Waiting for us when we returned from our trip was a brand new Roomba Pro Robotic Floorvac, which we got from Linens & Things for about $185 + shipping, which is well below the typical $230 price. The short review is just what they say on their site: Roomba works! You set it down, turn it on, and it vacuums your room. You can tell that it does a decent job when you empty out its particle bin and see how much stuff, dust and lint it collected.
As a computer guy, I had expected that Roomba would do something snazzy like build a mental model of the room it is working in. After watching it, I’m not so sure that’s the case. It seemed to repeatedly go over one section of a room I watched it do. (Why was I watching it? It’s kinda mesmerizing the first time you run it.) But, it did seem to go everywhere in the room. And, as I mentioned earlier, it picked up a lot of stuff. The floor looked nice and clean when all was said and done.
Roomba Pro comes with two invisible walls, so that you can restrict its movements when you have large open areas or hazards you would like Roomba to avoid (like the stairs!). The invisible walls are conical in shape, which is a little hard to work with. That cone gets pretty large when you’re working with a large opening, so it becomes a bit more difficult to create a straight-line wall for Roomba to stop at. I’m sure with just a little practice, I’ll get it right. On my first run, though, Roomba missed a couple sections of the room because of this.
Roomba takes longer to do a room than a person would. Who cares? You’re not doing the work. I find it a little quieter than a typical vac, so it’s possible that the noise will get to you if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing.
Unless you enjoy vacuuming or have a maid, Roomba is a good investment.