The iRobot Roomba has come a long way since its initial debut into the robotic vacuum market back in 2002. Taking the base effort out of cleaning one’s home, 16 years later, the Roomba now not only maneuvers itself without human interference, it will learn to navigate its surroundings, clean its own debris storage, and find its way home to charge for the next cycle. Does the iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal live up to the hype? Sophisticated Weddings puts it to the test to see if the latest development from iRobot is the revolution in home cleaning we have been waiting for.
Unpacking the new iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal came on like Christmas morning; feelings of anticipation, excitement, and curiosity overcame me as I pondered the performance that would follow. There was nothing to assemble out of the box; my only job was to decide on a dedicated space in my home to store the Clean Base, and download the iRobot HOME app on my smartphone. It was a matter of minutes before I found an unobtrusive home for our new robotic vacuum, plugged it in, connected to Wi-Fi, and thought up a name for the unit. Eager to get started, I named her Beast in the app, feeling a bit optimistic about the impact she would have.
The first crucial element that sets the iRobot Roomba i7+ apart from its predecessors is the Imprint Smart Mapping technology found within the app, where it gets to know the home’s floor plan, offering users control over what rooms to clean and when, remembering up to ten different floor plans. This functionality allows the i7+ to know where it has cleaned and where it needs to go, efficiently cleaning different floors or even different homes, with precision. The second element that gives the Roomba a major boost is the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, making human contact practically irrelevant, as it cleans out its own debris storage and finds its way to the charger, for an uninterrupted job well done. With this feature, it is possible to schedule a thorough cleaning from anywhere in the world, without needing on-site assistance for manual cleaning or charging placement. Cleanings can be set on a regular schedule (i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 12pm) or in real-time.
Right off the bat, Beast (who has since been renamed China by my four year old, for reasons that are unclear to me) was in for a challenge. My home is basically a zoo, with two shedding animals, and a chronically crumb-dropping toddler. In a fully furnished 1,100 square foot apartment, we have a combination of hardwood floors and rug carpets, and plenty of nooks and crannies that typically make vacuuming a daunting chore that require an assortment of attachments.
Firing up the app to get started, it was time for Beast to learn the layout of our home. While there is an option to start with a training run under the Smart Maps tab of the iRobot HOME app, I was eager to get started with the Clean & Map Now feature, which takes a little longer, but I appreciate an appliance that can multi-task. Within two sweeps of my home, Beast had gained a rough knowledge of her surroundings, laying out a floor plan that I was able to customize and divide into separate rooms. This process took a couple of times to perfect itself, as it is a learning process for Beast, after all. What started out as a quizzical map of my home, in little time became an impressive navigator, especially considering the physical shift that inevitably happens with furniture like chairs and other large objects (and my dog). By the fifth time we had run the i7+, Beast knew my home better than I did, finding spaces that I have shamefully not even been myself, such as the area beneath my living room wall unit.
Although I went in with moderately high expectations, the iRobot Roomba i7+ didn’t leave a crumb or single pet hair behind. Getting to every inch of accessible space, its perhaps obsessive compulsive need for perfection aligns itself with my most ambitious cleaning goals. As Beast quickly became more like a member of my family than a standard home appliance, I started out following her around to stalking proportions, but eventually decided to trust her navigation and let her run unattended. While I wouldn’t call the unit a silent device, the noise level is by no means disruptive, and I feel undisturbed running it whether I am doing my work, watching TV, or talking on the phone. Periodically, Beast halts its mission to return to the base and clean out its bin, before resuming its clean cycle. If I didn’t find it a little judgy (“wow, my home must be really filthy!”), that’s only because it doesn’t need to do so that often, which seems virtually impossible to me considering the extent to which my home needs to be vacuumed, and the size of the unit itself. If there is one thing to be missed here, it is the satisfaction of witnessing all that has been picked up.
