For those of us with indoor pets, vacuuming several times a week is part of the routine. Being the servants we are, we would do anything and everything for our furry friends, though.
But what if you never had to worry about vacuuming floors again? This is the question that iRobot asked us recently. Needless to say, this proposition caught our attention. So, we have been testing their latest high-end robotic vacuum for the past several weeks.
In this review, we will discuss how the iRobot Roomba i7+ performs in everyday life and why we think its selective room cleaning and automatic dirt disposal are so ingenious.
Here's Shuffle getting acquainted with our new roommate...
Before the first run, we had a look at the vacuum from below. With its round design, the Roomba physically cannot go all the way into a corner. But the rotating brushes are long enough to reach any dust stuck in corners - no problem there. Two additional elongated brushes adjust to different floor surfaces. They are made of rubber, so various types of dust, cereal or litter will get trapped.
Sometimes, when we (secretly) watch the Roomba in action, we have a moment of "wait, he didn’t catch that!" But through the course of a cleaning cycle, the vacuum will return and grab any dust it did not capture the first time around. The result is a clean floor, even in the corners.
What about the noise level?
Let's put it like this: Shuffle used to go into hiding the minute we would bring out the vacuum. Surprisingly, he doesn't seem to mind the Roomba. At 66 db, the noise level is similar to that of a shower or a tower fan.
Instead of hiding in the closet, Shuffle started watching from a safe distance as the robot vacuum moves about the apartment. Out of pure courtesy, we only run the vacuum outside of our pet’s napping hours. Which brings us to the next handy feature: remote scheduling.
Regular cleanings scheduled remotely
It goes without saying that the Roomba has its own smartphone app. Instead of physically pushing the “Clean” button on the vacuum, it is actually much more convenient to pull up the app and push the virtual button. Or better yet, the app makes it possible to start cleaning sessions remotely. By the time we get back from work, the job is done and the Roomba is quietly recharging...
On top of starting spontaneous cleanings, we can also use the app to schedule regular vacuumings. Parameters include the exact cleaning time down to the minute (we are in Switzerland, after all). Also, we can tell the Roomba which area of the apartment to focus on.
Smart mapping for targeted cleaning
Being able to tell a robotic vacuum to clean only specific rooms seems straightforward. But it turns out that this feature is not available in other vacuums because they do not “remember” the layout. So-called “smart mapping” is made possible in the Roomba i7+ because it is a sensor loaded high-tech device equipped with a top-mounted camera.
How smart mapping works in practice: during the first few rounds, our Roomba measured and mapped out the floor plan of the apartment. It “learned” our apartment, showing the progress and notifying us when it was done. In a next step, the smartphone app allowed us to name each room the vacuum recognized, such as “Living Room” or "Bedroom".
Now that we have named our rooms in the app, we can remotely schedule daily cleanings for specific rooms only. For frequent travelers like us, this flexibility and pin-point accuracy are extremely helpful.
For one, our dear house cat cannot help but leave a path of litter behind. And it would be too much to ask our cat sitters to clean the flat, too. So, we tell the Roomba through the app to only clean those litter prone areas during times when no cat sitter is around and when Shuffle is not asleep.
Automatic dirt disposal
Up until the Roomba i7+, one of the drawbacks of having a robotic vacuum was the manual emptying of the dust bin. Actually, we owned one of the earliest iRobot Roomba models, many years before there was even a smartphone app. I remember that the charming thing would routinely stop whenever its bin was full - oftentimes in the middle of a cleaning job.
With the latest model, iRobot has introduced an ingenious cleaning base. After each cleaning, this tower automatically sucks up the dust from the docked Roomba and stores it in a disposable bag. No more babysitting required! I believe each bag holds about 30 bins of dust.
In the picture below, note the opening for the automatic dirt disposal:
The bottleneck to cleaning an entire apartment is no longer the capacity of the vacuum's dust bin, but rather the capacity of its battery. In practice, our vacuum is operational for about 90 minutes before it returns to the base station for more juice. But we would not know anyway because it gets the job done before we return home.
Our verdict about the iRobot Roomba i7+
The Roomba i7+ is the perfect addition to a household as it completely removes the hassles of floor care. Thanks to the persistent mapping of rooms and the automatic dirt disposal, the i7+ will run autonomously for weeks at a time. Really, the only interaction we have is when the dust bin inside the tower needs replaced.
To be able to return from a trip to a just-vacuumed apartment is a luxury we did not think was possible. Just keep in mind that the Roomba’s strengths are floors, carpets and even hard-to-reach spots underneath furniture. What it has not built in (yet) is a climbing feature. So, this round sucker is unable to climb atop a sofa in order to vacuum it...