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iRobot Roomba J7+ Review

Verdict

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Able to spot and avoid messes automatically, the iRobot Roomba J7+ can stop any nasty pet-poop accidents and generally avoid getting stuck. Combined with its excellent app and powerful suction, this is a great robot vacuum cleaner, although edge performance could be better. This model ships with the Clean Base self-emptying dock, but you can buy without if you want to save a bit of cash.

Pros

  • Clever navigation
  • Very flexible jobs and routines
  • Generally excellent performance

Cons

  • Expensive

Availability

  • UKRRP: £799.99
  • USARRP: $799.99

Key Features

  • TypeThis is a vacuum-only robot cleaner, with no mopping mode. It does have a camera, which helps the robot navigate and avoid mess, even pet mess.
  • Battery lifeQuoted battery life is up to 75 minutes, although the robot can return to its dock and recharge in the middle of a clean.

Introduction

If you ever feel a little like you have to do a lot of tidying up before your robot vacuum cleaner can get to work, then the iRobot Roomba J7+ could be for you. With a camera on the front, it can spot and avoid problem areas automatically, and even comes with a guarantee against it running over pet mess.

It’s the flexible app and powerful cleaning that really matter for this robot vacuum cleaner, making it a pleasure to use and able to fit in around your schedule. Here, I’m reviewing the ‘+’ model, which has a self-emptying dock, but you can buy the standard iRobot Roomba J7 without the dock for less.

Design and features

  • Excellent app and controls
  • Camera aids navigation
  • Empties the bin automatically

The iRobot Roomba J7+ doesn’t stray too far from the design of other iRobot vacuums, such as the recent Roomba i7+. Here, iRobot has made an effort to streamline the robot, with just a single button on top and nothing else to get in the way.

iRobot J7+ in dock

This button can be tapped once to start the cleaner, once to stop it and you can press and hold to have it scuttle back to its dock. That’s all the control that I use on a daily basis, and I often find that hitting the button saves having to fish my phone out.

Flip the iRobot Roomba J7+ over and it’s business as usual. There’s a single side brush, which sweeps debris from the edge of the room into the main suction path. In the middle, there are two rubber rollers that move in opposite directions. They’re designed so that hair won’t wrap around them.

iRobot J7+ underneath

You’ll see the camera at the front. Much like the camera on the Roborock S6 MaxV, this is used for navigation and object recognition, avoiding mess automatically.

iRobot J7+ camera

At the back of the robot is the 0.4-litre bin. This just pulls out for manual emptying, plus you can reach the filter at the front of it for cleaning. If you buy the standard J7, you’ll need to pull this out a lot; the J7+ just returns to its Clean Base dock where its bin is emptied automatically.

iRobot J7+ bin

Unlike the older Clean Base, the one here isn’t quite as tall; that said, you’ll still need an open space to put it in, as you can’t fit this dock under furniture. Flip open the Clean Base’s lid and you can see the disposable bags: there’s space for the current one, plus a spare. 

iRobot J7+ dock bin

According to iRobot, bags should last 60 days each, with replacements costing £21.95 for a pack of three. That’ll cost you just shy of £44 a year in bags, so consider this before buying; the standard J7 just has a reusable bin, so is much cheaper to run.

Once the robot is set up, you can connect it to the iRobot app. When you first use the app, you’ll see that it’s a little bare. That’s because the iRobot Roomba J7+ hasn’t managed to map its environment yet. To do this, you can either send the J7+ out on a mapping run, where it doesn’t vacuum or let it discover its surroundings naturally during a clean.

In either case, it takes a few runs before the system is happy enough to generate a map – that’s quite a bit slower than the competition.

Still, once the J7+ has got its map (or maps if you have multiple floors), you can start to customise the space. Primarily, this means customising the map into rooms and sub-zones. That lets you customise where the robot cleans, say just cleaning the kitchen or even tackling a smaller area, such as the prep area where you make food.

iRobot J7+ mapp

You can also set boundaries and no-go zones. These are helpful if you find that the robot gets stuck in one area all of the time.

Where the iRobot Roomba J7+ comes into its own is with the way that it runs. Rather than having a clean button, you can create jobs. These tell the J7+ where to clean (or to clean everywhere), and appear as shortcuts on the screen. At the tap of a button, then, you can clean your whole house or just a room.

iRobot J7+ create a new job

You can schedule cleans to happen at specific times, although the J7+ can also use your location, turning on when you go out. That’s brilliant, as it lets the robot fit around your life. The more you use the J7+, the smarter it gets, and it will start to suggest cleaning routines for you.

iRobot J7+ app scheduling

There are no power settings for this robot, and it runs on one setting. Instead, you can customise the level of cleaning. Room-size clean will let the J7+ tackle large rooms once, and smaller rooms two-to-three times; Daily clean just covers the area once; Extra clean covers the entire space twice. These settings make more sense than power settings, as it’s clearer what the vacuum cleaner will actually do.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Skills are available and the J7+ goes beyond the simple start/stop commands: you can tell it to clean a specific room or area, too. There’s also an IFTTT Channel, so you can start a clean when your smart alarm goes on, or you can flash your Hue lights if the J7+ gets stuck.

