The Roomba 690 is one of the cheapest robot vacuums from iRobot.
It is a nice, long-overdue upgrade from its proven Roomba 650 single-room cleaner, with several features added including Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. It is also WiFi-connected, so you can now control it using an app on your phone.
A combination of sensors, brushes and an auto-adjustable cleaning head allows the Roomba 690 to deliver a great cleaning experience on all floor types.
Our Impression: iRobot Roomba 690 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The Roomba 690 delivers a lot for its price. It’s a nice improvement on the 650, which it replaces in the Roomba vacuum series.
The vacuum has been equipped with improved navigation and dirt-spotting aided by intelligent sensors and software.
The Roomba 690 now joins other iRobot vacuums including the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 in compatibility with smart voice assistants. You can now just say “Alexa, open Roomba.” or “Ok Google, tell Roomba to start cleaning.” to wake the vacuum and get your floor cleaned.
Just don’t expect the same navigation prowess as pricier iRobot models.
And, like its predecessor the 650, the Roomba 690 has trouble with thick shag carpets and dark floors.
The Roomba 690 uses a patented 3-stage cleaning system to ensure thorough cleaning.
The first stage uses a special edge-sweeping brush inclined at a 27-degree angle. This allows it to reach the edges and corners where dust tends to accumulate most.
The second stage involves a dual multi-surface brush system. The two brushes work in tandem to clean your floors. One brush loosens dirt and debris, and then the two brushes lift the dirt together for suctioning.
In the final stage, the motor suctions the collected dirt into a bin.
But it’s not just the brushes and suction that make the Roomba 690 one of the best robot vacuums. It also has ‘Dirt Detect’ sensors.
These sensors scan your floor for areas with a high concentration of dirt, guiding the vacuum to spots where it should spend more time. For example, high traffic areas in your home might get more attention.
The Roomba 690 cleans all types of floors but it performs best on hardwood, tile and lower-pile carpets.
When the 690 gets to a place with a higher pile rug, the brush height adjusts automatically to navigate and clean the surface properly.
Comparing the Roomba 690 vs. the 890 on power, the 690 is not powerful enough to deep-clean shag carpet. But it will get rid of most of the debris, dust and pet hair.
The Roomba 690 is quite powerful. Most owners are surprised at how much dirt it collects. It does a much better job than you do with a manual vacuum cleaner.
It also reaches spots you’d easily miss, especially along edges and in corners and under furniture.
The navigation system is a crucial part of any robot vacuum.
iRobot vacuums have always been great at navigation, using a host of intelligent sensors and algorithms to move quickly and efficiently.
Comparing Roomba 690 with the 650/655, most of the navigational features in the 650 have been carried over to the 690. Specifically, they both use iAdapt Navigation to scout the best path around the room and ensure every spot is covered.
iAdapt uses several sensors and software to guide the vacuum around furniture and other obstacles. It also helps the vacuum sweep along the edges and corners. The Roomba will know where it has been and which areas it has yet to cover.
Cliff detect sensors raise the alarm when the vacuum encounters stairs. It immediately stops and turns back. So you don’t have to worry that your robot vacuum will tumble down the stairs.
The Roomba 690 can also self-dock. When the battery runs low, it automatically finds its way back to the charging base. This feature does not always work perfectly, though – lots of owners say that it sometimes gets stuck and shuts down, on that spot.
While the Roomba 690 performs exceedingly well in navigation, it needs a fairly uncluttered floor to get around. It can move in between and around furniture and your dog’s food bowl. But if there are too many obstacles on the floor, it will inevitably get stuck somewhere. You will receive a ‘rescue me’ notification on your phone.
So for best results, make sure you clear the floor before you set this vacuum loose. Shoes, shopping bags, clothes, and toys are all things that can hinder successful navigation and cleaning.
If there is an area where there is a high risk of the Roomba 690 getting stuck, use the dual mode virtual cleaning wall to restrict it from cleaning there.
Automation and Scheduling
You don’t have to press a button or talk to Alexa every time you want the Roomba 690 to clean. Using the app, you can schedule cleanings ahead of time and view past cleaning history.
The scheduling button is found at the bottom of the screen on the app. This is also where you will find the lifetime cleaning log with stats on some cleanings, total cleaning duration and how many times dirt detect was activated. There are also stats for individual cleanings.
When you tap the Schedule button, the app will bring up a Weekly Schedule tool. Here, you can select the days of the week you want the Roomba to clean and the time to do it.
