How super is the Neato XV-21 robot vacuum?

It's no secret that we're big fans of what Neato Robotics is doing in the world of vacuums. Last year, the XV Signature Pro was one of the big standouts among all the appliances that we tested, offering Roomba-level cleaning power at a fraction of the cost. Last month, we took a look at the XV Essential, which offers a similar level of performance at an even lower price point.

Now, we're taking a look back at the XV-21, a Neato robot vacuum released in 2012 which promises to do a superior job at picking up pet … Read more

Infinuvo seeks robo-redemption with its new floor cleaner

Ah, September of 2013. I remember it like it was only five months ago. There was a pleasant autumnal crispness to the air, the leaves were just starting to turn... and the nascent CNET Appliances team was hard at work testing robot vacuums by repeatedly dirtying and cleaning the floors at the boss' house (our testing facility was still under construction back then).

But the best of times can also be the worst of times -- and I'm not talking about the fact that our boss still can't sweep his floors without kicking up five-month-old, sawdust-coated black rice. … Read more

Get a Neato robot vacuum cleaner for $149.99

In the history of The Cheapskate, I don't think I've ever written about a vacuum cleaner. Because, let's face it, they're boring household appliances, not cool techie gadgets.

Unless, of course, it's a self-guided, hackable robot vacuum. Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, DealFisher has the refurbished Neato XV-12 robotic vacuum for $149.99 shipped. Regular price: hundreds more. (This is a discontinued model, but I've seen list prices in the $379 to $399 range.)

I'm a Roomba man, myself, but I can safely say that there's nothing like … Read more

What we loved and hated about the 2013 smart home

The CNET Appliances team has tested a whole bunch of stuff for you this year, from the surprisingly capable SimpliSafe home security system to the extremely disappointing Infinuvo CleanMate QQ5 robot vacuum. Hopefully our reviews have come in handy. And while we're excited about CES 2014, we're also feeling a bit nostalgic about the products we reviewed in 2013. So, here's a brief look back at the year in home appliances -- what worked, what didn't, and everything in between.

"Smart" large appliances

Several manufacturers introduced new ways to incorporate "smart features" … Read more

Making Roomba for innovation: 5 lessons from iRobot

iRobot has launched its latest Roomba, a high-end 880 series vacuum with a new cleaning system dubbed Aeroforce and a bevy of tweaks based on customer feedback.

While I've tried the Roomba 880 and found it handy, the real story to me revolves around how iRobot thinks and approaches its products. The company started out making military robots, then got into its iconic Roomba and now has health care robots too.

In other words, iRobot is a fun company to watch, and its main value proposition is adding some time back to your life with fewer chores.

Here are … Read more

New Roomba 880 has 'extractors' that really suck

After 11 years and dozens of models, the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has seen plenty of improvements. iRobot has just unveiled the 800 series, and the cleaner-bot has a significant design change: no more big brushes.

The Roomba 880 has a pair of rubber rollers that make it outperform its predecessor, the 790.

The 880's AeroForce cleaning technology is the subject of what's probably the most over-the-top robotic vacuum cleaner video ever produced, embedded below. The music alone makes it worth a watch. … Read more

Get the dirt on this new robot vac

Much like Dyson brand vacuums, I had heard my fair share of iRobot hype before I began testing the Roomba 880. I even had visions of following in Tom Haverford's footsteps and building a "DJ Roomba" of my very own. Sadly, my dreams of channeling "Parks and Recreation" were dashed when I unboxed it and began testing instead. Fortunately, though, what I discovered was a clever little robot vacuum that came in first or second place in every single performance category.

The Roomba 880 is a new model for iRobot and the very first 800-series … Read more

Enter CNET's Home Smart Home Sweeps

Editor's note: This sweepstakes is now closed. To celebrate the launch of our new appliances section on CNET, we are bringing CNET members a chance to win the four-star reviewed -- and very smart --   iRobot Roomba 790. Does your toaster leave you feeling burnt? Hair dryer dampen your spirits? Don't let 'droid rage bring you down. Tell us which appliance you'd make smarter for a chance to win* an iRobot Roomba 790. It's true, there's no place like a smart home.

Interested in winning? Here are the rules:

Register as a CNET user. … Read more

Keep your Roomba running in tip-top shape

Until those smart, tidy Roombas learn to clean themselves, it's up to us humans to keep them running at peak performance.

Even after a few short cleaning cycles, debris like dust, dirt, hair, and fur can begin to take a toll on your Roomba. For starters, the vacuum works less efficiently, and too much buildup can also put harmful strain on the unit's battery.

After each cleaning cycle... The most basic level of maintenance should be done after each cleaning cycle to clear out the grime that builds up the most.

Start by emptying the dust bin. But … Read more

How to maximize your Roomba's battery life

If your smart, caring Roomba had a heart, you'd find it adjacent to its brushes, behind a screwed-in plastic square: its battery.

Actually, the Roomba's battery is essentially 12 NiMH batteries strung together to create one ginormous nickel-based battery. iRobot promises that the battery can run for up to 2 hours, and based on our estimates, will last about 400 charges.

That's all fine and good, but depending on how the robot's battery is taken care of, you could find yourself replacing it sooner than you'd like. And for the same reasons, you might find … Read more