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iRobot Roomba e5 review | Digital Trends


iRobot Roomba e5 review: Superb and affordable

MSRP $349.00

“For a budget-friendly bot it checks a lot of boxes.”

Pros

  • Cleans well
  • Can recharge itself and resume cleaning
  • Finds its way around fairly gently
  • Affordable
  • Not too loud

Cons

  • Small dustbin
  • No full dustbin alerts
  • Cleaning is more random, less methodical

Robot vacuum makers put a lot of effort into creating all kinds of new technology, and the newest, fanciest robots can cost hundreds of dollars. But what about those in the more budget-friendly realm? Are they still as effective, efficient, and reliable as their pricier cousins? I received a sample of the Roomba e5 from iRobot and in my in-home review, I’ll tell you about its cleaning power, effectiveness, and what it can do when compared to those more expensive robots — or if you’ll be wishing you’d spent a few more bucks for those features.

iRobot Roomba e5 review

iRobot e5 is a Wi-Fi-connected, app-controlled home sweeping and vacuuming robot. It’s about the same size and looks similar to other Roombas, but without the price tag.

The e5 works just like any other Roomba, though this version seems to feel more than see its way around your room by bumping gently into things, then backing away from obstacles and carrying on. One key difference in this robot over the more expensive options from iRobot: it doesn’t have mapping and intelligent navigation where it can truly see around those obstacles, so you might say it navigates more by touch than sight. (Fear not: Cliff sensors prevent it from toppling down stairs.)

The Roomba e5 navigates more by touch than sight.Roomba e5: What’s missing compared to higher cost Roombas?

When compared to the much more expensive Roombas, that navigation and home mapping are missing, and those features would normally allow you to create a map of your home so you can clean specific rooms of your home, or set cleaning schedules for those specific rooms of the house on particular days. As it is, while you can schedule this bot, you can’t tell it exactly where to clean when it does go out.

The e5 has less suction than the Roomba s9+ for example, and there’s no suction boost on carpets with the e5, unlike on the s9. Even so, it still gets the job done admirably, if somewhat blindly.

With the Roomba e5, you will need to empty the dustbin yourself when it’s full. The e5 does not have the option of using automatic dirt disposal. iRobot indicates that you will get reminders to empty the dustbin, but I couldn’t seem to get this to work in practice. Too often I’d remember to check and the dustbin would be overflowing. (Ewww.)

Since we’re comparing the e5 to the s9+, while the s9 will return to base and recharge itself as needed to complete the clean of your whole house, the e5 has a maximum run time of 90 minutes.

The Roomba e5 doesn't always remind you to empty the dustbin.
The overflowing dustbin.

How does Roomba e5 clean?

Enough with what it’s missing; let’s dig in on what the Roomba e5 has and what it can do. Generally speaking, I’ve found that iRobot Roombas clean quite well and this vacuum is no exception.

The e5 picked up a lot of different things, from pet hair to crumbs and fine dirt, as well as grittier bits.

The e5 picked up a lot of different things, from pet hair to crumbs and fine dirt, as well as grittier bits. While it does seem to clean in a more random fashion and less methodical one, it still seems to get the job done.

Different floor types

The e5 was able to transition well between different floors, from tile to hardwood to carpet, and it cleaned each area well. I have seen some users say it struggles with taller flooring transitions, but in my home where the transitions are fairly low, it was able to get around just fine.

In my testing, the e5 would do about two or three rooms of my 1000 square foot main floor on a single charge. The robot would go from room to room and find its way in through doorways and around beds or furniture easily.

Spot cleaning with Roomba e5

This Roomba also has a very handy ‘spot clean’ mode where the device will begin a series of swirl patterns and inhale everything in that single area. I decided to test this feature by pouring some flour on the floor and then bringing the Roomba over to attack it. There’s some grout missing from the tile floor, and while the Roomba e5 did not have the suction power to get the flour out of those deeper spaces, it was able to suction all flour from the tile surface.

Does Roomba e5 get stuck?

In my testing, I find Roombas are the least likely of all the robot vacuums I’ve reviewed, to get stuck in the first place. I will say I have come home a couple of times to find older Roombas paused at the edge of the stairs, or stuck on a rug or a stray sock. That’s because these bots don’t have the same obstacle recognition and avoidance tech that the newest Roomba (j7+) has.

In my testing, I find Roombas are the least likely of all the robot vacuums I’ve reviewed, to get stuck in the first place.

Using the iRobot app

With the iRobot app, you can manage your vacuum easily, adjust settings, and start cleaning from anywhere, even inside the house or from your office across town. Using the schedule feature, you can pick which days of the week and at what time you want cleaning to happen. The app is very intuitive and easy to manage.

Noise level

The first question a lot of people have about a robot vacuum is about noise. I did feel like the e5 was marginally quieter than the s9, though that could be because of its slightly lower suction power. If noise is an issue for you, it’s easy enough to schedule the vacuuming for when you’re out.

The Roomba e5 has convenient scheduling features. Will Roomba e5 work with Google or Alexa?

iRobot’s Roomba devices work with both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, meaning you can just ask your assistant to send it out, send it home, pause the vacuuming, and more. The digital assistant features work quite well —and they’re convenient.

The digital assistant features work quite well —and they’re convenient.

Our take

iRobot e5 is a superb robot vacuum at a fraction of the price of other models. It sweeps your home thoroughly and has a plethora of remote-controlled features. I felt like I got great cleaning power and all the important features I needed. When it comes to the downsides, I never received any full dustbin alerts to my iPhone. I also wish that for this vacuum’s size, the dustbin was larger.

I’ll bet you won’t even miss the stuff this robot doesn’t have, like home mapping or automatic dirt disposal, though if you think you must have those features, an increase to your budget will give you lots more to play with.

Is there a better alternative?

Could there be a “better” alternative to this robot vacuum? Certainly. iRobot Roomba s9+ or the very-new Roomba j7+ are both far smarter and loaded with more features and customizations, but at a budget price point, this bot is pretty great. You could also check out Shark’s budget bot, the Shark ION 750.

How long will it last?

I’ve owned another Roomba (the iRobot Roomba S7+) for about five years now. With regular maintenance like keeping the rollers clear and filters clean, and ensuring wheels and components are free of tangles, it runs like a dream. I have no doubt the Roomba e5  will also keep my home clean for years to come.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Overall, the Roomba e5 is easy to set up, easy to use, and cleans your home very well at a great, low price. I think it’s a great starter robot housekeeper for people on a budget and I can absolutely recommend it.

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