Scooba Shines Like the Floors it Mops

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My wife did a little jig the other day. Scooba, our robotic mopper, had arrived. The turtlelike device is the sibling to Roomba, which had already won our hearts for its automated vacuuming. We've found Scooba to be at least as charming as it scrubs and polishes our hardwood and tile.

Courtesy of iRobot Corp.Scooba is among the consumer offerings from iRobot, whose original robots are helping to disarm explosives in Afghanistan and Iraq. IRobot's dirtbusting versions are the first domestic robots to make it in the market, with more than 2 million Roombas sold.

From reports, Scooba hasn't sold as well. But I think it lives up to billing even better than Roomba, which is no disappointment. Neither is for heavy cleaning. Still, the mopping version often does a better job than I would: It goes over the room several times, and it uses a brush. "It's like getting on your hands and knees and scrubbing," says Nancy Dussault of iRobot.

Sales must be stymied by the price–at close to $300, the Scooba is expensive compared with Roomba, which can be found for about $100. I found a refurbished Scooba at half the going price, and so far, so good–Scooba gives the floor a nice sheen, and we were startled when the used water came out gooey dark.

OK, I'll admit part of the fun is that Scooba and Roomba still aren't in most homes. So we also get entertainment from them, setting them loose after dinner parties for their own robotic jig.

Photo courtesy of iRobot Corp.