When you hear the name Samsung, you may think cell phone or television. Now, you can also think robotic home cleaning. The Samsung POWERbot R9350 makes a run at the all-time champion iRobot’s Roomba 980. Which should be the droid you are looking for?
In this article, I will examine the two combatants up close and personal. I will take you through their differences and similarities, as well as giving you an in-depth look at their features and options. Two robot vacuums will enter, one will emerge. Read the entire article and find out why the Roomba 980 is still the king of the dust bunnies.
- 1 The Differences Have Suction
- 2 The Similarities Will Brush You Over
- 3 Side By Side Comparison Chart of Cleanliness
- 4 Features and Options Details
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 What I Like About The Roomba 980
- 7 What I Like About the POWERbot R9350
- 8 In Conclusion
The Differences Have Suction
When it comes to robot vacuums, there are going to be differences between not only models, but brands as well. Here are the differences in these two:
- The POWERbot uses front camera navigation where the Roomba also relies on bump sensors.
- Roomba 980 has side brushes for edge cleaning; the POWERbot R9350 has a mechanical plank.
- You can point clean with the R9350 using a laser which you can’t do on the 980.
- Roomba makes use of Virtual Wall Barriers to prevent access to areas, where the POWERbot uses magnetic tape.
- The battery life of the R9350 is up to 90 minutes; it is up to 120 minutes on the 980.
- The Roomba has a lower clearance than the POWERbot, but almost two inches.
- The Samsung machine has a slightly larger dust bin than the iRobot model.
- You can manually steer the POWERbot using the mobile app, a feature not available on the Roomba.
- The POWERbot has a physical remote control that the Roomba doesn’t have.
The Similarities Will Brush You Over
While they are different machines by different companies, they do have a lot in common.
- Both versions come with a one year warranty.
- Each of the models uses camera technology for mapping and navigation.
- Both have an extra speed for cleaning on carpets.
- The Roomba 980 and the POWERbot R9350 have high profile wheels for terrain transition.
- You can schedule cleaning cycles on each of the robots.
- Controlling the machines with your voice is possible on both models through Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
- There is a mobile app for each machine.
- The Roomba 980 and POWERbot R9350 will auto dock when the battery gets low.
- Once the battery is recharged, both bots will resume cleaning where they left off.
- Each comes with a detangle feature for fringe and cords.
- Both Samsung and iRobot included optical sensors for cliff detection.
- There is a full bin indicator on each of the droids.
- Both the 980 and the R9350 will use sensors for dirt detection and deeper cleaning.
Side By Side Comparison Chart of Cleanliness
Let’s take a look at the two battle bots in a fancy side by side chart.
|Roomba 980||POWERbot R9350|
|Weight||8.7 pounds||10.8 pounds|
|Clearance Height||3.6 inches||5.3 inches|
|Battery Life||Up to 120 minutes||Up to 90 minutes|
|Bin Capacity||0.6 liters||0.7 liters|
|Sensors||Bump, Optical, Acoustic, Camera||Optical, Acoustic, Camera|
|Navigation||IAdapt 2.0||Visionary Sensor|
|Cleaning Technology||AeroForce with PowerBoost||12.2 inch Combo Brush Roll|
|Suction||10 watts||30 watts|
|Filtration||AeroForce HEPA||Washable Filter|
|Entire Level Cleaning||Yes||Yes|
|Full Bin Indicator||Yes||Yes|
|Smart Home Integration||Yes||Yes|
|Manual Direction Cleaning||No||Yes|
|Barricades||Virtual Wall Barriers||Magnetic Strip|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year|
|Price||Check on Amazon||Check on Amazon|
Features and Options Details
Has Roomba finally met its match? Will the king of autonomous floor-cleaning finally be dethroned? Samsung makes a very strong case on paper. Let’s dive into the inner workings and find out if that holds up.
Robot vacuum navigation and mapping have come a long way since the first Roomba rolled across its very first floor. Gone are the days of sporadic cleaning lines and seemingly random circles to nowhere.
