Review: iRobot Roomba i7+
This is probably one of the most useful pieces of tech in my home.
You know what sucks? Having to get up and vacuum your house on a regular basis. Come on, you know what I’m talking about – it blows.
You know what doesn’t suck? Well, this new Roomba from iRobot. Ok, yeah, sure, it sucks, but like, in a good and extremely helpful way. Seriously, it’s a robot vac that cleans your home with barely any human intervention whatsoever. We were promised flying cars, but instead, we got this. And honestly, I’m not even mad. I have to say, other than my iPhone, this is probably one of the most useful pieces of tech in my home. Or at the very least, it sits in the top three.
Before we move forward with the Roomba i7+, let’s take a step back. Around a year ago, I got myself the Roomba 960. It was great, and it was exactly what I needed. It vacuumed on a regular schedule (quite well, too), it was Wi-Fi enabled so it knew which areas of the home it needed to clean, and I was able to command it with Amazon Alexa. It’s the first robot vacuum that I ever tested and from there I was convinced I was going to be one of those people who drooled over robot vacuums.
But to be fair, one of the most significant pain points with the previous model I reviewed was that it required a lot of human intervention. You know, basic vacuum things, like having to remove the contents of the dustbin. And this becomes a regular thing, and if you don’t do it, the vacuum won’t go and do its job. Not to mention I’m a big baby when it comes to touching the unmentionables that a vacuum sucks up during its cleaning process (I’m cringing at the thought of touching a hairball right now).
Don’t get me wrong, the process of clearing out the dustbin isn’t hard – iRobot does an excellent job at making it painstakingly easy, but again, I’ll refer you to the comment I made in the previous paragraph. In case you missed it, I’m a big baby.
Thankfully, a lot has changed, and it’s notably obvious with the i7+ and the company’s new self-cleaning base. Instead of having to clear out the dustbin on a regular basis, this new cleaning base sucks it right out of the vacuum and keeps the content in a replaceable bag. Meaning, you only deal with the dust bags every month or so, with no fear of dust bunnies or hairballs. It’s completely self-reliant and genuinely one of the best things to happen to the robot game. Don’t @ me.
Another stand out feature that works just as advertised is its new Smart Maps feature. This basically allows the robot to create a map of your home and focus clean certain rooms that you have assigned. In my experience, if I wanted to do that with my previous vacuum, I would have to manually pick up the robot and bring it to whatever room that needed cleaning. This changes everything and in a really good way.
Unfortunately and understandably, this feature doesn’t work right out of the box. The i7+ will need to complete at least a few cleaning jobs to get an understanding of your home’s layout. In my testing, it took about four to five runs before I was able to get a clear map of my home. Once it does get mapped, you’ll have to assign names to each room along with virtual boundaries that basically tells the robot where the room starts.
You can assign eight rooms to each floor plan. From here, you can then tell Google Assistant or Alexa to clean a specific room or group of rooms with a simple voice command. Another thing that’s worth noting about this mapping feature is that if you move furniture or reorganize things around in a room, the i7+ automatically adjusts the map and then saves the new map to update its database. Again, a game changer.
Watching this thing go is oddly satisfying, as well. I can’t tell you how many hungover mornings I spent just watching the i7+ do its thing. Compared to other robot vacuums, this vacuum is in a league of its own when it comes to how it vacuums. Instead of just zig-zagging through the room, the vacuum follows a pre-determined path, similar to how you would mow your lawn. Other robot vacuums will just go about the room in a random route until it runs out of juice. If this i7+ runs out of battery or its dustbin gets full, it will return to the Home Base, charge itself up, and then return to the exact spot where it left off. It’s pretty wild.
When it comes to vacuuming, the i7+ performs exceptionally well. To be fair, I do have all hardwood floors throughout my home, so this makes the cleaning process a whole lot easier for the vacuum. But don’t get me wrong, I have two cats, and these little bastards are notorious for leaving their toys all over the place, and at times, the robot will get stuck trying to gobble them up. Thankfully, when things like this happen (and I can pretty much guarantee this will happen to you), the app shoots off a notification and the vacuum will alert you with an audible distress signal letting you know it can’t proceed to do its job without a hand.
The iRobot app goes hand in hand with the i7+, not to mention all their other vacuums. There are a ton of things you can do with it. For starters, you can assign it schedules (I have mine going off every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon). You can have the robot do a single or double pass throughout your home. If you want to avoid the guessing game, you can have it set to automatic (the default option) and let the robot determine if a room needs additional passes or not. Additionally, once the robot completes a job, you can see a detailed map of every area it cleaned.
I have to say, being a previous Roomba owner, the i7+ is definitely a massive improvement to iRobot’s current line of devices. Compared to my previous 960, the i7+ is lightyears beyond it with its new cleaning capabilities. However, one thing about this vac that kind of sets me off is that it’s pretty loud. I mean, I get it, it’s a vacuum. These things aren’t supposed to be quiet. But when you’re trying to eat your lunch at home watching something on Netflix, it can put a damper on things and you’ll probably have to move to another room to get some peace and quiet.
It’s worth pointing out though that the i7+ has 10 times the suction power of its base models, meaning that yes, it’s a bit noisy, but it’s also cleaning better than any other Roomba around. Additionally, the Home Base is extremely loud. Understandably so, it’s sucking all the stuff from the vacuum up a vertical chute into a convenient bag. My best suggestion, don’t set your vacuum to go off at night unless you want to be woken up. But at the same time, who sets a vacuum to go off at night?
And this brings to my last caveat about the i7+: It’s not cheap. The i7+ currently retails at $949, which can be a bit hard to justify for a robot that vacuums your home. With that said though, in my opinion, it’s worth every cent just for the peace of mind. But to help lighten the load, iRobot does offer a cheaper option, the i7, for $699. It’s the same vac with all the same cleaning capabilities as the i7+, the only thing that’s missing is the self-cleaning base. Meaning, you’ll have to manually empty out the bin after each use.
If you opt for the i7+, just keep in mind that replacement bags for the Clean Base cost $14.99 for a three-pack. iRobot provides you with two, which roughly need to be replaced every month or so.
To wrap things up, iRobot really went above and beyond with the i7+. Honestly, I can’t imagine going back down to a previous model. The Home Base is an absolute game changer and I can see a lot of these other copycat companies implementing their own system sometime down the line.
Sure, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny, but with the Smart Maps feature and a bin that empties itself, it’s worth every penny.
A sample unit was provided to KnowTechie for the purpose of this review.