If you have pets, carpets, and hard floors, both the Roomba 980 and Roomba 985 are great choices. Twin rubber brushrolls prevent tangled hair from accumulating, and they self-adjust to meet the floor’s height. iRobot even added dirt-detection technology that instantly increases the suction when the 980 and 985 are vacuuming an exceptionally dirty carpet.

Roomba 980

Roomba 980

With the iAdapt 2.0 sensor leading the way, the Roomba 980 and 985 are able to map and memorize the layout of one home level. You can use the iRobot HOME app, Alexa or Assistant to start and stop a cleaning session; scheduling is also available through the app. Here’s how these two Roombas compare feature by feature.

Tangle-Resistant Brushes

You’ll see many similarities between the Roomba 980 and 985, starting with the brush system. Both have a pair of rubber brushrolls that flex to hug the surface of the floor. While the short rubber blades on the brushrolls prevent hair from wrapping around them, you can remove the brushrolls without tools when you need to wipe off dirt.

Roomba 980 vs 985

Each robot also has a single side brush. Built into a robust module, the side brush is affixed with nylon bristles. Since it sits at a 27-degree angle, this brush does a bang-up job of removing dirt from wall edges and corners. iRobot even includes a spare side brush, so you’ll have a replacement on hand.

Conclusion: iRobot always sticks to a single-brush setup. While two side brushes are always better than one, at least the Roomba 980 and 985’s edge sweeper is durable and angled. Using two brushrolls helps these robots grab debris, and both are made of rubber to keep tangles at a minimum.

Automatic Variable Suction

Powered by iRobot’s Gen 3 motor, the Roomba 980 and 985 deliver suction at 10 times the strength of its older Roomba 600s. iRobot designed both robots’ floor plates to rise and fall, which puts the suction inlet as close to the floor as possible.

A release button makes removing the dirt bin a breeze. On top of the bin, there is a separate compartment that contains a high-efficiency filter, which boasts a 99-percent efficiency rate for capturing allergens as small as 10 microns. Use the included spare filter when it’s time to replace the original 6 months down the road.

Rounding out the list of suction-related features is iRobot’s dirt-detect technology. This acoustic sensor uses sound waves to determine whether there is an abnormally large amount of dirt on the carpet, instantly increasing the suction to thoroughly clean the area. After it removes the mess, or when it’s vacuuming hard floors, the suction automatically returns to normal.

Conclusion: Typically, iRobot makes the suction more powerful with each new line of Roombas it releases, but our favorite suction feature is the automatic dirt-detect sensor, which is a lifesaver for pet owners and parents alike. While the filter isn’t a true-HEPA media, it can handle common large allergens – animal hair, dust and pollen.

Two-Hour Runtime

These two robotic vacuum cleaners contain a 3,300 milliampere-hour lithium-ion battery, which keeps the suction steady down to the last percent of charge. When the battery level is at 100 percent, the Roombas can run for 120 minutes.

iRobot Roomba 980

Battery charging is nearly automated. Their room-confinement sensor locates the dock when the battery is low, so they can make their way to it for a recharge. While the robo vacs create a new map with each cleaning cycle, they retain the current map for 90 minutes, allowing them to resume cleaning after a mid-cycle recharge.

Conclusion: The recharge/resume feature on the 980 and 985 is the gold standard for robotic vacuums. Both Roombas contain a powerful lithium-ion battery, and their runtime of 2 hours is longer than most robo vacs can last.

iAdapt 2.0 Navigation

Navigation is where these Roombas excel. The Roomba 980 and 985 are equipped with about 15 sensors, including collision sensors in the bumper, odometry sensors in the wheels and six cliff sensors in the undercarriage. There is also a floor-tracking sensor that calculates the distance and determines the direction of the 980 and 985’s route.

Using the information provided by the floor-tracking, odometry and other sensors, the iAdapt 2.0 optical sensor locates data points throughout your house to figure out where the robots are positioned in the layout. Then, visual simultaneous localization and mapping algorithms are utilized to build a map.