The intelligent sensors now allow for a complete mapping of the entire home. With the aid of digital cameras, this task is even more inclusive. Now items such as furniture, flower pots and floor lamps can be seen and avoided instead of bumped.
The POWERbot has nine sensors and the front mount camera. The camera will scan each room to make a map, then as it rolls around the floor the sensors add details to the map, including distance from starting point to an obstacle, path length to walls or furniture and the like.
The initial mapping, depending on the size of the floor space should take about three hours. This will map the entire area from the base station, through the house, and back. Once the cleaning cycles begin, the duration will decrease. However, there is one issue I have found.
The mapping and navigation are done very well, almost too well. If you are the type with little amounts of furniture or items on the floor, you will notice the issue less often. However, if you move anything, say, swap the recliner for the love seat, or buy a new end table that wasn’t there before, the bot will only see it until it reaches that point.
Because the POWERbot has a front-facing camera with a 130-degree field of view, it will avoid a head-on collision. However, if something is in the turn radius that it doesn’t see, and hasn’t mapped before, it will hit it.
The POWERbot R9350 has been known to push chairs, lamps and even end tables around entire rooms, or knocking them over, because of this limitation.
If the robot detects something new or different, it will have to remap the entire place as it cleans on the next cycle, which can take, again, another three hours.
For the Roomba 980, the mapping is done pretty much the same way. The camera will scan and continuously update while the sensors detect items the camera may have missed and will create and store a map in its memory.
Instead of creating a single scan of a room, the low-resolution camera takes multiple snapshots as it travels to build a 3-D map by layering the images over one another until the entire space is mapped.
When the cleaning cycles begin, the time drops, like with the R9350. The difference is that the Roomba then continuously updates the map as it goes. If you make changes to the layout, the Roomba will notice these changes and adjust the map on the fly. While it will still bump into new items at times, the bump sensors will prevent it from moving things around the room.
Both robots come with drop sensors on the bottom of the machines. These detect ledges and stairs that prevent the droids from falling. Both have issues with dark flooring because of this. Dark carpet, especially in direct contrast to the flooring the robot is on, can cause them to avoid cleaning that area.
This is also true of collisions with the POWERbot R9350 and dark colored furniture. The camera may not be able to distinguish a black chair leg from empty space and crash right into it. There have also been reports that the legs are not seen and passed through, only to be seen when attempting to get out from under the chair, causing the robot to get stuck.
Bottom Line: Roomba 980 wins. The POWERbot is excellent at mapping and pretty good at navigation. However, the Roomba has less damaging collisions and less often.
2. Battery Life Expectancy
Battery life is a large concern, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Part of the enjoyment of having these robotic cleaners is that you don’t have to be home to get your floors done. However, if the robot has to recharge constantly, you may come home and find it hasn’t been completed.
While this isn’t the end of the world, it can be frustrating. The POWERbot R9350 has a battery life of up to 90 minutes. The Roomba has a battery run time of up to 120 minutes. What is important here is the “up to” part.
Rarely will you ever find your robot vacuum running the full time. In the case of the Roomba 980, there are two speeds to the motor, which causes the largest battery drain. The Roomba comes with PowerBoost which speeds up the motor to increase suction when the bot detects that it is on a carpet.
While it is a great function that works very well, if you have a lot of carpet you will drain the battery a lot faster. There are, of course, other functions of the vacuum such as edge cleaning mode, that will slow down the cleaning, or otherwise increase cleaning time. All in all though, on an average run to clean the entire house you can expect about 60 minutes per charge.
The POWERbot R9350 will also disappoint you if you are seeking the full 90 minutes. This machine has three speeds, each with their own power control and motor revolution rates. You will most likely run on medium or high for a majority of your cleaning.
Other factors, such as edge cleaning and spot cleaning will also factor into battery drain. However, the drop off here is significant, especially at the highest speed. While you will get amazing power (quite possibly the highest on the market), you can expect your robot to only run for 25 to 30 minutes on a charge.
