iRobot Roomba i7+ Review: A Convenient, Costly Robot Vacuum

The iRobot Roomba i7+ learns your home's layout and empties its own dustbin. It's super-cool, but this convenience comes at a price.

Our Verdict

As a smart robot vacuum with superior mapping that empties itself, the iRobot Roomba i7+ looks great on paper. But for the price, you deserve better performance.

For

  • Excellent navigation
  • Able to clean just one room
  • Clean Base is easy to empty
  • Fast cleaner

Against

  • Expensive
  • Clean Base is very loud
  • Cleaning could be more thorough

A luxury vacuum cleaner that cleans up after itself — what a time to be alive! The iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base automatic dirt disposal is a new twist on the connected-robot vacuum and a godsend for those who have allergies and aversions to handling dust. This Wi-Fi- connected bot also can clean specific rooms on demand. A self-emptying robot vacuum is certainly a cool concept, but there's definitely a price to pay for all these smarts. Still, it performed well enough for us to include it on our list of best robot vacuums of 2019.

Design

The iRobot Roomba i7+ is dressed to impress. It's clad with premium-looking black plastic with charcoal gray on the top and a wide black bumper on the front. The logo on the top conceals a carrying handle and sits above a prominent center "Clean" button. Smaller icons for docking and spot cleaning are placed to its left and right.

The buttons are integrated into the vacuum itself and register pushes with minimal feedback. It's a smart design that prevents dust from entering the button mechanism and causing a problem down the road.

The iRobot Roomba i7+ is dressed to impress.

At 3.7 inches high, the Roomba i7+ is the same height as its sibling, the Roomba 690, but taller than the 3.4-inch Shark Ion Robot. It's not quite as tall as the towering 3.9-inch Neato Botvac D7 Connected. The i7+ easily traveled under our furniture with the exception of one low-clearance couch.

With a 13.3-inch diameter, the i7+ is a hair larger than the 13.2-inch D-shaped Botvac D7. The Roomba i7+ only 0.3 inches bigger than the 13-inch Roomba 690, but noticeably larger than the 12.9-inch RoboVac 11s. The i7+'s size didn't deter it from cleaning around chair legs, as the bot deftly maneuvered in tight areas.

Flip the Roomba i7+ over, and you'll find two rubber wheels and one small roller wheel front and center. Instead of bristle and rubber rollers as with most other robot vacuums, the i7+ uses rubber-encased foam. The two rubber rollers have chevron patterns that guide dirt into the vacuum chamber. The first roller has deep chevon fins, while the second roller reverses the chevron pattern with shallower fins studded with rubber dashes, presumably for catching smaller debris.

A three-spoke side brush spins along ahead of the right wheel. A floor-tracking sensor sits on the opposite side, quietly mapping out the surroundings.

The dustbin on the Roomba i7+ pops out, but you're unlikely to use it if you opt for the $250 Clean Base. If you buy the i7+ without the Clean Base, the dustbin holds slightly more and may be washed with water.

Because of the disposal system, the Clean Base has a much larger footprint than other vacuum bases.  However, the Clean Base has a more sophisticated look than the Shark Ion Robot's base-and-hand-vacuum combination.

Setup

The Roomba i7+ is controlled via the iRobot Home app (Android and iOS). Connecting the robot to our phone and  Wi-Fi network was a near seamless process. The i7+ connected faster with the app and our Wi-Fi network than the Roomba 690 did despite using the same iRobot app.

You'll definitely want to use the i7+ with the app, as it walks you through the initial setup. The manuals that come with the bot and its base primarily explain how to clean them.

The first few times the Roomba i7+ cleans, it gives you the option of cleaning and mapping or mapping the house on a "Training Run." Once the bot has mapped out your home, you can view the map in the app and make changes by adding and removing virtual boundaries while giving each room a name. Manipulating the virtual green lines in the app took a little getting used to, but was easy once we got the hang of it.

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The i7+ remembers up to 10 different floor plans, which can be edited at any time. After putting up our Christmas tree , we drew in an extra boundary line to keep the bot from vacuuming the tree skirt.

Performance

Watching the Roomba i7+ clean is a little scary — you can almost see it thinking. It would enter a room going one direction and then clean, pause and head toward another area at a slightly different angle.

While the Roomba 690 and the Eufy RoboVac 11s seem to have a "pool ball" approach to cleaning, bouncing off walls in random directions, the i7+ is downright methodical, going back and forth in a parallel lines to get the job done. The robot does a beautiful job carefully winding itself around chair legs as it maps out your home. It barely even disturbed the dog food bowls in our kitchen as it gently cleaned around them.

Watching the Roomba i7+ clean is a little scary — you can almost see it thinking.

During the Roomba i7+'s initial cleaning of our mostly open-floor-plan first floor, we opted to have it map the house as it cleaned. After its second run, the Roomba i7+ had completely mapped our first floor. That allowed us to use the smart-map feature to tell the vacuum to clean specific rooms or the whole first floor.

