Roomba Combo j7 Plus overview: now with a mop on prime


The Roomba Combo j7 Plus is a top-of-the-line robotic vacuum that may additionally mop and empty its personal bin. Thanks to its capacity to map your private home and keep away from widespread family muddle, it’s one of many few bots I’ve examined that not often will get caught. All this autonomy makes it family cleansing companion, although it’s a greater vacuum than a mop, and also you do should refill its water reservoir pretty usually. But it’s one of many solely robotic vacuums that may reliably vacuum all your rugs and carpeted areas and vacuum and mop your flooring in a single go with out dragging its damp, soiled mop over your good rug.

iRobot’s first combo mop / vacuum, the $1,099 Combo j7 Plus takes the wonderful j7 robotic vacuum and provides some new sensors, an even bigger battery, a small water reservoir, and a robotic arm that raises and lowers a really small mopping pad. 

That robotic arm is essential. Almost each different robotic vacuum with a mop requires guide intervention: you need to take away the mopping pad so it’s going to sort out carpets and put it again on whenever you need mopping motion. But the Combo j7’s arm retains the mop pad tucked away on prime of the robotic when not in use, then lowers itself behind and beneath the robotic when wanted. This operation is completely autonomous and labored reliably and easily in my testing. It’s additionally very enjoyable to look at. 

The mop solely deploys when the robotic is on a tough ground floor — wooden, tile, concrete. If it’s in mopping mode and encounters a rug, it received’t go over it (I attempted to trick it, nevertheless it at all times backed away). Cleverly, whenever you ship it out on a job it vacuums all of the rugs and carpets first, then deploys the mop and and cleans and vacuums the onerous flooring. It’s not completely hands-off, although; relying on the scale of your private home, you’ll should refill the water reservoir at the very least as soon as to mop all of it.

The Plus in Combo j7 Plus means it comes with iRobot’s Clean Station, an auto-empty base that expenses the robotic and sucks the dust out of its bin. The common j7 vacuum could be purchased with the bottom (because the j7 Plus) or with out it, however you’ll be able to at present solely purchase the Combo with the bottom, which partially explains the eye-watering $1,099 price ticket. 

The Combo works nicely when you have of onerous flooring mixed with plenty of plush rugs and carpets

Design-wise, the Combo j7 appears to be like nearly equivalent to the j7. The solely distinction is the sleek prime piece of the robotic is damaged up barely by the mopping plate. This remains to be a handsome robotic; it’s simply one of the best design on the earth of robotic vacs. Its matte black plastic doesn’t present mud or fingerprints, and small touches — just like the brushed aluminum prime piece with a small iRobot emblem — are a lot classier than the loud designs of opponents reminiscent of Shark and Roborock. 

The Combo has all of the smarts of the j7, together with AI-powered impediment avoidance plus new onboard acoustic sensors to find out the ground sort. It makes use of these sensors, plus the data it gleans from mapping your own home, to find out its cleansing sample. When it enters a room, it vacuums the rugs and carpets first, then mops and vacuums the onerous flooring earlier than shifting on to the following room. There is not any choice to mop solely; the robotic is at all times vacuuming and typically mopping. 

It’s a good mop

It can solely mop if you happen to connect the pad (which is detachable so you’ll be able to clear it) and if its 210 ml water tank is full. Without each of these in place, it simply vacuums. When it runs out of water, it continues to hoover, and also you get an alert within the app to refill the tank. This does require guide intervention: you need to take the mixed mud bin and water reservoir out of the again of the robotic and fill the water tank. (iRobot says it’s wonderful to make use of any cleansing answer in its bot; most robotic mops solely take water or their very own cleansing answer). 

The small tank doesn’t final lengthy: after mopping my kitchen ground, it was typically spent. You can get extra mopping out of it by lowering the water circulation stage within the app, however in my testing, the very best setting was the simplest. Handily, you’ll be able to set completely different water ranges for various rooms. I had it take two passes and mop on the Ultra setting for the kitchen and eating room flooring however had it use Eco for the lounge. 

The mopping pad is a small semi-circle that’s simply detachable for laundry.

The water reservoir is built into the removable bin.

The water reservoir is constructed into the detachable bin.

