For all the features separating the most expensive robot vacuums from the cheapest, they all share one thing in common: You have to empty them after every cleaning. iRobot's newest robot vacuum, the Roomba i7+, changes all that. When it docks with its base station, a second vacuum sucks the debris out of the robot and into a disposable bag, which itself can hold enough detritus from up to 30 cleanings.
But while cleanliness is next to godliness, it's nowhere near frugalness: The Roomba i7+ with its Clean Base will cost $949 when it goes on sale September 12. But, based on our first look at this new robot, the convenience may be worth the price to some.
As you might expect, the Roomba i7+ continues the traditional circular design popularized by iRobot, and copied by almost everyone else.
Unlike other robot vacuum docks, which can be stowed under a piece of furniture, the Roomba's Clean Base is fairly tall—at least 14 inches, by our estimate—so it will have to occupy a more prominent place in your home. The reason? The upper part of the base contains a disposable bag into which the dirt from the Roomba is sucked. When the robot is docked, a vacuum in the base turns on, and draws the dirt through a channel from the bottom of the base up to the bag. It's a pretty powerful—and loud—operation. While it only lasts about ten seconds, it's at least as noisy as a traditional vacuum.
MORE: Best Robot Vacuums
The Clean Base comes with two bags; after that, you'll have to purchase additional bags, which come in packs of three for $14.99. I get that this is a potential recurring revenue source for iRobot, but I wish the bags were reusable.
Other features of the Roomba i7+ include an updated mapping system that can not only remember up to 10 floor plans, but also lets you customize each plan so that the robot can clean specific rooms, whether directed by the app, or by commanding it via Alexa or Google Assistant.
New rubber roller brushes on the bottom of the vacuum should be more effective at picking up messes, and a feature called Dirt Detect will automatically clean dirtier areas more thoroughly.
As mentioned, the Roomba i7+ will be sold with the Clean Base for $949. The robot will also be sold separately for $699, and the Clean base for $299. We're interested to see how well it performs, so stay tuned for our full review.