iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal Review
Pros: Great home coverage, excellent navigation, automatically empties its dust bin
Cons: Expensive, struggles with pet hair
Our Analysis and Test Results
Three robot vacuums finished right at the top of the group, with the Roomba i7+, the Botvac D7, and the Roborock S5 all receiving an Editors' Choice Award for their superb performances. The i7+ with Automatic Dirt Disposal is the most expensive of this trio. The Xiaomi is by far the best at navigating cluttered areas of your home, but leaves something to be desired when it comes to cleaning performance. The Neato D7 is the opposite, struggling in the more confined and cluttered areas of your home, but doing the best of this trio at cleaning. The i7+ falls right in the middle, better at navigating than the D7, but inferior to the Xiaomi, with the converse being true when it came to cleaning performance.
To pick out which robotic vacuum cleaners are really the best of the best, we did tons and tons of research, then picked out the most promising robots, bought them all, then set them against each other in a series of side-by-side tests to find our award winners. We compared how each robot cleaned both hard and soft floors, as well as how much ground each one covered and how well it navigated your home. In total, we graded each robot in six weighted rating metrics, with the Roomba i7+'s results outlined below.
Responsible for the largest percentage of the overall score at 30%, each robot's navigational abilities were first and foremost when we were considering which ones merited an award. We looked at how well the iRobot Roomba i7+ handled our testing room filled with simulated furniture, how quickly it could find its dock, and if the edge sensors delivered any false-positives when trying to clean a black area rug. The Roomba scored quite well, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its performance.
We conducted three different trials with the Roomba in our test room, with this robot delivering an almost flawless performance in each trial. We never had to intervene to free it from a confined area and it dealt very quickly with difficult areas — only struggling for a minute or so to find a clear route in the most problematic areas. However, it is a tiny bit rougher on the furniture.
This robot vacuum also did an excellent job in our docking test, heading directly for its base almost immediately when commanded to, with only a tiny amount of searching. This is true both when the i7+ is in the same room as its base and when it is in a different one.
Finally, we tried out this robot vacuum with a black area rug in the room. As its predecessors all falsely detected the high-contrast area as a drop and refused to clean it, we were pleasantly surprised that this newest Roomba seems to have fixed this problem and cleaned the rug without issue.
For our next round of testing, we looked at how much of your home the robot could actually clean, not just how well it could get around. We awarded points for how much of a single furnished room each vacuum cleaned, as well as if it had multi-room cleaning capabilities, the effectiveness of the barriers, and if the robot could automatically pause cleaning to recharge its battery, if necessary. Additionally, we also compared the size and effectiveness of the spot clean functions. The i7+ again delivered an excellent showing, meriting it another 8 out of 10.
This robot cleaned the vast majority of our single room, only omitting the most confined and cluttered areas, such as in the tightest corners or in a few spots under our — simulated — dining room table set. This robot vacuum also has a very convenient and easy to use barrier system. It makes use of a small tower on the floor that can project either a 10' straight line or a 4' diameter circle. On top of that, you can create virtual do not enter zones in the companion app that don't require any physical hardware.
This robot cleans multiple rooms with ease and will even stop to recharge and resume cleaning automatically if the battery level drops too low. Finally, the Roomba i7+ has some of the best spot cleaning abilities of the entire group.
This vacuum cleans a circular space that measures about 12.3 sq. ft. in area with its spot clean function, which is far from the largest area of the group. We also liked that it covered most of this area multiple times to ensure that it was actually clean. However, it was the app based spot cleaning abilities that really helped set this robot vacuum apart.
After the robot has completely mapped your house and you have your rooms correctly set up, you can send the robot to go clean an entire room — not quite a spot clean, but an easy way to quickly clean a room.
Next, we moved on to rating and ranking how well each product actually cleaned, starting with carpet. Our set of carpet cleaning assessments accounts for 15% of the overall score for each battery pack. We used a variety of different messes to see how each robot handled what most of them typically would encounter in a household, as well as how closely each one cleaned along the edges and into the corners of the room. The Roomba i7+ received another 7 out of 10 for its impressive showing in our carpet cleaning challenges.
This robot vacuum got off to a solid start in our edge cleaning test, doing well along walls, but struggling in the corners. It left a strip of debris about 3.5" across along the walls and a wedge of debris about 5" in the corners of the room.
The i7+ did fairly well when tasked with collecting flour, but it did leave plenty of residual material behind.
It did about the same in our rice collection test, doing slightly better on the low-pile carpet compared to the fluffier carpet. The Roomba does spread the rice around a bit, but only left about an ⅛ of a teaspoon of rice behind in both tests.
It finished out with a strong showing in our oat and mini-wheat tests, collecting essentially all of the mess in both of these trials, doing well on both types of carpet.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Similar to our set of carpet tests, our hard surface cleaning tests also account for 15% of the total score for each robot. We used the same testing procedure as well, simply substituting a section of hardwood laminate flooring for the two types of carpet. The i7+ did about the same, again earning a 7 out of 10.
Starting with our edge test, the i7+ did fairly well, delivering another above average performance. It left a slightly larger strip of debris on the hard floor when cleaning along a wall, though only by about 0.5". However, it delivered an absolutely phenomenal performance at collecting flour from the hard floor. It left almost no residual flour at all, only failing to get the debris that had fallen down deep between the boards.
This vacuum also did very well at collecting rice and oats, sucking up everything we spread out without flinging it around, but failed to get any of the mini-wheats, only pushing them around the smooth floor.
For our last cleaning test, we graded the Roomba's performance when tasked with collecting pet hair, both on flat and fluffier samples of soft flooring. Unfortunately, the i7+ delivered a very disappointing performance, finishing near the back of the pack with a 2 out of 10 in this metric, which accounts for a tenth of its total score.
We spread out 5 grams of hair on the fluffy carpet and found that this robot only collected about 0.32 grams at the end of its cleaning cycle — with half of that caught on the brushes and failing to even make it into the collection bin. It did even worse on the flat carpet, only collecting 0.13 grams of donated pet hair.
For the final 10% of the i7+'s total, we evaluated the smart features and functions on this robot. We looked how it could integrate into various smart home ecosystems, how easy it is to set a schedule, what onboard controls there are on the robot itself, and what functions you could access remotely, as well as how reliable the robot is at staying connected to our office network. The Roomba i7+ with Automatic Dirt Disposal finished out with a strong showing, earning a 7 out of 10.
The i7+ has a full set of smart features and can integrate with most types of smart home systems, working with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. You can view the robot's cleaning history and cleaning map on its mobile app, as well as start the robot's cleaning cycle for your whole home or direct it to clean a certain room.
There are some basic controls on the robot itself, allowing you to start it cleaning or send it home, but you can only set up a schedule on the mobile app.
We also found the i7+ to be very reliable at remaining connected to our WiFi network, giving us no issues at all throughout our testing process.
While this is an excellent robot vacuum, it isn't the best value option. The automatic disposal base is hundred extra right at the start and there are other vacuums that aren't that much worse, but cost several hundred dollars less than the i7+.
If you are looking for a robot vacuum with the ultimate set of convenience features, look no further than the Roomba i7+ with Automatic Dirt Disposal. It cleans and navigates very well, with a full set of smart features, but falls a little short when it comes to cleaning up pet hair. However, it is still an excellent all-around robot vacuum that won't disappoint, provided you don't have a pack of dogs and cats that you are expecting it to pick up after.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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