iRobot Roomba 780 – An In-Depth Review

Recently, iRobot announced a new series of its consumer home vacuuming robots, the Roomba 700 Series. Along with this new series, they announced some new technologies. The flagship robot in the 700 Series is currently the Roomba 780. There are also two other 700 Series robots, the 760 and the 770. They come with some different features and accessories. The biggest difference between the three is probably that the 780 has a touchpad interface and comes with Virtual Lighthouses instead of Virtual Walls. For more details, I break down the 700 Series feature and accessory differences here. Don’t miss my two other 780 reviews: The first contracting and comparing it to a Mint Robot Cleaner. The second comparing it to a 500 Series Roomba.

Here’s what you see when you open the box. So it comes with a self-charging dock, the battery charger, battery, extra filters, extra brushes, various brush cleaning tools, a remote control, and two virtual lighthouses. Besides the battery for the robot itself, iRobot does not include any other batteries. So you’ll need to get two double-A batteries for the remote, and also four C cell batteries for the lighthouses (each lighthouse needs 2 batteries). I’m one of those people who likes it when manufacturers care enough to include some alkaline batteries when they’re needed, so think it’s kind of lame that iRobot doesn’t include batteries for the accessories.

Quick Start Guide and DVD

iRobot includes a quick start guide and a DVD. The quick start guide has four easy steps to get you vacuuming right away. I like quick start guides, and was glad iRobot included this. Basically, you take the robot, pull a tab out of the battery area, pull a piece of cardboard out of the dust bin, set the time on the Roomba, set up the charging home base, and then charge it up. iRobot is definitely into having you charge the robot. The DVD talks about it a lot.

Speaking of the DVD, it has a bunch of movies about how to use the robot. The DVD is somewhat interactive. There is a section of instructional movies about cleaning with the Roomba. There is another area where the parts of the Roomba are identified. Besides the movies, there are applications for the PC and Mac on the DVD. These organize the documents available for the robot and include links to iRobot’s Customer Care area and where you can download User Manuals. Also included are the User Guide Manual (which covers the 700 series as one), Registration Data, Warranty Card, Important Safety Instructions, and a few other documents of interest. I’ve gotta say that I’m sure whether or not I like the fact that the User Manual does not come in printed format with the robot vacuum cleaner. On one hand, they’re saving trees. On the other hand, it’s inconvenient having to go to a computer and open up the manual any time you have a question. The manual is short and sweet, weighing in at 9 pages, including cover.

Setting the time and scheduling

Once you set up the charging base and put the robot on it, you’ll want to set the time, and also look at how to schedule the Roomba using the onboard scheduler. If you can set the time on an alarm clock, you’ll be able to set the time on the 780. It is as easy as pie. You basically turn the robot on, press clock, then use the minute, hour, and day buttons to set the time. Then press OK to finish. Scheduling works pretty much the same way, except you press Schedule to start. You can schedule one time a day each day of the week.

Bottom of the  Roomba with the cover off

One thing that’s great about Roombas is the technology. All of the major parts of a Roomba are modular, and can be replaced very easily. So the wheels come out as units, as does the side brush, the cleaning head, the roller, and the dust bin. Here is the 780 with the bottom taken off. You can see the pieces in purple which can be taken out.

Roombas have modular parts

All this with a single phillips screwdriver. I think this is a really great feature! Of course, you wouldn’t do this unless you needed to fix something on your robot.

Here is one of the new pieces of technology in the 700 Series Roombas, the AeroVac Series 2 Bin. When compared to the dust bin from a 500 Series Roomba, you can see that the bin is pretty different. The filters are very different, there is more space for debris inside of the bin, and the bin itself is a lot easier to empty out. iRobot says that these new bins have more suction and that the debris gets distributed in the bin more evenly. The 700 Series Roombas all come with HEPA filters. HEPA filters are designed to capture very small particles so that common allergens don’t get thrown into the air by the vacuum. So they’re good filters for people with allergies.

