Roomba Combo j7 Plus review: now with a mop on top

The Roomba Combo j7 Plus is a top-of-the-line robotic vacuum that may additionally mop and empty its personal bin. Due to its capability to map your house 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 a great family cleansing companion, although it’s a greater vacuum than a mop, and also you do need to refill its water reservoir pretty usually. However 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. Virtually each different robotic vacuum with a mop requires guide intervention: it’s important to take away the mopping pad so it would deal with carpets and put it again on if you need mopping motion. However 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 totally 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 all the time backed away). Cleverly, if 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 exhausting flooring. It’s not totally hands-off, although; relying on the dimensions of your house, you’ll need to refill the water reservoir not less than as soon as to mop all of it.

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

The Combo works nicely you probably have of exhausting flooring mixed with a lot of plush rugs and carpets

Design-wise, the Combo j7 appears virtually equivalent to the j7. The one distinction is the sleek prime piece of the robotic is damaged up barely by the mopping plate. That is nonetheless a handsome robotic; it’s simply one of the best design on this planet 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 brand — are a lot classier than the loud designs of rivals resembling 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 information 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 exhausting flooring earlier than shifting on to the subsequent room. There isn’t a choice to mop solely; the robotic is all the time vacuuming and typically mopping. 

It’s an honest mop

It could actually solely mop if you happen to connect the pad (which is detachable so you possibly can clear it) and if its 210 ml water tank is full. With out 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: it’s important 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 tremendous to make use of any cleansing resolution in its bot; most robotic mops solely take water or their very own cleansing resolution). 

The small tank doesn’t final lengthy: after mopping my kitchen ground, it was usually spent. You will get extra mopping out of it by decreasing the water stream degree within the app, however in my testing, the very best setting was the simplest. Handily, you possibly can set completely different water ranges for various rooms. I had it take two passes and mop on the Extremely 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 means 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.

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

The one different robotic vac / mop that doesn’t want you to connect its pad if you need it to mop is the Roborock S7 line. Roborock handles the “don’t drag a moist mop pad over my rug” downside by lifting its mop just a few millimeters when it encounters carpet. However 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.

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

Sure, it really works nicely sufficient to select up tremendous mud the vacuum misses, nevertheless it received’t get dried milk up except you ship it out 4 or 5 occasions, even with a cleansing resolution, by which level you could as nicely have grabbed the Swiffer. iRobot has a devoted mopping robotic, the Braava Jet M6, which does a a lot better job at mopping — it obliterates dried milk stains. However it’s very sluggish and might’t deal with rugs or high-room transitions in the identical means the Combo can.

Each the Roborock S7 Plus and the S7 MaxV Extremely do a greater job at mopping flooring than the Combo j7. The S7’s mopping pad is twice the dimensions 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 fully take away the stain in its common mode. The Roborocks have a high-intensity mopping degree the place the bot doesn’t vacuum in any respect, strikes extra slowly, and scrubs extra intensely. That mode did fully 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 Extremely robotic that mechanically refills the robotic’s water tank and scrubs the mopping pad, along with emptying its mud bin and charging its battery. Whereas the Roomba Combo j7 Plus does include an auto-empty dock, filling the water tank and cleansing the mopping pad are on you. And also you do need to refill the water tank incessantly, regardless of iRobot’s hands-free claims; it by no means bought via my 800-square-foot downstairs with no need to be refilled.

In iRobot’s nook, the Roomba’s auto empty station is way 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, in contrast to virtually each different robotic vac I’ve examined, together with the Roborocks. Severely, this stuff are Chatty Cathys — “I’m going to wash the kitchen.” “I’m caught, and I need assistance.” “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 a fantastic vacuum.

Finally, 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 wonderful vacuum. Roombas are one of the best at truly vacuuming of all of the fashions I’ve examined. That is partly due to a novel twin rubber brush system that helps it dig into carpet fibers and choose up dust higher from exhausting 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 evaluation 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 excellent at cleansing exhausting 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 implies it’s sensible sufficient to know to go round that sock, cable, or pile of poop. Roomba’s AI impediment avoidance is excellent, a lot better than the Roborock S7 MaxV, its closest competitor, and higher than the Samsung JetBot AI that I initially pitted it in opposition to.

I put this all the way down to the Roomba’s capability to determine what objects are in its means and resolve what to do about them relatively than simply avoiding something lumpy. That is key: you need a vacuum to wash proper up near a litter field or pet bowl however undoubtedly not canine waste.

In testing, the j7 virtually all the time gave pet waste and cables a large berth (if it does make a poopy mistake, iRobot guarantees to ship you a brand new robotic). It bought 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 wish to goal cleansing, no-mop zones, and keep-out zones. 

