The Ecovacs Deebot T8 Ozmo is a robot vacuum with a forward-facing camera, allowing it to recognize and avoid objects. Dodging slippers and power cords, the T8 can spend more time cleaning floors.
The robot vacuum cleaners you see today are not the clunky furniture destroyers from a decade or two ago. Like many small appliances in your home, modern automated floor cleaners now connect to the internet, which allows you to control your robot with smart apps, as well as with digital assistants like Alexa and Google Home.
When smart connectivity first debuted, our testing showed it was a bit of a gimmick. However, over time, smart technology has evolved to the point it’s a major plus when done right. Recent smart robot vacuums have features like onboard cameras so they can act like floor cleaners and security cameras. Improved smartphone apps now include virtual maps to help track cleaning, create barriers, and provide more useful information.
We’ve tested nearly every model from brands like iRobot, Eufy, Neato, Ecovacs, and more to find out which ones are the best robot vacuums on the market. Rising to the surface as our top pick is the iRobot Roomba j7+ (available at Amazon for $599.00) as the best overall performer.
iRobot Roomba j7+
Navigational technology: Object recognition
Mop function: No
It doesn’t get much better than the iRobot Roomba j7+ when it comes navigation and design. The j7+ uses machine learning and forward-facing cameras to maneuver around furniture and avoid obstacles with ease.
The j7+’s excellent navigation allows it to get near-total floor coverage. During testing, our best robot vacuum picked up 9.35 grams of dirt per run, allowing it to keep up with a full-sized vacuum over the course of a week.
Plus, you can use the iRobot Genius app to specify what rooms or parts of rooms you want to be cleaned and when.
Do your kids constantly track in dirt when they come home from school? The j7+ can be programmed to clean the front entrance every day at 3 pm. When it’s done cleaning, this Roomba can empty itself into a self-sealing bag.
Being so programmable and flexible makes the iRobot Roomba j7+ an indispensable tool for cleaning.
It also looks great while doing it. The j7+ has received an aesthetic upgrade. The dock has been redesigned to fit in more places and to match most home decor. The robot itself has a brushed metal top that will keep looking spick and span for years to come.
Overall, the iRobot Roomba j7+ is a leap forward for robot vacuums. It lets you think less about cleaning your floors and that’s really the whole point of a robot vacuum, isn’t it?
When it comes to smart features, the Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni tops the charts. The X1 Omni’s app has all the standard fare: You can start, stop, and schedule cleaning sessions. But it also lets you create smart maps of your floorplans.
With these smart maps, you can designate the areas for it to clean or avoid. That means you can have this robot vacuum your hallway twice while avoiding your dog’s bed completely.
The X1 Omni also has plenty of smart features built right in. First, it has Yiko, a proprietary voice control system. You can get your robot vacuum to start cleaning by the sound of your voice alone, no need to install an Alexa or Google Home.
When it’s cleaning, the X1 Omni uses its forward-facing camera and machine learning for obstacle avoidance.
The camera can also stream what the robot vacuum is seeing. Using this feature turns the X1 into a mobile security camera that you can control remotely. Plus, the speaker that’s used for Yiko lets you hear and speak through your robot vacuum. Imagine being able to check in on your dog while you’re at work, and then yell at him to get off the couch.
All these smart features are icing on the cake because this Deebot is also an excellent floor cleaner. While in vacuum mode, it picked up 11 grams of dirt per run, meaning it can easily help maintain floors between manual cleanings over the course of a week.
In mop mode, it deftly wiped up chocolate syrup and baby powder off linoleum and hardwood floors. And the cherry on top of all that icing is the fact that the X1 Omni can empty its dust bin and clean its own mop pads automatically.
The Eufy Robovac 11S is the heir to the much-loved Robovac 11. This robot vacuum does its predecessor proud, offering excellent suction and improved navigation. The slimmer design allows the Robovac 11S to get its brushes into more places.
When we ran our tests, this Eufy robot vacuum picked up around 11.6 grams of dirt per run, more than what most iRobot models manage.
During operation, the 11S is quiet, rarely making enough noise to interrupt a conversation.
This combination of good cleaning performance and quiet operation make the Robovac 11S our favorite affordable robot vacuum.
The Samsung JetBot A.I.+ is a rather large robot vacuum, but it’s ideal for tackling pet hair and dander.
On top of its powerful suction and self-emptying capabilities, this Samsung robot vacuum navigates around your home with ease. It can avoid furniture as well as other obstacles (like dog poop), which is a common complaint from pet owners who want a good vacuum robot.
The JetBot A.I.+ also includes a unique program called SmartThings Pet, which essentially allows the robo vac to double as a pet cam. The unit has cameras that enable it to record videos of your pets at home, so you can see what they’re up to while you’re gone.