The Combo doesn’t use any scrubbing motion to wash the flooring, simply the downward stress from the mop arms and the friction from the pad dragging throughout the ground because the robotic strikes. iRobot says that programming it to do two passes is the simplest approach to make use of the mop for extra cussed stains. In testing, that was true, however with two passes, I used to be filling up the tank much more usually.

While its rug-avoiding methodology works nicely, its mopping is lackluster.

The solely different robotic vac / mop that doesn’t want you to connect its pad whenever you need it to mop is the Roborock S7 line. Roborock handles the “don’t drag a damp mop pad over my rug” downside by lifting its mop a couple of millimeters when it encounters carpet. But this solely works on low pile rugs and carpets, whereas the Combo j7 can go over any rug or carpet, because of that robotic arm.

While its rug-avoiding methodology works nicely, its mopping is lackluster. This is true of just about each different combo vacuum and mop I’ve examined, nevertheless, particularly in comparison with a Swiffer-type mop and a few guide labor. 

Yes, it really works nicely sufficient to select up wonderful mud the vacuum misses, nevertheless it received’t get dried milk up until you ship it out 4 or 5 instances, even with a cleansing answer, by which level it’s possible you’ll as nicely have grabbed the Swiffer. iRobot has a devoted mopping robotic, the Braava Jet M6, which does a significantly better job at mopping — it obliterates dried milk stains. But it’s very sluggish and might’t deal with rugs or high-room transitions in the identical approach the Combo can.

Both the Roborock S7 Plus and the S7 MaxV Ultra do a greater job at mopping flooring than the Combo j7. The S7’s mopping pad is twice the scale of the Combo’s and vibrates ever so barely to simulate scrubbing. The S7’s oscillating movement did a greater job of cleansing a dried milk stain in a single go than the Roomba did in two passes, although it didn’t utterly take away the stain in its common mode. The Roborocks have a high-intensity mopping stage the place the bot doesn’t vacuum in any respect, strikes extra slowly, and scrubs extra intensely. That mode did utterly take away the dried milk and left my flooring feeling like somebody had truly mopped them.

Roborock additionally sells an Empty Wash Fill dock for its S7 MaxV Ultra robotic that robotically refills the robotic’s water tank and scrubs the mopping pad, along with emptying its mud bin and charging its battery. While the Roomba Combo j7 Plus does include an auto-empty dock, filling the water tank and cleansing the mopping pad are on you. And you do should refill the water tank continuously, regardless of iRobot’s hands-free claims; it by no means obtained by my 800-square-foot downstairs without having to be refilled.

In iRobot’s nook, the Roomba’s auto empty station is far much less of an eyesore than the Roborock’s, and the Combo j7 Plus with the station normally prices about $300 lower than the Roborock with the Empty Wash Fill base. Plus, Roombas don’t speak to you, not like nearly each different robotic vac I’ve examined, together with the Roborocks. Seriously, these items are Chatty Cathys — “I’m going to clean the kitchen.” “I’m stuck, and I need help.” “I’m very annoying.” 

Top-down shot of the Roomba’s auto empty base with the lid lifted.

The auto-empty charging base has a bagged compartment that holds the dust from the vacuum and one other that holds a spare bag.

…however an awesome vacuum.

Ultimately, the Combo j7 Plus provides a bit extra comfort than most vacuum / mop fashions and can get your flooring a bit cleaner than the common j7. And whereas it’s an okay mop, it is a superb vacuum. Roombas are one of the best at truly vacuuming of all of the fashions I’ve examined. This is partly due to a singular twin rubber brush system that helps it dig into carpet fibers and choose up dust higher from onerous flooring.

The j7 and Combo j7 have the identical software program and the identical vacuuming options. I reviewed the j7 when it first got here out, however because of a number of over-the-air updates to its robotic mind (or working system), it has gotten considerably higher. I encourage you to learn my earlier overview of the Roomba j7 for extra background, and I’ll go into a number of the updates right here.

The underside of the Roomba Combo J7 showing its dual green floor rollers.

Roomba’s dual-brush system is superb at cleansing onerous flooring and carpet alike.

The underside of the Combo j7 showing a rotating brush with three sets of close-packed bristles a few inches long.

