To prevent the robot uprising, we the humans must keep the machines in line by pitting them against one another in menial combat.
By keeping them focussed on civil conflicts, they won’t even compute their own subjugation, keeping them subservient to us, and our carpets downright immaculate.
So, in the name of debris-free flooring and the survival of the human race, let’s put two of the most successful robot vacuum brands to task in a head-to-head clean-off...
Shark Ion vs Roomba. We hope you’re ready for a good old fashioned (but also really kind of futuristic) robot fight. Let’s get ready to rooooooomba!
Rise of the Robot Hoover
Before we get started with the mechanical mayhem, let’s take a brief look into the history of these floor-bound little helpers.
Produced by iRobot, Roombas were the first of the two robots in question to take our carpets (and hearts) by storm after their September 2002 release date.
iRobot was founded in 1990 by members of MIT’s artificial intelligence research team, who at the time, were working on robots to help with space exploration and national defense.
The Roomba quickly cleaned themselves a place in popular culture, even appearing as characters in popular TV shows like Parks and Recreation’s DJ Roomba.
Times were good. Roomba had the market cornered and was even whirring circles around popular human-controlled vacuum cleaners, but there was much strife to come.
Sparked into life by their brand Shark Ninja a few years after Roomba’s rise to fame, the Shark Ion was one of the first robot cleaners to stand as opposition in the market.
Head to Head
Right, it’s the event you’ve all been waiting for. We hope you’re comfortable on the edge of your seat.
It’s the showdown of the century.
Filtration systems are the most important part of a vacuum cleaner, robot or no.
Without a quality air filter, all the vacuum is doing is shifting debris around and lifting particulate matter into the air for you to breathe.
Roomba’s are currently kitted out with super-efficient filtration systems that fall just shy of the prestigious HEPA standards.
You can expect your Roomba robot to capture 99% of the debris it encounters on its patrols and filters it down to 10 microns released back into the air.
That’s minuscule, but for official HEPA status, it would need to be cut to 3 microns.
Surprisingly, Shark Ion completely destroys Roomba in this category with ultra-efficient, multi-stage filtration that captures 99% of debris, filtering it down to a 1-micron release.
Winner - Shark Ion took this category by a long shot.
The latest Roomba, the S9+, has roughly 2500Pa of suction power, which is 500 more than it’s i7 predecessor and a shocking 40 times more powerful than anything from the 600 series that started it all.
We thought the Shark might be beat in this category but were amazed to discover that not only does every single older Shark Ion have roughly 2000Pa of pure suction, but the flagship IQ goes toe to toe with the Roomba S9+, providing around 2500Pa of suction.
Winner - There’s no mistaking our winner in this category. We congratulate the S9+ for matching the IQ, but over time, across the board, Shark Ion robot cleaners have had far more powerful suction than Roombas.
Roombas of the past have anywhere between 300 and 700ml of dirt gathering potential. 300 ml is not so impressive, whereas 700ml is incredibly impressive for such a compact little guy.
But what about iRobot’s latest efforts? Well, strangely enough, the S9+ has a fairly limited 400ml capacity. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the best.
Earlier renditions of Shark Ion robots had capacities upward of 500ml, which is pretty respectable, but their latest installment is capped at a rather pathetic 0.05-gallon capacity, which is just shy of 230ml.
Winner - It’s an extremely close round, neither side wants to lose this one, but by a hairline, we believe Roomba takes it. Yes, primitive Roombas were very limited capacity-wise, but just look at how far they’ve come.
Now we’re brushing on technology that would scare and confuse many of the senior generations. Robot cleaners have begun emptying themselves.
But how often has this been the case? Do all Roombas and Shark Ions have this ability? Let’s find out.
For Roomba, the answer is, sadly, no. The first toilet trained Roomber was the i7, the S9+’s predecessor, so that comes to a total of two self-cleaning generations.
The latest Shark Ion IQ robot vacuum is the first and only Shark Ion that can take care of its own business without human intervention.
Winner - Despite self-emptying being a fairly nascent ability for both robot cleaners, Roomba was the innovator in this case and so, is our winner.
NOTE - You should get about 30 days capacity out of the IQ’s station refuse bags. That’s if you clean once every day. You can expect way more if hoover, say, twice a week. You can expect 60 days from the Roomber S9+.
