HomeTechnologyNewsCleans well but lacks some advanced features

Cleans well but lacks some advanced features

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Ratings:
7/10
?

  • 1 – Doesn’t work
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Very poor in most areas
  • 4 – It works, but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, approaching the best of its class
  • 9 – Top of his class
  • 10 – Borderline perfection

Price: $599

The Roomba j7+ unit comes with an automatic emptying station that can hold 60 days of dirt.Tyler Hayes / Instructional Geek

Roomba is back with a model that can handle mopping as well as vacuuming, complete with its own self-emptying waste bin. The iRobot Roomba j7+ is a hybrid unit that can pull double duty for cleaning floors, though it won’t empty dirty water or refill clean water on its own.

While evaluating the Roomba j7+, a few questions arose. First, the most obvious, does its combination of performance and price make it a good value for someone who wants basic automated cleaning? Second, aside from its own performance, how does it fare compared to some of the competing brands that are making big strides to make a name for themselves in the cleaning space?

I kept an eye on those top two questions because the robotic vacuum landscape is expanding rapidly. Decent ones, like the Roborock Q5+, are getting cheaper as more premium robovacs come on the market. The Roomba j7+ retails for almost $800, making it a premium product. You can buy the j7 vacuum by itself, without the self-empty station to bring the price down to around $600, but it’s still not cheap, and the convenience of the self-empty trash can is removed.

After several weeks of testing the iRobot Roomba j7+ in my home, I found that it falls somewhere in between. It is a competent assistant for vacuuming and mopping. But it’s missing some features that make it seem a bit expensive (at retail price) to recommend without any warning.

This is what we like

  • Decent cleaning performance
  • Efficient with your time
  • Well designed mobile app
  • Compact automatic emptying station

And what we don’t do

  • no spot cleaning
  • Slightly aggressive when hitting furniture and walls.
  • No real-time map tracking

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers get right down to business with every product we review. We put each piece of hardware through hours of real-world testing and benchmark it in our lab. We never accept payments to endorse or review a product and we never add other people’s reviews. Read more >>

A Roomba robot vacuum begins to clean.
Tyler Hayes / Instructional Geek

My biggest surprise, checking back with iRobot after a bit of a hiatus, was that their vacuums are still heavy when it comes to room feel. Sure, they’ve learned to go in a straight line, so the carpet pattern is nice, but the j7+ was pretty aggressive in how it got to that point.

Out of the box, the initial floor mapping was aggressive. The vacuum hit the dining room chairs hard enough to knock them out of place. It hit the walls hard enough to hear from other rooms. The lack of LiDAR on the j7+ unit was notable. I’ve tested several third-party units with LiDAR technology this year and it made a huge difference in mapping speed and finesse of moving around rooms.

The j7+ still hit the walls after its mapping in subsequent cleans, but it did so with less force than the first time around. From time to time he also pushed the dining room chairs, but that was also less frequent. The company uses what it calls PrecisionVision Navigation to recognize objects. And he did a respectable job of taking pictures of objects that got in his way and asking about them on his app, later, after he finished his assigned jobs.

Most of the time, the images he asked about were temporary objects like a sock or cardboard boxes. She would let him know those items should be gone by the time he cleans up again. Occasionally I would wonder about an area that I could then add as a no-go zone to the map. This learning method of asking about what the j7+ saw worked well, in part because the mobile app experience was exceptionally designed.

Within the iRobot Home mobile app (available for Android and iPhone), setting up a new cleaning job was simple and easy to do with just a few taps. Scheduling common jobs to repeat was also just as easy to accomplish. The information I saw was displayed beautifully. By far, iRobot has the least complicated robotic vacuum app I’ve ever used.

