Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 belong to the 900 series. Those are the first Roomba to support systematic navigation, and rival with Neato vacuum robots. In the following, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these two high-end vacuum robots. A deep analysis of their performances from different perspectives, shows when it does make sens to buy one them, and when it’s better to go for an alternative robotic vacuum.
Based on the table below, we can see that the Roomba 960 has interesting specifications, that match what one expects from a high-end vacuum robot. The Roomba 980 shares many features such as a camera that enables systematic navigation. The vacuum robot builds a map of your home and proceeds cleaning every spot. Since it is able to localize itself, it can recharge when needed. Then, it resumes cleaning exactly where it left.
Speaking of recharging, Roomba 960 has a battery that sustains up to 75 min of continuous operations. Roomba 980 does much better with a battery that lasts 120 min. It is then capable to deal with larger areas on a single run.
Another major difference is suction power. Roomba 980 suction power is almost double the one of Roomba 960. This is why the 980 is noisier.
Roomba 980: 2 Beacons
Roomba 980: 120
Roomba 980: 1700
Roomba 980: 70
Pros and Cons
As we can see from the lists below, Roomba 960 have many pros, but only two cons. First, it requires manual cleaning, as opposed to the more recent Roomba i7+. Second, it comes with only one single virtual wall. That is a battery powered boundary marking beacon. It allows to forbid Roomba 960 from accessing an area. Note that you can buy extra virtuall walls, that you can use along with the one provided.
Roomba 980 comes with 2 virtual walls. Besides, its battery lasts much longer than the one of the Roomba 960. Last, but not least, Roomba 980 achieves deeper cleaning including for thick carpets thanks to its high suction power. Unfortunately, this extra suction results into louder noise.
As shown in the table below, Roomba 960 is very good with regard to affordability and user satisfaction. It does a good job cleaning small homes. With its 75 min battery runtime and its single boundary marking beacon, the 960 will barely achieve average performance in large homes.
If you suffer from allergy, you will like the high-efficiency filter of the Roomba 960. It does captures 99% of dust, mites, and allergens as small as 10 microns. This is complemented with the Auto-Adjust Cleaning Head feature. The Roomba 960 adapts the height of its main brush system to keep it in close contact with different floor surfaces, directly engaging with both hard floors and carpets.
Suction power of the Roomba 960 is a weakness, both for fighting allergy and from pet owners perspective. This drawback is mitigated by the tangle-free main brush system. It minimizes maintenance, by avoiding hair twisting around the brush.
Roomba 980 shares with Roomba 960 a very good build quality, and several features that ensure user satisfaction. Moreover, the 980 provides significant enhancements that makes it a better choice for pet owners, and people suffering from allergy. The good score (73%) results from a combination of features, including the high suction power. Actually, on hard floors, Roomba 980 runs with only a fraction of suction power to save the battery. Once it goes on a carpeted surface, the 980 boosts its suction power up to the maximum, to collect as much dirt as it can.
Roomba 980 has also a good score when it comes to cleaning large homes (64%). Its battery lasts up to 120 minutes, one of the longest autonomies on the market. It allows covering a wide floor space before the Roomba 980 needs to go back to its charging dock.
Summary & Recommendations
Since iRobot introduced Roomba i7+, the price of Roomba 980 dropped to about $600. This is a hundred bucks more that Roomba 960, that costs about $500.
In spite of being more expensive, we recommend the Roomba 980 over the 960 for large home owners. Indeed, the 980 will be faster at cleaning the whole home, compared to the 960. This is because the longer battery autonomy, that allows covering larger areas on every cycle. The Roomba 980 will have to go back to the charging station less often.
For pet owners and people suffering from allergy, Roomba 960 is the good deal. But, you might pick Roomba 980 if you want better performance. Its high suction power, combined with the excellent filter will collect nearly every fine particle and every hair of your dogs and cats.