iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ Review: Beautiful Vacuum, but Directionless

That wasn’t nice, but no less than it developed a fairly correct map of my home. It robotically designated which surfaces had been carpeted and which had been hardwood, and I used to be capable of designate no-go zones and clear zones—particularly soiled or high-traffic areas—within the app. The mopping arm reliably got here down within the kitchen, even when the primary few passes had been at all times dry, and the arm doesn’t scrub as reliably because the Shark or the Ecovacs variations. I checked after each cleansing run and by no means discovered a moist carpet.

On the entire, as you might have been capable of guess with my mapping session, its navigational capabilities had been disappointing. This got here as a shock, as iRobot honed its skills by growing robots for the military. For so long as I’ve been testing robotic vacuums, iRobot vacuums have persistently come out on high—but sadly, corporations like Roborock and Shark have rapidly caught up.

When I examine the Combo j7+’s historical past within the iRobot Home app, it’s dismal. Four out of seven of the previous every day runs have had errors or stoppages of varied sorts. In earlier years, I may have excused this—in spite of everything, my home is massive, has totally different surfaces, and is stuffed with messy youngsters and a number of animals. Robot vacuums sometimes closing the doorways on themselves and trapping themselves within the lavatory is simply a part of the sport.

However, I took to operating the Combo 7+ similtaneously the Roborock Q5+, and the Roborock effortlessly accomplished cleansing runs that the Combo j7+ repeatedly struggled with. When I attempted to see what the issues had been, typically the app merely crashed on me.

Photograph: iRobot

The elevated performance additionally meant that battery life suffered. The water tank is so small (a mere 212 milliliters!) that it wanted refilling to wash my moderate-size kitchen—about 20 toes by 12 toes. I additionally respect iRobot’s auto-empty bin characteristic, which signifies that the vacuum journeys again to the dock to empty itself, somewhat than drag canine hair all around the flooring. However, with a dustbin that has a capability of solely 0.3 liters (most bins have a capability of no less than twice that), it signifies that the battery usually ran out earlier than finishing anybody cleansing run.

Most of the cleansing runs take about 4 or 5 hours to finish, which implies I neglect when a run hasn’t been accomplished. Occasionally all of us get the dwelling bejesus scared out of us once we sit all the way down to dinner and a vacuum that I’d assumed was dormant all of a sudden awakes and trundles off to finish a cleansing run that I began at midday.

It doesn’t assist that iRobot’s auto-empty operate is loud. I measured the auto-empty quantity at about 95 decibels—15 to twenty decibels louder than different robotic vacuums once they auto-empty.

Ultimately, I discovered the expertise of utilizing the iRobot app to be annoying sufficient to advocate the Shark as a substitute. That’s to not say the Shark is ideal—$600 continues to be quite a bit to pay for a vacuum-mop the place you continue to have to modify out the bin, can’t mop and vacuum on the similar time, and sometimes end up hand-washing cloths. However, the $1,100 iRobot is not double the vacuum by any means. I nonetheless advocate iRobot’s cheaper (and cameraless) 600, 900, or i3 and i5 sequence, but this one is simply too expensive to be this unreliable.

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