One knock against it, however, is that the app sacrifices some features for visual clarity. There is no way to see where the vacuum was cleaning on the map in real time. This is possible for other vacuum cleaners, such as Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, in their applications. I was able to see where the Roomba j7+ had cleaned on the map in the history section, after the fact, but not while it was happening.

cleaning capabilities

Roomba j7+ moving its mop into position
The mop pad extends from the top and sits under the device.Tyler Hayes / Instructional Geek

Probably because the Roomba j7+ was quite aggressive in the way it moved around different rooms, it managed to pick up most of the visible crumbs and dust. It cleaned just as well as other premium robotic vacuums I’ve tested. Of course, these types of vacuums fall on a slight curve compared to more traditional stick vacuums, which are more powerful and guided by human hands. But then again, the j7+ sucked and mopped well, both on hardwood floors and carpet.

I mashed up the French fries and dropped them on the hardwood kitchen floor to see how well it worked with big, obvious messes. I also sprinkled some baking soda on the carpet to test its ability to absorb finer dirt particles. It took the baking soda two passes to completely remove it, but both times it picked up the debris.

There aren’t multiple suction levels available on this vacuum, so I had to do two passes across the room to get any residual white energy on the carpet. Plus, there’s no spot-cleaning option like other vacuums. That would have been useful for singing the affected area. Zones can be created, but they are generally meant to be larger areas in different rooms.

One of the most touted features of iRobot is that this vacuum can prevent accidents with pets, on purpose. I didn’t have real (or fake) pet waste to test this feature, but other attempts I’ve seen where people try to recreate this have done well.

mopping and emptying station

the water tank being removed from a robot vacuum cleaner.
Tyler Hayes / Instructional Geek

It’s not unique that these devices vacuum and mop, but the way the iRobot Roomba j7+ does its mopping is interesting. When not in use, the mop sits on top of the unit. When needed, it will rotate down under him. The idea here is to completely prevent a damp cloth from rubbing against areas of the carpet. It mostly worked, but I still noticed the mop slipping off the edges of a rug in the kitchen while I was mopping the hardwood floor.

This turning mechanism is most effective without multiple types of floors in close proximity. Otherwise, it will continue to work like all other hybrid cleaning robots do, and a damp cloth might touch the carpet at some point. In all cases, with the j7+ and other devices, I haven’t noticed it doing any damage or causing any visual issues.

The Roomba j7+’s mop element did a decent job of cleaning my floors and removing small sauce drips and water spots in the kitchen. It might not provide the same mopping experience as a person, but you shouldn’t expect it to, because it’s not.

It’s nice to have the ability to mop if you need it, but the need to manually empty and refill the water makes the feature less appealing to use regularly. The benefit of other units that have cleaning stations that will empty dirty water and refill clean water automatically is tremendous. I didn’t mind emptying and refilling water every 10-14 days at other vacuum stations.

Part of not wanting to vacuum regularly is also not wanting to deal with cleaning ancillary parts frequently. To that end, the j7+ will automatically empty the dust into a bag inside its charging base. This has worked very well and since the amount of dust and dirt I collected on a daily basis was minimal, I didn’t have to deal with replacing the dust bag for the first month. The company says that the bag’s capacity will accommodate up to 60 days of dirt, but of course, I suppose that could vary greatly depending on multiple factors.

Should you buy the iRobot Roomba j7+?

showing the bottom of a robot vacuum cleaner
Tyler Hayes / Instructional Geek

As good as the iRobot Roomba j7+ Vacuum and Dump Station is, it’s still a hard sell at retail price. Compared only to itself, it vacuums and mops well. It is consistent with his respectable performance. However, its lack of LiDAR technology means it almost certainly could be doing a better job of mapping and not bumping into furniture and walls. It also lacked a spot cleaning ability likely linked to this precision technology. Since competing devices with that kind of computer vision aren’t that much more expensive, its absence here is most glaring.

If you don’t have an overly complicated home design, mobile app usability is of the utmost importance, or you want a consistent cleaning experience, then you should seriously consider the Roomba j7+. It is a workhorse that cleans as advertised.

This is what we like

  • Decent cleaning performance
  • Efficient with your time
  • Well designed mobile app
  • Compact automatic emptying station

And what we don’t do

  • no spot cleaning
  • Slightly aggressive when hitting furniture and walls.
  • No real-time map tracking

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