A side-spinning brush attracts particles into the curler’s path.

The j7 is the one iRobot vacuum with AI impediment avoidance. This means it’s good sufficient to know to go round that sock, cable, or pile of poop. Roomba’s AI impediment avoidance is superb, significantly better than the Roborock S7 MaxV, its closest competitor, and higher than the Samsung JetBot AI that I initially pitted it towards.

I put this all the way down to the Roomba’s capacity to determine what objects are in its approach and determine what to do about them quite than simply avoiding something lumpy. This is essential: you desire a vacuum to wash proper up near a litter field or pet bowl however undoubtedly not canine waste.

In testing, the j7 nearly at all times gave pet waste and cables a large berth (if it does make a poopy mistake, iRobot promises to send you a new robot). It obtained near — however not in a tangle with — socks, baseball caps, and backpacks and proper as much as pet bowls and litter packing containers. You can provide the robotic extra definitive instructions within the app, which helps you to designate clear zones for areas you need to goal cleansing, no-mop zones, and keep-out zones. 

This is value doing when you have something delicate you need it to keep away from; Roombas are very bullish and can bang into furnishings, and AI avoidance isn’t foolproof. While the Combo j7 not often obtained tripped up by something in my testing, it did sometimes get caught underneath a chunk of furnishings.  

Screenshots from the iRobot app. On the left, a screen showing the vacuum status and some controls, including a favorites section with routines labelled “Kitchen quick” and “After dinner.” On the right, a floor plan labeled “Main Floor” showing several designated clean zones and carpeted areas.

The iRobot app is simple to make use of, and its mapping is efficient. It robotically identifies carpeted areas.

You designate these zones on the map the iRobot app creates whenever you run the robotic. (Of notice, iRobot was just lately bought by Amazon, a transfer which can be to achieve extra perception into our houses by these maps. The deal has not but closed.)

The j7 maps extra shortly than earlier Roombas, because of its onboard digicam. This helps it determine not solely rooms but in addition furnishings and home equipment. I might simply arrange a clear zone in entrance of the range and ship the robotic there with a voice command to wash up after dinner. 

The bot may also determine issues like Christmas bushes and pet bowls and recommend clear zones for you — though I didn’t have any of those arrange throughout my testing. It will even recommend keep-out zones after every run if it encounters obstacles.

Voice instructions are a good way to regulate the Roomba, and it really works nicely with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri (utilizing Siri shortcuts). The Combo additionally has particular mopping instructions, so you’ll be able to inform it simply to hoover or to mop and vacuum. 

Smart dwelling information privateness: iRobot

Bringing linked units into your private home additionally brings with it issues about how the info they accumulate is protected. The Verge asks every firm whose good dwelling merchandise we overview about safeguards it has in place on your information.

The main dwelling information managed by a robotic vacuum just like the Roomba Combo j7 are the maps it generates and picture information from its onboard digicam. iRobot says it doesn’t promote buyer information and that no information is shared with third events with out the shopper’s data or management. It outlines its Privacy Principles on its web site.

The robotic vacuum collects utilization information, the extent of dust detection, the Wi-Fi sign energy it receives, and the map of your private home, together with furnishings and obstacles. iRobot says this information is encrypted and saved securely.

Image assortment is opt-in and helps with navigation and impediment avoidance. iRobot says photos will not be viewable by the corporate until you opt-in each to picture assortment and to sharing every picture with iRobot. If you view your map or impediment avoidance photos in your telephone the info is shared by the Cloud. You can opt-out of sending map information to the Cloud within the app.

You may also select to share information from the robotic with third events reminiscent of Amazon and Google for voice management.

The Roomba Combo j7 doesn’t should be linked to Wi-Fi or the Cloud to work — however you received’t be capable to use options like scheduled cleanings, personalized cleansing options, and voice management.

iRobot’s app can be one of many cleanest and best to navigate, particularly in comparison with Roborock’s cluttered interface. A few new app options deal with a few of my largest gripes with the Roomba. First is a brand new on-the-fly skip possibility. When Roomba begins on a job however encounters resistance — say, a husband watching TV — as a substitute of stopping the job completely, you’ll be able to inform it to skip this room, and it’ll go off and proceed the remainder of its job. 

