye on the spinning brush, front wheel, debris extractors, and HEPA filter, as they need to be replaced every once in a while. This is not something you typically need to do every month, but be sure to check in on these areas every now and again.
The battery for the Roomba 690 takes 2-3 hours to charge (under most circumstances) and with a full charge can vacuum for up to 60 minutes. Charging time will of course vary based on how much battery was used during the previous cleaning cycle. A completely dead battery can take longer to charge.
The lifespan of the Roomba’s battery, or any battery for that matter, can vary based on use. My first Roomba’s battery lasted 2.5 years. How often you use the Roomba, the number of charges, whether you leave the battery dead for long periods of time, and other factors can all affect the longevity of the battery.
|Charging Time||2-3 hours|
|Run Time||60 minutes|
|Replacement Cost||$20 - Buy|
Roomba 690 cleans up to 60 minutes per charge.
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.
Value is really an area where the Roomba 690 excels. After putting this robot vacuum through 12 different cleaning tests, it was evident that it has the ability to clean both thoroughly and quickly. Only adding to the mix is its relatively low cost. At $325, it is not cheap by any means. Yet, it is one of the more affordable Roomba vacuums and certainly one of the more cost friendly robot vacuums available today. When comparing the 690’s performance to its price, the value is quite impressive.
The warranty and return period offered by the Roomba 690 seem to be about the industry standard. The warranty is 1 year and begins the day the vacuum is purchased. The return period is 30-days long, via Amazon. That said, iRobot is a company that is passionate about its product line and is certainly willing to repair or replace your Roomba with a proper warranty claim.
As a company, iRobot is known as one of the more popular robot vacuum brands. Based on what I have researched, it seems to be a company that truly cares about the integrity of its product line. To my knowledge, iRobot has maintained a good relationship with its customers up to this point.
Below is a complete list of important specifications and features included on the iRobot Roomba 690 robot vacuum:
|Floor Type||All (indoor)|
|Dust Bin Capacity||0.3 liter|
|Returns||30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer|
The Roomba 690 robot vacuum cleaner is a well-rounded, affordable product. Its versatility between floor types and relatively quick cleaning method makes it a solid choice for a vast majority of users seeking to own a robot vacuum.
I would recommend the Roomba 690 if you’re looking for the following features in a robot vacuum.
- Wifi connectivity and app control – The Roomba 690 vacuum has WiFi connectivity, allowing it to be controlled with a smartphone, or some other device through which the iRobot app can be downloaded. This feature allows users to control their vacuum from anywhere with an internet connection and a smartphone.
- One button cleaning convenience – Robot vacuums are designed to be convenient, therefore if you like the idea of owning a vacuum that only requires clicking a single button to start cleaning, the Roomba 690 robot vacuum could certainly be a good option for you.
- Excellent value – At $325 the Roomba 690 strikes an excellent value. It excelled across almost all of our performance testing (only slipping a bit on the sugar tests) and it’s packed with features like WiFi integration and dirt detection. This combination of features with respect to the price makes the Roomba a solid value from top to bottom.
For more information on the iRobot Roomba 690 vacuum visit Amazon.com.
Last Updated - December 19, 2017
December 19, 2017 – Clarified information around maintenance costs, deleted an opinion around deviating from the recommended replacement frequencies, and updated the annual maintenance cost information.
December 15, 2017 – Clarified a few points within the top summary section, changed top summary layout
Affordable with Excellent Performance
The Roomba 690 vacuum is a robot vacuum cleaner designed to make vacuuming floors a more convenient chore. With the click of a button, the Roomba 690 will actively drive around your home searching for dirt and debris to clean up. Additionally, this Roomba vacuum is equipped with wifi connectivity, so users have the ability to control the vacuum from their smartphone or another one of Roomba’s accepted WiFi devices. Whether you want to set a specific cleaning schedule or simply press “clean,” this unit is well worth considering.
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.