To empty the bin, you open a wide gate that closes off the bottom half of the bin, and then shake it out over a trash can. Then you need to knock out the two filters. These are colored yellow and have handy pull-tabs so that they’re easy to get out. Once removed, you knock those out over your trash can, and put them back in. The process is very easy.

Difference between 500 and 700 Series Brushes

Besides the bin, iRobot has made some other changes under the hood, particularly with the cleaning head. Here are the brushes from a 500 Series Roomba (top) compared to the 700 Series (bottom). One of the things a Roomba owner learns is that the brushes have to be maintained, and one of the worst things about that is hair gets wrapped around many of the different parts of the brushes. One of the more obvious differences here is that the bearings on the 700 series are designed to not pick up as much hair. For one thing, on the left, the bearings on the 700 Series actually slip into something like a cowling, which keeps hair from wrapping around that end. On the 500 Series, these bearings are exposed and get all tangled up with hairs. Not as obvious, but also different, the bearings on the right side have been redesigned to make it so that there aren’t grooves for the hair to wrap themselves up in. Besides these differences, iRobot claims that the 700 Series cleaning head is designed to pick up smaller particles better.

So what else is different? The 700 series comes with a new improved Dirt Detect feature but in the 770 and 780 only. So when the robot detects an especially dirty area, it will spend some time concentrating on that area. The battery life is claimed to be 50% longer. There is a bin full indicator light (again only in the 770 and 780). All come with remotes. The 780 comes with a touchpad control.

The touchpad control is very nice. I don’t really see what the big deal is, though. I mean, with the other two 700 Series the controls are basically the same but they have buttons instead of a slick interface. I guess maybe also the touch face makes it so you can just wipe off the top of the robot to clean it. The bin indicator light sounds like a great idea, but in practice maybe not so much. I found that after a good vacuuming session, the bin indicator sensors get dirty, and so the light won’t go off when you empty the bin. You end up having to empty the bin and then wipe the bin full sensors off. This makes me wonder if the sensors are really accurate. Maybe this is a good idea that is waiting for a better implementation.

I like the fact that a remote is included with all of the 700 Series Roombas, although I do have to say that it has limited functionality. You can use the remote to start the robot, steer it, spot clean, and dock. So it’s more of a fun thing that is handy every once in a while, but isn’t something that everybody will really need.

As advertised, the Roomba 780 does not eat the tassels on your oriental rug. Also, it can figure out if it is chewing on a power cord and spit it back out, which is pretty cool! It makes a funny noise when it does that. Mostly, though, when it comes to cords and cables, you’re going to want to move them out of the way or tuck them away as much as possible. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there is some room prep you need to do before running your robot vacuum, but it’s mostly prep you would have to do with a normal vacuum.

So how does it clean? Great! It does an absolutely great job of cleaning floors, carpeting, and rugs. It picks up little things that my 500 Series Roomba doesn’t get, and seems especially better at pulling little fuzzies out of our area rug. We tested the Roomba 780 with a Mint to see if one cleaned better than the other. See here for the full article: Roomba 780 vs Mint Cleaner. We found that they were pretty evenly stacked up, except that the Mint doesn’t do carpets. The Roomba is the winner for people with carpets, and also has more accessories and fun technology.

Get the iRobot Roomba 780 Vacuum Cleaning Robot at Amazon

Mint Robot Cleaner vs iRobot Roomba 780 – Robot Cleaner Showdown!

What’s the first thing a person should do when they get their fancy, top of the line, iRobot Roomba 780in? Challenge it to a cage match verses a tough competitor, and then break down the differences between them. So in this article, we’re not only going to compare the Roomba 780 and the Mint Cleaner, we’re going see how they do in a cleaning smackdown. Two robots enter. One robot leaves!

(Later note: Don’t miss our in-depth review of the Roomba 780 and also check out our 780 vs 500 Series Roomba robot vacuum cleaner comparison.)