There’s additionally a brand new quiet drive function, so whenever you ship it to wash a selected room, it doesn’t begin up its loudest motors till it’s there, once more making it much less probably somebody will flip it off as a result of it’s annoying them. Roomba is among the few robotic vacs the place you’ll be able to’t set the suction stage; others supply quiet and medium modes along with common and extremely.

Of course, one of the best ways to make sure a robotic vacuum finishes its job is to run it when nobody is dwelling. You can do that with the iRobot app utilizing IFTTT and your telephone’s location or occasions from different linked units you may need — reminiscent of an August good lock locking, an Ecobee thermostat going into Away mode, or by connecting it to a sensible dwelling platform reminiscent of Alexa. 

I examined the IFTTT and the Alexa integrations, and in each circumstances, the Roomba began to run after I left and docked itself after I arrived dwelling. If you don’t need it to cease each time you arrive dwelling, you may as well set it to pause and ask if you need it to proceed. 

These quality-of-life touches go an extended approach to making Roomba’s robots a number of the greatest you should buy. And the iRobot OS that runs them is on all of the bots the corporate at present sells, not simply the high-end fashions. Another factor I like about Roombas in comparison with a lot of the competitors is their repairability. You can purchase (not cheap) replacements for most of the shifting elements on these bots, enormously extending their lifespan. 

Floor-level photo of the Combo J7 right alongside a tasseled rug. The mop is is deployed but is not touching the rug tassels.

The Combo can detect rugs and received’t go over them with its mop is prolonged.

The Combo j7 Plus is a comparatively small enchancment over the j7 Plus. I might have preferred to see extra scrubbing motion from the mop and in addition an even bigger footprint (that mop is de facto small). But it does clear onerous flooring higher than the j7, so from that perspective, it’s well worth the value distinction, particularly when you have a whole lot of rugs in your house. But I’m unsure barely cleaner flooring are well worth the $300 premium. If you’ve a j7, you definitely don’t must improve, however if you’re searching for your first Roomba, it’s a small step up over the non-mopping j7.

If you desire a robotic to essentially mop your flooring, I favor the Braava Jet M6, a devoted mop bot that you would be able to get in a bundle with the j7 usually for lower than the Combo j7 Plus. But it’s sluggish and restricted in its maneuverability, so it’s greatest suited to retaining single rooms like a kitchen or toilet clear. And two robots take up twice the room. 

Another possibility is robotic vacuum mops from Ecovacs, DreameBot, and Yeedi, which use two massive spherical oscillating mops. In my testing, these do an excellent job of scrubbing your flooring, and a few include bases that may refill the mop for you. But these received’t clear carpets and onerous flooring in the identical run; you need to manually connect the pads whenever you need to mop.

This is the place the Combo j7 does greatest — higher than the Roborock S7 line, because of its capacity to wash high-pile carpets. Just press the button and it’ll clear all of it (till it runs out of water). If you’ve plenty of onerous flooring with plenty of plush rugs and carpets, then the Combo j7 will work nicely for you. Otherwise, the common j7 vacuum, with out the dialog piece robotic mop arm, is a more sensible choice.

Speaking of that robotic arm, it’s a powerful piece of engineering design. It’s not too on the market to extrapolate that this kind of accent mechanism could possibly be deployed in different methods. A robotic arm to select up muddle, maybe, or a robotic foot to assist the vacuum crack the ultimate frontier for these spectacular cleansing bots: stairs.

Photography by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Agree to proceed: iRobot Roomba Combo j7 Plus

Every good gadget now requires you to comply with a sequence of phrases and circumstances earlier than you should utilize it — contracts that nobody truly reads. It’s inconceivable for us to learn and analyze each single considered one of these agreements. But we began counting precisely what number of instances you need to hit “agree” to make use of units once we overview them since these are agreements most individuals don’t learn and undoubtedly can’t negotiate.

You must register for an iRobot account utilizing an electronic mail deal with to make use of the app (Android or iOS) and comply with iRobot’s Terms of Service, which embrace:

  • iRobot Terms & Conditions
  • iRobot End User License Agreement
  • iRobot Privacy Policy

In complete, you get three obligatory agreements.


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