Depending on the size of the floor space, this could take quite a while to recharge and finish, if it needs to recharge a few times.
Bottom Line: This is a tie. While the Roomba 980 lasts longer, they both suffer about the same percentage of battery drain.
3. Mobile Apps, Remote Controls and Voice Commands
Let’s start this one in reverse order. Voice commands are accomplished by using your voice. Obviously. You will need a voice-activated application though. Amazon Alexa enabled devices (Echo, Dot, etc.) are the go-to unit of choice.
Both of the vacuums will integrate with Alexa very easily. You will be able to use your voice to start, stop and force dock your cleaner. You will find a full list of commands and abilities with the Alexa skill for both Roomba and POWERbot.
You will also be able to use Google Home. Both will integrate easily here as well. As of this moment, there is no integration with Apple HomeKit, however, with the release of the Apple HomePod, that may change. If it does, I suspect that Apple Rival Samsung may not get the ability, but the Roomba should.
You also have two other options: Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT. Both robots will integrate with both after a few added steps. And it should be obvious that the POWERbot will integrate with SmartThings a little easier.
For remote control, only the POWERbot R9350 has one. With the remote, you can run your bot, pause, cancel and force dock. One other option is the laser pointer. The laser (without Mini Me) will send a laser beam in front of the robot that it will then follow.
The idea here is that you can pinpoint where you need the robot to clean without having to manually move it. In theory, it is a great idea. In practice, it is an okay idea. A lot of reports have come in that it just simply doesn’t work. However, the case is generally user error. Consult the owner’s manual for full instructions, troubleshooting and assistance.
What I can tell you, though, is that it will work. Sometimes. It does have trouble finding the beam and it loses it quite easily. I think the POWERbot needs a little more sensor power, which we may see in the near future. Until then, however, it is a novel idea that works under optimal conditions only.
The Mobile apps are another story. Both offer mobile apps for Android and iOS devices for free. With the Roomba 980, the mobile app will connect to your WiFi network and you can then use it from anywhere in the world.
With the app you can start, pause, stop and dock the Roomba 980. You can also create, edit and delete schedules. You can customize the cleaning cycles for a single or double pass, edge cleaning and enable or disable PowerBoost. Lastly, you will also get push alerts, view reports and can see the cleaning map to know where your robot is, has been and will go next. You will also be able to see battery life and charging times.
With the POWERbot R9350, the app is very similar and has a few more controls. You can get the same starting and stopping, docking and scheduling as with the Roomba app. You will also get notifications and can control it from anywhere. The bonus is the manual control. Samsung calls this Select & Go. With Select & Go you can tell the robot which rooms to clean and which to avoid.
Are there downsides? Yes. For the Roomba, the only real downside is the lack of control. They did add the map feature and reports with the wireless controlled robots, but there is still no formal control. Even adding the spot clean function would be an improvement.
For the POWERbot app, it is a little different story. The app works great and every option it has is intuitive and works flawlessly, as long as you are on an Android device. If you have an iPhone or using an iOS device, even the installation is iffy. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. This is something Samsung is aware of and attempting to fix.
As of this writing though, the issues remain. Even if everything appears fine on the app, there are reported instances where the instructions you sent never make it to the robot.
Bottom Line: This round goes to the POWERbot. The remote is a plus, the laser is cool and the Select & Go is a cool touch.
4. Cleaning Power
I have touched on this briefly before and I want to explain it a little more in depth. Cleaning power is established by the speed and suction of the motor. This is measured in watts, just like electricity.
The Roomba 980 has a maximum of 10 watts of power. When PowerBoost is enabled and the vacuum is on a carpet, the motor and suction are very high. It is strong enough to work its way to the base of the carpet fibers and will suction just about anything out. However, for heavily soiled areas, a second pass may be needed.