Mint vs Roomba 780 Review

The challenge

Two rooms. Both with hardwood floors. One bedroom, one office, two robot floor cleaners. We were surprised by the results!

So comparing the Mint and the Roomba. Let’s talk about the really big differences first. Obviously, the Roomba vacuums and does carpets and all other floor surfaces, while the Mint sweeps and does not do carpets. Besides price (the Mint being $400 US cheaper), that’s probably the biggest difference. Also in the big difference department is navigation technology. The iRobot Roomba uses different behaviors in a meaningful but admittedly random way. The Mint actually maps the room it is cleaning and does so in a methodical way. As we will see later, this leads to meaningful differences in the amount of time each robot requires to finish a room. The Roomba can be scheduled, comes with virtual walls, and also comes with a dock that it can go back to when finished. The Mint doesn’t have any of that, but can be tucked away in a small space when not in use.

The Roomba 700 series robots come with remote controls so that you can steer them around, tell them to spot clean certain places, and also to go home to their dock. The Mint does not come with a remote. The Mint is whisper quiet, although it does make noise when it bumps into things. You could have a phone conversation in the same room, but you might end up having to explain what that funny noise was. “No. I didn’t drop anything. It’s my cleaning robot.” The Roomba 780, like all iRobots before it, is not something you would want to have a phone conversation in the same room with. In fact, you’ll probably want to make sure and use the scheduler so that you don’t have to be around when it is working. The mint is almost an inch shorter, and is smaller and thus can fit into tighter spaces.

Similarities: Both clean floors automatically. Both come with cliff-detection technology to keep them from falling down stairways. Both do a great job of cleaning. Both recharge. You can replace the batteries in both. The Roomba 780 vacuum and Mint cleaner also do their best to slow down before they run into things. Both have schemes for cleaning multiple rooms effectively (but one does it way better than the other).

Roomba 780 Vacuuming Bedroom

The Bedroom

Our 100 square foot bedroom, with a bed, two nightstands, two dressers, two outlet strips, and some miscellaneous cords – mostly for chargers, alarm clocks, and a nightstand lamp. The bed is high enough for both robots to clean under. Only the Mint can fit between the legs of the nightstands, although it doesn’t end up mattering much, because that’s also where all the power cables are. We ran the Roomba 780 first, and then had the Mint clean up after to see how good a job it did.

Fuzzies Left by the RoombaThe Roomba took 28 minutes to clean the bedroom floor. It also required some prep work, moving cables out of the way. The 700 series Roombas are built to know when they’ve sucked up a cable, and actually reverse their brushes to spit them back out, which is cool. At the same time, I’ve had my 500 series Roomba suck up a cable and then drag a lamp off of a table, so I have some trust issues. The Roomba still ends up running over some cords, makes more noise, and can’t get under the night stands, so it leaves some fuzzies under one of the nightstands. Here is the bin after vacuuming the bedroom.

Roomba AeroVac bin after the Bedroom

I do have to say, really quickly here because it doesn’t matter much in the comparison, that the new AeroVac Series 2 bin at least looks like an improvement over the previous technology. Here is what the Mint picked up with a Swiffer Pad after the Roomba.

Really Impressive!!! If you click the picture to zoom in, you’ll see that there are some big particles, and two smallish dist bunnies that were left behind by the Roomba. Otherwise, it looks clean enough that we were both really amazed. Yes, here is the Mint cleaner pad after zipping around the same territory. The Mint did the bedroom in 17 minutes, which is 60% of the time. It was also really shocking, after the noise from the Roomba, to hear how quietly the Mint operates. Although I lack the technology to test it scientifically, I would have to say that between the two, the Roomba definitely plays rougher, moves furniture more while cleaning, and bumps into everything a little harder. However, I would say that the Roomba does do a better job of “seeing” furniture, and so the Mint tends to hit furniture at full speed more often than the Roomba. Because the Roomba climbs over cords, it did get some more of the space under the bed that was blocked to the Mint.

