iRobot Roomba 694 Review 2023

An iRobot robot vacuum has been on my wishlist since the day I set foot in my first apartment. The thought of a little machine effortlessly whirring around my floor picking up dog hair and dust was too good to be true. Though there’s a time and a place for a stick vacuum, I excitedly accepted this assignment for a Roomba 694 review to put the gadget to the test using common messes found in my home.

As the mom of a 17-month-old baby girl and a 3-year-old German Shepherd mix, there’s no shortage of messes in my house, so I wanted to see if Roomba’s most affordable robot vacuum was up to basic, everyday cleaning tasks. I wanted to test how well this robot vacuum could avoid cords, shoes and laundry without getting tangled in a mess, overheating and giving up.

I put this vacuum cleaner to work over the course of six months and observed how it cleaned carpets, wood floors and tile. Though the Roomba 694 isn’t the smartest or most advanced option from iRobot, it is the most affordable, and it’s a great way to stay on top of routine vacuuming. I now rely on it to keep my floors free of what used to be ubiquitous piles of dog hair. It’s an efficient and easy-to-use gadget, and it’s a hands-off way to maintain cleaner carpets and hardwood floors. If you’re debating which Roomba to get, read my full piece on how to shop for the best Roombas for you.

Self-Emptying: No | Programmable: Yes | Warranty: Limited 2-year | Voice Assistant Compatible: Yes

Best for:

  • You have an open floor plan
  • Pet hair is an issue in your home
  • You don’t have time to vacuum daily

Skip if:

  • You want to clean up targeted messes in specific, hard-to-reach spots.

Roomba 694 Features

Simple To Set Up And Use

The iRobot Roomba 694 is an efficient robot vacuum that can independently clean large, open spaces, but it won’t find and pick up specific messes. It did a fantastic job navigating through door frames and was able to transition easily from hardwood to carpet to tile, even though it didn’t have some of the more advanced features like the ability to learn and map my home or self-empty.

Unboxing and set-up is easy thanks to simple instructions—just plug in the charging station, download the app and let it charge. Everything is controlled using the iRobot app, so you can tell Roomba when to begin, how long to clean for, and when to return “home” to its charging station.

Unlike some other Roomba models, the 694 model doesn’t have the ability to map your home and learn specific spaces. That means you can’t give it instructions like “clean under the dining room table,” which makes targeting specific messes difficult. I like that it independently maneuvers through the home for daily upkeep, and it’s particularly useful if you have a dog who sheds (like mine does). However, there are certain spaces in my home where it always gets stuck—like under my couch or on the lip of my sliding door—so I can see how having a more intelligent robot vacuum would be helpful. Though I like having a hands-off solution to effortlessly maintain cleaner floors, I still needed to use my handheld vacuum when cleaning specific messes like piles of crumbs or spilled cereal.

Strong Enough Suction To Vacuum Pet Hair

Throughout testing I found the suction to be powerful—it lifted dog hair out of carpeting and easily picked up dirt from hardwood and tile. However, it isn’t as powerful as my stick vacuum or standard upright vacuum, and I definitely notice that some debris gets left behind, and due to the lack of mapping technology, there are times when it misses messes completely. The Roomba 694 uses WiFi and Roomba’s patented “DirtDetect” technology to detect dirtier areas of the home and clean them more thoroughly. I found this to be true in my tests—I noticed that when Roomba did stumble upon some dirt, it spent more time cleaning that specific spot. Through a three-stage cleaning system it uses dual multi-surface brushes to loosen, lift and suck, which helps grab dirt and pet hair from carpets and hardwood flooring.

A spinning corner brush aims to sweep up corners and edges. However, I didn’t find the brush to be effective. In fact, when the robot came upon the pile of chips in my test, the corner brush scattered the chips across the floor, which actually made it more messy.

The Roomba 694 is designed to easily transition from hardwood floor to carpet to tile, and I was surprised to find that it did so seamlessly. In fact, it even climbed over thresholds and easily made its way through the many doorframes of my home, easily maneuvering through different rooms throughout the cleaning process. Though this model doesn’t have the “Cliff Detect” feature that the Roomba s9+ does, I found that for the most part, it avoided staircases—with only one or two occasions where it fell down my kitchen step. Keep in mind that this model is not compatible with extra-plush carpeting. It wasn’t able to effectively climb over the edge of my sheepskin rug, and each time it came in contact with the surface of the rug it stopped and reported an error message.

Overcomes Obstacles, But Clear Clutter First

The Roomba 694 easily maneuvered through my old, Colonial-style, two-story house that has original wood floor boards, twists and turns, and slightly raised thresholds between each door frame. It had no problem navigating through the different rooms, and I was surprised at how easily it climbed from hardwood to carpet. However, there are certain areas of my home where it can get tripped up, so I’ve learned to make sure my sliding glass door is always shut so it doesn’t get stuck on the ledge, and I’ve made a habit of closing my bathroom door so it doesn’t try to climb up the 3-inch tile lip in the entryway. Though it worked well in my complicated house, this would be a better option for someone with an open floor plan looking to maintain clean floors every day.