Performance

  • Powerful suction
  • Edge performance could be better
  • Neatly avoids clutter

As with the Roborock S6 MaxV, the iRobot Roomba J7+ uses its camera to detect and avoid problems. Currently, the camera can spot shoes, socks, cables, and pet mess; as training improves, new objects will be added to the list. Testing it with some strategically placed items, including fake pet poop, and the J7+ neatly moved around everything giving it a wide berth.

As iRobot has its Pet Owner Official Promise, which states that you’ll get a free replacement robot if the J7+ runs over any solid pet mess within your first year of ownership, I tried to catch the robot out. No matter where I placed the fake poop around the test lab, the J7+ avoided it. In fact, there was only one scenario where the robot didn’t: placing the poop behind the dock fooled the J7+, and it reversed into the mess.

This is because the camera is at the front, so the J7+ couldn’t see the mess until it reversed and then turned around. Even so, the system should catch the vast majority of potentially messy incidents.

Navigation otherwise is generally very good, with just the occasional issue: once the J7+ managed to get between the wheels of an office chair and couldnt work out how to escape. I’ve yet to review a robot vacuum cleaner that is completely immune to getting trapped.

Testing the iRobot J7+ out on real-world mess, I first of all set it to the Extra Clean setting. I then sprinkled test dirt (flour) around the room.

Testing on carpets, the J7+ did a very good job of dirt removal. There’s a small trace of mess behind, but that’s it: nothing major and a regular vacuum cleaner would easily deal with what’s left.

iRobot J7+ dirty carpet
iRobot J7+ clean carpet

Next, I put flour into the middle of the hard floor. Here, the J7+ managed to pick up everything without leaving any mess behind.

iRobot J7+ dirty hard floor
iRobot J7+ clean hard floor

Finally, I spilt flour right up to the kitchen plinth. Here, performance wasn’t so good. As the J7+ has only one side brush, it needs to come at this mess from the right angle. The robot picked up the mess towards the middle of the floor, but didn’t get into the edge that well; the Dyson 360 Heurist does better in this test.

iRobot J7+ dirty edge
iRobot J7+ clean edge

Still, overall performance is good. My test spills are more dirt than a regular robot would be expected to deal with, and the iRobot J7+ is a good maintenance cleaner so that when you do have to get a regular vacuum cleaner out, you won’t have to spend long cleaning.

Battery life is quoted at 75-minutes, which might seem a little off the pace of the competition, but that’s because the iRobot Roomba J7+ runs at one power level. Other robots have maximum battery life quoted at the less effective lower power settings.

Overall, this robot has more than enough power to cope with one or two levels of a regular house, when set to Extra Clean. If the robot needs more juice, it can top up its battery mid-clean.

iRobot J7+ after clean

I measured the robot at a reasonable 59.6dB: loud enough to hear, but quiet enough that you can talk over it. The dock is louder, however: as loud as a cordless cleaner on its turbo setting. Fortunately, the dock only turns on its suction for a short period to empty the J7+’s bin effectively.

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Should you buy it?

If you want a very customisable robot vacuum cleaner with powerful performance and excellent navigation, this is a great choice.

If you’re looking for something cheaper and don’t mind standard navigation, there are more budget robots that clean almost as well.

Final Thoughts

Very clever obstacle avoidance, combined with an excellent and customisable app, make the iRobot Roomba J7+ a brilliant all-round robot vacuum cleaner. Edge performance could be better, but for regular levels of dirt, this robot will maintain your house well until you have get the vacuum cleaner our.

I’d be tempted to buy this robot without the self-emptying dock, saving £100 and removing the cost of disposable bags. If you’re after something cheaper and don’t want or need the fancy obstacle avoidance, the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid is a great alternative, and there are more choices on my guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners.

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FAQs

With the iRobot Roomba J7+ fall down stairs?

No, it has cliff edge sensors that prevent this from happening.

Can the iRobot Roomba J7+ avoid pet poop?

Yes, the camera can spot poop automatically and avoid it.

Does the iRobot Roomba J7+ have mapping?

Yes, it supports multiple maps over multiple floors and can detect which floor it’s on automatically. For each map, you can customise rooms, zones and no-go areas.

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