So did the Roomba 780 clean the floor thoroughly? We think so, and it passed the Mint white glove test pretty well.

Mint Cleaning a Floor

Second Run

A week later, we did the same room, but in the opposite order, to see how the Mint would do. Last time we ran the Roomba first, and then had the Mint test how iRobot device did. This time we sent the Mint cleaner to sweep up, and then had the Roomba see if there was anything left to pick up.

Mint swiffer pad after sweeping bedroom

So here is what the Mint Swiffer pad looked like after the bedroom. This is what it usually looks like every time we use the Mint. There’s always a big rolled up line of dust bunny along the front edge, and then plenty of larger pieces of dirt and debris all over the pad. Also some hair.

Roomba bin after Mint cleaning

Here is the Roomba AeroVac bin after vacuuming the bedroom. This is almost as impressive as what happened the week before. After the amazing showing by the Roomba, we had expected the Mint to have similar success. I mean, they’re both cleaners. It’s cool that they both do a good job.

We tested another room and found similar results. Each of the robots did find a little bit more dirt and dust after the other had cleaned up, but not so much. In all of the rooms, the Mint was faster.

Home Base

iRobot Roomba at home charging in dock

Mint Vacuum At home next to trash can

Prior to the Roomba 780 invasion, our home was occupied by an iRobot Roomba 500 series robot and a Mint Cleaner. While the Roomba would get the occasional assignment cleaning our living room, which has a large area rug, it mostly lived in the basement, which has wall-to-wall carpeting. The Mint lived upstairs in the kitchen, and basically found a home next to the trash can. Each floor of our house is only 800 square feet, so space is precious, and the Mint takes up very little. A Roomba and base takes up a little too much.

Multi-Room Cleaning

As mentioned above, both robots have schemes for cleaning multiple rooms. The Mint strategy is to use an extra Northstar module to keep the Mint from straying into the next room. It’s my view that this wasn’t designed very well by the engineers at Evolution Robotics. What happens is that you have to set up a Northstar navigation module in each room, and the second module only keeps the Mint from going into the next room. So you actually have to carry the robot into the next room and start it up again once it finishes the first one. Which is weird.

The Roombas have the much-vaunted “Lighthouse” technology, where the lighthouse acts like a gatekeeper and lets the Roomba into the second room when it has finished cleaning the first. The 780 ships with 2 of these Lighthouse virtual walls. The 770 and 760 ship with 2 virtual walls.


I don’t think we really have a clear winner here. Both robots are great at cleaning. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Our informal testing indicates that the Roomba 780 cleaned up a little more thoroughly than the Mint. The Roomba is really the clear choice for people who have a lot of carpeting. Also, being able to schedule your robot to clean the house while you’re gone is really great. The Mint is significantly less expensive (even the cheapest model of the 700 Series, the Roomba 760, is more than twice as expensive). Also, the Mint requires less prep work to get a room ready to clean, and requires next to no maintenance. You just pick it up afterwards and change the pad. With the Roomba, you need to empty the bin, knock out the filters, and clean out the brushes. The eventually you have to change the filters.

Consumer robots are really here to save mankind from the drudgery of cleaning floors. Both robots are a welcome luxury, and we love using them! I would say that if you were trying to choose between the two, the three biggest things to consider would be the price of the robot, the amount of carpeting you have in your home, and the amount of prep work and maintenance you’re willing to put up with. For someone with hard wood floors throughout their house, our vote is still very much with the Mint Cleaner. (See our more in-depth review of the Mint, here.) For someone with carpeting and/or a real desire for high-tech features like scheduling, a self-charging dock, and a remote control, the iRobot Roomba 780 is pretty hard to beat.

Get the iRobot Roomba 780 Vacuum Cleaning Robot at Amazon

Mint User Reviews and More Information on Amazon

Later Note: There is also now a Mint Plus available at Amazon!