Deal Breakdown: iRobot Scooba

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Here at MainStreet, we have a love-hate relationship with robots. We love it when they clean our houses and babysit our children, but we hate thinking about the unavoidable day when they perceive a threat to their existence and attempt to wipe out humanity. Fortunately, today’s deal falls into the former category (we hope).

The robotics company iRobot – which has about as much to do with the Isaac Asimov novel as the Will Smith movie it was adapted into – makes a variety of robots, including one for bomb disposal, and another that’s being used to analyze the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Its greatest contribution to society, though, is surely the Roomba, a cute little autonomous robot vacuum cleaner.

iRobot followed up on the Roomba’s success with the Scooba, a robotic floor washer that replaces your mop and bucket; like the Roomba it will clean your floor with no human direction, and is able to avoid both carpets and obstacles. Today the Deal-a-Day site Yugster.com is offering an early Scooba model, the 330, at a hefty discount of 50% off the retail price of $399.99. At $189.97, is this a must-have deal?

The first thing you should know is that nobody is selling the 330 for the original retail price of $399.99 anymore, so while it’s technically a 50% discount, it’s not blowing the competition out of the water. Indeed, iRobot is selling a “remanufactured” version of the model for $199.99 on their own site (they seem to be phasing out the 330 in favor of newer models).

Meanwhile, Buy.com is also selling it for $199.99, though there’s no indication that their version is the same remanufactured one. And they offer free shipping, unlike Yugster, where it will cost $10 to get the Scooba to your living room. The final price ends up roughly the same on both sites.

So should you get it? The reviews are above-average, with reviewers on Target.com praising its cleaning capabilities while criticizing its battery life and iRobot’s customer service. My suggestion is to do your homework and compare it to the newer models – the Scooba 350 and 380 – which retail for $399 and $450, respectively. (The newer models are mainly distinguished by their longer battery life and bigger water tanks, with the 380 capable of cleaning up to 850 square feet on a single charge versus just 250 square feet for the 330.) If you decide on the 330 by the end of the day, by all means grab it on Yugster; otherwise, it will probably still be there for the same price on Buy.com.

Don't want to spend too much? Check out our Deals & Steals hot topic for more bargains. Don't want to spend anything at all? There's plenty of Free Stuff to be had as well.

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