The spot clean function is also a good choice for heavily soiled areas. You will tell the robot where to clean by pressing the spot clean button on the robot or the app and it will do a circular pattern deep clean in the area using ever-expanding circles (up to about three feet) and using the dirt detection sensors it will stop when the area is clean.
For the POWERbot R9350, there is a maximum of 30 watts of power. This is the most power on the market. It is also incredibly loud so don’t expect to watch a movie while your home is being vacuumed.
You can adjust the power though, using three speed settings: low, medium and high. The thing you will notice (aside from the increase in noise) with each power level is the cleaning ability. Unless you are on a hard floor without carpet and have very little debris, you will most likely never use the lowest setting.
Most general cleaning is done on medium power as this is the middle ground between cleanliness and battery life. For hard to clean areas, heavily soiled spots and pet hair, the highest setting will be used.
Both machines also use a human-like approach to cleaning, where they go back and forth over parallel lines as you would with an upright vacuum, instead of a sporadic random pattern.
Bottom Line: The POWERbot wins again. While they both have the same cleaning effectiveness, the POWERbot R9350 has more power.
I wanted to drop this in real quick as it is an important aspect of cleaning your home: how to prevent the robot from entering areas you don’t need or want to be cleaned during that cycle?
On the POWERbot, you can use the app to tell the robot to avoid certain rooms, but not certain areas in the rooms. Also, as mentioned before, the app is still buggy, and the Select & Go feature still needs a lot of work. There are numerous reports where the robot will ignore the Select & Go commands and clean in the restricted rooms anyway.
The other option is to use the roll of magnetic tape. What this does is allows you to cut to size from a nine-foot roll or tape, a magnetic strip that will prevent the vacuum from crossing over. You can put it across doorways, around things you don’t want run into or even near your pet food bowls.
The downside to this is that you will then have strips of tape all over your floor, and if you cut the wrong size, you will have to use more and more. Eventually, you will need to replace the roll and start all over.
For the Roomba, you will get two Virtual Wall Barriers. These little battery operated towers send out an infrared beam in either a linear or circular pattern. The beam is picked up by the sensors on the robot and it will stop, change direction and continue.
The linear setting is perfect for doorways and usually one will cover enough areas for a large space. Having two allows you to block off more than one area at a time. In circular mode, you can have the beam surround the barrier and anything in the radius.
This is great for potted plants, floor lamps, pet food dishes and the like. If all else fails, you can always close doors to specific rooms as well. The sensors on both robots will keep it from doing too much damage as it tries to enter, and the room won’t get cleaned.
Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 wins. The Virtual Wall Barriers are simple efficient and clean.
6. The Smaller Features
I wanted to touch on a few of the smaller features of the robots, so you understand what they do. First, I will talk about the collection bins. They are almost the same size, with the POWERbot being slightly larger (0.1L).
You will need to empty both of them manually and they will indicate when they are full by using a sensor inside the bin. With the Roomba, however, you can tell the vacuum to continue cleaning even if the full bin indicator is lit up.
Small point to the Roomba.
Next are the brushes and bars used for dirt extraction. The POWERbot uses a 12.2-inch rotating bristle bar that is very similar to those found on an upright vacuum. It is adept at picking up anything, including pet hair and has a detangler included to keep the brushes clean and tangle free.
As with anything that rotates, though, it will get tangles and hairs, fibers and string wrapped around that will need to be manually removed.
The Roomba has tangle free beater bars. These brushless bars counter rotate to pick up anything and everything. Just as with the other bars, though, eventually, they will get wrapped with bits of string, fibers and hairs.
The main difference is in the maintenance, where you can pop the extractors out, wipe them off and place them back in. With brushes, you will have to pick off the tangles by hand manually.
Small point to the Roomba.
Terrain transition is also important. For homes with hardwood, tile or other non-carpet surfaces, the ground clearance and wheels don’t really matter. However, if you have carpet or rugs, it will. Both of the robots have high enough clearance that even high pile shag won’t get caught up in the extractors.
