Tag Archives: Scooba

iRobot Scooba 230 In-Depth Review

The iRobot Scooba is a mopping robot. I’ve been curious about the iRobot Scooba line since it was first introduced. But they tended to get bad reviews on Amazon. Of course, if you go to that Amazon link, the top three reviews are happy ones, but if you look at some of the ones on the side, there are reviews that’ll make a person want to avoid the Scoobas, and they worked on me. So this year iRobot introduced the Scooba 230, which is a smaller version of the old ones. The smaller size was a definite attraction for me, considering that the robot can fit behind your typical toilet.

So how well does this new robot work? Let’s take a look.

As mentioned above, the Scoobas are robot mops. Like other iRobot cleaners, they have a multi-stage cleaning system. So they lay down water, scrub it, and then use a specially designed squeegee with a vacuum to suck the water back up. iRobot makes some special soaps for the Scooba. For example, there is a “Clorox Scooba Cleaning Solution” and a “Natural Enzyme Formula.” (The 230 can’t use the Clorox solution.)

Scooba 230 Box Contents

Here’s what comes in the box:

  • iRobot Scooba 230 robot
  • Rechargeable battery for the robot
  • Charger
  • 2 Virtual Walls
  • 3 Extra bottoms
  • Printed product manual (16 pages)
  • Storage base (not a dock)
  • 4 Packets of the Natural Enzyme Formula cleaning solution

Here’s what is missing: 4 D cell batteries for the Virtual Walls. The Virtual Walls take 2 batteries each. I really prefer it when manufacturers include batteries, so I find this disappointing.

Scooba 230 with an orange for scale

Here is the robot itself next to a navel orange. As you can see, the Scooba 230 is pretty small. It is 3.5 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide. The engineers at iRobot have packed a lot of things into this little package. There is a port for filling the robot, a port for emptying, a recessed carrying handle, three cliff sensors, a wall-following sensor on the right side, a charging port, indicator lights and buttons. On top is a power and Clean button. Like the Roombas and older Scoobas, the Scooba 230 has a bumper on the front so that it knows when it runs into things.

Scooba bottom showing brushes and squeegee

The bottom has wheels, brushes, and the squeegee for picking up the water while it works. The wheels are easy to pull off for cleaning. The light grey part of the undercarriage there is removable, so when the brushes and squeegee wear down, you can replace it. As mentioned above, the robot ships with 3 replacement bottom plates. You can also see the cliff sensors there on the bottom of the bumper. They’re recessed.

Here is the door for filling the robot with water. This is kind of in an awkward place. It’s not a good idea to get the robot totally wet, so popping it under a running faucet made me kind of nervous. I ended up filling a measuring cup with warm water, and then filling the robot that way. When filling the robot (or emptying it, for that matter) both the fill port and the empty port need to be open, so you can’t put the robot down on a flat surface and fill it.

One piece of good news is that the cleaning solution isn’t stinky. Sometimes cleaners can smell nasty or smell like obnoxious air freshener. The Natural Enzyme Formula has a rather mild, pleasant cleaner smell.

Scooba 230 in action - behind toilet

And here it is in action. (Sorry about the camera shake on the film. I’m working to get some better equipment for making my movies. It’s actually pretty hard to make good product films.) We were pretty excited about the job the Scooba did on the bathroom. It got behind the toilet, which is a pain to clean manually. A person has to get down on their hands and knees to clean back there, so the Scooba 230 gets major points for this trick.

Dirty water from emptying the Scooba

Here is an example of what the dirty water from our Scooba looked like after cleaning one of our rooms. This is what it looked like after every time it cleaned a room. I felt kind of mixed emotions about this result. On one hand, you can tell that there is some dirt in there, and that’s definitely some dirt and grime that is no longer on your floor, which is a good thing. At the same time, it doesn’t really seem like as much as it should.

Scooba has hair problems

Sadly, we have a lot more bad news to relate about this robot. Our Scooba had a lot of problems. For one thing, it left a lot of water on our floor. This is tile, so maybe it would do a better job on totally flat surfaces, but it seemed to leave a lot of water. Also, you have to sweep up before you use the Scooba. The Scooba will not pick up larger debris or hairs. Instead it kind of drags hairs around and leaves them stuck to the floor. Also, the Scooba’s size turns out to be a disadvantage when navigating a room. Both our kitchen and bathroom had a place where the Scooba would get stuck – the heating vent.

