Robot vacuum cleaners

I was chatting to a work colleague about birthdays, the amazing fact that we’re now well into the 21st century, and what happened to the promise of robots who would do the housework?

Of course, we have dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers… and then she said she has one of those robot vaccuum cleaners. Apparently it works wonders in a flat with floorboards and cats that leave hair everywhere.

It gets switched-on when leaving for work. It roams around the house (I guess the cats are used to it) and then returns itself to its charging station.

Apparently it handles rugs okay, and given I have floorboards (but no cats), I’m wondering if it might be a good Christmas present to myself.

The base models from the excellently named iRobot company appear to cost about $400, judging from Harvey Norman’s list.

Previously I’ve been wary of these things as being an expensive gimmick. But I wonder if the technology is sufficiently advanced now that they are reliable and effective enough to provide some genuine benefits for the cost.

Anybody else have one? What do you think of it? Are they as good as the reviewers on the HN web site claim?