Going from the hard surface to the carpet is also not a problem for either machine. However, the POWERbot has what Samsung calls Easy Pass, where the wheels are extended a little higher to allow the transition to carpet that much easier.
Small point to the POWERbot.
Lastly, the height of the machines may be an important factor. If you need to get under your furniture, you need to ensure there is enough room. Generally, you will need about half an inch more than the height of the droid for adequate clearance. The Roomba sits at an industry low 3.6 inches, meaning it will easily get under anything that is only 4 inches off the ground.
The POWERbot sits up at 5.3 inches. You will need a clearance of almost 6 inches for the robot to get under and clean.
Small point to the Roomba.
Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 wins. Small points score it 3 to 1. It’s science. Or math. Whatever.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here I will answer some of the more common questions about the robot vacuums, so you don’t need to go anywhere else to find them.
Q. Will it suction up liquids?
A. Both machines have enough power to suction liquids. However, they are not designed for such things. You can ruin the internal bits, short our sensors, motors and cameras. There are robotic mops if you need something like that. These two models, though, are not that.
Q. I have a two-story house. Do I need to buy two machines?
A. It is always a possibility, and with the Roomba, you can even name them differently and still use Alexa Commands.
However, you don’t have to. You can manually move them up the stairs, and set them to clean. They will both map the new area and clean accordingly. You will have to move them back to the base station, though manually. And if they die upstairs, you will have to hunt them down.
Q. What happens if the vacuum sucks up a cord or rug fringe?
A. Each of the models will attempt to free itself. By running the motor backward and reversing. If it is successful, it will try to go around the area it got caught in. Easier said than done.
However, to prevent burnout of the motor or draining of the battery, if it is unable to free itself it will shut down and you will get an alert. You will have to free the robot so it can resume cleaning manually.
Q. How do they do against the baseboards?
A. Last time they played they lost 16 to 12. Seriously though, both have edge cleaning mode and it works quite well. The POWERbot has a square front to allow it to get up to edges and in corners.
The full-length bar will get most of the debris. What is cool though, is that it also has a plank bar. This will extend out from under the machine, scrape the edge and pull debris into the collection area to be suctioned off.
For the Roomba, with its circle design, it won’t get into corners or up against edges. To compensate, it has edge brushes that extend out to the baseboards and sweeps debris to the center of the robot for collection.
Both options work very well.
Q. Is noise a problem?
A. Only if noise bothers you. The machines are vacuums. They have high powered motors and moving parts. They will make noise. The POWERbot is louder than the Roomba by far, but that doesn’t make the Roomba quiet.
What I Like About The Roomba 980
- Battery life is long enough to handle most areas in a single charge.
- Virtual Wall Barriers are easy to use.
- HEPA filtration help cut down on allergens.
- The mobile app works.
What I Like About the POWERbot R9350
- Laser pointing remote control for precision cleaning.
- Highest motor power on the market.
- Visual mapping and navigation are excellent.
- Select & Go allows you to pinpoint which rooms to clean or avoid.
Robotic vacuums are growing better and smarter by the day. The Roomba 980 and POWERbot R9350 are arguably the two best in the entire field. But which one is right for you?
If you run Android devices, need to schedule certain rooms to be cleaned, or avoided, and don’t mind spending a little more, then you might put the POWERbot at the top of your list. With sleek looks, high performance and the strongest motor on the market it is a decent option.
However, there are issues with the navigation, the mobile app and the lack of visual sensors in the rear, which can cause collisions with furniture, appliances and decorations.
The Roomba 980 should be at the top of your list for its longevity in the field, proven performance and backed by a company that innovated the industry. With a mobile app with zero glitches, scheduling and control from anywhere at any time and the easiest maintenance in the field, it’s no wonder the king of robotic vacuums is at the top.
Samsung has won some people over and can make a solid claim to the throne with the WiFI enabled POWERbot. However, there are still too many bugs that need to be worked out for me to put them at the very top as easily as I can the Roomba 980.