Among the oldest names in the robot vacuum cleaner segment, iRobot's Roomba lineup was synonymous with the product category as a whole for the longest time, and many referred to any robot cleaner as a ‘Roomba'. Things have changed now, particularly in India where more affordable, multi-functional options from brands such as Xiaomi and Milagrow have gotten a bit more attention. However, iRobot is still around and its product range is available officially in India, including the newly launched Roomba j7+ robot vacuum cleaner.
Priced at Rs. 74,900, the iRobot Roomba j7+ is the most expensive and advanced product in the company's Roomba range of robot vacuum cleaners. The j7+ sales package comes with the Clean Base automatic dirt disposal system, which empties the dustbin of the device after cleaning tasks. The Roomba j7+ boasts of improved navigation, object detection and avoidance, and more. Is this the best robot vacuum cleaner you can buy right now? Find out in this review.
The iRobot Roomba j7+ has a forward-facing camera with a 'headlight' for navigation, giving it some effectiveness even in the dark
iRobot Roomba j7+ design
Unlike many brands that offer robot cleaners which combine vacuum cleaning and mopping in one device, iRobot splits the functions across different ranges. The Roomba range of products only focuses on the vacuum cleaning function, while the Braava range focuses on wet mopping.
The Roomba j7+ is therefore only a vacuum cleaning robot, and comes with the Clean Base docking station in the box. If you also have a Braava device, the two can work through the same app in a coordinated way so that both devices can efficiently vacuum and mop your home simultaneously and effectively.
The automatic dirt disposal system is similar to the iRobot Roomba i3+, but the Clean Base docking station that ships with the j7+ model is considerably smaller than that of the i3+ model. Despite the smaller size, it serves the same function and is similarly rated to be able to automatically dispose of dirt from the robot vacuum for up to 60 days before the disposable dirt bag needs to be replaced.
There is just one key difference between the Roomba j7+ model and the j7 model (not currently available in India) – the former comes with the Clean Base dock with automatic dirt disposal, while the latter has a standard charging dock. The robot vacuum itself is roughly the same size as most of its kind and has a disc shape, but appears just slightly taller than competing devices from brands such as Xiaomi, Milagrow, and 360.
On the top of the iRobot Roomba j7+ is a single button to control the device manually, although detailed and more convenient controls can be accessed through the iRobot Home app once connected to Wi-Fi and fully set up. Unlike some competing devices which have an openable top lid, the Roomba j7+ does not have this and instead, has a removable dust bin at the side. The front has a flexible bumper to absorb the occasional hits, and the primary camera and light which are used for the VSLAM (visual simultaneous localisation and mapping) navigation system.
The iRobot j7+ is available in a single black colour and has three wheels at the bottom to move around, two of which are motorised, and the third is a free stabiliser wheel at the front. On the underside of the vacuum is a single sweeper brush, and a double-roller brush mechanism for the suction area to help capture dirt and impurities. Included in the sales package are a replacement sweeper brush, replacement HEPA filter for the dust bin, and a cable to connect the dock station to a power outlet.
iRobot Roomba j7+ navigation and mapping
The iRobot Roomba j7+ uses a camera-based VSLAM navigation, with a forward-facing camera working as the ‘eye' for the device. Interestingly, there is also a ‘headlight' which turns on when the Roomba j7+ is working and illuminates the path of the robot vacuum cleaner. This made the device's navigational accuracy decent even in the dark, which is where camera-based devices typically falter a bit.
With the front-facing camera, the iRobot Roomba j7+ seems to be much better with navigation than other camera-based devices I've reviewed, and indeed on par with Lidar-based navigation in terms of being able to detect obstacles and move through complicated furniture settings such as dining tables and chairs.
