Roomba Combo j7+ evaluate: A flexible and vigilant hybrid with a couple of (tolerable) quirks

The chokehold that iRobot has had on the robotic vacuum market for the reason that early 2000s all the time makes it onerous for me to consider {that a} Roomba that additionally mops was nonetheless nonexistent 20 years later.

It’s not that iRobot had by no means dabbled in robotic mopping in any respect. There have been a handful of iterations of the Braava Jet(opens in a brand new tab), iRobot’s devoted robotic mop. However whereas the Braava Jet was able to extraordinarily mild dry sweeping, it’s not an precise robotic vacuum — therefore not getting the Roomba title. (iRobot confirms the separation by bundling the Braava Jet m6 with precise robotic vacuums just like the Roomba i3, s9, and j7.)

And also you had been in all probability immediately years previous once you realized that the alleged first mainstream robotic mop ever(opens in a brand new tab), the Scooba “flooring washer,” was additionally a member of the iRobot fam.

But it surely wasn’t till 2022 — years after rivals like Roborock, Eufy, and Shark had launched a number of hybrid robotic vacuum mops — that iRobot dropped its first true 2-in-1 robotic vacuum and mop. iRobot actually let this one marinate, so what’s the tea? Was the Roomba Combo j7+(opens in a brand new tab) definitely worth the wait?

The neatest Roomba up to now, now with a mop

The Roomba Combo j7+(opens in a brand new tab) is the mopping model of iRobot’s latest and smartest vacuum assortment but, the j sequence. Its declare to fame is PrecisionVision: the flexibility to detect and keep away from small obstacles which can be usually blind spots, like pet waste, socks, and cords or chargers.

As a refresher, the “+” tacked on the top of any Roomba signifies automated emptying. There’s no distinction in cleansing functionality between the j7 and j7+ vacuums themselves, and the one distinction with the Combo is that it has a retractable mop. The Clear Base (self-emptying dock) that comes with the j7+ and Combo j7+ is shorter than the older ones included with the i7+ and s9+, however the official 60-day capability hasn’t modified. Come to consider it, I’ve solely needed to swap the baggage in my Clear Base as soon as up to now six months, so it’s much more hands-off than marketed.

The j7+ dock isn’t bagless, sadly, however the luggage are tremendous straightforward to swap.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Roomba on charging dock with water tank ejected

Accessing the water tank doesn’t require flipping the bot over.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

iRobot moved the digicam that historically sits atop robotic vacuums (that may’t see objects beneath their three-ish-inch lid) to the entrance of the vacuum, increasing the viewing angle. This vigilant eye can also be assisted by a front-facing LED mild that illuminates the trail in entrance of the j7 that helps it higher understand the ground in entrance of it. If the j7 scoots as much as an object it senses as a problem-causer, it’ll go round it.

Roomba with LED light facing forward cleaning rug and hardwood floor

The sunshine is form of creepy at occasions, however we’ll ignore that.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Impediment avoidance is a non-negotiable for me now

Folks have been having fun with automated cleansing through robotic vacuums for years earlier than small object avoidance was a factor. They only merely accepted the pre-cleaning ritual of clearing cords, socks, pet toys, and such off the ground earlier than sending the vacuum out. It’s not that huge of a deal, proper?

False. I shouldn’t have to wash earlier than the factor I purchased particularly to wash cleans.

The comfort of a robotic vacuum actually begins to dwindle once you really feel like you possibly can’t belief it to cowl the entire residence with out consuming one thing or getting caught on a shower mat, which is particularly annoying once you’re not residence to set it free. The clutchness of the j7+’s impediment avoidance significantly set itself aside once I had started concurrently testing a robotic vacuum missing that expertise — and felt my nervousness skyrocket when forcing myself to present the less-advanced vacuum a shot. In case you’ve ever needed to pry a valuable cellphone charger from the jaws of a bumbling robotic vacuum, you perceive.

After being certain the ground was clear whereas the j7 mapped my house with impediment avoidance off, I’ll admit that ignoring the urge to pre-clean to check the true competence of PrecisionVision made me nervous. I settle for that there needs to be some room for error with any perceptive tech characteristic of this nature — however I used to be going to be pissed if my quick charging cable was eaten.

I’m proud to report that, within the six months I’ve spent with the Combo j7+, that it has by no means as soon as not appropriately recognized a charger or the HDMI wire that’s all the time mendacity in the lounge. I’m equally proud to current you with my very first video-turned-GIF, which reveals the j7 gently approaching and turning away from a charger in its path on my bed room flooring.

Although PrecisionVision is spectacular as hell, it’s not excellent. It’s nonetheless necessary to handle expectations and do not forget that even a front-facing digicam bodily can’t decide up on objects that principally lie flat on the ground. After doing my nails whereas watching TV, I fully forgot that I left my steel nail file on the lounge flooring. The j7+ tried its damndest to choose it up earlier than I heard the clatter and rescued it.

