Smart vacuums just got smarter with the iRobot Roomba i7 and i7+. Judging by the version number, the plus sign alludes to something extra.
Besides the extra $300 dollars you have to spend to get the Roomba i7+, the two things that distinguish i7 from i7+ are the collection bin and the charging base.
Other than that, they are identical in form and function.
Just what is so special about the collection bin and the charging base? They may not look like a significant technological advancement, but they are the two pieces that make the i7+ the smarter of the two Roombas because it cleans up after itself.
The special charging dock that comes with the i7+ has a 14-inch tall dustbin tower. Anytime the i7+ is full, it will head back to its base station and empty itself. Hence, the charging base is aptly called the “clean base”, to distinguish it from the i7’s “home base”.
As the smart dock charges the batteries, it will start to empty itself of dust, dirt, and debris, which are then suctioned out and transported up into the tower, where it has a built-in sealed vacuum bag. With this function, there’s no need to constantly check if it is full. There’s also no need to empty it manually.
Since the i7 does not clean after itself, you have to do it yourself by releasing the bin on the back of the unit. You manually empty the bin and the filter and wash them by hand (warning: not dishwasher safe). You also have to let it dry thoroughly before placing it back to the vacuum unit. Even with all the bells and whistles, you still end up doing the dirty work.
With the i7+, the disposal system is automatic and you don’t even have to touch the filter and the vacuum bag. Once the onboard dust bin is filled up, the i7+ docks back to the clean base station.
The moment it docks, you will hear a sound, signalling that the station’s vacuum is ready to gobble up the Roomba’s internal vacuum debris. It sucks all the dirt out and secures the dirt and debris into the bag inside the tower base. You will not see the unwanted debris and dirt and you don’t even have to touch them.
For a device that looks so luxurious and sophisticated, the disposal unit of the i7+ is too loud; it may even be louder than the regular vacuums around.
The Roomba i7 and i7+ are identical in looks as well. Both are clad in black plastic with gray top and a wide black bumper in front surrounds half of the body.
At 3.7 inches tall, the Roomba can get under most couches, furniture and beds quite easily. With a 13.3-inch diameter body, it is a bit on the hefty side but can maneuver skilfully even around tight areas.
Underneath are two rubber wheels and a tiny roller wheel in front, so they form a triumvirate. The usual bristle and rubber rollers were replaced with rubber-encased foam with nifty chevron patterns that guide the dust and dirt into the vacuum chamber. The narrower fins have embossed rubber dashes that catch smaller debris. A minor upgrade is that the onboard dust container is now washable, but you still need to remove the AeroVac filter to clean it.
A sensor that tracks the floor is positioned on the opposite side of the three-spoke side brush, just on top of the right wheel. Even if you have the Roomba i7+ model, the unit is still labeled as an i7 underneath. One would think that the i7+ would have a proper label befitting of its heftier price tag.
The latest versions of the Roomba are controlled by the iRobot Home App, which is available in iOS and Android. But before connecting to the app, make sure to charge the vacuum fully.
The setup is just as easy as connecting any device to a smartphone through a Wi-Fi network. The app walks the user through the initial setup. With the app’s intuitive interface, the setup is quick and painless.
Whether you have the i7 or the i7+, the Roomba has the capability to map out the home or the space it would clean. There’s an option to clean and map at the same time or go on a training run to initially map out the home.
The map is viewable on the app so you can see if it was mapped out correctly. The initial mapping may not be accurate but changes and adjustments can be done by removing or adding boundaries to make the map more accurate, which would allow the bot to be as precise as it could possibly be during cleaning time.
The sudden impulse to redecorate or move the furniture around wouldn’t pose any problem because the i7 and the i7+ can remember up to 10 different floor plans. Existing mapped out floor plans can be edited for accuracy. So even if you add extra furniture or move several pieces around, the i7 has the smarts to navigate its way around your home.
Cleaning and Control Features
You can control the Roomba from the device itself or virtually through the app. It can be set up for a single clean or schedule a weekly clean routine. Since it has the ability to map out the entire home, you can choose which rooms to clean on specific days—as long as your smart map is populated.
Perhaps the most helpful feature of the i7 and i7+ is that it can be activated remotely using the app. You don’t have to be in close proximity to the vacuum to control it. So, if you forget to set it up, you can easily activate it wherever you are. Also, both the i7 and the i7+ can be activated and voice-controlled using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant.
