Are you new to the iRobot Roomba family of robot vacuums? Then you should know that the Series 900 has some of the brand’s best sellers and some of the more reliable models available. We’ve compared the Roomba 960 against the Roomba 971 and the Roomba 981, hopefully delivering enough information for you to make a great choice. We’ll start by looking at the differences, then moving on to the similarities, finishing with our conclusions.
Differences between the 960, the 971 and the 981
1) First and foremost, the suction power
We can’t analyse a robot vacuum without looking at the suction power, right? The Roomba 981 has 10 times more power than the Series 600 robot vacuums (the power information from iRobot always has the Series 600 as the reference), while the 960 and 971 have 5 times more power than the 600 Roombas. The 981 doubles the power of the other two.
Again, the Roomba 981 takes the lead with an operating time of 120 times, a lot more than the 75 minutes presented by the Roomba 960 or the Roomba 971.
3) Will noise be a problem?
Another point in favour of the 981. This model produces 58 dB of noise, while the others can reach up to 70 dB – a substantial difference that you may want to consider if you value silence.
4) Meet the Power Boost mode
The Power Boost mode helps the Roomba to clean particularly difficult areas, like rugs or places that are especially dirty. Unfortunately, the 960 and 971 models lack this feature. The good news is that the 981 Roomba features Power Boost mode, increasing its effectiveness, even in tough conditions.
5) Introducing the Imprint Link technology
If you’re looking to connect your Roomba with a Braava robot mop, then the Roomba 960 is not an option for you. The Roomba 981 and 971, on the other hand, can work together with Braava thanks to the Imprint Link technology, for a better cleaning experience.
6) Last, but not least: price differences
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Roomba 981 is more expensive than the other two models in this article. What might be surprising is that the price difference is not that steep, considering the differences in technology and intelligence.
We’re done with the differences, so let’s look for things in common between the Roomba 960, the Roomba 971 and the Roomba 981:
1) Dirt Detect technology
To improve the effectiveness of their robots, iRobot created the Dirt Detect technology, which uses several sensors to help the Roomba detect the areas that need cleaning the most, by assessing the amount of dirt. They will then work harder on those areas, until they’re clean enough to move on to the next.
2) They navigate with vSLAM (iAdapt 2.0)
The vSLAM with iAdapt 2.0 is a common feature of these three models. They have a camera that helps them create visual references of the environment, helping them navigate around objects and moving around effortlessly, without bumping against everything.
3) They do have Recharge and Resume
This is a brilliant feature that allows your Roomba to get back to business where they’ve left off as soon as they recharge their battery. This means that they’ll finish what they’ve started.
4) Mapping of your house – how does it work?
While all of these models have the ability to create maps of the areas that they’re cleaning, which allows them to know where they are and what’s missing, they cannot save those maps for later, because they don’t have a memory. This also means that you won’t be able to micro manage the cleaning sessions of your robots, like you can with other models.
5) A well designed App and the need for a WiFi connection:
The app works perfectly well in commanding your Roomba to perform the actions you want. It’s well designed and intuitive, making it easy to manage your cleaning sessions, schedule maintenance cleaning sessions, check the history, and more. Obviously, your Roomba needs to be connected to your WiFi network.
6) Use your words, voice control is available
If you have Alexa or Google Home (yes, you need a virtual assistant for this) you can have hands-free control of your robot. Just set it up by connecting both devices.
7) They have the same bin
All models have a 600 ml bin, which is a very decent capacity for a robot vacuum.
Which one’s the best? The 960, the 971 or the 981?
It’s usually hard to choose just one as the best, but in this case it’s quite clear that the most complete model of the three is the Roomba 981. It beats the competition in almost every aspect: suction power, battery, compatibility with Braava; it also makes less noise and has the Power Boost mode. The other two models are really good options (as any robot vacuum from the Series 900), but they are not as powerful.
There is a slight price difference, but in our opinion, it’s completely justified by the superior performance and advanced features.