At $449.99, iRobot's Roomba e5 sits right in the middle of the company's robot vacuum lineup. It works with a companion app to start and stop vacuuming, as well as to schedule future cleaning sessions. And with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration, you can control it with voice commands. Of course, the e5 is also easy to use and provides plenty of cleaning power, but it doesn't really stand out, even among iRobot's own offerings. The $330 Roomba 675 offers similar functionality for less money, though neither can match the value of our Editors' Choice, the $230 Ecovacs Deebot N79S.
The Roomba e5's circular black plastic body measures 13.3 inches wide and 3.6 inches high. It's short enough to make it under most low-clearance furniture, like beds and couches.
The top of the vacuum is home to a silver Clean button in the middle, sandwiched between a Home button to the left and a Spot Clean button to the right. When the vacuum is on, indicator lights for battery life, troubleshooting, and Wi-Fi sit above the buttons. A built-in handle blends in nicely and lets you easily pick up and move the e5 manually when needed.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
The front of the vacuum houses the bumper and the back holds the 0.5-liter dustbin, the bin release button, and a filter. Flip the e5 over and you'll find the multi-surface roller brushes, brush caps, a brush frame release tap, an edge sweeping brush, cliff sensors, a caster wheel, and charging contacts.
In terms of accessories, the e5 comes with a Home Base charging station. The charging station features an RCON sensor on top (an RCON sensor inside the vacuum itself helps it better detect the base), an IR sensor window, and charging contacts. The e5 is compatible with iRobot's Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers, which cordon off areas you don't want the vacuum to enter, but they aren't included in the box. You can purchase them starting at $59.99.
You aren't required to download the companion app to use the e5, but without it you won't be able to turn it on and off from your phone or schedule cleaning sessions. To connect it, download the iRobot Home app (available for Android and iOS), create an account, then choose the vacuum model you have from the menu and select your Wi-Fi network. Then, press and hold the Spot and Home buttons on the vacuum itself for two seconds. After that, follow the instructions to connect to the Roomba to your network.
In the middle of the app is a Clean button to start and stop vacuuming, underneath a battery level indicator. When you stop cleaning, a pop-up appears and asks whether you want to resume vacuuming or send the e5 back to the charging dock. The left corner of the app shows notifications, and the right is where you can manage smart home services it's connected to, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Once connected, you can use voice commands to start and stop the vacuum, pause it, and send it back to the charger.
Underneath the Clean button are four tabs: Schedule, History, Help, and Settings. When you tap Schedule, you can set the vacuum to automatically clean on a specific day and time. Under History, you'll find a log of total cleaning jobs, total job time, dirt event count (when the robot has to go over a dirty area multiple times), and recent jobs. If you tap on a specific cleaning session, it tells you the duration, what time it started, the status (complete or canceled), and the dirt event count. Under the Help tab are care and maintenance guides, along with FAQs, the owner's guide, a quick start card, and warranty information. Finally, Settings is you can change your Wi-Fi information, switch the language, locate a missing vacuum, and perform a factory reset.
Unfortunately, there are no steering controls or the option to switch to Spot Clean mode in the app. In testing, I often had to manually pick up the vacuum and move it to rooms where I wanted it to clean. Most models in this price range feature some form of remote control to get around this.
In testing, the e5 managed to zigzag its way around storage boxes and furniture with ease. Its short stature also allowed it to fit under my bed, sofa, and kitchen counter without issues, though it sometimes struggled to make it over entryways between rooms and I had to push it over manually. Like the Roomba 690 (and other vacuums with infrared sensors), the e5 can get tripped up on dark flooring and rugs. At one point in testing, I received a notification the vacuum was stuck on a cliff, but it was actually stuck on the dark shag rug in my bathroom.
It's important to make sure you keep the bumper clean. While the e5's light-touch bumper technology helps it to identify when it's approaching an object, the area around the sensor gets dirty quickly, which keeps it from working properly. After only two cleaning sessions, I noticed the vacuum was bumping into furniture and walls because the bumper was dusty. To prevent this from happening, make sure to wipe it with a wet cloth before each cleaning session.
On the plus side, the e5 has strong suction. It automatically enables its Dirt Detect feature when there's an area with more dirt than usual and cleans until it detects minimal particles. The auto-adjusting cleaning head also switches its height depending on the type of floor. In testing, the e5 had no trouble picking up dirt, crumbs, and hair from both hardwood flooring and carpet. It even sucked up a gum wrapper, a hair tie, and a rubber band without hesitation.
On carpet, the vacuum had no trouble picking up larger items like Cheerios, but it struggled a bit with cat litter and sand. While it sucked up the majority of both, it left some debris behind even after a few passes over the area. Unsurprisingly, it worked better on these material on hardwood floors, leaving no debris behind in the same tests.
In terms of noise, the e5 is louder than many other models we've tested. I had to shut it off at one point when working from home because the noise was so distracting. Your best bet is to schedule it to clean while you're out of the house, or to shut yourself behind the door of a room that isn't being cleaned.
As for battery life, the e5 lasted just over 90 minutes before it ran out of juice, putting it on par with the Deebot N79S.
There's no denying iRobot's Roomba e5 is powerful, and support for voice commands and modest phone control is welcome. But it doesn't particularly stand out, even compared with iRobot's own Roomba 675. The 675 doesn't have a spot clean mode, but it supports virtual walls and offers similar performance for over $100 less. Your best bet, however, is the Ecovacs Deebot N79S, which offers app-based steering and more cleaning modes for nearly half the price of the Roomba e5, earning our Editors' Choice.
iRobot's Roomba e5 is a powerful robot vacuum with strong suction, long battery life, and support for app control and voice commands, but it doesn't stand out against the competition.
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