Unlike the Shark Ion Robot and the Eufy RoboVac 11s, the i7+ didn't kick up a lot of debris. It dutifully cleaned up a small pile of breadcrumbs without spreading them around as it spot- cleaned the area. The Neato Botvac D7 accomplished the same task with a little more certainty, sucking up most of the pile the first time it rolled over it.

The height of the i7+ meant it just barely fit under the door of our refrigerator. On its first visit to the kitchen, the i7+ got  slightly stuck. It even tilted as it got wedged under the fridge. Then it made a worrisome grinding sound before spinning free. This did not happen on subsequent cleanings, though it still cleaned around the bottom edge of the fridge.

The Roomba i7+ was the only vacuum in our tests that  conquered the 2.25-inch- thick shag rug in our living room. Although it completely avoided one side of the rug by bumping along its edge, it journeyed onto the rough terrain on the opposite side. Like a ship on rough seas, the Roomba i7+ adjusted to the shag in order to stay its course. The side brush spun more slowly while on the rug, but the bot itself seemed to move more quickly while avoiding parts that set off its sensors. The end result was a half-cleaned rug, but we prefer that over a vacuum getting stuck.

Test Results

NameSmartphone controlOverall Cleaning ScoreAvg. Cleaning time (Hrs:Mins:Secs)Cheerios cleaning scoreKitty Litter Cleaning ScoreDog Hair Cleaning Score
iRobot Roomba i7+Yes90.418:0993.187.690.5
Samsung PowerBot R7070Yes87.927:3094.687.781.5
iRobot Roomba 690Yes89.21:12:2799.594.973.3
Shark Ion Robot R85Yes941:01:571009488
Neato Botvac D7Yes91.310:2299.88589.3

While the Roomba i7+ looks like it's thinking as it methodically travels your home, our lab test results reveal how fast of a cleaner it is, even if it's not perfect. Although it was quick to clean up a mess, averaging just 18 minutes on carpet in our lab to vacuum up Cheerios, kitty litter and dog hair, it didn't do as thorough a job as we would have liked.

The Roomba i7+ picked up an average of a little more than 93 percent of Cheerios on our hardwood and carpet surface. It failed to match the Botvac D7's excellent 99.8 percent average on the same task and fell just below the Samsung PowerBot R7070's 94.6 percent. In the kitty litter test, the i7+ picked up an average of 87.6 percent of the granules, nearly matching the PowerBot 7070's 87.7 percent and besting the Botvac D7's 84.9 percent. The i7+ ended up wearing some of the litter, too — a fate avoided by the Botvac D7.

While the Roomba i7+ was quick to clean up a mess, it didn't do as thorough a job as we would have liked.

However, the Roomba i7+ shone on dog hair, cleaning up an average of 90.5 percent, which bested the Botvac D7 (89.3 percent) and the Shark Ion R85 (88 percent).

One thing that sets premium robot vacuums apart from their less expensive competitors is their cleaning speed. The Roomba i7+ wasn't the fastest cleaner we tested — that crown belongs to the Botvac D7 with a 10 minute and 22 second cleaning average — but it was close. The i7+ averaged a little more than 18 minutes to complete our lab tests. The PowerBot 7070 lagged behind, taking an average of 27 minutes and 30 seconds on our tests.

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The Roomba i7+ measured 62.6 decibels in our sound test, a little quieter than the Botvac D7's 66.3 decibels. Although it wasn't hard to have a conversation with the robot maneuvering around our feet, we were thankful we could use a more normal indoor voice when it jetted off to another area.

Clean Base Performance

While convenient, the automatic dirt-disposing Clean Base is loud — like super-powered-public-bathroom-hand-dryer loud. It clearly takes a lot of suction to pull the dirt out from the underside of the Roomba i7+ and vertically suck it up into the vacuum bag at the top of the base. It's brief — a few seconds — but it is deafening.

The Clean Base uses cube-shaped old-school vacuum bags, which the company says will hold 30 bins of dirt. Essentially, it's a smaller version of the bag that attached to your mom's mid-1970s Hoover upright, but with a modern update: A plastic sheath slides over the bag hole when you remove it from the Clean Base, preventing dust from flying all over the place. A three-pack of replacement bags costs $14.99.

After three full floor cleanings and two individual room cleanings, there was still plenty of room in the bag. A small amount of fine dust did collect in the lid of the bin, but the thick rubber seal kept it from leaving the base.

Bottom Line

The iRobot Roomba i7+ is great at learning your home's layout and is ideal for challenging surfaces and areas with lots of obstacles. It's a solid performing robot vacuum, too. And, yes, the Clean Base is impressive and easy to empty — especially for those who have back issues.

But at $950, the Rooba i7+ is the most expensive robot vacuum we've tested. And it shouldn't be beaten in cleaning tasks by robots that cost a third of its price. That said, if your primary interest in a robot vacuum revolves around cleaning specific rooms on a regular basis, the Roomba i7+ will get the job done quickly, and fairly well, too.

Credit: Tom's Guide