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iRobot's Roomba 694 robot vacuum drops back to $179

Several other Roomba robot vacuums are also on sale.

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

iRobot is running another sale on Roomba robot vacuums and Braava robot mops, which includes the Roomba 694 back down to $179. We've seen this deal pop up periodically over the past several months, but it's still $71 below the vacuum's typical street price. Outside of a very brief drop to $175 last November, it matches the lowest price we've tracked.

This discount comes within $5 of the all-time low for what we consider the best budget robot vacuum for most people.

$179 at Amazon
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$180 at iRobot

The Roomba 694 itself is the top pick in our guide to the best budget robot vacuums. It's an entry-level model that navigates around a room semi-randomly instead of mapping and following set paths, so it's not the most efficient cleaner, and it'll bonk into furniture around your house. That said, it's sturdily built, and we found it to work effectively across hard floors and carpet. We're particularly fond of iRobot's companion app, which makes it easy to quickly stop or start the vacuum, set a cleaning schedule, check the battery and the like. You don't need to connect to WiFi to use the device, however. iRobot says the Roomba 694 can run for up to 90 minutes before it has to roll back to its charging dock, though you'll get worse battery life depending on what floor surfaces you need to clean.

A simpler device like this won't be as effective if you live in a particularly large home, but if you just want a no-frills option at a reasonable rate, we've found the Roomba 694 to be durable and dependable. And if something ever does break, replacement parts are readily available.

If you're willing to pay up for a more feature-rich model, the sale also brings the Roomba j7+ down to $529. Normally, this model retails between $600 and $800. The j7+ comes with a self-emptying dock and more advanced mapping system than the 694, and it can identify and swerve away from obstacles like pet waste in real time. Currently, it's the runner up midrange pick in our guide to the best robot vacuums. Just note that, like many robot vacuums with its sort of obstacle avoidance, the j7 comes with a built-in camera, which may raise privacy concerns for some, particularly with Amazon in the process of acquiring iRobot.

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