iRobot Roomba 780 vs 880 – Has iRobot really made any big chances with the Roomba series?

IRobot Roomba 780 vs 880Kiss your vacuum goodbye, because the reign of the corded vacuum is finally over.In today’s world where everyone is either too busy or too lazy to be bothered by housework, robotic vacuums have become a trend. When using a robotic vacuum there is no cord or messy bags to deal with, it’s as simple as pressing a button or scheduling a cleaning. As with anything that gains popularity many different companies make various types, each one claiming to better than the last, but how many upgrades can you really make to a vacuum?

There is one brand that has proven to be the most successful of them all, iRobot. They have an impressive line of robotic vacuums called Roomba. There are two Roombas that I want to take a look at, the iRobot Roomba 780 and the iRobot Roomba 880.

Navigation system

There is absolutely no difference in the Roomba’s navigation system= between the 780 and 880. These robots use iRobot’s AWARE system to make their own decisions about where to go. The iRobot Roomba 780 and 880 use infrared sensors to calculate the room size and determine how long it will take to clean the room, and from there they start cleaning the perimeter of the room using a preset algorithm. These machines memorize the room and can adapt to any new changes, so don’t worry if you decide to rearrange your house. Given that the Roomba 780 is so low to the ground, you might find that it gets stuck on thick rugs, and sometimes cords. The 880 has a little more clearance than 780, so it has no trouble tackling tall rugs or cords. Both the Roomba 780 and 880 are excellent at avoiding obstacles and stairs using cliff detectors. In the box you will find two lighthouses which have two settings on them, virtual wall mode and lighthouse mode. In virtual wall mode, the light house sets up a virtual wall to keep the Roomba from passing through a doorway in case you have a room you don’t want the Roomba to enter or leave. In lighthouse mode, they help the Roomba navigate through rooms you want vacuumed, and helps guide the Roomba back to the charging station. All in all, the Roomba 780 and 880 have an excellent navigation system.

Cleaning power

This is where the iRobot Roomba 880 and the iRobot 780 differ the most, and probably what most consumers base their decision on. The iRobot Roomba 780 has powerful suction and features two counter rotating bristle brushes to pick up even the smallest debris. All of that sounds really great until you hear the cleaning power of the Roomba 880. The Roomba 880 features AeroForce. What this you ask? AeroForce is basically a three point technology. It has dual rubber extractors, which means no more tangled hair mess which is great for families with pets. AeroForce provides a better concentrated air flow, and a stronger vacuum for better suction.Given the better suction of the 880, the bin has been upgraded, so it can go longer without being emptied. This makes the 880 a real leave it and forget it robotic vacuum. The HEPA filters are different for both of the machines also. In iRobot’s Roomba 780, there are two HEPA filters that keep dust particles from escaping into the air. The Roomba 880 traps dirt and dust in a HEPA filtered bin, meaning even less debris escapes back into the air. Although the differences are big in their cleaning systems, the machines do have a few things in common. The 780 and 880 both auto adjust to floor types and can easily transfer between linoleum, carpet, and hardwood floors. Both machines have side brushes to get along baseboards, and furniture too low for the vacuums to get under. The advanced HEPA filtration make both vacuums a top choice for allergy sufferers.


The Roomba 780 uses a power management software to give it 50% more battery life than its predecessors, which means more area covered. While the 780 has an impressive battery life of 3 hours, the Roomba 880 has a 4 hour battery life and it only takes three hours to charge each machine. Some users have reported getting much longer battery life though. The Roomba 880 also has an Xlife battery, which doubles the overall life of the battery so you can go longer before having to replace it. Both series return themselves to the charger when the battery is low, but a key feature on the Roomba 880 is that it returns to finish the job after it charges itself.


The iRobot 780 and the 880 have three cleaning modes; spot clean, schedule clean, and clean. If you were to choose spot clean, you would set the Roomba on the particular mess that needs to be cleaned and it goes in a spiral motion about three feet out and back in again. The schedule cleaning is pretty self-explanatory, you can program for up to seven days and it will start on its own at the scheduled time, and then return itself to the docking station. The cleaning mode is just a onetime cleaning until you manually get it out the next time.

Both series have remotes that lets you control direction, and enables you to summon it to you, or send it back to dock.

They both have LED display and a full bin indicator that lets you know when the bin needs to be emptied.

The Roomba 880 will also speak to let you know it needs to be emptied.

The 780 and 880 both use persistent pass cleaning. When the machine detects an excessively dirty area it goes both and forth over the area giving it some extra attention to ensure it gets cleaned thoroughly.


The iRobot 780 is a great machine, and gets the work done just like it is meant to do. These were the biggest complaints I found on it; the bristles get tangled up with hair easily, small bin, gets stuck very easy. With any vacuum that has bristles you’ll run into this problem, but luckily all you have to do is clean the bristles out regularly. The small bin is nothing that can be fixed, just dealt with. In iRobot’s defense, this was a common complaint among most robotic vacuums. If you plan on letting the 780 run without supervision, and expect to come home to a clean floor, it would be wise to make sure thick rugs and cord bundles are out of the way. If not, you’ll come home to a shutdown robot and dirty floors. The iRobot 880 is leading in design right now. It has so many improved features over the 780. I definitely see the AeroForce technology being a game changer with the entire industry, along with the Xlife battery. The top complaints I found for the Roomba 880 was the noise, the bin getting full too fast, and the price. IRobot does advertise the 880 to be quieter, but many users said that this wasn’t the case at all. While that is disappointing, you shouldn’t realistically expect a vacuum to be noiseless. My suggestion would be to try to run it while you’re out for a bit or maybe during a time when the noise won’t bother you. Again, there’s not much to be done about the bin. Even with iRobot increasing the size of the bin, it gets full fast because of the improved suction. The price? Well, how much is clean floors with no effort worth to you? It’s priceless to me.


Still having trouble deciding between the two?

Personally, if I were at home a lot to babysit the vacuum, I would choose the iRobot Roomba 780. This machine gets the job done for a fair price, but if you expect to be able to leave the house with it running, you will be disappointed. If you just want a machine to do maintenance cleaning then the 780 is the one for you.

If you are a busy person and need a vacuum that you can leave alone then the iRobot Roomba 880 would be for you. I would comfortably leave the 880 alone to clean, and expect the floors to be clean when I got home.

With both machines make sure you set the lighthouses up the right way if you want the Roomba to move from room to room. If these aren’t set up right then the Roomba will not clean effectively. Lastly, make sure you do basic pickup before you run either of these machines. While they are at the top of their game, they will have trouble cleaning a floor littered with socks, toys, and other small things.

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