Roomba 860 Review – What you need to know

Roomba 860 Review – What you need to know before buying

iRobot, the company behind Roomba, seems to tirelessly release more and more products. If it’s not the Roomba 980, it’s Mopping robots or lawnmowers. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the Roomba 860, iRobot’s new offering in the mid-range price level of robotic vacuums. How well does it perform? Is it as good as the Roomba 880, iRobot’s other offering in the 800 series of Roomba? Read on to find out…

iRobot has discontinued it’s 700 series of robotic vacuums and has replaced it with the Roomba 860. The 860 gives us morefeatures at a better price point and, in my opinion, is poised to replace some of the previous year’s pricier robotic vacuum models with something cheaper and touting the same core feature set. For a list of ALL current Roomba models in 2016, check out my Roomba model comparison post.Roomba 860 Review

The Roomba 860 is interesting because this Roomba has a lithium ion battery and brushless hair extractors. These are higher end features that were previously reserved for the higher priced models like the 880 and 980. In fact, the 880, a pricier Roomba model, does not have a lithium ion battery, and this one does. Lithium ion is better battery technology than the 880’s NiMH battery. I believe that the new Roomba 960 (review here) has the exact same battery.

Here’s a comparison between the Roomba 860, 770 (the robotic vacuum model that the 860 is replacing), and the 880:

 Roomba 770Roomba 860Roomba 880Roomba 980
Brushless (Aeroforce) debris extractors
Battery TypeNiMHLithium IonNiMHLithium Ion
Remote Control
SmartPhone App

As you can see, the main compelling reason now to go with the 880 over this bot is the lighthouse. In my humble opinion, the lighthouse doesn’t give you that much, and it’s not worth the extra cost. Besides, if you decide to buy the 880 instead of the 860, you’ll miss out on the better battery. So… Lower price, better battery. These are 2 huge wins over the 880.

The pricier 980 model has a smartphone app, along with recharge and resume. This is an important feature if you want your Roomba to return to it’s dock to recharge then finish it’s cleaning cycle. I’m a little disappointed that the 860 doesn’t have this feature. Also, the 980 has a smart phone app that can take away a lot of the pain of programming your Roomba. The 980 is freaking GREAT, but it’s also almost twice as much money as the 860.

Roomba 860 ReviewThe 770 is being discontinued and as you can see in the comparison table, is not as good as the new 860. The 860 has a better battery battery and a brushless cleaning system. The 860 is clearly a step up here. More time between charges, and no more cleaning tangled hair from brush rollers.

The 800 series Roomba touts more cleaning power, more suction and less headaches than the 600 and 700 series. Is that true? The tangle free debris extractors are definitely less a headache, the battery lasts longer, scheduling options are improved, and as far as performance and suction goes, it has the latest, improved (Aeroforce) cleaning system. The only thing that could make the 800 series better would be the carpet boost and recharge and resume features that the 980 has. I don’t blame iRobot for leaving these features out, as there wouldn’t be a compelling reason to buy the 980 model if they included those features.

Another noticeable difference between this new Roomba and it’s siblings is the color. Instead of being black like most recent iRobot Roomba models, this one’s gray. Not that I think other Roombas are particularly unattractive, but I think the gray looks kind of nice.

Roomba 860 Review: Features

  • AeroForce™ Performance Cleaning System
  • Tangle Free Brushless Debris Extractors
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • Automatic Recharge Between cleanings
  • Virtual Wall – Keeps the Roomba out of places it shouldn’t be.

Here’s a video of Aeroforce brushless cleaning system in action:


New Lithium Ion battery: This is a huge step up from the battery on the 770, and even better than the 880’s battery. I’m surprised that iRobot included such great battery tech in a mid-range priced bot.

Tangle Free (brushless) debris extractors: Like the 880 and 980, another big step up from earlier models. One of the big pains of having a Roomba (or any vacuum really) is having to untangle long hair from the brushes once a month. No more tangles!

Power: More power than most other other earlier models. Pretty much the same thing as the 880 minus the lighthouse.