That is value doing you probably 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. Whereas the Combo j7 not often bought tripped up by something in my testing, it did sometimes get caught beneath 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 mechanically identifies carpeted areas.

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

The j7 maps extra rapidly than earlier Roombas, because of its onboard digicam. This helps it determine not solely rooms but in addition furnishings and home equipment. I may 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 determine issues like Christmas bushes and pet bowls and counsel clear zones for you — though I didn’t have any of those arrange throughout my testing. It’ll additionally counsel 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 possibly can inform it simply to hoover or to mop and vacuum. 

Good residence information privateness: iRobot

Bringing related units into your house additionally brings with it considerations about how the information they gather is protected. The Verge asks every firm whose sensible residence merchandise we evaluation about safeguards it has in place on your information.

The first residence 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 client’s information or management. It outlines its Privateness Ideas 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 house, together with furnishings and obstacles. iRobot says this information is encrypted and saved securely.

Picture assortment is opt-in and helps with navigation and impediment avoidance. iRobot says photos usually are not viewable by the corporate except you opt-in each to picture assortment and to sharing every picture with iRobot. When you view your map or impediment avoidance photos in your telephone the information is shared via the Cloud. You may opt-out of sending map information to the Cloud within the app.

You may as well select to share information from the robotic with third events resembling Amazon and Google for voice management.

The Roomba Combo j7 doesn’t should be related to Wi-Fi or the Cloud to work — however you received’t be capable of 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 an alternative of stopping the job totally, you possibly can 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 if 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 likely one of the few robotic vacs the place you possibly can’t set the suction degree; others provide quiet and medium modes along with common and extremely.

After all, one of the best ways to make sure a robotic vacuum finishes its job is to run it when nobody is residence. You are able to do this with the iRobot app utilizing IFTTT and your telephone’s location or occasions from different related units you might need — resembling an August sensible lock locking, an Ecobee thermostat going into Away mode, or by connecting it to a sensible residence platform resembling Alexa. 

I examined the IFTTT and the Alexa integrations, and in each instances, the Roomba began to run once I left and docked itself once I arrived residence. When you don’t need it to cease each time you arrive residence, you can even set it to pause and ask in order for you it to proceed. 

These quality-of-life touches go an extended approach to making Roomba’s robots a number of the greatest you should purchase. And the iRobot OS that runs them is on all of the bots the corporate at present sells, not simply the high-end fashions. One other factor I like about Roombas in comparison with a lot of the competitors is their repairability. You should purchase (not cheap) replacements for most of the shifting components on these bots, significantly 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’d have preferred to see extra scrubbing motion from the mop and likewise an even bigger footprint (that mop is admittedly small). However it does clear exhausting flooring higher than the j7, so from that perspective, it’s well worth the worth distinction, particularly you probably have quite a lot of rugs in your house. However I’m undecided barely cleaner flooring are well worth the $300 premium. In case you have a j7, you definitely don’t must improve, however if you’re on the lookout for your first Roomba, it’s a small step up over the non-mopping j7.

In order for you a robotic to essentially mop your flooring, I want the Braava Jet M6, a devoted mop bot you can get in a bundle with the j7 usually for lower than the Combo j7 Plus. However it’s sluggish and restricted in its maneuverability, so it’s greatest suited to protecting single rooms like a kitchen or lavatory clear. And two robots take up twice the room. 

Another choice 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. However these received’t clear carpets and exhausting flooring in the identical run; it’s important to manually connect the pads if you wish to mop.

That is the place the Combo j7 does greatest — higher than the Roborock S7 line, because of its capability to wash high-pile carpets. Simply press the button and it’ll clear all of it (till it runs out of water). In case you have a lot of exhausting flooring with a lot of plush rugs and carpets, then the Combo j7 will work nicely for you. In any other case, the common j7 vacuum, with out the dialog piece robotic mop arm, is a more sensible choice.

Talking of that robotic arm, it’s a powerful piece of engineering design. It’s not too on the market to extrapolate that such a accent mechanism may very well 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.

Images by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Comply with proceed: iRobot Roomba Combo j7 Plus

Each sensible gadget now requires you to comply with a sequence of phrases and situations earlier than you should utilize it — contracts that nobody truly reads. It’s unimaginable for us to learn and analyze each single one among these agreements. However we began counting precisely what number of occasions it’s important to hit “agree” to make use of units after we evaluation them since these are agreements most individuals don’t learn and undoubtedly can’t negotiate.

You could register for an iRobot account utilizing an e mail deal with to make use of the app (Android or iOS) and comply with iRobot’s Phrases of Service, which embody:

  • iRobot Phrases & Situations
  • iRobot Finish Person License Settlement
  • iRobot Privateness Coverage

In whole, you get three obligatory agreements.


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