Like previous Roombas, the 780 doesn’t miss out on other core features like ‘Cliff detect’ which senses stairs or drop offs, ‘auto docking’ which sees the 780 return to its charge station when low on power and anti-tangle safeguards which stop the Roomba from munching its way through cables. Like all Roombas, the 780 retains an extremely low profile measuring less than 10cm tall allowing it to pass under beds, coffee tables and even open cupboard drawers. Meanwhile the two supplied Lighthouses make their usual appearance and can be placed anywhere to cast a beam the Roomba will not cross (illustration with a Roomba 560 below). Lastly a flexible ‘soft touch bumpers’ stop it damaging objects should contact be made.
So does all this tech stand up in practice? Happily yes, with some inevitable caveats. Most obvious is that while the 780 may look like past Roombas this is the first model which truly does an excellent job of vacuuming dirty floors. We do think you will want to keep your existing vacuum for particularly tough jobs, but the 780 has remarkably impressive suction for its size and we found it had no problem lifting debris up to the size of a marble or in pulling tangled hair ground into the carpet. Similarly the 780 lives up to its claim of being a genuine multi-floor model happily detecting a switch in surface and adjusting its suction and cleaning patterns to suit.
The other major factor in the success of the 780 is the improved battery life. While a conventional vacuum will clean faster and offer greater suction than the Roomba, the vast majority of us don’t have the patience to vacuum for the circa 90 minutes it does on a single charge. As such part of the success of the 780 is its attrition, removing dirt through multiple passes (the dirty spot indicator is particularly sensitive) and going over each room again and again before returning to charge.
Schedule the 780 to clean daily and this affect is cumulative. It may have its work cut out the first time it enters a new owner’s propety, but a few days worth of cleaning and the amount of dirt is reduced to a level the Roomba can manage in a single session with ease. Another nice improvement is the volume level in operation. iRobot hasn’t stated the exact decibels, but we found it possible to still work in the same room (even if it has a mesmerising quality in action) and with a door closed it is possible to have telephone conversations. Could the 780 be scheduled to run during the night? It depends on how deeply you sleep, but we suspect the occasional bumps into your door would wake most.