This model is not ideal for cluttered homes that might be scattered with cords, shoes and kids’ toys. In my testing, it has sucked up phone chargers and even dragged down a particularly-long hanging plant from my mantle. Therefore, I found that it worked most efficiently when I picked up any clutter beforehand. During the test runs that I didn’t clean up beforehand, it got tangled on shoelaces and lamp cords, which meant I had to stop and untangle it.

Not Self-Emptying, But A Cinch To Clean

Lastly, I loved how easy it is to empty. Some of the more advanced Roomba models have a self-emptying feature, which means the Roomba will empty any dirt and debris into a bin each time it returns to the charging station, and the bin can hold debris for up to 60 days. However, the 694 is so easy to empty manually it doesn’t feel like a necessary feature. Simply press down on the empty button, slide out the bin, dump into the trash and slide it back on.

Overall, this is an efficient, robot vacuum that can handle different surfaces and has helped me maintain cleaner floors. Though there are Roomba models that boast more bells and whistles—like smart mapping and hazard detection—this is a simple and affordable option that did a fantastic job at keeping my floors clean. It’s best for uncomplicated homes or apartments that don’t have too much clutter.

Diminished Charging After Months of Use

After many months of using the machine and the accompanying app, I noticed that the vacuum had a more difficult time finding its charging station than it did in the beginning. I often found myself having to pick up the machine and move it manually to the charging station. With a bit of research I learned that picking it up can confuse the WiFi sensors, making it more and more difficult to find its home.

I also noticed that the charging receptacle is not as responsive as it was when I first started using it. Once the machine returns home, the charging pad on the vacuum lines up with the charging port on your floor, and the machine lights up and dings to let you know it’s charging. However, after a few months, it became harder and harder to line up, and the machine would often ding and then report an error, so I would have to repeatedly jiggle the machine a tiny bit to make sure the parts were lined up exactly. It’s important to note that if you have a complicated house like mine, opting for a Roomba model that offers mapping and the ability to learn your home might be a better solution for you.

My Expertise

I’m a food and lifestyle writer who has written thoughtful, analytical product reviews for Food & Wine, Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, and other reputable outlets known for product testing. I have written articles about vacuums and iRobot Roombas specifically, including a deeply researched piece for Forbes Vetted that identifies which Roomba is the best for different needs. With a degree in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education and years of professional culinary experience, I’m an expert at testing and reviewing kitchen and home products to help readers make informed purchasing decisions.

How I Tested The iRobot Roomba 694

For this piece, I tested the ease of use, cleaning power and versatility of the Roomba 694 for use in the average home. Over three weeks, I assessed the machine’s ability to effectively clean carpet, hardwood floor, and shag carpeting.

Robot vacuums should make cleaning your floors easier, so I first looked at how convenient the Roomba 694 was to use. I considered how long the battery lasted between charges, and how easy it was to empty the vacuum when full. iRobot also has an app, and I evaluated how easy the smart technology was to use. I’m not a big tech person—I resist downloading extra apps if I don’t have to—so I will admit that I rolled my eyes when I realized I needed to download the iRobot app to control my Roomba. However, I was delighted to see how simple it was to use. I used it to schedule cleanings and nudge my robot to return “home” whenever cleaning was complete.

To test overall performance, I let the machine run through my house—it’s not easy to clean, so I made note of how the Roomba handled the complicated floor plan. To test versatility, I observed how easily the machine could transition between surfaces, and took note of whether or not it got tripped up when climbing from hardwood to carpet to kitchen tile. To test functionality, I scattered broken potato chips and dirt on three surfaces—hardwood, carpet, and shag carpet—I then recorded how effectively it could pick up particles on each surface.

What About The Roomba 692?

The Roomba 692 is identical to the 694, it just doesn’t come with an extra filter—and it’s also often on sale for a lower price (right now, it’s 40{30865861d187b3c2e200beb8a3ec9b8456840e314f1db0709bac7c430cb25d05} off for Amazon Prime Day). The 692 is only available on Amazon, too. If you’re willing to buy extra filters separately, you may be able to get the absolute best deal on a Roomba with the Roomba 692.

Can You Program the Roomba 694 in Advance?

Yes, using the iRobot app you can set specific cleaning schedules. That means you can schedule the Roomba to start cleaning every Sunday at 6PM, and the app will suggest cleaning schedules based on your habits.

How Do You Empty the Vacuum?

Though it’s not self-emptying, the Roomba 694 is very easy to empty. Just press the bin release tab, slide it out, and dump any debris in the trash. It comes with one replacement filter. You can get replacement filters and other parts from iRobot.

Can The Roomba 694 Pair With The Braava Jet m6?

No, this unit cannot communicate with iRobot’s robot vacuum mop, the Braava Jet m6, and will not tell it when to begin mopping.