If you’re shopping for a robot vacuum, or robot vacuum and mop duo, you’ve no doubt come across these two brands: Shark, and iRobot, makers of the Roomba. Each one makes a legion of smart floor cleaning bots, but how do you know which one is best, or where to begin your shopping? Let’s take a dive into the world of robotic vacuum cleaners and see how these two iconic vacuum brands stack up.
Shark vs. Roomba: What They Offer
Roombas are made by iRobot, and the company has focused on making and improving on robot vacuums. You could say Roomba is the original robot vacuum. iRobot also spends a lot on research and technology development so they are often at the head of the market when it comes to new products and launching new technology
Shark, by comparison, makes robot vacuums too but has a wider lineup that also includes corded and cordless upright and stick vacuums, plus wet-dry vacs/mops and even hair dryers.
The Bottom Line: When it comes to what’s on offer, Shark comes out on top with a huge array of home cleaning gadgets across a wide spectrum of budgets. If you are after the latest and greatest and best advancements in robot vacuums specifically, iRobot Roombas are probably the top picks.
iRobot vacuums tend to be more expensive, if we’re generalizing, though they do have many budget options to choose from. On the lower end, you can get a Roomba for just a couple hundred dollars, while the high end will have you splurging on more than $1000 for a top of the line j7+
Shark products also sit in both the budget and expensive categories, but do tend to be a bit more cost-effective. Even Shark’s top-of-the-line robot vacuum is under $700.
The Bottom Line: We will hand this one to Shark since nobody likes spending more money than they need to.
Design can be a funny thing to evaluate since everyone has different features that appeal to them generally speaking. However, iRobot vacuums are made with a bit more of an eye for design. You’ll find thoughtful touches like brushed metal panels, leather pull-tabs and textured elements on both higher and lower-end Roombas.
I feel like Shark’s lineup by comparison is a bit more plain and utilitarian. To my eye, the company is more focused on making budget-friendly choices and not on wowing you with design elements.
The Bottom Line: If your vacuum will be out and on display and you have a more design-focused home, iRobot might be a better choice for you. If you have the option of hiding your vacuum under a table or in another room, and you’re keeping an eye on budget, a Shark vacuum might be your best bet.
High-end Robot Vacuums
iRobot’s Roomba j7+ is the company’s newest and best robot vacuum. With integrated smart mapping, you can ask your bot to clean certain rooms, set daily schedules. And thanks to the Cleanbase Dirt Disposal, your faithful robot vacuum will empty itself. This bot also boasts advanced object detection and avoidance and that means it cleans without getting stuck on socks or stray cables, and it won’t roll through pet poop.
Shark’s AI Robot IQ Self-Empty XL is the company’s top-of-the-line bot that also has a self-emptying dustbin. With Google or Alexa voice control like the j7+ and linear cleaning plus smart mapping and room-specific cleaning, this bot gives you pretty much all the j7+’s bells and whistles at less than half the price.
The Bottom Line: These bots seem evenly matched on specs; you’ll likely be happy whichever one you choose. That said, if we’re looking purely at price, we’d give the W to Shark’s AV250.
Budget Robot Vacuums
Not everyone has that Lexus budget and both manufacturers know it, that’s why they have inexpensive but still very capable robots that cost just a couple hundred bucks.
The Roomba 694 is iRobot’s lowest-cost option and makes automating cleaning a breeze. This bot is vacuum-only but with iRobot’s technology, it allows scheduling plus Google and Alexa voice control, too.
Shark’s cheapest model is the AV75. Like iRobot’s budget model, it’s vacum-only but also comes with scheduling and voice control.
The Bottom Line: Both manufacturers offer very capable budget bots. While they may not have mopping or automatic dirt disposals or the fanciest radar technology, they will keep dirt, dust and pet hair from turning into tumbleweeds on your floors.
Dual Vacuum-Mop Robots
iRobot has made the curious choice not to create a dual vacuum and mopping unit, instead opting to hope to sell you both a vacuum bot and mop bot (the iRobot Braavajet m6 is iRobot’s standalone mop). Buying both bots will set you back around two grand. Yes, these bots can tag team each other, with the vacuum able to sweep up before it tags the mop into the action. Does a two-bot system clean vastly better than a dual-purpose mop? Not in my opinion. Having reviewed numerous iRobot vacuums plus their m6 mop, I can say mopping technology has a long way to go. Most robot mop devices simply give your floors a light wipe with a damp cloth. They are not sucking up large spills, nor are they able to scrub dried-on stains.
Read up on the best robot mops in our roundup for a bit more specifics.
The Shark AI VACMOP RV2001WD has both vacuuming and mopping capabilities but this one does away with the dirt disposal base. Even so, you’ll get powerful sweeping and a good wipedown, without needing two bots.
The Bottom Line: If you want one bot that can wipe your floors as well as vacuum them, there is only one choice here: Shark.
Depending on exactly what you need from a robot vacuum, you’re spoiled for choice with both Shark and iRobot’s Roomba devices. If you have a bit of a higher budget and prefer your home gadgets to have a slightly nicer aesthetic, we’d recommend going with iRobot. However, if you don’t care about the look of your robot vacuum, and just want to make sure the dust bunnies have been defeated, we highly recommend Shark and their wide range of products.