The Roomba 696 is the entry level product at iRobot. Disconcertingly simple, this robot vacuum cleaner has Wi-Fi connectivity that allows remote activation.
Suction on carpets and long pile carpets
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Face to face
IRobot's first connected robot vacuum cleaner was Roomba 980Launched in September 2015. Since then, the market leader has made its merry way on the segment of connectivity. To date, there are four robots connected, all at different prices, including the Roomba 696 which is the entry level of the US manufacturer catalog. Launched at 549 €, this vacuum is devoid of camera and does not map. So this is a blind robot that operates the iAdapt navigation system present on the older generation of Roomba. Very basic, this vacuum cleaner embarks only a conventional filter; people with allergies or animals may prefer to turn to another reference. Finally, note that this robot comes with a tag acting as a virtual wall.
CONVENIENCE OF EMPLOYMENT 3/5
The Roomba 696 looks just like any other Roomba. Three buttons are embedded on the front hull, including the famous central button "Clean" to start cleaning with a single press. As it was already the case at the time, it glows green when the device is ready for use, turns orange when the battery needs to be charged and flashes while charging. Finally, it turns red when the battery is exhausted.
The Roomba 696 is quite thin: 9.3 cm thick.
Two other buttons surround the main button: the top one, adorned with a target icon, triggers targeted cleaning ("spot" mode); the bottom one, displaying the icon of a house, commands a return to the base (the "dock"). Finally, two LEDs indicate the connection to Wi-Fi and the state of charge of the battery. The latter LED also flashes green when the battery is charging and sufficiently charged, orange when it starts to charge and red when it is flat.
Apart from these three keys and these two lights, we find nothing else on the shell of this Roomba. Forget any hope of activating programming directly from the device: everything is done from the appropriate application.
The LEDs indicate information on the status of the robot.
As we will see, the programming from the application is easy: it is similar to the setting of an alarm on smartphone.
Connectivity and application
It's easy to connect your Roomba to the Internet box of the home: just be guided by the application iRobot. As it was already the case on the Roomba 980, once the installation is over, a female voice is heard for the first time: " You are now connected to Roomba, please use the iRobot Application to complete the setup ".
The application allows remote launching and allows programming.
The application does not offer many features. Above all, it allows you to launch the robot remotely, to order a cleaning and to follow its evolution. You can also pause or interrupt a cleaning cycle and consult the history of the "outputs" of the robot (surface, duration, hours ...). Finally, it is possible to program a cleaning by selecting the day and time. And that's about it. Do not expect to remotely control the robot.
The Roomba 696 is less evolved than the older 980, the features stop there. Do not look for the "Automatic", "Performance" or "Eco" modes, which automatically increase the suction power on the carpets, adapt the power to any type of floor or minimize the power of the floor. suction to maximize battery life: Roomba 696 does not handle them.
The settings of the application.
On the other hand, the Maintenance tab, very judicious, is there. It provides information on the status of each part of the robot and sends notifications when it is necessary to clean them (robot body, extractors and collector).
The extraction and emptying of the collector are done without any trouble. Just pull it towards you - always flat - to access the tank. Inside, there is a classic filter and fortunately, a replacement filter is provided with the robot.
Only a classic filter is embedded on this robot.
Under the robot, there is the side brush that snaps, which is much more convenient than when screwed, as on the Roomba 776p . Of course, it is in this brush that inevitably entangled animal hair, hair but also the fringes of the carpet. Next to this bristle brush stands another brush whose blades are made of rubber; it is more suitable for heavy dirt.
This robot embeds two different but complementary brushes.
NAVIGATION SYSTEM 3/5
Without cameras and laser rangefinders, the Roomba 696 is blind. In fact, it embeds the navigation system that is the pride of the manufacturer: iAdapt. Mapping point here, so no access to navigation maps via the application either. The displacement system seems strangely random, the robot having a tendency to go back several times to the same places. If the manufacturer puts on a more thorough cleaning, we find it unfortunate that the robot "runs out" on surfaces already cleaned.
This model provides a second-generation dust detection system, whereby the robot is expected to change navigation method to emphasize the dirtier areas. In practice, this system has also been perfectible; the robot sometimes abandons some areas dotted with rice. In short: the surface coverage is not perfect, far from it.
Regarding the management of obstacles, the Roomba 696 does not excel either (how could it be blind?). The robot slows the pace very slightly when approaching the walls and furniture, but rushes into the pile when approaching the side obstacles, such as the feet of thin chairs. Challenge him to get out of under a table, surrounded by chairs ... the show is hard to see: Roomba 696 is completely helpless. The user must release it (and deliver it) manually, or clear the space beforehand by removing the chairs, for example, otherwise the robot will exhaust its battery without even being able to return to its base.
The anti-entanglement system saves the game somewhat. When the robot sees a display of electrical cables, it prefers to trace its route to other horizons rather than "farting a cable". To avoid the devil, we advise you to keep your cables tidy.
Relatively thin (9.3 cm thick), the Roomba 696 is perfectly able to go under furniture that leaves 10 cm of margin (sofa, coffee table at home and test room, under our library ... ).
The suction performance of the Roomba 696 is subdued. On hard ground, he gets off it by swallowing 88% of our test material in 6 min; in 10 minutes time, he manages to harvest all the rice strewn.
On fine carpet, he is still at ease, since he scored 93% in 6 minutes, which is quite correct.
Finally, on thick carpet with long hairs (the most difficult surface to treat), the Roomba 696 clearly does not give the best of itself: it picks up 33% of rice in 6 min and ... 44% only in 30 min. These results are far below what we observe on average. The Roomba 696 is very mediocre on this type of surface. And the navigation system is for many! As a reminder, the star of our comparison on this event, theVorwerk Kobold VR200 , reaches here a score of 97%.
If it is not the king of silence, the Roomba 696 is also not the loudest of our comparison. We measured between 61 dB and 63 dB: a sound level higher than that of a conversation (about 60 dB), but nothing that really breaks the ears. For comparison, the Samsung Navibot Corner Clean , it emits between 56 and 58 dB.
The battery runs out of steam after a long time. Before it falls flat, the indicator light turns orange and the robot beeps. Fortunately, he automatically returns to his base to recharge his battery.
The Roomba 696 consumes 0.041 kWh on charge (count 2 hours for a full charge). This consumption, which remains moderate, generates a cost of € 1.60 per year, at the rate of 5 full charges per week.
Modes and complementary functions
Many robots offer a plethora of specific modes designed for corners, along walls, etc., while most of the time, it is the automatic mode that is most coveted. But the Roomba 696 does not interfere and offers only a spot mode for localized cleaning.
With this device, no need for a remote provided of course to connect Wi-Fi his vacuum.
Finally, note the presence of a delimitation tag delivered with Roomba to prohibit access to certain rooms or areas. Well seen, especially as the batteries are provided. Finally, the Roomba 696 comes with a small accessory for easy cleaning.
A delimitation tag provided.
Programming possible day by day from the application.
Regular cleaning needed, but easy enough.
Effective suction on hard ground.
Very good endurance.
Random navigation system.
Complex obstacle management.
Disappointing on thick carpet.
The Roomba 696 does the right thing. Without any fuss or frills, this robot vacuum cleaner offers a very intuitive operation, but can not do without connectivity: Wi-Fi and smartphone required. Good on hard floors and fine carpets, it disappoints a lot on thick carpets. In addition, its navigation and obstacle management system suffers from the lack of mapping. So yes, used daily, it will maintain the floors (hard) of the home, but without method and wandering in all directions. His passage to key places will be haphazard luck - but do not worry about him, he's tough!