iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
Finally, a robot vacuum that can take care of itself
It's the rare robot vacuum that breaks the mold, but leave it to iRobot to be the one. The company first popularized robot vacuums after all, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it engineered a solution to their most stubborn problem: dirt capacity. Thanks to the iRobot Roomba i7+ (available at Best Buy for $949.99) a robot vacuum can finally empty its dirt bin all by itself and then continue vacuuming. No one trick pony, the i7+ also offers excellent cleaning performance and useful smart features. Long story short, the Roomba i7+ represents the new benchmark to which to compare all high-end robot vacuums.
Design: Major improvements to the dustbin and the base
On the outside, the i7+ looks a lot like the iRobot 980. However, there have been some key changes to the design.
The i7+ tips the scales at just 7.4 pounds, a pound lighter than the 980. That might not sound like a lot, but it's worth noting for anyone who lugs the unit up and down stairs all time to clean multiple floors.
Another big change revolves around the dustbin: it's now washable. It's still not dishwasher safe, but the ability to rinse out excess dirt and hair means a lot to the long-term usability of the i7+.
Finally, there's the dock redesign, called the Clean Base. It measures about 19 inches tall and requires an additional 5 inches of clearance for the top lid to be open. That's not a big deal for most homes but if your current robot vacuum dock is nestled underneath a shelf, you'll have to rethink where you normally stash it.
The dock is larger due to the fact that it now it contains a vacuum of its own. Every time this Roomba finishes a cleaning cycle, the dock vacuum suctions out what's inside the dustbin into a sealable bag. The bag can hold about 30-bins worth of dirt, so you can expect to change the bag about once every one to two months.
We found that the major advantage of using the bags over emptying the bin manually is that you never have to see, touch, or smell anything your Roomba picks up.
Performance and Navigation
Every robot vacuum that comes through our doors gets placed on our obstacle course. Up there, it's a relentless course of tight furniture legs, low shelves, and steep thresholds. After a week of this crucible, the i7+ came out on top. On average, it picked up around 10.5 grams of debris. At first, that might not sound impressive, but the i7+ can be scheduled to clean every day automatically. Over the course of a week, we found that this Roomba can compete with a light manual cleaning from a regular-sized vacuum.
Aside from our rigorous obstacle course, we also tested the i7+ in an open-floor setting. We made this Roomba clean over 5,000-square feet. The only issue we found was with Cesca chairs—the legs of which form a 90-degree angle that created the perfect trap for the i7+. Once we moved them out of the way, it was smooth sailing. Laptop chargers, a table with chairs all around, and the odd cardboard box posed no challenge.
Most of the time we can explain a robot vacuum's smart features with a single sentence about the app, but the Roomba i7+ takes it to a whole new level.
From the app, you can start, stop, and schedule cleanings. That's the minimum we'd expect. Building on that, iRobot also included cleaning preferences: whether you want one, two, or have the robot decide how many passes it goes over an area.
The next generation feature involves Smart Maps. We thought this was the coolest and most cumbersome aspect of this robot vacuum. As the i7+ makes its rounds, it's also mapping the area. After multiple cleaning cycles, it learns an area and marks off what it thinks are rooms. It then prompts you to label all the areas and from then on, you can have the i7+ clean specific areas. The app can store up to 10-floor plans.
Where it gets convenient is that you can schedule this robot vacuum to clean certain areas at certain times. For example, you can have this Roomba clean the entryway every day at 3:15 PM, automatically, right after the kids come home from school.
Finally, you can connect the i7+ to Alexa or Google Home. So if you have your hands full, you can activate your Roomba i7+ with just the sound of your voice.
What you should know
The whole kit an kaboodle is pretty pricey at $950. You can get just the robot vacuum with an older dock for $649. If you wish to purchase the Clean Base separately, it'll cost $299. The Clean Base's bags cost $14.99 for three.
If you want to get a robot vacuum that has similar options, we'd suggest checking out the Neato Botvac D7 Connected or the Ecovacs Deebot 930 Osmo. They don't have the self-empty bins, but they do have smart features that rival iRobot's.
For what's available on the market, the iRobot Roomba i7+ offers the best of the best for the consumer. As experts, we tend to get into the nitty-gritty of who has the best optical navigation or who came up with the self-emptying feature first, but none of that matters to the average person. What you want is a robot vacuum that will make your life easier and the i7+ provides that.
The self-empty feature lets you set it and forget for a month at a time. After you get it set up, it can vacuum only the areas you want and avoid those you'd rather clean yourself.
Yes, it costs a small fortune, but every penny is accounted for.
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