Whereas a lot of my cat, Sansa’s, toys (like her mini stuffed mouse) obtained a go, extra ambiguous small obstacles like faux snow from our vacation decor and feathery wand toys had been wolfed up. Really, the primary time I noticed the ring mild on prime of the j7 mild up pink was attributable to a blockage between the on-board dustbin and dock dustbin brought on by — anticipate it — a rattling feather. The app pinpointed the issue and a Youtube video confirmed me find out how to repair it, however Sansa says iRobot shall be listening to from her lawyer.

Bathtub mats are additionally a perpetual downside for robotic vacs, and even the j7 isn’t fully immune. Whereas it often was capable of efficiently scale and clear my bathtub mats whereas solely leaving a nook overturned, there was one occasion the place the j7 scrambled my bathtub mat to the purpose of getting fully caught.

Roomba stuck on corner of white bath mat

I wouldn’t need the j7 to keep away from cleansing my bathtub mats fully, however I really feel just like the wheels might have completed extra.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Person holding robot vacuum above folded bath mat

It really tried so onerous to get off the mat that it shredded the grippy rubber facet beneath.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Mapping is correct and flooring protection is (fairly) thorough

PrecisionVision builds on iRobot’s already-great broad navigation talents and sensible mapping of rooms and particular areas of your private home. Just like the Roomba s sequence, the j sequence makes use of vSlam (optical-based navigation) to create a map of your private home. You may label it and tweak the map to your liking, together with drawing particular zones inside a room that the Roomba can both go on to or keep out of fully.

Of the robotic vacs with sensible mapping that I’ve examined, I feel this Roomba produced the fullest and most correct map on the primary run. Barring a couple of tweaks to dividers for bedrooms, the j7+ was principally capable of regurgitate the final setup of partitions in my 1,500-ish-square-foot house after its first journey round, together with noting giant items of furnishings just like the island. It even marked the place our lounge rug and kitchen runner sit as a observe to extend suction on these areas.

After all, I nonetheless needed to tweak the map to maneuver dividers round and label the rooms, in addition to create zones. The iRobot OS app is tremendous straightforward to make use of, although, so enhancing the map isn’t a ache.

iRobot app with labeled map of apartment on screen

The house beneath my mattress is so filled with stuff that the j7 thought it was a wall.
Credit score: Screenshot: iRobot OS

Like impediment avoidance, iRobot’s sensible mapping was tremendous dependable the entire time. The j7 made it to the right room or zone upon command (and again to its dock) and by no means obtained misplaced. Perhaps this may be attributed to the quantity of pausing and pondering it stops to do mid-sweeping. As soon as, it stopped in entrance of the the massive floor-length mirror in our lounge — dealing with ahead — and I feel I witnessed an existential disaster. The vacuum resumed its job afterward, although.

The j7’s cleansing isn’t intolerably loud by any means, and is definitely quieter on rugs than on onerous flooring. However I nonetheless discover myself profiting from zone cleansing reasonably than hitting “clear in every single place” simply to maintain the incessant hum shorter. I’d argue that sensible mapping and digital boundaries (that truly work) are additionally must-have options since there are a number of spots that I really feel want extra frequent consideration, like the realm close to the entrance door the place the entire sneakers step and in my rest room the place the litter field is.

The kitchen is an apparent staple zone, too, and never simply to choose up after consuming a crumby meal or tidying after some meals prep remnants made their strategy to the ground. I additionally found the genius hack that’s cleansing the countertop by merely pushing the crumbs or shredded cheese onto the ground and calling the j7 over to hoover by the counter. The j7’s onerous flooring cleansing is sort of profitable on particles starting from spilled parsley flakes to kibble, and the facet brush does a fairly good job of pushing peripheral particles into the cleansing path.

Roomba cleaning around table legs on hardwood floor

The j7 wove round these desk legs to swipe (most of) the catnip that Sansa spilled.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Roomba cleaning rug around spherical coffee table with chair and TV stand in background

The j7 detailed the spherical border of the espresso desk and was by no means tripped up by the ornamental blanket tassels.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Furnishings-wise, the j7 is sort of good at getting proper up towards the sides of huge obstacles with out really operating into them. Our espresso desk is a spherical half sphere (it’s giving acorn) and the j7 was capable of delicately element the perimeter by backing up and making small changes to go across the bend. It additionally wasn’t afraid to go between kitchen desk chair legs and the legs of a desk within the hallway, and was capable of information itself out with out getting caught.

I did discover the j7 randomly skipping a couple of ft of flooring on the occasional zone cleansing that I know it coated the final time it cleaned that space. Annoying, however straightforward to forestall by opting to double up on passes within the app. (This additionally helped to make sure any particles that was missed the primary time was grabbed.)