The Scooba also had a lot of trouble with the Virtual Walls. The Scooba would approach the wall and either bounce off while still several feet away, or it would get kind of close and then get kind of “stuck” where it would turn again and again in a tight spot. I finally stopped using the Virtual Walls, which was kind of irksome, considering how useful they are when you’re using a robot to clean your floor.

More problems: The battery runs out from cleaning one room with the Scooba, and takes a long time to charge. I didn’t test it, but ours takes at least five hours to charge. So really, you clean one room and then have to charge the robot overnight.

Scooba leaves streaks

Our Scooba left streaks, and although it seemed to do a good job with the bathroom, it didn’t do a great job of cleaning the kitchen floor. Basically it left the entire kitchen floor with a kind of waxy, sticky feeling, and then to make matters worse, the robot stopped working.

After it left the floor feeling sticky, I decided that I should give it another go with just water in the hopes that it would clean up more. So after waiting for the robot to charge up again, I refilled the robot and ran it a second time. Forty minutes later, I returned to find that although the robot had run all over the place, it hadn’t been dispensing water. So it hadn’t cleaned anything. Sadly, the battery was dead. So I charged the battery overnight, and then turned on the Scooba and ran out the door to go to work. Unfortunately, I left in such a rush that I didn’t notice that the Scooba never started moving. So when I can home from work, I found the robot sitting in the exact same place I left it, in the middle of a puddle.

Since the Scooba left us with a sticky, gross floor, I broke down at this point and mopped our kitchen by hand. This is not what a person wants to be doing on a Wednesday night after having spent three hundred clams on a robot mop. It could be my imagination, but while I was mopping the floor myself, it seemed to take quite a bit of mopping to make our floor stop feeling sticky. I had to go over each area several times. I don’t know if that was because of the cleaning solution, or if we had something really sticky that the Scooba just spread around for us.

Over the next couple of days I found that sometimes the wheels would start working again, but the water dispensing part wouldn’t work. Then later, it would all stop working. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason. The manual doesn’t have anything useful to say about what to do if your Scooba stops working. I tried some different ways of turning it on with the hopes that I could “reset” it. Also, I tried pulling the battery to see if that would make a difference. Neither strategy seemed to help. I have yet to call iRobot’s customer service about it, but will report back here when I do. In the meantime, I have to give the iRobot Scooba 230 a failing grade. I plan to send ours back for a refund.

Just in case you’re still curious, here’s a link to the iRobot official page for the Scooba 230. Or buy iRobot Scooba 230 + Essentials Kit Robotic Vacuum from Amazon.

Here is a our page with further information about iRobot’s products that aren’t robot vacuum cleaners.

iRobot Announces the Scooba 230

Tiny iRobot Scooba 230

The new Scooba 230 has been shrunk and is now only 6.5 inches wide. It is still 3.5 inches high. This change in dimensions is obviously so that it can navigate the tighter areas in bathrooms. Most specifically behind sink pedestals and toilets. It looks like the Scooba 230 will retain all of its other abilities, but the area it can cover before a refresh has also shrunk to 150 square feet. So yeah, it’s probably going to be more of a bathroom appliance (although that is enough to get my kitchen as well). The Scooba 230 has the same three-stage cleaning system as its older, larger bretheren. It washes, scrubs, squeegees, and vacuums your floor.

These new robots will be available in Spring of 2011.

iRobot Scooba 230

iRobot Press Release

iRobot Expands Popular Home Robot Line with the World’s Most Compact Floor Washing Robot and the Next Generation Roomba

With iAdapt Technology and Innovative Design, iRobot has Every Room of the House Covered
BEDFORD, Mass., Jan. 3, 2011 – iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT), a leader in delivering robotic technology-based solutions, today announced two new home robots to do your dirty work: the iRobot Scooba® 230 – a floor washing robot small enough to clean in tight spaces and around bathroom fixtures – and the iRobot Roomba® 700 Series, the smartest and most effective Roomba vacuum cleaning robots to date. Both will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 6.

iRobot Scooba 230 and iRobot Roomba 700 Series use iAdaptâ„¢ Responsive Cleaning Technology, the most intuitive, flexible and effective way to clean your floors. This system of software and sensors monitors the environment 64 times per second, using dozens of behaviors to ensure the entire floor is thoroughly cleaned. The dirt-centric technology ensures thorough coverage, including under and around furniture, and multiple passes over the areas that need it most.

