Roomba i7+ (2019) Australian review
No animal sheds like Penny.
A snowstorm of fine white beagle hair blooms as she canters across the living room to settle on the floorboards like fresh Perisher powder. Discarded remnants of my two-year-old’s breakfast form little islands in the fur. The entire disgusting vista is then rendered in high definition as afternoon sunlight pours through the windows.
My first robot vacuum was a Neato XV Signature Pro, bought second hand in 2016 from the US.
It was ridiculously loud, chewed $100 worth of batteries every year, and chalked my skirting boards in a continual black line. It so often got under our feet and became stuck driving up edges that we slapped a large troll face meme sticker on it.
Despite these shortcomings, it was a marvel that liberated me of the need to haul a traditional vacuum around or replace my dog. This earnt robot vacs a mandatory place in my house.
Dobby, as we named it, was a workhorse. In an effort to extend its life, I followed YouTube tear down videos to replace its worn LIDAR motor. I freed its seized dirt rollers and reseated its popped springs. I tested him with official (and dodgy) Chinese overcharged batteries.
Two months ago, Dobby’s batteries failed for the last time.
Thankfully, the new Roomba i7+ makes Dobby look like a vacuum from the Flintstones. It is silent and seriously smart. It is powerful. It even empties its own bin.
A better vacuum would perhaps fly from a hidden wall space to immediately clean up a spill before scurrying off. Until that zero-effort future is realised, the i7+ is the closest vacuum to an independent hands-off cleaner you are likely to get.
I tested the Roomba i7+ for five weeks multiple times a day on both my downstairs floorboard open kitchen and living space, and upstairs over short pile carpet bedrooms and a bathroom.
I ran it with a floor cleared of objects - a standard requirement for robot vacs - and with items left on the ground like socks and tee-shirts that would have spoiled Dobby's wheels and rollers.
But before we talk about how the Roomba i7+ fared in action, let's talk about maps.
The i7+ has a smart map functionality that allows it to build a blueprint of your floors. The primary utility of this is to improve its cleaning effectiveness and efficiency as it learns where objects are and the areas that tend to be most soiled.
The vacuum will learn these maps over time or immediately if it is allowed to conduct an initial scouting patrol.
How well did it clean?
The Roomba i7+ left a fairly disgusting floorboard spotless after each clean once the maps were established. Penny's snowfields were gone. It took perhaps two runs twice a week to pull away the bits of junk and dust from the carpets that we seem to track upstairs.
I was entirely impressed by its ability to clean. It rarely missed a patch including in the kitchen where we prepare meals multiple times every day.
On top of this, the Roomba i7+ rarely became stuck. It was able to navigate through and out of a series of chairs I pushed together, and off door edges and other raised surfaces. Only when string would wrap around a wheel or roller would there be a problem. Whenever this happened, I'd get an alert through the connected app.
The Roomba app itself is clean, functional, and intuitive. It allows scheduling, typical vacuum controls like cleaning, pause, and return, and displays a room map showing the most soiled areas and objects that are blocking its cleaning run. Software updates are automatic.
How loud did it sound?
My previous vacuum was drowned out only by my neighbours loudest renovations. The Roomba i7+ can run while you have a chat or watch TV.
I would gamble (as I've not tested them) it is or among the most quiet on the market. It's at its noisiest when it docks and the dirt from the robot's bin is sucked into i7+ tower and into the main bin. This part of the process is loud, something like a traditional vacuum, but brief.
How easy is to clean?
I'm not a read-the-manual type of person.
I get to the damn thing, sure, but after a fashion. The time before I hit the books is what I like to regard as a test of a technology's intuitiveness. I don't remember if Roomba had a manual but I never needed it.
I expect the cleaning steps will also be intuitive to most people. The twin dirt rollers pop out with a colour-highlighted lever, while a respective hex and square head ensures they are returned in their original positions.
The dust bin pops out with a marked button. Cleaning it is easy. The 'disposable' filter is of the same stuff as my old vacuum filter which I cleaned by tapping it gently on a brick wall without fault for years.
The three-armed spinning dirt catcher needed help only once to remove bound hair strands, which was impressive since I anticipated it to be a failure point.
The tower bin holds a ridiculous amount of dust and debris. I never was able to see if a message popped up to say if it was full or not because, despite Penny's best effort and cleans of at least two a day, it never filled up. It bears repeating that the ability for the i7+ to empty its bin into the tower bin is a huge benefit since you are largely able to forget the vacuum exists.
Connecting it to a smart home
I don't care for superfluous technology but the Roomba i7+'s integration with Google Assistant is not a function for function's sake.
I find the ability to call out to my Google Home 'Start Roomba' as I leave the house a nice time-saver. I likewise appreciate the ability to leave my phone untouched as someone eager to divorce the attention economy.
It also works with IFTTT (If This Then That), a popular and powerful task automation platform, allowing owners to replace 'Start Roomba' with a different phrase and have a custom response. That platform can also allow the robot to start when the owner leaves home via geofencing among other capabilities.
Attempting to manually dock the Roomba i7+ seems to unsettle the process a bit. It didn't always happen, but a few times the vac would wiggle about trying to find its comfortable spot for more minutes than I cared to allow it. The reliable solution is to dock it by putting the vac on the ground and touching the home button, or telling Google Assistant to "send Roomba home".
I encountered perhaps six errors declaring in the app a 'communications problem with the base', usually after a clean, and usually after I brought both the tower and the vac upstairs. Tapping 'help' on the error notice failed to load a help file. I suspect it is a bug.
There was never an actual issue, however, so it could be safely ignored.
It's also worth remembering that robot vacs like the Roomba i7+ will clean your floors but not your lifestyle. Pick up your socks and shoes, and discarded towels if you want them to be effective.
The Bottom Line
You will get a fantastic, top-shelf, intuitive, and wonderfully engineered robot vacuum with the Roomba i7+ that will likely save you more time, thanks to its ability to empty its bin and simple service design, than any other on the market. If you can afford the asking price, that is.
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