We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Roomba 891 vs 960 (2020): Which Smart Robot Vacuum Should You Get?

iRobot’s series of robotic vacuum cleaners continue to dominate the market. With the Roomba 891 and the Roomba 960, the company’s pushing for devices that deliver powerful cleaning alongside smarter navigation. Given that the price difference between the two is quite slim, choosing which robovac to buy can be tough. Below, we share our thoughts about some key features of the 891 and 960 to help you pick the right cleaner for your home.

Roomba 891 vs 960 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba 891Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba 891 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard...iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair,...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Rating

Dimensions13.9″ x 13.9″ x 3.6″13.8″ x 13.8″ x 3.6″
Weight8.4 lbs8.5 lbs
Suction Power5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 Series5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 Series
Bin Capacity200 ml600 ml
BrushesDual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, Edge-Sweeping BrushDual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes, Edge-Sweeping Brush
Dirt Detect TechnologyAdvancedAdvanced
NavigationIntelligent NavigationVisual Nav + Mapping
FilterHEPAHEPA
RuntimeUp to 90 minutesUp to 75 minutes
Charging Time120 minutes180 minutes
Automatic RechargingYesRecharge and Resume
Wi-Fi & Smart Home ConnectedYesYes

Design

The two smart vacuum cleaners are nearly identical in size and configuration, differing only in the color of its finish. 

The Roomba 891 (left) has a champagne accent while the Roomba 960 (right) looks sleeker in its black and gray finish.

The Roomba 891 and 960 come in a uniquely designed, circular form that has become synonymous to iRobot’s range of smart vacuum cleaners. Both robovacs sport an ‘inner’ core bordered by a plastic ring. The top view of the two are also quite similar except for the arrangement of the triple-button control panel. On the other hand, the underside of both the 891 and 960 houses dual multi-surface rubber brushes while the sides carry the edge-sweeping brushes. These bristle-free brushes are central to Roomba’s cleaning prowess.

With their sturdy external shell, both the Roomba 891 and 960 carry a refined aesthetic that’s firmly anchored on the brand’s reputation for durability and reliability. If you prefer a cleaner that’s more discreet, the Roomba 960’s gray and black finish offers an industrial feel that’s less attention-grabbing than the 891’s champagne accent.

Both devices are hefty at over 8 pounds. They also share the same height profile at 3.6 inches. While it’s certainly a smaller frame compared to traditional vacuum cleaners, mobility may still be limited underneath some furniture.

Cleaning Performance

The Roomba 891 performs better in hardwood floors and tiles while the Roomba 960 does a great job cleaning carpets.

A closer inspection shows how the Roomba 891 clears debris, and fits underneath furniture. 

Robot vacuum cleaners are not perfect, and as far as floor-care categories go, they are still not as powerful as your traditional vacuum. However, over the years, iRobot has invested in embedding innovative  technology in their Roomba line, and the 891 and 960 are certainly no exceptions.

Both robovacs come equipped with 5x the suction power of the more entry-level Roomba 600 series. They also share the same AeroForce technology that leverages the vacuum’s multi-surface brushes to lift and loosen particles of dirt and debris for suctioning. iRobot has ensured the brushes are also anti-tangle, making them ideal for households with pets. For those concerned about their health, the Roombas also come with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that trap dust, pollen, and allergens up to 10 microns small.

Using optics and acoustics, the Roomba 891 and 960 can automatically detect dirt and suction it clean. To clean room edges and corners, edge sweeping brushes on the sides are precisely-angled at 27-degrees.

Although the two vacuum cleaners can adjust its brushes to the surface, the Roomba 891 works better on hardwood floors and tiles while the 960 does an impressive job cleaning carpets. The 960, however, has a larger 600ml bin capacity compared to the 891’s modest 200ml. On the other hand, you’ll get a longer runtime with the Roomba 891—up to 90 minutes—while keeping charging time to just two hours.

Mapping & Navigation

The Roomba 960‘s advanced mapping system allows for more precise navigation compared to the 891’s rather arbitrary movements.

The Roomba 891 (left) can handle room corners with its edge sweep brushes while the 960 (right) boasts of a recharge and resume feature.

While the cleaning technology used by the Roomba 891 and 960 are quite similar, the latter has better navigation features. This is largely due to the Roomba 900 Series having the benefit of a camera, as well as the new iAdapt 2.0 + VSLAM navigation system.

Even though the Roomba 891 can cover a lot of ground, it still runs on an iAdapt 1.0 system that directs its movements rather randomly. While it does get the job done, users may find it a little scatterbrained. The Roomba 900, on the other hand, uses its camera to take images of your house for better navigation. Combined with its suite of intelligent sensors, the visual localization gives the vacuum precise and methodical mobility inside your home, and across multiple rooms.

If you’re worried about the Roomba 891 or 960 missing a step, then the Cliff Detect technology should appease you. These sensors are available in both vacuums and should ensure your cleaners never make a tumble down the stairs or knock down objects. Do keep in mind, however, that the feature does run into trouble in dark or black carpets, as the sensors tend to assume them as ‘cliffs’ or elevated areas in your house.

Smart Features

Both robot vacuum cleaners are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be operated using the iRobot app.

While both robovacs can be operated using the iRobot HOME app, only the Roomba 960 comes with Imprint Technology to pair it with your Braava (right).

For greater convenience, both the Roomba 891 and 960 are auto-recharging, which means the vacuum cleaners will return to their charging dock on their own. However, unlike the Roomba 960, which can recharge and then resume cleaning exactly where it stopped, the Roomba 891’s lack of visual navigation prevents it from returning to the position it left. This means you’ll have to manually put it back in the room it was last cleaning.

Nonetheless, both robovacs are easy to set-up and come with intuitive features that take advantage of today’s wireless innovations. As a smart vacuum cleaner, the Roomba 891 and 960 enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing users to control the devices using their smartphones. Through the iRobot HOME app, you get push notifications about your Roomba’s status including full bin indicator, battery level, and cleaning missions. Both cleaners are also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, which means you can operate them by voice command.

To make things even more efficient, the Roomba 960 comes with Imprint Technology. This feature allows users to pair the Roomba 960 with iRobot’s own Braava Jet Robot Mop and schedule their work in sequence: vacuuming first, mopping second.

Verdict

The Roomba 960 offers more value-for-money given its advanced navigation system compared to the Roomba 891.

Although the Roomba 891 uses the same technology as the Roomba 960, the latter has a more advanced navigation system for a more methodical cleaning. While some people won’t mind the 891 buzzing about in different directions, the convenience you get from the Roomba 960’s guided mobility is an added benefit you’ll appreciate better over time.

While the Roomba 960 takes longer to charge for a shorter runtime, you do get a larger bin capacity that should minimize cleanup from the user’s end. And with the current sale, the 960’s price tag is only a tad bit more expensive than the 891, making it a huge deal considering its added features.

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

RELATED  Roomba i3+ vs s9 (2020): Which Robot Vacuum Cleaner Is Better?
Mari Bassig
Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.