The automatic dirt disposal system on the Roomba j7+ means that you don't have to manually clean out the device's dustbin as often
The greater resolution and visibility of the camera also allowed the device to better scan the environment and adapt its cleaning accordingly, which showed in its effectiveness in cleaning carpets and rugs, and being able to move efficiently within and between rooms. The iRobot Roomba j7+ took a couple of test runs to learn the layout of my home and create a map, which was fairly accurate. It even got the room divisions reasonably on point, and managed to correctly mark carpeted areas, which the device was able to move over effortlessly.
In general, the improved navigation of the iRobot Roomba j7+ helped to ensure a smoother and less clumsy navigational experience, as compared to earlier Roomba devices. Hard bumps against furniture, particularly chair and table legs were largely avoided, and the device moved slowly but calculatedly on the whole.
That said, there was one occasion where the Roomba j7+ fell off a single step dividing two rooms when the door was accidentally left open, but setting a narrow no-go zone here prevented this from happening again. On a couple of occasions, the device didn't immediately go to the room it was instructed to, inexplicably taking a trip to a different room for a minute or so before fixing its path.
A key feature of the iRobot Roomba j7+ is its ability to avoid obstacles and pet waste on the floor, with the navigation system designed to steer clear of both of these. While I wasn't able to test the device against the latter, the j7+ was able to properly avoid objects such as cables and towels or clothes placed on the floor.
On some occasions, these were photographed by the camera for review in the app, and I was able to instruct the device whether to permanently avoid the area (in the case of some immovable cables) or to clean over it if the obstruction had since been removed. The Roomba j7+ can generally tell the difference between a temporary obstacle and a permanent fixture, so this isn't something you'll find yourself having to do often.
iRobot Roomba j7+ app
The iRobot Home app is used to control all devices from the brand across the Roomba and Braava ranges, and also helps you manage multiple devices together in your home if that's your use case. The app ties into the simplicity and ease of use of the Roomba j7+ itself, with visual representations of most parameters including mapping, cleaning, battery life, and more. Once set up and connected to your home Wi-Fi, you can control the Roomba j7+ from anywhere, provided both the smartphone and robot are connected to the Internet.
You can set ‘Favourite' cleaning tasks (the whole house or specific rooms), empty the robot's dust bin, modify the map to set room boundaries, no-go zones, and clean zones, create cleaning schedules, and control other basic settings of the Roomba j7+. Although there is no option to create a virtual wall, creating a narrow no-go zone across a room essentially served the same purpose for me, and helped to keep the device safe from accidental drops.
The iRobot Home app lets you control the Roomba j7+, and also provides mapping and cleaning details
Unfortunately, while the device is working, the map doesn't show its location or cleaning status, and only updates to show areas cleaned after the task is completed, which is perhaps the only drawback of the app and device. What I did like is how the app calculated an estimated time a task would take to complete based on the rooms selected and cleaning history, which provided a map of the areas cleaned, time taken, and images of any obstacles encountered that needed review.
iRobot Roomba j7+ cleaning
While robot vacuum cleaners from other brands regularly specify the suction power of their devices and also let you modify the power level according to your cleaning needs, iRobot does quite the opposite. The Roomba j7+ instead automatically calculates and decides how much suction power is needed to clean a particular area, moving steadily and carefully to judge these parameters while it works.
On the user's part, all that needs to be done is to instruct the iRobot Roomba j7+ which rooms (or the whole house) need to be cleaned, and the device takes over from there. While the Lidar-based 360 S7 took around 35-40 minutes to clean my whole home, the Roomba j7+ took around one hour. However, I found that this time difference was because the j7+ did a much more thorough and effective job of cleaning.
I usually found the device to be fairly quiet in operation as for the most part, the Roomba j7+ was dealing with regular, everyday dust particles on the floor of my home. I did notice brief increases in suction power at times when the j7+ was dealing with more stubborn messes, but the increase in noise was marginal and was only audible for short durations.
The device was also particularly effective with cleaning rugs and carpets, as well as moving rather effortlessly over them, which is something that most other robot vacuum cleaners that I've reviewed have had trouble with. The HEPA filter is said to be able to capture particles as small as 0.1 microns in size, thus offering some protection against allergy-causing dust mites.
