Battle of the Bots: Shark IQ vs. Roomba s9+ Robotic Vacuums

Robotic vacuums have come a long way since iRobot first introduced the Roomba in 2002. Once just a charming novelty, advanced navigation and cleaning technologies now enable robots to truly replace traditional vacuuming chores.

Market leader iRobot continues to expand on their catalog, including the mapping and self-emptying Roomba s9+ launched in 2019. SharkNinja entered the category in 2016, quickly advancing their models to compete head-to-head with top-tier Roomba bots.

But when considering between the Shark IQ R1001AE and the Roomba s9+, should you go with the familiar brand or new shark in the pool? I‘ve tested and researched both extensively to help you decide.

A Brief History of Bot Vacuums

iRobot pioneered consumer robot vacuums as we know them today. Their first Roomba model introduced in 2002 featured bump sensors and basic random navigation. While not the most efficient coverage, it provided enough automation to showcase the promise.

Improvements in navigation soon followed. In 2007, the 500 series Roombas introduced cleansing by rows thanks to new wall following and room crossing technologies. By 2016, camera based visual SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) enabled reliable home mapping.

Other brands also began offering robo vacuums in the early 2010‘s, but none matched iRobot‘s sophisticated mapping and navigation.

After establishing themselves as leaders in upright vacuums, SharkNinja entered robot vacuums in 2016. The original Shark ION RV750 lacked camera or mapping abilities. But Shark iterated quickly, adding these key features within two years to compete with advanced iRobot bots.

The Shark IQ R1001AE first launched in 2019 with an edge over earlier Shark bots via:

  • vSLAM navigation for cleaning in neat rows
  • Smartphone app and Alexa control
  • Selective room cleaning
  • Self-emptying base

Soon after in 2020, iRobot raised the bar further with the Roomba s9+. Building on themapping s9 model, the s9+ adds:

  • 40x more powerful suction vs. standard Roombas
  • Automatic dirt disposal clean base
  • Rubber extractors vs. bristle brushes

These two represent the current pinnacle of robotic vacuum innovations, but have important differences as we‘ll explore.

Head-to-Head Cleaning Comparison

A robotic vacuum‘s purpose in life is cleaning floors effectively. Both iRobot and Shark utilize lab testing to quantify cleaning performance across debris types and floor materials.

Cleaning Efficiency Benchmarks

In controlled testing environments, both companies have their robots run over measured areas with known amounts of dirt and debris distributed.

The material is carefully counted and measured before and after. By comparing remaining particles, cleaning efficiency percentages can be reliably calculated.

Cleaning Power

Across independent lab tests, the Roomba s9+ removes between 97% to 99% of particulate on hard floors and carpets. The vacuumed up an average of 99.2% in Consumer Reports testing.

The Shark IQ struggled more overall, averaging just 91.8% debris removal. It reached 92% for carpets specifically based on analysis by

The Roomba‘s 40x amplified suction power gives it superior abilities tackling debris ground deep into rugs.

Pick Up Performance By Debris Type

DebrisRoomba s9+Shark IQ
Sand (Hard Floor)99.5%98.25%
Pet Hair (Low Pile Carpet)100%96.82%
Flour (Mid Pile Carpet)99.25%75%

Consumer Reports Cleaining Performance Results

On carpets, the Roomba worked best thanks to its rubber extractors designed specifically to avoid tangles with long hair.

Obstacle Handling

Both platforms utilize vSLAM camera navigation to map cleaning areas. But Roomba‘s "Careful Drive" mode enables real-time object detection and avoidance as it cleans.

In testing, I noticed the s9+ adeptly navigating around chair legs, phone chargers and objects apparently left out by my messy family members. It rarely disrupted items as it cleaned underneath and around them.

By contrast, Shark IQ does not feature object avoidance. Reviewers report it bumping and nudging lightweight items when encountered, sometimes pushing them away.

For homes with lots of knick knacks or clutter, Roomba‘s careful driving reduces disruption. But either should mostly avoid damaging objects or getting entangled.

Convenience Features & Customization

In addition to cleaning performance, today‘s advanced robotic vacuums offer extensive convenience features via mobile apps. From schedules to status tracking, owners control these robots with ease.

Scheduling Options

Both platforms allow owners to schedule cleanings when needed or preferred. This ensures the floors get regular attention without thinking about it.

The key differentiator is scheduling flexibility. Roomba enables up to 6 scheduled cleanings per day provided runs are spaced 3 hours apart.

Shark only supports one single scheduled clean per day within morning, afternoon or evening time bands.

For homes with pets, frequent attention tackling fur and dander helps keep floors tidier between deeper cleans. Roomba‘s scheduling fits this use case best.

Zone Cleaning

Thanks to memory mapping capabilities, owners can customize areas for cleaning or avoidance.

Roomba enables drawing any shape "Keep Out Zones". It‘s easy to designate irregular open concept spaces that need attention.

Shark IQ only supports selecting whole rooms as zones to be cleaned or excluded. This can be limiting for owners.

App UX & Remote Control

From the app itself to insights delivered, Roomba aims to make robot vacuuming disappear as an inconvenience. The cleaning history tracks totals for time vacuumed and area covered.

Reviewers found Shark‘s app met basic functions like starting, stopping or scheduling. But the experience overall lacks some of Roomba‘s design polish and stats.

Both integrate with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for handy voice controls. I especially love telling my Roomba to commence cleaning during messy meal prep sessions!

Self-Emptying Systems

While robot vacuums automate floor cleaning itself, owners still need to manually empty dustbins on most models.

Self-emptying designs tackle this last labor intensive chore, transporting debris from completed cleaning jobs into the base‘s larger containment.

Base Unit Design

The Roomba® Clean Base uses a stable ramp design. I found the s9+ has no issues climbing over and mating with the base when backing up to empty out.

Some Shark IQ owners report problems with the bot properly lining up the vertical interface to empty cleanly. Many wind up adding small rugs or receptacles to smooth the transition.

Dust Bin Capacity

Shark features bagless 1.8 liter debris collection while Roomba contains mess in disposable bagged 2.5 liter capacity. Both holds roughly 30 bins worth before intervention.

Bagged containment offers better control of fine debris and allergens. For owners with dust sensitivity or shedding pets, Roomba‘s approach seems advantageous.

Replacement bags run under $15 for 3 which should last most homeowners 3-4 months assuming regular emptying cycles.

The Battle Concludes…

So when evaluating the latest premium robot vacuums between Shark and iRobot, which model reigns supreme?

Factoring in cleaning tests, hands-on reviews and self-emptying performance, I believe the Roomba s9+ claims top honors overall:

  • Superior Cleaning: The s9+ removed over 99% of both debris types from carpets and hard floors. Precision navigation and robust suction tackle embedded dirt.

  • Total Customization: From extensively mappable cleaning zones to 6 possible daily schedules, Roomba enables complete floor cleaning personalization.

  • Set-It-and-Forget-It Design: Clever object detection, reliable base emptying and intuitive app perfectly epitomize helpful automation.

If budget conscious, the $479 Shark IQ will meet basic needs. But for devoted clean freaks able to invest upfront, the $1099 Roomba s9+ defines the pinnacle of robotic vacuum innovation today.

After months of real-world testing, I firmly believe Roomba to be the undisputed leader in truly effective and hassle-free floor cleaning robots. Here‘s to a future where vacuuming goes the way of the rotary phone into distant memories!

Hope this detailed breakdown helps explain the key differences. Please share any questions on picking your perfect robot vacuum match in the comments below!

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