The mop doesn’t present a lot elbow grease, however it’s higher than nothing

A robotic vacuum that mops is essential for anybody whose eye twitches when a visitor forgets to take off their sneakers on the door. And after the Dyson V12 Detect Slim’s laser confirmed me simply how dusty my flooring get even after day by day vacuuming, I used to be much more bought on the premise of a moist mop to wipe my flooring of what a vacuum doesn’t all the time decide up.

The mopping pads on these hybrid fashions just about fall below considered one of two classes: They both scrub or they don’t. Usually referred to as “sonic mopping,” the scrubbing ones use some type of forceful mechanism to push the mopping pad into the ground and vibrate to go after harder, dried-on stains and footprints. The vacs with out that mechanism simply drag a moist pad throughout the ground, principally tackling moist spills or unfastened surface-level gunk.

I used to be stunned to study that the Combo j7+ was solely in between these after seeing the value tag. (It exerts power between the pad within the flooring, however doesn’t vibrate forwards and backwards like different hybrids.) iRobot’s entire factor with the Combo j7+ is flexing the retractable mopping pad as “the world’s solely 2-in-1 robotic vacuum and mop that senses carpet then absolutely retracts to the highest of the robotic.” The retractable mop isn’t not cool, however to me, this assertion form of implies that the Combo j7+ is the one robotic vac that senses carpet and lifts the mop — and that’s not the case. I examined the Roborock S7 over a 12 months in the past and it additionally lifted the mop on comfortable flooring, simply not fully on prime of the vacuum physique just like the j7. (And FWIW, I by no means skilled soggy rugs with that strategy.)

So I do want that iRobot would have coated some type of sonic scrubbing ingredient in its premium debut 2-in-1. That apart, the mop’s efficiency was passable for day by day brown sock prevention. I discovered it significantly useful for normal repairs of the realm close to the entrance door and in my rest room, which made me really feel higher about stepping out of the bathe in naked ft onto the identical tile that my cat steps on after exiting the litter field. The pad additionally lapped up assorted dried stains within the kitchen and did an OK job of creating the hardwood close to the door look much less grey with shoe prints. At any price, the j7 does seal the deal after dry cleansing, and I like that it’s a uncommon hybrid possibility that may clear with water or considered one of iRobot’s Bona onerous floor cleansing options.

Droplet stains on hardwood floor with refrigerator and rug in background

These unidentified dried droplets confirmed up on the kitchen flooring close to the trash can.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Roomba cleaning hardwood floor with refrigerator and rug in background

The j7’s pad, although stationary, was capable of wipe virtually each drop up in a single go.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

Downsides: Carpet cleansing ought to in all probability be extra thorough at this worth

FWIW, iRobot doesn’t declare that the j7 is a deep carpet cleaner just like the s9. The listings on iRobot’s web site formally state that the j sequence delivers 10 occasions the power-lifting suction of the baseline 600 sequence Roombas whereas the s sequence delivers 40 occasions that. So I’m not saying it’s deceptive advertising and marketing, however I nonetheless form of anticipated the j7+ to be harder on carpet and rugs.

Needing multiple go to place the ending touches on a carpet or rug job is comprehensible. Carpet fibers can act like velcro for particles, particularly something with tough edges that would latch on (like crunchy meals crumbs) or pet hair that’s been stepped on and matted into the ground. However on a number of events, even after the 2 passes that the app means that you can schedule directly, I discovered myself beginning a totally new job for a 3rd (or fourth) go as a result of the j7 nonetheless hadn’t fairly completed the job.

iRobot robot vacuum using light to clean chip crumbs off rug

I smashed up some stale chips to see how the j7+ would deal with the mess.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

A few chip crumbs on patterned rug with round coffee table in corner

Even after two or three passes, the j7+ nonetheless left a couple of crumbs behind.
Credit score: Leah Stodart / Mashable

The j7+’s automated emptying noise is brief however so, so removed from candy

My audiologist associates would spiral in the event that they knew that individuals stand close to this factor mid-emptying and don’t have earplugs in. I believed I used to be being dramatic till the Decibel X sound meter app clocked the height of the Clear Base’s cycle at round 85 db, which the CDC(opens in a brand new tab) says is equal to metropolis site visitors (contained in the automotive) or a leaf blower. (The j7’s precise cleansing usually stayed below 60 db, which is like regular dialog or an air conditioner.)

You realize it’s dangerous when you end up opting to do the job your self with a stick vacuum over operating the Roomba simply to keep away from enduring the automated emptying noise on the finish. The very particular sound of the j7+ locking in on its dock and pulling in to cost sends shivers down my backbone as a result of I do know the longest 5 seconds of my life are coming. Plugging my ears and warning my roommates of the approaching aircraft takeover are unconscious reflexes at this level.