The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is a robot vac that cleans floors in a whole new way. It uses a forward-facing camera and artificial intelligence to see obstacles and different types of flooring. This technology allows the Ozmo T8 AIVI to navigate smoothly even in the coziest of rooms.
The Ozmo T8 AIVI is accompanied by a high-tech app that lets you do things like set virtual barriers and stream video of what the robot vacuum sees through its cameras.
Our lab testing shows that the Ozmo T8 AIVI really emphasizes the “robot” aspect of a robot vacuum—it’s one of the smartest robot vacuums we’ve ever tested.
However, its dirt pickup performance is not on par with other models in its price range. On average, the Ozmo T8 AIVI picked up 9.5 grams of testing debris, a little shy of the average 10 grams we see from competitors.
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is the first robot vacuum you can completely control from your smartphone. Using your phone, you can draw lines on virtual maps to tell this robot vacuum when and where to clean, and program the unit to avoid certain areas, if needed.
This D7 also works well on high-pile carpet (unlike many other robot vacuums) thanks to its large wheels and signature “D” shape. This design also allows the unit to clean flush with walls all while picking up a decent amount of dirt on average—around 9.6 grams per run. So, if you set the D7 to clean an area daily, it will perform about as well as a traditional vacuum does during a light clean.
Excellent dirt pickup performance
Able to direct towards or away from specific rooms
The iRobot Roomba i3+ is an affordable and self-emptying robot vacuum that’s compatible with iRobot OS, the company’s versatile smart app platform. The app lets you create labeled smart maps. This in turn allows you to have your i3+ clean just under the table or schedule it to clean the doorway when your kids come home from school.
The i3+ itself is a pretty good robot vacuum. It picked up 11 grams of debris per run, which gets a gold star in our book. It also has a textured chassis so it’ll stay looking fresh and new for years to come.
The EcoVacs Deebot Ozmo 930 lets you start, stop, and schedule from your phone. You can also create virtual barriers—lines you don’t want the 930 to cross. Or, do the opposite: with a single swipe, the app tells the 930 to go over a certain area multiple times.
Able to direct towards or away from specific rooms
For the price, the iRobot 694 can pick up more dirt than you’d expect, making this Roomba a great option if you’re looking to seriously cut down on the amount of dust and debris in your home in between deep cleans.
It can be programmed via a free app or remotely controlled with voice commands, allowing you to stop, start, or adjust this robo vac with ease.
Of course, there are some downsides when you’re getting a more affordable option, and for this model the main drawback seemed to be its tendency to bump into furniture.
The 694 is compatible with iRobot Genius, but you won’t really need it for this simple robot vacuum. You can just plug it in and let it do its thing.
Known for making quality affordable robot vacuums, Eufy shows that it is ready to make the leap to a higher price bracket with its RoboVac L70 Hybrid.
After a week of testing, we found that the L70 has no breakthrough technology, but it does have the navigation and suction power of more expensive robot vacuums. If you’re looking to trade up, but want to stay in the Eufy ecosystem, this is the one to get.
This is also a good robot vacuum to get if you’re interested in trying out a smart robot vacuum with more advanced features. The app allows you to schedule cleanings, track where the robot has been, and even draw zones on a digital map to ensure it stays within a certain area. You can even tell the L70 to go over an area multiple times.
The iRobot Roomba S9+ is unique amongst iRobot robot vacuums with D-shaped chassis—a style pioneered by Neato. The idea of a D-shape is that it can get flush with walls and corners, something that circular robot vacuums can have trouble doing.
After spending a week with the Roomba S9+, we think that it’s a fine robot vacuum, but it’s too expensive for what you get.
In our cleaning tests, this robot vacuum picked up an average of eight grams per run, slightly lower than our standard of 10 grams.
The S9+ is gentle, only lightly nudging furniture and walls to find its way around. This behavior can be great, but it also means the S9+ avoids jamming its brushes into places to find dirt and debris.
While better known for its TVs, TCL steps into the cleaning arena with the TCL Sweeva 6500 robot vacuum.
Our testing results show that it’s a moderately priced competitor to the iRobot Roomba i3+.
The Sweeva 6500 has a self-emptying feature, satisfactory floor cleaning skills, and functional smart features that you can access via your TCL smart TV. If you already own a TCL TV and are thinking about getting a robot vacuum, you might do well to check out the Sweeva 6500.
The Eufy G30 Edge sits on the high-side of affordable robot vacuums. It has everything you’d want in a standard robot vacuum: powerful suction; Alexa compatibility; an included barrier to keep it out of sensitive rooms. Our testing showed that the G30’s navigation is up to snuff, easily gliding around table legs and climbing over thresholds.
But, as far as robot vacuums go, the G30 Edge sits in the middle of the pack. We didn’t find any major faults, but we didn’t uncover anything extraordinary, either. The G30 Edge has a handsome top plate, average cleaning performance, and all the features most households will need.