“These new robots represent our ongoing commitment to developing innovative products that make a difference in people’s lives,” said Jeff Beck, president of iRobot’s Home Robots division. “While Roomba is already the world’s best-selling vacuum cleaning robot, we continue to make improvements to ensure it is the best on the market and stays at the head of the pack. With the compact Scooba 230, we focused on reducing size without compromising effectiveness and navigability. The launch of Scooba 230 has effectively made one of people’s least favorite household chores, cleaning the bathroom, a whole lot easier.”

Small but Mighty
Scooba 230 is a powerful and compact cleaning machine. At 3.5 inches tall and 6.5 inches in diameter, the robot easily cleans in tight spaces, including under and around furniture and bathroom fixtures. The robot’s three-stage cleaning system washes, scrubs and squeegees floors, neutralizing up to 97 percent of common household bacteria*. Scooba 230 holds enough cleaning solution to scrub up to 150 square feet of linoleum, tile or sealed hardwood floors in a single cleaning session.

Unlike with a mop and bucket, Scooba only uses clean solution to wash your floors, never dirty water. Scooba 230’s water management system includes an active reservoir that keeps the cleaning solution and dirty water separate inside the robot. While the robot is cleaning, the active reservoir shrinks in size as cleaning solution is put down on the floor, freeing up space in the robot to hold the dirty water that is picked up. Scooba doesn’t move dirt (or dirty water) around – it gets rid of it.

Scooba uses a series of lights and chimes to let you know it has successfully finished cleaning. The bottom plate of the robot snaps on and off without tools, making it fast and easy to rinse the scrubbing brushes and the squeegee after each use.

Virtual Wall® technology creates an invisible beam that the robot won’t cross, keeping Scooba 230 in the rooms you want to clean and out of the ones you don’t. Cliff sensors ensure the robot automatically avoids stairs and drop-offs while cleaning.

The World’s Best-Selling Vacuum Cleaning Robot Just Got Even Better
The award-winning Roomba vacuum cleaning robot has been revolutionizing the way people clean their homes since 2002, and iRobot has sold more than five million home robots worldwide. The sixth-generation iRobot Roomba 700 Series includes the same state-of-the-art features that Roomba users have come to know and introduces new innovations that make the robot more effective and easier to use. The newest Roomba robots include an updated and improved three-part cleaning system along with several new features and upgrades:

• Advanced cleaning head improves overall cleaning from previous models, including 20 percent better pickup of fine particulates.

• New AeroVacâ„¢ Series 2 bin with a powerful vacuum maximizes air flow through Roomba’s cleaning head to pull more hair and debris off the brushes and into the bin.

• Two HEPA-type air filters keep fine household dust from re-circulating in your home.

• Dirt Detect Series 2 (available on Roomba 770 and 780) uses an acoustic sensor to detect excessive amounts of small and hard debris, such as sand, and an optical sensor to detect larger and soft debris, such as popcorn. Dirt Detect Series 1, which uses the acoustic sensor, is available on the Roomba 760.

• With a Persistent Pass Cleaning Pattern, Roomba uses a brush-like, back-and-forth motion to focus its cleaning when it finds an excessively dirty area.

• New power management software results in 50 percent longer battery life than previous Roomba generations, ensuring hundreds of cleaning cycles with proper use.

• Soft-touch bumper with a new polymer coating protects walls and furniture.

• Full Bin Indicator light turns on when Roomba detects a full dust bin (available on Roomba 770 and 780).

• Touchpad interface provides state-of-the-art control using just your fingertips and eliminates buttons (available on Roomba 780).

Scooba 230 plus Essentials Kit and Roomba 700 Series will be available in spring 2011 at www.irobot.com.