iRobot Roomba j7+ Review
In late 2019, my wife and I had the pleasure of reviewing the Roomba i7+, a fantastic little robot that was billed as a product that would free us up to do other things rather than vacuum. And with a self-empty system in the charge base, it was supposed to be a hassle free addition to our home. And once we figured out how to properly use the Roomba, it really was. When iRobot came back to us this year to see about reviewing the Roomba j7+ robot vacuum, I could not pass up the opportunity. I had my issues with the i7+, so would the next iteration in the Series 7 lineup fix them? Let’s take a look.
While an older product, it likely is helpful to read our full review of the i7+ because a lot of what was mentioned in that review will be rehashed here. Many of the Genius application options have been carried forward and nothing has been eliminated this time around. One thing that will become apparent is a streamlined look this year, one that made me initially wonder if the j7+ was actually a downgrade from the i-series.
Turns out it is not – while the j7+ model is obviously sleeker, it also has less buttons and no camera on top. With my initial unboxing, I had to stop myself and wonder if the wrong product was sent. It was not – instead, iRobot has designed the j7+ to integrate better into the home. That means a sleeker, more minimalist design, and a shorter, wider base that can easily be placed beneath a side table and out of the way. Turns out, the camera from on top of the i7+ wasn’t missing, but had rather been relocated to the front.
The goal of the redesign was actually to draw LESS attention to the robot, and from the friends and family who have stopped by, I think iRobot succeeded as more than few said, “I thought you had a Roomba.” We do, it is just out of the way now – but thanks for asking. The handy cord storage solution built into the back of the system helps as well, keeping that cord clutter out of the way.
Before getting into the pros and cons of the j7+, I think it’s a good idea to focus on how you should use a robot vacuum. Too many times, I find consumers picking up the robot, and almost instantly returning them because they weren’t what they thought they would be. And that’s not a problem with the product, in my opinion, but rather a problem with the user.
First, a robot vacuum is never going to replace a thorough cleaning of your home. For as good as both the i7+ and the j7+ have been to me, I would say they are generally picking up 90-95% of the debris on my floor. What are they missing? The corners, primarily, and sometimes the ridges between where my hardwood floors stop and my kitchen tile starts. But folks pick these robots up, see 5% of the mess still left behind, and think somehow they’ve been deceived.
The same goes for chairs, tables, bookshelves, etc. These are things a robot needs to work around, and it’s not going to be perfect 100% of the time. This, to me, is the biggest hurdle facing consumers – once you get past it, you are almost in the clear.
See, there is a second thing to consider here, one of which uses the iRobot Genius system and phone application – scheduled cleanings. We found that it was rarely helpful to clean a room and then set the Roomba to clean. At that point, we might as well have just grabbed our upright vacuum and done the 15 minutes of work ourselves. But timed cleanings are a lifesaver, and when you get into a routine, you don’t think twice about them.
That’s why every evening, around 7:30 PM, we hear our iRobot Roomba jingle signaling the vacuum starting up. It crosses from the base to our dining room and promptly vacuums the floor. Those after dinner crumbs – with 3 kids around the table, it is inevitable – are a thing of the past, and all I had to do was throw the chairs up after dinner. When I do not think about it, when things become second nature, is when Roomba is at its best!
That isn’t to say there aren’t a ton of great features to get excited about that will make vacuuming your home easier, the biggest changes with this year’s model is the ability to detect pet waste, cords, and in the future, other objects like socks, toys, etc. (with future updates). While we don’t have pets in my home, like any good person, I had at least one piece of fake doggie do-do that you like to place around for when company comes over. So, after leaving a few cords plugged into various wall outlets and dropping the fake poop in a prominent place, I tested if what iRobot was telling me was true.
And guess what? It was. Not only did the robot detect, and then go around the poop, but it completely avoided the flat cords as well. As I stated before, we have no pets so the promise to avoid messy number twos was lost for me. Cords though? I have them everywhere. And that is where PrecisionVision Navigation tech comes into play.
For me, the cord detection upgrade to the Genius software is an amazing feature. If I turned over my iRobot Roomba i7+ right now and showed you the rubber rollers on the bottom, you would see a chewed up mess. The rubber flaps that sweep up the dirt are absolutely destroyed, and while they have been working well for almost 2 years now, they are probably in worse shape than they should be. And I’ve realized it’s my fault.
See, every time I forget to pick up my iPhone cord or the Switch power cord, or worse yet the ultimate enemy of i7+, the Wii U sensor adapter cord (which is about 3000 feet long, and razer sharp it seems), the Roomba would pick it up, roll itself into the rollers destroying them, before ultimately shutting down the robot and popping an error.
I’m expecting my rollers to last a lot longer this time around, because the cord detection actually works incredibly well, and is an easy selling feature for me. New rollers purchased less often? Score.
This seems like a good time to go more in depth with Genius 3.0 – we’ve already covered a number of the cool features like poop and cord detection. But the robots have received a generous update, some of which not only apply to the j7+ but also to other iRobot models as well.
One of the more beneficial new features is the ability to clean while you are away. When enabled, your smart phone can now realize when you have left your home or room to begin cleaning, but can also identify when you have returned so it can stop the clean and allow you to continue on with your activities. It’s further proof that iRobot is creating smarter and smarter robots that are tailored to work with you, and not just for you.
Some other features of Genius 3.0 might not be as impressive as poop detection or cleaning while you are away, but they are small improvements that could become beneficial to some users. When mapping, your robot via the app can now suggest room names for your maps, and create various zones for cleaning without you needing to do the extra work of inputting yourself.
The Roomba can also suggest cleaning schedules based on your usage, which is handy. For example, tell your iRobot vacuum to clean around the same time every evening, and you are likely going to get a suggestion to just pre-program a clean at that time going forward.
At the end of the day, once you learn how to properly use your robot vacuum, it will make your life easier. Does the Roomba replace a good deep clean a few times a month? Most definitely not, but for those daily cleanings, it is most definitely a life saver!