I'm Jon Chan, Reviewed’s senior lab technician. I've been testing the vacuum cleaners for years, and I’ve seen robot vacuums change a lot as navigation and smart technologies continue to advance.
Most of the tests we use to challenge a robot vacuum involve doing time on our robot vacuum obstacle course. The area contains analogs for furniture legs, shelves, different types of flooring, and thresholds.
Each robot vacuum has three chances to prove itself. In the first two runs, we placed cork pellets under the shelves and between the furniture legs. When we let the robot vacuum loose, we look for how long a cleaning cycle takes, what obstacles it was able to clean thoroughly, and overall debris pickup. For the final test run, we replaced the cork with pet hair.
What To Consider Before Buying A Robot Vacuum
Robot vacuums tend to have two different types of navigation, infrared and optical, or a combination of both.
Infrared sensors shoot beams that give information about distance. One popular type of infrared sensor is called lidar. Robot vacuums often use this method to map rooms which they can send to your phone via Wi-Fi
Optical navigation involves cameras, usually mounted on the top of the unit. Typically, these cameras utilize contrast and landmarks to decipher where they are. Robot vacuums that rely on optical navigation cannot work in a pitch-black room.
What Type of Floors You Have
Most robot vacuums are designed for bare floors and medium-pile carpets. If you own throw rugs that are taller than a half-inch, your robot vacuum might not be able to climb atop it, and if it does make it up, it may get stuck.
A few other variables to consider are thresholds and flooring transitions. Most robot vacuums are designed to go over thresholds between rooms that are up to .25 inches tall. However, some robot vacuums, specifically mop-vacuum hybrids struggle with floor type transition. Often, the mop attachment, which slides on bare floors well, will drag on carpet.
Barrier and Boundary Set-Up
Over the years, three technologies have developed to help keep robot vacuums from running amok across your floor plan: magnetic strips, virtual barriers, and app-based barriers. All three of these methods have their pros and cons.
Magnetic strips are the simplest. You lay them on the floor and they create a barrier that designated robot vacuums will not cross. While they don’t require batteries, magnetic strips are cumbersome. Most robot vacuums that use them only ship with one magnetic strip, so you’ll have to cut it if you want to cover multiple entryways.
Virtual barriers are battery-powered devices that emit an infrared line that tells the robot vacuums to turn back. Some specialized barriers, like iRobot’s lighthouse, can create a “halo” or a circle barrier to encompass a piece of furniture or a pet bowl.
Specialized apps incorporate new mapping technologies that allow robot vacuums to have a better understanding of their surroundings. They can then send that information to an app on your phone. Companies like iRobot, Neato, and Ecovacs all produce robot vacuums where you can draw lines on virtual maps to denote where the robots can and cannot go.
What About Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums?
A self-emptying or automatic-emptying robot utilizes a secondary vacuum located in the charging base. When a cleaning cycle is complete, the robot vacuum returns to the charging base, and the secondary vacuum suctions out the dust bin and places the contents into a bag or separate dirt cup.
Robot Vacuums Can Also Mop—Sometimes
If you want a robot mop and a robot vacuum, but don’t want to purchase two different devices, you should check out a robot vacuum-mop hybrid. These floor cleaners typically have a smaller dust bin to accommodate a water tank that wets the mop pad.
The vast majority of vacuum-mop hybrids are designed to mop up dust and not deal with stains. This is due to the fact that most of the mops rely on friction and the robot vacuum’s downward weight to apply pressure. There are some exceptions, like the Ecovacs X1 Omni, which has rotating mop pads.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Robot Vacuums Last?
This is a tricky question.
We find that the battery is the shortest-lived part of a robot vacuum. Both nickel and lithium batteries have hard limits on the number of times they can recharge.
Nickel batteries suffer from memory loss—basically, over time, they lose the ability to recharge fully, whereas the cathodes of lithium batteries tend to wear after a few years.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to buy a new battery pack for your robot vacuum after two to four years of use, depending on how often you run your device.
The best way to get your money’s worth is to set a routine for your robot vacuum to automatically run every day.
Getting one with an app is also a bonus for those times you need to give your floors a once-over before coming home to any last-minute surprise guests.
Should You Buy a Robot Vacuum?
In short: If you’re expecting a deep clean, then no.
After testing dozens of robot vacuums, we’ve come to the conclusion that the product name is a bit of a misnomer.
A robot vacuum’s ability to pick up dirt and debris pales in comparison to that of a full-sized vacuum and can only really compete over the course of a week. To be clear, a robot vacuum is a fantastic option for spot cleanings. It’s also great if you have a pet that sheds dog hair or cat hair daily.
We found that consumers experience the most satisfaction with their robot vacuums when they are used as a spot-cleaner to keep floors looking tidy in between deeper cleans that require an upright vacuum.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.