When the Roomba is not in use, it just sits on its charging dock waiting for a command. It can clean for roughly 75 minutes for a full battery charge. If the battery gets low, it will head back to the dock, juice up, and then resume its cleaning duties.
The vacuum supports three cleaning modes: auto, carpet boost, and spot cleaning. Unfortunately, it does not support wet mopping, which is a shame.
The edge-sweeping brush is that three-spoked contraption that allows the Roomba to get into corners, along baseboards, and other hard-to-reach areas.
With a suction power of 1700 Pa, it’s 90% stronger than any of the robovacs in the market. That’s why it can effectively suck up crumbs, specks, and tiny fragments with no difficulty. It works well on most surfaces including hardwood, marble tile, laminate, linoleum, vinyl, and ceramic. It’s also suitable for any carpet types. When in the carpet boost mode, the vacuum switches to the maximum level for full suction power.
With the HEPA filter, the Roomba can trap harmful particles that can cause allergies, including pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and tobacco smoke. This is helpful to prevent allergy or asthma attacks. More so for households with people suffering from respiratory problems. Pet owners will also find this feature helpful because it can trap pet dander and pet hair tumbleweeds with ease and keeps them from accumulating in nooks and crannies.
The predecessors of the Roomba i7 and i7+ used the iAdapt 2.0 navigation technology. The traditional sensors of the earlier version have impressive camera visualization, which allows the Roomba to capture images of the area and take note of special landmarks and obstructions like tables, sofas, carpets, or furniture. Once they are marked, the sensors tell the Roomba where it is in the space and where it should go. It knows which route to take. However, it moves randomly and hesitantly until it is told where to go.
While the earlier iterations of the Roomba have mapping capabilities, the new generation Roomba has made a significant technological upgrade. With the smart mapping technology of iAdapt 3.0 in combination with vSLAM technology, the i7 and the i7+ learn a lot quicker by creating a detailed map of your floor space each time it cleans.
With iAdapt 3.0, the Roomba can now create and store virtual maps of rooms and spaces in your home or office. The Roomba turns to these maps to systematically and purposely clean the designated areas.
It could take about three to four runs to generate a full map of the entire area. You can label the rooms on the map so that you can activate specific spaces just by asking Alexa or Google.
It’s so intelligent that it can create visual landmarks to keep track of areas that have already been cleaned and areas that still need to be cleaned. Once the smart vacuum learns where the walls and barriers are, it starts to work systematically in a linear pattern. It’s purposeful in its movements and very sure of itself as it slithers on the floor and under furniture.
With its smarter technology, it handles stairs very well. With the Roomba’s special anti-drop and cliff sensors, it can detect edges and drops. When it senses one, the vacuum will avoid it, saving it from a costly drop.
Cords and cables do not pose a significant threat to the Roomba because it has a mechanism the keeps it from getting them entangled with protruding cords and fabric. Even if it comes across one, it’s smart enough to avoid it.
With the technology, the i7 and i7+ allow you to:
- Set cleaning preferences
- Check cleaning history
- Set schedules
- Track down your Roomba (in case it gets stuck somewhere)
The Roomba i7 and i7+ are essentially the same units with the same cool functions. The only difference is the emptying mechanism that comes with i7+. With the iAdapt 3.0 technology, the vacuuming becomes more accurate and precise the more “training runs” the Roomba does.
Regardless of which new-generation Roomba you get, you will get impressive functionality. The self-cleaning feature is a great addition if you want to eliminate the cumbersome manual process. Either version would be suitable for households that have multiple pets and family members that are prone to allergies or have respiratory problems.
Although the i7+ are impressive in many respects, there are also some downsides. With the 14-inch tower of the clean base, storage space can be an issue. It needs a space large enough to accommodate the docking station. It’s not something you can hide under or behind furniture.
The other downside is the noise. While the vacuum hums quietly, the automatic disposal unit of the docking station is so loud that you forget that you have a state-of-the-art technology.
Another gripe is the lack of wet mopping feature. This should be a default feature for a Roomba of this caliber. Lastly, perhaps the biggest downside is the price. You’re essentially paying extra for the disposal unit if you choose the i7+.
It’s not a question of which version cleans up the filthy floor better, but whether you would be willing to spend more to get the clean base station just for the self-cleaning mechanism.
Overall, it appears that the benefits outweigh the downsides, but the prohibitive cost of an extra feature—which is not really a vital function—could be a deal breaker for the Roomba i7+.