updated 08:20 am EDT, Wed August 22, 2007
iRobot Roomba 500
iRobot on Wednesday revealed the Roomba 500 series, a major overhaul of the company's core line of vacuuming robots. Upgrades to the vacuum system itself have effectively doubled its performance and reduce the likelihood that the Roomba will need to cover a surface a second time. The chassis is also sturdier and can more easily handle thick carpets and tangled cords. Every model can get started earlier courtesy of a one-button start, holds more waste, and has the option of several faceplates that help the Roomba fit into the decor of a given room.
The core Roomba 530 sells for $299 and ships with both a home base for recharging as well as two IR-based virtual wall tools that prevent the robot from wandering beyond a particular room in the cleaning process. The Roomba 560 at $349 adds new portable guidance towers, dubbed Lighthouses, that not only set barriers for the robot but help steer it through multiple rooms in a house. A built-in scheduling feature also lets users run the 560 on a weekly timetable without requiring its owner's intervention.
These two models should be available immediately, according to iRobot; they will also be joined in mid-September by the Roomba 570, an upgrade that adds a wireless command center to manually issue orders to the robot while it works for a higher price of $399.