“How many times have I told you to pick up your socks!” I shout after the umpteenth time of reminding one of my kids to clean up after themselves. Really I could insert any clothing, kitchen, or entertainment item into that sentence. Ah yes, the joys of parenting. It seems to never end, and yet the time flees faster than we would like. Why can’t they just remember? The new iRobot Roomba J7+ sees these items, why can’t they?
That’s right. Smart Vac tech is still developing rapidly, and every year I see new features I love to try. iRobot’s latest has a built-in camera and light. These help it detect unknown items and avoid messes it shouldn’t vacuum up. Sorry viral video fans, no more pet poo smeared about the house. I’ll miss the vids (I’m sure the poor victims of these messes won’t), but I think this is for the best. Oh, and the best thing about this feature? It asks me what to do with the objects it encounters in future cleanings and learns.
The vacuum itself looks like a Roomba always has. The biggest difference I see in the robot’s appearance is on the bottom. iRobot has swapped easily tangled brushes for two rubber tube style rollers. This means less hair getting stuck in the brushes themselves.
When I set up the J7+ I simply download the iRobot app and connect the device to my wireless network. After guiding me through the setup, I name the vacuum Molly (by my wife’s request) and proceed to enable voice controls through Alexa (Amazon Echo). Now I just say “Alexa, ask the Roomba to start cleaning” and off she goes.
Initially, she maps out my house and the app asks that I turn all the lights on and open shades as it takes light to map accurately. I haven’t had to do this with other vacuum maps, but apparently this helps the J7+ learn and see objects better. A perfectly accurate map of my first floor then shows up on my app, and now I can name the rooms. This is perfect.
Now, when I have visitors, and I need to vacuum quickly, I can simply ask Alexa to have Molly vacuum a certain room, and it works flawlessly – well almost flawlessly. On one occasion the voice option gets confused with my old Roomba and the app can’t figure out which Roomba to send. I only had one issue with this however, and since then it seems to have corrected itself. Gone are the days of physical laser accessories to set up “virtual walls” for the Roomba. I can now simply set them up in the app and the Roomba will know.
The J7+ mapping system shows they have been in the business. iRobot put these vacuums on the map and the app proves this. The question is how well does it actually vacuum? The “sucking” power isn’t specified, but iRobot claims the J7+ is ten times stronger than the entry level 600 series. My other Roomba is a 690, and the J7+ blows (or sucks) it away. While I didn’t get a chance to test the Roomba on “fine” powder such as flour, it easily picked up a toaster full of crumbs when I dropped my toaster on the hardwood kitchen floor. It does its job, and it does it fairly quiet compared to the 690 as well.
Once it completes a job, I get a notification to review pictures to “make the robot smarter”. I’ve actually made it a game with my kids to try to figure out the items Molly discovers. Some items she comes across are hard to identify initially because of her low profile and perspective. A toy Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine van looks like a full size van when looking at it head on. In the review the app asks if this is a temporary obstacle or a space to avoid in the future. This is great when she finds cables. I can’t tell you how many headphone wires and charging cables my previous model destroyed. The J7+ brilliantly solves this problem.
The Vacuum can be purchased as with a self-empty station (hence the +). It empties much more efficiently than other models I have tried (for example the Yeedi models struggle with pet hair). There is one occasion where I had to manually empty it due to cat hair being stuck in the way. The app kindly reminds me if it needs help being emptied due to these issues. It simply doesn’t empty and tells me it needs to be emptied. If I don’t want to spend money on new bags for the docking station, I will just manually empty it anyways. The encouraging thing is it is actually picking up the pet hair, and with my long haired cats – there is a lot of it! Again, the suction power is unquestionably superior to prior models.
Innovation continues to be at the top of iRobot’s minds. The updated brushes, ability to avoid cables and pet messes, and constant learning set the J7+apart from many other brands out there. While I personally prefer a vacuum/mop combo (these are available from iRobot as well), there is no denying the J7+ will win over skeptics of the robot vacuum boom. I personally love them, and the J7+ is a great place to start if you haven’t snagged a Roomba already. It is such a time saver. The only thing left? Teach the Roomba see AND pick up the stuff my kids leave out, and I think it may just be smarter than the kids themselves.