Scheduling is simple, although a bit tedious since you have to schedule day by day. If you want the Roomba to clean every day, you’ll have to activate each day and decide at what time on each day the Roomba should start cleaning.
Turning off schedules for specific days is simple, too. Just toggle the button on the right side from green to gray.
Once the schedule is set, your robot will clean on the selected days, whether you are at home or work.
Note that you can also command the Roomba 690 to start cleaning at any time even if outside the set schedule. Just press the clean button on the robot or the app (you can use the app button remotely). You can also activate the robot using Alexa or Google Assistant.
The app has a ‘Locate’ feature, too. Press the More button at the bottom of the app screen, and a hidden menu will pop up. The robot will play a short tune announcing its location.
You’ll also find additional settings, resources on care and maintenance and the help center under the More menu.
The Roomba 690 is easy to set up. The first thing you should do is charge it. It takes about three hours to completely recharge from zero.
Definitely download the iRobot HOME app, available for both Android and iOS. You can use the vacuum without the app, but you will miss out on a lot of benefits. You won’t be able to set a schedule, receive notifications or see the cleaning history. The app is free.
Create an account and connect it to your Roomba. You’ll need 2.4GHz WiFi to do this. The Roomba cannot work on a 5GHz network.
You can name the Roomba whatever you want in the app. We call ours “Rosie”, after the Jetson’s maid.
To setup a connection to Amazon Alexa, go to the skills section of the Alexa app and enable the iRobot Home skill. For more instructions on how to activate voice control, go to the iRobot Home app, select Connected Home and then Alexa.
When you have successfully connected Alexa, you can say something like “Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning” to an Amazon Echo speaker to activate the robot vacuum.
Connecting Google Assistant is also easy. You’ll find specific instructions on the iRobot Home app. Go to Connected Home and then select Google Home.
When Google Home is set up, you’ll only need to speak to a Google Home speaker to activate the Roomba.
Valid commands include “Ok Google, ask Roomba what is it doing?” (for status check), “Ok Google, ask Roomba where it is.” (for location check) and “Ok Google, tell Roomba to start cleaning.”
Note that you need to have the latest iRobot Home app to use Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Additionally, these voice control features are only available to customers in the United States.
What It Misses
The Roomba 690 is a relatively low-end robot in the Roomba lineup.
The only cheaper option is the Roomba 614. The Roomba 650, which is now being sold out, has the same MSRP as Roomba 690.
So, we don’t expect all the stellar features available in the high-end models such as the $700 Roomba 960 and the $900 Roomba 980.
Some of the features it lacks include:
- multi-room cleaning
- tangle-free rollers
- a high-efficiency filter
- a recharge and resume feature (it doesn’t automatically resume cleaning after self-recharge)
- custom cleaning settings and
- deep cleaning of high-pile and shag carpets.
Many owners note that it has trouble with some dark floors. For example, it may stall on a black carpet, because its visual sensors think it has encountered stairs.
It also doesn’t do well with self-docking. At times, it wanders around hitting walls, and you have to place it at the charging base yourself.
Finally, as I mentioned, this is not a deep cleaning robot vacuum. Yes, it will clean the dust and pet hair from your rugs, but it cannot handle deeply stuck debris or excessive hair.
The Roomba 690 takes some effort to maintain. There are multiple components you need to check.
After every cleaning, it’s important to empty the dustbin to avoid a buildup of debris that could prevent the robot from picking up more dirt.
Once a week, or twice a week if you have pets, you’ll need to clean the filters. You can use compressed air to get all the stuck dirt and hair out.
Also, clean the brushes and make sure there is nothing stuck to the internal components. You’ll need to disassemble the robot partially. Use the product manual for guidance.
Replace the filters every two months and the brushes once or twice a year depending on their state.
The front coaster wheel also needs to be constantly checked. Make sure there is no debris impeding movement and replace it every year.
If the Robot vacuum experiences a problem such as not moving or reduced cleaning performance, consult the troubleshooting guide in the manual.
Dual mode virtual wall.
Dimensions: 18.7 x 16.5 x 5.5 inches Weight: 7.8lbs
Dirt Detect technology.
iAdapt intelligent navigation.
60-minute runtime with the self-charge feature.
3-hour recharge time.
iRobot Home app
Deep cleaning: no
Remote control: yes
Voice assistant control: yes