However no, the sound of the Clear Base (or any loud self-emptying dock) isn’t dangerous sufficient for me to contemplate going with out automated emptying. That’s simply one other a type of robotic vacuum options that, as soon as you reside with it, you gained’t have the ability to stay with out it. Not having to empty the botvac’s mud bin and probably contact that gross grey ball of filth after each few cleansing runs critically ups the benefit of automated cleansing.

I’ll simply say that the j7 being so self-sufficient saved me when it got here to this noise situation. As a result of for those who’re going to financial institution on a robotic vacuum cleansing once you’re not residence to keep away from the noise, that is the robotic vacuum with built-in babysitting to do it with.

Not like LG’s All-In-One cordless stick vacuum, which could be set to solely empty the vacuum into the dock once you inform it to, the iRobot app doesn’t have an possibility to change automated self-emptying off. That leads me to my final bone to choose.

The iRobot app is so intuitive aside from one factor

iRobot OS might be the smoothest expertise I’ve had with a robotic vacuum app. From WiFi setup and room labeling to day by day scheduling and tweaking of particular cleansing runs, every part is simple — to the purpose the place it wouldn’t even be a ache for somebody who hates messing with apps to make use of. I actually like the choice to bump to 2 passes as a substitute of 1, to regulate the water stage for harder messes, or to choose out of mopping all collectively.

So the truth that the app doesn’t permit a queue of jobs as soon as one job is in progress — such a non-intuitive hill to die on — is wild to me. If I ship the j7 out to wash the kitchen and assume “really, let’s do the entry means whereas we’re at it,” I’ve to let the j7 end the kitchen, return to the dock, empty and damage my ears, after which drive again to the zone one foot over from the place it was initially cleansing. Be aware that you could line up a listing of a number of rooms or zones to be cleaned in row, however after one job has began, you’re screwed.

Talking of zones, it’s a must to create one any time you wish to spot clear, which is an actual buzzkill once you simply wish to rapidly assign a random spot. I’d love to have the ability to draw a tiny goal on a whim and have the bot go there with out having to call the spot that’ll by no means in all probability by no means must be particularly cleaned once more.

The competitors

First, it’s apparent to pit the Combo j7+ towards iRobot’s devoted robotic mop, the Braava Jet M6. However contemplating the Braava Jet M6 doesn’t have impediment avoidance and is so not an precise vacuum that it usually comes bundled with Roombas just like the i3+ and s9+, there’s no query in regards to the Combo j7+ being the winner there.


Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot might imply cheaper Roombas, however we have now some issues

Fiercer competitors comes from Roborock and Ecovacs. Roborock not too long ago one-upped its personal spectacular S7 MaxV Extremely with the S8 Professional Extremely(opens in a brand new tab) — each of which have phenomenal suction, sonic mopping, small impediment avoidance, automated emptying, and auto-washing mopping pads. The S8 Professional Extremely additionally dries the clear mopping pads to keep away from that soggy washer scent — one characteristic iRobot skipped when designing the Combo j7+. The Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni(opens in a brand new tab) additionally does every part that the S8 Professional Extremely does, however is an effective reminder that abilities and a premium worth level on paper don’t all the time translate to an excellent expertise. (Bear in mind when the X1 Omni dragged my hair straightener all the way in which to the dock?) Each of those go for $1,599.99 at full worth, whereas the X1 Omni goes on sale for as little as $999.99.

For $649.40 or $449.40 on sale, Shark’s latest AI Extremely mannequin(opens in a brand new tab) omits small impediment avoidance however nonetheless empties itself and scrubs. For simply over $600 on sale, the slightly-older Samsung Jet Bot AI+(opens in a brand new tab) omits mopping however has respectable small object recognition and, just like the X1 Omni, additionally acts as a stay pet digicam.

Is the Roomba Combo j7+ value it?

As the most costly Roomba and one of the vital costly self-emptying hybrids, the Combo j7+(opens in a brand new tab) may seem like overkill upon first look. However after evaluating the options it packs to the value of fashions that supply probably the most related characteristic lineup, the Combo j7+ is definitely a stable buy. The one factor it lacks is the flexibility to scrub its personal mopping pads — however it’s additionally a couple of hundred {dollars} cheaper than the fashions that do this, even after they’re all on sale.

The factor in regards to the Combo j7+ is that it’s not a stellar sweeper or a stellar mopper, however it all comes collectively to make a fairly stellar total cleaner. When each moist and dry points of cleansing efficiency are nonetheless passable and supplemented by such dependable impediment avoidance and residential navigation, iRobot strikes a severe hands-off score that in the end is the entire level of getting a robotic vacuum within the first place.