Roomba 900 Robot Vacuums

The beauty of combining iAdapt 2.0 with vSLAM is that the Roomba 980 and 985 can memorize one complete story of your home at a time. This means the Roombas can use the map to vacuum without missing spots and travel in a straight-line path. Every time a new cleaning session starts, they make a new map.

Conclusion: Both Roombas have a full array of sensors that keep them from falling down the stairs, bumping into objects and moving without purpose. Although they can remember the entire layout of one home level, the robots must rebuild their map each time a session starts. However, this downside becomes an upside if you’ve rearranged the furniture.

Virtual Wall Barriers

Each robotic vacuum works with a Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier should you choose to use it. This tiny, slim tower has a sliding switch that lets you select wall mode or halo mode. On wall mode, the tower creates a straight barrier that extends to 10 feet. On halo mode, the tower makes a protective 4-foot half-circle.

Wall mode is ideal for blocking access to a room – Most people place the tower in a doorway. Halo mode keeps the robots away from objects – It’s great for forming a no-go zone around fireplaces, pet dishes and electronics. The 980 comes with two Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers while the Roomba 985 comes with one.

Conclusion: Although many Roombas are compatible with iRobot’s Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers, not all models come with one. Almost anyone can find a use for these access-blocking towers. The Roomba 980 comes with one tower, which is enough for most people. However, those who have larger homes may need two, which is the number included with the 985.

Roomba 980 vs 985 Comparison

Wi-Fi Controls

Wi-Fi connectivity has almost become a requirement instead of a luxury for robotic vacuum buyers, and iRobot obliges with the 980 and 985. Both robo vacs can be controlled when you’re out of the house by using the iRobot HOME app. The app has functions like status monitoring, a performance log, a scheduler and mode adjustment.

You can also pair it with an Assistant or an Alexa device to issue voice commands such as dock, start and stop. While limited, there are a few functions on the robots themselves, including auto clean, spot clean and dock. Onboard indicators for the battery, Wi-Fi connection, dirt-detect feature and debris bin keep you abreast of the robots’ statuses.

Conclusion: Localized buttons, a smartphone app, virtual assistant voice commands – All the types of controls you want are available on the Roomba 980 and 985. The only option it lacks is an infrared remote, but you won’t miss it since you can use the iRobot HOME app.

iRobot Roomba 980

iRobot Roomba 980

What’s in the Box

Roomba 980 Roomba 985
1 Home Base™ Charging Station
1 Line Cord
2 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers (batteries included)
1 Extra Filter
1 Extra Side Brush
1 Home Base™ Charging Station
1 Line Cord
1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers (batteries included)
1 Extra Filter

A Few Steps Ahead of the Competition

Although these two Roombas do not have a viewable or an interactive on-app map, they do create an internal map, allowing them to navigate your house methodically. The full spectrum of Wi-Fi controls is available on both models, and their runtime is rather lengthy, which is great news for large-home owners.

We also like the brush design. Pet hair is no match for the rubber material and brushroll pairing. The suction automatically increases when extra power is needed, and the floor plate adjusts to the floor’s height. If you regularly rinse the filter and clean the side brush, you won’t need to spend much on maintenance.

The only difference between the two robo vacs is that the Roomba 985 comes with two virtual wall barriers while the Roomba 980 only has one. If you need extra barrier control, go with the 985. Otherwise, the Roomba 980 is an excellent choice.

Roomba 980

Roomba 980

3 Recommended Robot Vacuum Cleaners
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(< $200)
iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S MAX Ecovacs Deebot N79S
iRobot Eufy Ecovacs
s9+ 11S MAX N79S
Continuous 100 min 110 min
12.2 x 12.2 x 3.5 in 17.8 x 13.7 x 4.8 in 33 x 33 x 7.8 in
20 pounds 5.73 pounds 7.05 pounds
Review Review Review

Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners of 2019 Buying Guide

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