Price: This is, in my option, the best priced Roomba that iRobot has released. It’s not the absolute cheapest, but you definitely get the most bang for your buck with the 860.


Same old navigation system: I wish iRobot would have improved the navigation system. Roomba still tends to bump into chair legs and freak out over black carpet.

No smart phone app: The smart phone app is really nice to have and I wish ALL new Roomba models would come with one. It seems strange that in 2016 only the most expensive model has a smart phone app. Everything is connected now, and iRobot should be setting an example for all other robotic vacuum manufacturers and step up by making all new Roomba models smart phone connectable.

No Remote Control: One thing that’s worth mentioning is that the 860 really is a no-frills, trimmed down robot. There’s no remote control, and no lighthouse. There are people that really love the remote, and you won’t get it on the 860. For most people it’s not a deal breaker, but it is kind of nice to have. If you need a remote you should get a 880 or 980 instead.

Roomba 860 Review: What other customers are saying

The 860 is still REALLY new and there are not a lot of customer reviews for it yet at the time of this writing. The customers who did write a review seem to give the 860 glowing reviews. This is good thing because usually a customer is more compelled to write a review of an item when they don’t like it. The fact that all of the early reviews are positive tells me that iRobot has created a great cleaning robot that will last you a very long time.

See more reviews here

Alternatives to Roomba 860

As you can see in my review, I think that the Roomba 860 is a really great robot with a good feature set and a great price, but I wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t offer any alternatives. Click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Amazon listing for the robots.

If you’re decided on the iRobot Roomba brand, here are 2 other picks that are on both sides of the mid range price point:

Roomba 880:

You may choose to buy the 880 over the 860 for these reasons:
The lighthouse
Remote Control

Roomba 650:

The only real reason to get the 650 over the 860 is the price. The 650 is way cheaper, although you sacrifice a lot of nice features to get down to the price of the 650.

Neato Botvac D80:

The D80 is about the same price, cleans very well (has similar performance to the 800 Roomba series in my opinion). I still like the 860 more because it’s brushless, but the Botvac has it’s own really nice feature set (like better corner cleaning for instance). I’m planning on doing some Neato articles soon so stay tuned for those.


Bottom Line

The Roomba 860 is a no-frills robot that lacks a few very minor features that it’s big siblings have, namely, the Roomba 880 and Roomba 980. No remote, and no lighthouse when compared to the 880, and no recharge and resume compared to the 980. When you look at the features that you DO get, you’re not going to miss the others very much. You get the improved cleaning system, no brushes to clean, and a way better battery. And all of this at a really great price.

Use my Amazon Link by clicking on the button below for the best price anywhere on the Roomba 860:

Roomba 860 Best Price

10 thoughts on “Roomba 860 Review – What you need to know”

  1. I’ve owned my 860 2 wks and it’s my new best friend! I agree totally re features and price. My daughter has the 630, but after researching, I decided on the new model. I’m grateful it docks automatically.
    If there’s a drawback….it’s the weight and having to pick it up to move it. I have a sensitive back. I wish there was a device to move it w/o picking up.
    I was able to purchase on Overstock and no tax. I also purchased at 2/3 price a kit from Ebay (4 ea, tri-brushes, filters, and 2 sets of rollers).

    • Thanks for the comment! I love the 860 as well, as it’s tiring to maintain the brushes on the older models. I don’t pick mine up, as I have a smaller area to clean but I imagine that it could be tough to constantly move it from room to room.

      Someone should invent a Roomba carrier that can lock on to the Roomba and make it so bending over to pick it up isn’t necessary.

  2. Have had a Roomba 860 for about 2 weeks does a good job but skips rooms have it se to clean everyday.Some days it stays in one room and does a hit and miss job on other rooms. Why does it not do every room every day?

    • Hello Joe,

      The lighthouses for the 700 series will work with the 800 series Roomba models (the 860 included). I would guess that the remote controls from the 700 will NOT work with the 860.

  3. I just purchased a remote for my 860 .it offered it in our manual. So does.this mean its not going to work with my roomba 860 ??


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