The iRobot Roomba j7+ is only a vacuum cleaner, and doesn't have the ability to wet mop
Connectivity was stable on the device, and the Roomba j7+ was able to continue working effectively even in rooms that didn't have a very strong Wi-Fi signal and would sometimes disconnect from the router. This naturally meant that I couldn't use the app to give it any instructions when it was out of range, but it reliably returned to its dock station after cleaning every time during my review, and provided cleaning details on the map even for areas of my home that were out of Wi-Fi coverage.
The Clean Base automatic dirt disposal system that ships with the Roomba j7+ is a significant improvement over the one I tested with the iRobot Roomba i3+. Not only is it a smaller and nicer looking docking station, but also works better. I found it to work much more reliably on the j7+ than on the i3+, and save for a few large impurities such as small pieces of plastic which were too hard to lift, the dust bin in the robot was kept largely clean without any manual intervention.
The dirt disposal system itself uses vacuum suction to empty the robot's dust bin and this gets quite loud for a few seconds after every cleaning task. However, it takes just a few seconds to complete, so it isn't too disruptive or bothersome on the whole.
The dirt is accumulated in a disposable dirt bag in the Clean Base docking station, which according to iRobot, is good for 60 days worth of cleaning. Once the bag is full, the app will notify you, at which point you need to remove and dispose of the bag along with your regular garbage. One additional dirt bag is provided with the Roomba j7+, and more can be purchased from the company at a price of Rs. 1,660 for a pack of three. This makes it a bit expensive to operate in the long run.
iRobot Roomba j7+ charging and battery life
As per iRobot's claims, the Roomba j7+ is capable of running for up to 75 minutes on a single charge, which could cover a 1,800 square-foot home once over. In practice, this would depend on the layout of the home and the order in which the rooms are accessed, given that it typically took around an hour to clean my 900 square-foot home.
The Clean Base docking station deposits dirt from the robot vacuum cleaner into a disposable bag after every cleaning task
I can safely estimate that the 75-minute figure sounds about right, but the area cleaned on a single charge is likely to be around 1,200 square feet, a fair bit lower than the company's claims. On the whole I found the battery life to be quite ordinary considering the 2,210mAh battery capacity and the price of the Roomba j7+.
There is no way to know the exact battery level of the iRobot Roomba j7+ when in operation; the app displays a graphical estimate of the remaining battery, but this didn't indicate much. That said, the Roomba j7+ was able to clean my home once over on a single charge with some battery to spare. In a larger space, the device will return to charge if needed, before resuming the cleaning from where it left off.
As with most devices of its kind, the Roomba j7+ can find its way back to the docking station on its own, and keep itself charged. Charging itself takes a while, but this is normal for robot vacuum cleaners; after a full cleaning of my home, it took a little over two hours to charge back to full.
In a segment where many of the competing devices are capable of both mopping and vacuum cleaning simultaneously, the iRobot Roomba j7+ seems a bit expensive at its price of Rs. 74,900 given that it's exclusively just a vacuum cleaner. You can, of course, also get a Braava Jet M6 for the mopping functionality, but you're then looking at a combined price of around Rs. 1,25,000, not to mention the need to make space in your home for two devices.
The automatic dirt disposal system is an impressive feature that seems to make up for the premium price to some extent, and the effectiveness of the cleaning and ease of use of the Roomba j7+ makes the device worth considering. If you have the budget for it, it might be worth looking at, especially if you can also pick up the Braava Jet M6. If you're looking at something more affordable, the Milagrow iMap 10.0 and 360 S7 are worthy alternatives.
Price: Rs. 74,990
- Excellent for vacuum cleaning
- Automatic dirt disposal system works well
- Careful, precise navigation
- Very easy to use
- Expensive to buy and operate
- Mapping could be a bit better
- Average battery life