Just a few years ago, even the best robot vacuum cleaners were frustrating and flawed. That all started to change with the iRobot Roomba i7+, which picked up a T3 Award in 2019.
This is by some distance the slickest and most premium cleaning droid ever made. The i7+ has a large, bagged dust collector that, after every clean, actually sucks the dirt out of the robot's own, much smaller bin. This removes the problem of having to quite frequently empty the bin yourself.
Even better, the Roomba i7+ intelligently maps your place on its first 2-3 cleaning missions. Once that's done, you can divide the map up into named rooms, and dispatch the robot to clean only, for instance, the bathroom, or the kitchen and spare room only. The i7+ is very good at navigating around or over obstacles but this can be extremely handy if you have one room that's currently strewn with rubble that might otherwise impede its progress.
Suction is also class-leading, delivering great results time after time, and the app is slick, stable and works from anywhere you can get a phone signal. Build quality is excellent and so, while this is by no means the cheapest robot you can buy, it should last for years, recouping its cost in time saved from having to vacuum the floors yourself.
Since the i7+ came out, iRobot has taken the dust covers off a newer model, the Roomba i3+. At launch, the iRobot Roomba i3+ – while still a premium robot vacuum – was relatively affordable compared to the i7+. Headline features include intelligent navigation, Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal and the ability to tweak settings, so it basically does exactly what you want on the cleaning front. Some robot vacuums aren't as good at this as you’d like to think.
The Roomba i3+ shares similarities to iRobot’s other star turn models like the Roomba i7+ and Roomba s9+. The Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal feature is an obvious highlight, whereby your vacuum cleaner will empty itself, dumping its payload of dust and dirt into the Clean Base where the unit also gets recharged.
You can buy the Roomba i3 without the Clean Base if you prefer – it's cheaper of course – but this is really one of the best features about this new model so it’s probably best to go for the Plus.
iRobot reckons this storage chamber can keep pollen, mould and other nasties from escaping thanks to its Allergen Lock bag. You therefore get up to 60 days of dirt collection before it has to be emptied. Yippee!
Adding to the cleaning potential is the Roomba i3+ high efficiency filter, which takes care of 99% of pollen, mould, dust mites and cat and dog allergens. There’s a 3-stage cleaning system too, that squeezes the best from the dual multi-surface brushes. Meanwhile, there’s also a brush aimed specifically at getting along edges and into corners. Suction has been boosted too.
iRobot have got the hardware to get the job done, but they’ve also honed their software to make cleaning times more effective. You can, of course, pair the Roomba i3+ with Alexa or Google-enabled devices and control it with your voice too.
The recently launched iRobot Genius Home Intelligence system is a new platform that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help you get the best from the suction power inside your Roomba and other products in the range.
Based around the iRobot Home App, it allows robot vacuum owners to fine-tune their settings and preferences to get a much more customized cleaning experience.
So, for example, if you're a messy eater at the dinner table your Roomba can nip out and tackle your crumbs right after, no problem. Add it all together and the new iRobot Roomba i3+ looks to be a fine addition to the range.
The ageing i7+ has dropped in price precipitously since it won a T3 Award back in 2019, but the newer i3+ is probably good enough for most peoples' needs and is considerably cheaper. The only caveat to that is that the i7+ price has dropped a lot since launch – it was well over £1,000/$1,000.