As the i7+ empties out its own bin into the Clean Base, I never make contact with dirt, dust, or pet dander. Storing dust and debris in an enclosed bag within the base, the filth never gets released into the air. After countless cleanings (well, it is actually quite countable, as the iRobot HOME app keeps a history log complete with coverage area metrics), I still have yet to pull out the debris bag and replace it with a new one. So far, the promise of the bag holding up to 30 bins of debris, which equate to weeks of regular usage, seems to hold true.
Some questions that I held going into this and the takeaways from my experience:
1. Will it scare the wits out of my dog? Surprisingly, it has not. They mostly steer clear of each other.
2. Will it bump and bang into walls and furniture, leaving unwanted scuffs and marks? When the robot bumps into walls or an object, it does so very gently, and hasn’t left a trace. For areas of special concern, an included Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier keeps the robot away from areas I want to protect, with extra units available to purchase separately, if needed.
3. Will it get lost or get pre-occupied in some spaces, while neglecting others? In the beginning, it seems like the robot could be getting lost, but it soon becomes readily apparent that it is just learning the space with purpose. You can trust that it has a method to its cleaning madness!
4. Can it cross the incline threshold barriers of bathrooms that have a less smooth transition between rooms? Yes, within reason. This tough little cookie can climb an incline up to five-eighths of an inch like a boss.
5. Will this be more of a ‘once-over’ vacuum, that needs a true upright vacuum to sweep the space afterward for a deeper clean? I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the i7+ being a primary vacuum, but it most certainly is. The job is as good, if not better, than what I would get from a quality upright vacuum, and does not need a second sweep. This is one of those times where you can’t judge a vacuum by its size.
6. Can it reach tight spaces where dirt and dander tend to collect, or will I need an additional handy appliance to access these areas? While there are areas that the robot couldn’t possibly reach because the unit’s height was larger than the space, the Edge Sweeping Brush covers outside of the unit to gain access to tighter spaces.
7. Is the Clean Base unit obnoxious in its size and stature in my space? I have not found this to be the case. Standing at approximately 19” in height, it was a little bit too high to store beneath an end table, but it wasn’t hard to find a spot where it would blend in with the space. To begin with, I would consider this unit to be sleek in its design, and definitely not an eyesore.
8. Will it eat my shoelaces? So far, so good. No shoelaces have been harmed in the course of my using the i7+.
9. Can this thing do my taxes? Maybe in the next version?
· One tip I would emphasize when using the iRobot Roomba i7+ is similar to what the app already suggests. If you want a thorough clean of the space, it’s helpful to declutter and pick up smaller objects off the floor. While Beast has navigated itself around wires and inevitable objects around my home, clearing the space free of displaced toys and other clutter helps get the best clean, not to mention assist with a true depiction of the space on a typical day.
· While the iRobot Roomba i7+ can be purchased either together or separately from the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, I personally think it would be a major disservice to the entire experience to forgo the base. This is not the place to cut corners. If you really want the full experience where you have as little personal involvement in the vacuuming process of your home, I would say the Clean Base is an absolute must.
· While we’re not yet Alexa users in our home, I think that day is near, and it’s comforting to know that the iRobot Roomba i7+ is Alexa-compatible, allowing users to clean specific rooms with just a voice command. The iRobot HOME app is also constantly undergoing updates and improvements for peak productivity and performance.
· Since having the iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, I have not taken out the upright vacuum once. It is very tempting to lose all other vacuum appliances altogether, however until the robot can climb my couch and curtains, I think I will hold on to them a little bit longer. Make no mistake though- this is not a novelty vacuum. This has quickly taken its rightful place as the primary vacuum appliance in my home.
· Would it be presumptuous to say that the iRobot Roomba i7+ helps to build stronger marriages? Eliminating the debate over who will vacuum the home, with this handy appliance, couples can kick back and enjoy their time together while their pet robot takes on a chore of the past.
The iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal is available for purchase at iRobot.com, Bloomingdale's, and other select retailers for $949. The i7+ and Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal can be purchased separately for $699 and $299, respectively. Additional Dirt Disposal Bags retail for $14.99 for a pack of three bags.