iRobot Announces YouTube Video Contest

iRobot has started a new marketing campaign, which coincides with the re-design of their website. It features a contest on YouTube where you can submit a video of yourself dancing like a robot to a song you download from their site (song is available here). The company will be giving away 20 Roomba vacuum cleaning robots to winners, and will also be giving three of the finalists a limited edition trophy. We’re hoping that they’ll be giving away the Roomba 780. You can enter here. Entries must be less than a minute long and be submitted before May 13.

iRobot on YouTube

iRobot Announces the Scooba 390

Scooba 390 Introduction

This morning iRobot announced the newest addition to the Scooba line of mopping robots, the Scooba 390. As of this morning, the 390 replaced the 380 and 385 in the iRobot online store, while the diminutive Scooba 230 (see our review, here) remains. According to iRobot, the new Scooba comes with “simplified design and longer battery life.” From comparing the specs to the older 380 and 385 models of Scooba, this looks like the only difference. So unlike iRobot’s Roomba 700 series, it would appear that the new Scooba isn’t much of an upgrade over previous models. The Scooba 390 is available from from Amazon.

iRobot Scooba 390 Features

As with older Scoobas, the new one cleans with a four stage process, prepping, washing, scrubbing, and using a squeegee to wash the floor. The robot has two separate internal water vessels, one for clean water, and the other for dirty, so it does not re-use the water as it cleans, which is actually pretty cool. One advantage that the 390 has over the 230 is that it does vacuum the floor as it goes, so there is no need to sweep the floor before using it.

Scooba 390 top view

iRobot suggests using the Scooba 390 for kitchens and larger rooms with hard floor surfaces such as stone, vinyl, linoleum, tile, and sealed hardwood floors. The robot can clean over 400 square feet with a full water tank. You can use it with iRobot’s own “Natural Enzyme Formula”, with water, or with a little vinegar added. Besides just sweeping and mopping your floor, iRobot claims that the Scooba will remove up to 98% of the bacteria on your floor when “…used as directed, laboratory testing results indicate removal of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria after two passes of the Scooba floor washing robot. Individual results may vary.”

The new Scooba uses iRobot’s iAdapt cleaning technology, which is how the robot gets around the room. Like a Roomba, the Scooba uses different behaviors in a random way to cover all areas of a room (as opposed to mapping the room). So it will do wall-following, spiraling, bouncing around in random directions, and other behaviors until it calculates that it has covered the entire floor surface three times.

iRobot Scooba 390 bottom view

Other things that bear mentioning: The Sooba has cliff detection sensors that keep it from driving off the top of stairs. Maintenance is simplified with all the parts that need to be cleaned being marked with colors. Also, Scoobas work with iRobot’s virtual walls so the robot won’t venture out of the room it is currently cleaning.

Included with the Scooba 390 is: the robot itself, rechargeable battery and charger, a suction bulb, four sample packets of the Natural Enzyme Formula cleaner, and one Virtual Wall. Not included are the two D cell batteries needed for the Virtual Wall. The robot mop comes with a one year warranty on the robot, and a six month warranty for the battery.

Find more information on the Scooba 390 at iRobot’s website.

Get the iRobot Scooba 390 at Amazon

Neato Robotics Announces the XV-21 Pet & Allergy

Neato Robotics XV-21

Neato Robotics has announced a new model of robotic vacuum, the Neato XV-21 Pet & Allergy automatic vacuum cleaner, which is aimed at helping customers control allergens and pet hair in their homes. Compared to the older model Neato robots, the XV-21 boasts: Lower noise, a new bristle brush, and a new filter with better air flow which is designed to catch smaller dust particles. We reviewed the Neato XV-11, here.

Neato Robotics XV-21 from Top

Neato’s press release about the XV-21 makes the aim of this new vacuum clear. It mentions that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends that people who suffer from allergies can help prevent outbreaks by reducing pet dander, hair, and feathers in their home, and also recommends vacuuming frequently.

By scheduling the robot to clean automatically while they aren’t home, an allergy sufferer can reduce their exposure to airborne dust, pollen, and dander. The press release also mentions that it’s easy to schedule the robot to vacuum every day.

Besides aiming to reduce pet hair and allergens around the house, Neato has updated the look of the robot vacuum with a futuristic purple and white design, that is also kind of simultaneously retro. The new brush is designed to reduce the noise made by the robot, make it pick up hair better, and also make it work better with hard floors.

Neato Robotics XV-21 Kit in the Box

The new vacuum is expected to be available at the end of April 2012 and will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $429 US. Owners of past models can upgrade their robots, which will be compatible with the new features. The new filter will have a MSRP $29.99. The Pet and Allergy Upgrade Kit (which includes the new bristled brush) will have an MSRP of $59.99. To use the new items, however, earlier models (XV-11, XV-12, and XV-15) will need to be upgraded to the newest firmware, which as of this writing is 2.6.