In a small way, the Roomba represents the dream of putting a robot in every home. Now if it cooked, did your laundry and brought you a beer, it'd be perfect. iRobot's brand new 600 series doesn't do any of that (yet), but the lovable little vac-bot is getting a grip of upgrades without all the added cost.
If you wanted a Roomba before, you were left deciding between cheaper but weaker 500s or feature-rich but pricey 700s. The 600 series of Roomba charts a path right down the middle, with features that aren't too far behind the 700s and a price that isn't too high above the aging 500 series, which the 600s replace.
The new 600 series adds a little color to the Roomba world, though nothing too wild: there's a white 620, gray 630 and black 650 (pictured above).
The 600s also enjoy features typically reserved for iRobot's higher-end, such as the ability to schedule cleanings (only on the 650 and up), as well as the company's AeroVac technology, which "optimizes airflow so the bin fills evenly," and "improved brush design and airflow [to] remove more hair from Roomba's brushes." In short, the new cheap 600s are less of a hassle than the older cheap 500s.
You also get to enjoy features such as Virtual Wall, which lets you set boundaries for which rooms the robo-vac enters, cliff sensors so the thing doesn't drive itself off the stairs, acoustic sensors to detect dirt (iRobot's top-of-the-line Roombas use optical sensors for more accuracy) and the ability for the Roomba to return to its dock and charge on its own.
The 600 series Roombas start at $330, and top out at $400 for the 650, which is the highest 600 series unit iRobot sells directly. You could still get yourself a cheap vacuum for far less, but that cheap vacuum won't do all the work for you, will it? Silly human.