As many of you know, we have lived with a Roomba for a few years. He's been a faithful servent, though our cleaning people sometimes unplug the charger and don't plug it back in.

A while back I got an email that said "Looj on Woot!". Woot!, as many of you know, is a website that specializes in selling something different every day. And Looj is a gutter-cleaning robot from iRobot, the maker of the Roomba. A week or so later, the Looj showed up at my door, but I only got around to reviewing it today.

Unlike the Roomba, the Luje is not authonomous. So, strictly speaking, it's a radio-controlled gutter cleaner rather than a robotic one, but I'm willing to cut them so slack on this. It has two parts - there's the main body of the robot, which is about 12" long, 2" wide, and perhaps an inch and a half tall. On the front is the cleaning part, which has rubber flaps and some strong brushes.

Attached to the top is the handle/remote control.

I got up on my roof today to try it out. I have a few leaves, a few needles, a bit of moss, and a whole lot of maple tree seeds (aka "helicopters"). It's all fairly dry because of the time of the year.

To use it, you set it in the gutter, turn it on, and detach the handle. Turn on the auger, and then you just drive it forwards and backwards like an RC car. In most cases, it will clear all the debris in the first pass, but sometimes there's enough that it climbs on top a bit, and you have to reverse and then move forward to clean it all out. Or, you can drive forwards in spurts when you hit a lot of debris.

It works really well. I only ran into two problems. In one of my gutters, the Looj rolled over on its back, but since the tread design is symmetrical, it works fine on the back as well. The second problem I had was when I drove it over a short maple tree which got tangled in the auger and the auger clutch released (this doesn't damage the Looj). I untangled it, pulled out the tree, and finished that section of the gutter (the Looj manual tells you not to try to remove trees...)

So, I did all the gutters - perhaps 120' - in about 15 minutes. Now, I did it from the roof, so I didn't have to move the ladder, but it was still remarkably painless. And it's pretty cheap for what it does - about $100 for the basic model.