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Two More Technology Purchases

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In the past I had mentioned buying a GPS system as well as a travel computer. Just this past week, I've made two more technology purchases - each at least three digits.

I've wanted an iRobot Roomba since they were first announced. Boston Gal fueled the desire even more with her great Roomba review. After talking it over with my new wife we decided that the idea of eliminating the chore of vacuuming was worth investigating. I investigated buying one on Craigslist and found a newer generation one for $100 - it retails for $220 on Amazon. What I like about this purchase is that there's no risk. If the Roomba doesn't work for us, we can put it back on Craigslist or on Ebay and perhaps even make a couple of dollars.

The other purchase we made was an all-in-one office printer. I had previous mentioned that I've been looking for one. Savvy Steward suggested a HP CM1015. I began the search and it wasn't too long before I found that Costco was having a sale on a HP OfficeJet L7650 - a model similar to the HP OfficeJet Pro L7680. The CM1015 didn't seem to have fax capabilities which was something that we were looking to replace. With the sale and a $70 gift card that we got for the wedding, it ended up costing us $220. One of the biggest wins here is that we didn't have a scanner or a photo printer - yet we've found ourselves having a need for them more often that we figured.

Both of these items have something in common.  They are extremely space saving.  The Roomba is smaller than other vacuums as it doesn't need the stem to drive it around.  The OfficeJet replaces several items so we can get by with a smaller office.  We're trying to think ahead to a home purchase in maybe three years and if we reduce the amount of space we need, we won't have to buy as much house.  That means a cheaper mortgage and utility bills (less space to heat and cool).

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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7 Responses to “Two More Technology Purchases”

  1. Penny Saved says:

    I’d love to hear how the Roomba works out. I’ve wanted one forever, but can’t convince myself that it will do a good job. If it works for you, I’d be a lot more willing to give it a try. I do hate vacuuming.

  2. Glad to hear you like the Roomba. I have a brand new one in the box that I would be glad to sell any of your readers at a low price. I think they are great, but with a dog and cat that shed it wouldn’t have met my needs…it was a present so we couldn’t just return it.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    If anyone wants to inquire about MoneyHealthandWealth’s Roomba… send me an e-mail or leave a comment and I’ll pass your e-mail address onto him.

  4. Dennis says:

    I’m the same with Penny Saved, a review on the Roomba would be nice. I’ve considered getting one myself, but the price is a little steep.

  5. Matt says:

    I’ve heard great things about those robot vacuums; thankfully with hardwood floors it’s not as hard to keep on top of the dust as with carpets.

  6. Mike says:

    I can help with a Roomba review (not entirely positive I’m afraid). My wife was initially very skeptical about the Roomba–she thought it would never do what a “real” vaccum cleaner would do, but I convinced her to let me bring one home anyway.

    She became a Roomba convert pretty quickly. It wasn’t that she necessarily came to believe we’d never have to use an upright vacuum again. But she would vacuum normally, and then send the Roomba around, and it would come back full. Over and over again. Every time. My wife likes the house to be clean, and simply couldn’t believe how much stuff the Roomba was picking up, and she loved it. So for us, it became more of a complimentary thing to vacuuming–it probably did decrease the frequency we had to use the “real” vacuum, but we never did away with it entirely.

    When we first started using the Roomba, we were in a good size townhome with a mix of hardwood floors, tile, and carpet, and now we’re in a larger house that’s almost all hardwood floors with area rugs. So I’d say the Roomba gets a pretty good workout on a regular basis.

    That leads to the minus side of my review. Every time you use the Roomba, you have to clean it. It has a brush/roller thingy that gets all tangled up with hair and dustballs, which has to be taken out and the hair cut out and removed. Dust and hairballs also collect in other parts of the Roomba innards, which also needs to be scooped out and wiped down. The filtered part needs to be dumped out, and the filter brushed clean. It’s not THAT big of a deal, but compared to a vacuum cleaner (especially one that uses bags) you’re definitely doing more maintenance work on a per-use basis in exchange for the savings in vacuuming time. And when you really come down to it, it doesn’t take a ton of time to vacuum a room, so I consider this a significant tradeoff. Overall though, it’s an OK tradeoff, especially when viewed as a complementary-to-vacuuming thing–if the Roomba is picking up stuff you would have missed otherwise, it’s worth the few minutes of work to clean the Roomba afterwards.

    The bigger downside though, is reliability. We’re probably on our fifth or sixth Roomba in less than five years. Our first Roomba stopped working after a few months of heavy use–it would start jerking as if it sensed a wall after a foot or two, and then shut down with one of it’s “sad beep” codes. We called Roomba tech support and they told us to use canned air to clean out the innards (I assume they thought one of the sensors was blocked by dirt), but it didn’t work. I called back and they led me through the process of doing a hard reset (remove battery, press some buttons for a while, then recharge it with just the AC adapter rather than the charging base). But it still didn’t help. We exchanged it with the retailer. Unfortunately this has been a rinse-and-repeat process. The retailer has been pretty accommodating–I’ve never gotten any questions about the exchanges–but really, the Roomba hasn’t been nearly as reliable as we’d expect for a vacuum cleaner type of appliance.

    We still like the Roomba. In fact, I’m about to do another exchange because our current one is broken and my wife really wants to start using it again. But I’d go into it with your eyes open, and if I were you I’d buy it from a place that makes it easy to return or exchange. I also personally wouldn’t buy a used one with the thought of reselling it if I don’t like it–if it won’t function, you aren’t going to have much luck selling it.

    Also Lazy Man, I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but from a financial perspective, a laser printer like the one recommended to you is a lot cheaper over the long run than an inkjet, unless you hardly ever use your printer. Laser printers work out to about a penny a page for black & white, and maybe 10 cents for color. Inkjets are generally many times that amount per page. You get a cheap (subsidized) printer up front, but end up paying for it many times over with ink refills.

  7. Lazy Man says:

    Thanks for the long review on the Roomba. Thus far it hasn’t done a good job where we’ve tried it, but we tried a small dinning room with a big table and 4 chairs – not exactly a fair test for the little guy. I let him go in the tiled kitchen and he did have a better time of navigating things. I did consider printing costs, but the fact is that we don’t print a lot. I have a HP LaserJet 4L that I recently bought a new cartridge for. The last cartridge lasted me through high school and college, so as long as the printer holds up, we can probably just offshoot all bulk printing jobs there. Unfortunately it doesn’t scan, copy, fax, or do color (not to mention photo quality). I looked into getting a laser all-in-one, but once you get into color lasers that can do faxing and all that, you are talking about a big, big purchase – far more than our requirements are. So we’ll probably still have two printers for the time being.

    The reviews of the all-in-one that I did buy did confirm that it uses 25% less ink than other printers without a loss in quality which is a nice savings.

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