In the past, there hasn’t really been anything special about Roomba’s brush roll. Yes, it got the job done, but there was nothing about it that you could really sell.
In the new dawn of S9+, that’s all changed. Roomba now features an extra-wide brush roll which is far more efficient in picking up hair.
Shark Ninja’s latest IQ series might not have a massive brush, but it is almost completely self-cleaning; amazing, right?
In fact, Shark Ninja has been kitting their robots out with self-cleaning brushes since the 750.
Roomba has famously always had one side brush for dealing with the edges of the room that their circular shape isn’t capable of reaching, whereas the Shark Ion vacuums have always featured two.
Strictly speaking, you only really need one side brush for some spic and span edges, but a second does mean the job gets done faster.
More brushes are also able to agitate more debris from the carpet, making it easier for the robot to pick up on a second pass.
Winner - The Shark Ion clan take this one as far as we’re concerned. Two side brushes may be excessive, but we love the efficiency it brings to the table...or under the table anyway. Add that to the self-cleaning brush and it’s a runaway for Shark Ninja.
Speed and Battery Life
Roombas of a bygone era still boasted some pretty hefty battery lives. The 980 boasted an insane two hour run time off a single charge, but iRobot’s latest efforts max out at about 75 minutes.
This makes sense as it’s a much more powerful vacuum cleaner.
Generally speaking, it’s going to take a fairly modern Roomba around 30 minutes to clean 500 square meters. We expect the S9+ to be even more efficient as it has stronger suction.
That means you have well over 1000 square meters of cleaning potential per charge.
The latest Shark Ion, the IQ, can clean roughly 480 square feet every 40 minutes, provided there are no unfortunate interruptions or blockages. With its 80 - 90 minute battery life, you can expect well over 960 square feet of cleaning per charge.
Older iterations such as the Shark ion 750 mustered around an hour of cleaning patrol before they needed to head back home for some juice.
Winner - Roomba steals the power efficiency and speed award here, leaving the Shark Ion to eat its dust.
Roombas tend to max out at around the 70dBA mark, which is quieter than your average traditional vacuum, but not exactly silent.
The Shark Ion robo-clan has an average volume of 65dBA, but that pushes to a brief 75dBA every so often as part of the self-cleaning function.
Winner - We think an intermittent boost is a fair price to pay for a mostly quieter vacuum, so Shark Ion takes this round.
Modern Roombas have the same two hour charge time as their ancestors. When it senses its battery running low, it takes itself home for some sleep.
When it’s feeling nice and refreshed, it automatically continues where it left off.
Older Shark Ion models such as the 750 had the same 2 hour charge time as Roomba, but the newest IQ model takes a whopping 5 hours to charge completely, but it does have the same automatic recharge and resume function as Roomba.
The problem is that Roomba has had that tech for two generations. This is Shark Ion's first foray into automatic charging and resuming.Winner - Roomba absolutely stormed this round.
Older Roomba navigational techniques let them know when they’d completed a room, but they couldn’t tell the difference between rooms or remember objects.
The 980 and S9+ on the other hand, have vSLAM navigation camera technology that enables them to map out your whole house with 230,400 data points.
With the Shark Ion R85, Shark Ninja premiered Navigation 2, an advanced sensor system to maximize cleaning, but it’s not until the IQ that you get full home mapping capabilities.Winner - Coming to terms with full mapping first, Roomba takes this point.
There has always been a large overlap in general design when it comes to the two brands of robot vacuums.
Traditionally they’ve both been circular in shape with similar dimensions, but for Roomba’s latest trick, it has a single flat edge that fits flush into corners.Winner - Roomba takes the ergonomic initiative.
Both companies have endowed their robot cleaners with wifi connectivity for a long time now, letting you control them remotely.
Winner - It’s a draw!
Shark Ions are almost always cheaper than Roombas.
You can pick up an IQ for a similar price you could buy an already outdated Roomba.
But is the huge price difference justifiable? If you ask us, no, not even slightly.
What do you think? Take a look at their flagship models and decide for yourself.
Here’s the Shark Ion IQ
And here’s Roomba S9+
Winner - Shark Ion robot vacuums are by far better value for money than their Roomba competitors.
If we’re only considering head to head victories, Roomba wins with a total of 7 over Shark Ion’s 6, but if we take into account the real life implications of each category, it’s pretty clear that Shark Ion cleaners give you way more bang for your buck.