Welcome to our review of the iRobot Roomba Combo J7+, a brand new robot vacuum cleaner with a built in mop that raises off the floor whenever it recognises carpets or rugs, so they don't get damp. Other robots do this, but iRobot rather sniffily says that they only raise the mop a little bit, which just isn't good enough. The Roomba Combo J7+, by contrast, lifts it up and over its back, a bit like the roof of a convertible car. You have to say, that is a significantly lifted mop.
Is it enough, however, to justify the price iRobot is asking, when the all-conquering likes of the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra are out there? Can this Roomba make it into our best robot vacuum cleaners list?
Let’s find out, shall we?
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+: price and availability
In the UK the iRobot Roomba Combo J7+is available initially from the iRobot store where you can purchase the Roomba Combo J7+ for £999 or the non-Clean Base Combo J7 version for £799. Amazon will almost certainly follow suit shortly.
If you live Stateside, head over to the US iRobot store where the Combo J7+ retails at $1,099.99 or Amazon where it’s selling for a big 99 cents less!
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: design & features
I should start out by saying that the Combo J7 is available to buy with or without the Clean Base, the name for iRobot’s automatic self-emptying bin system. If buying it without the base, the model number is simply Combo J7 and with the Clean Base it’s Combo J7+.
If you have pets in the home or your house is generally very dusty, I would avoid buying any robot vac without a self-cleaning station since their bins are so small you will spend as much time manually emptying them as you would vacuuming the floor using something from our best cordless vacuum cleaner list. The same applies to the Combo J7. Yes, the Clean Base costs an extra £200, but it’s money well spent.
As my standard Roomba J7+ review made clear a few months back, the standard mop-less version of this is one of the very best models I’ve tested. And when it comes to vacuuming, the Combo is no different. It’s the same size and it comes with the same excellent dual rubber rollers, the same edge brush for flinging detritus on the edges of a room into the path of the suction head, and the same intelligent iRobot OS software that helps it avoid obstacles like charging cables, stray socks and dog poop. In fact the only major difference is the higher amp-hour battery (4,400mAh) and the new internal bin system which is now divided into two parts – a 400ml container for dust collection plus a small 300ml liquid receptacle for the mopping function’s cleaning solution.
There also appears to be zero difference with the Clean Base which is inarguably still the best looking charging-cum-bin emptying unit in the business, even if it is the loudest and therefore most annoying one to be within earshot of.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: mopping system
Many modern robot vacs are fitted with rear-mounted wet mopping pads that drag along the floor picking up light particles of dust and even tackling some light stains. However, the majority of vac mops are not able to travel across carpet or rugs and those that do may leave a damp stripe on the carpet. Roborock was the first to address this issue with the excellent Roborock S7 which has a vibrating mop on the rear that raises a few centimetres whenever it detects carpets.
Nevertheless, the Roomba Combo J7 goes a step further when hitting carpet by retracting its mop outwards and over so that it resides on top of the unit when on carpet or rugs. This means it is absolutely impossible for the mop to dampen even the deepest pile carpet.
When I wrote a recent news item on the Roomba Combo J7+, I had to do it from the press release and some supplied images. Two of the images captured the mop attachment halfway through its folding process so the mop appeared to be hovering in the air behind the vac. I simply assumed the mop was designed this way and complained that it could easily be trod upon while it was vacuuming a carpet. But I was wrong because, wahey, the mop attachment actually folds flat to the top rear of the Combo J7, keeping it well away from harm.
Granted, the metal arms that the mop’s attached to look a bit spindly but iRobot says that these arms also help push the mop down onto the floor for improved cleaning, so that’s okay. However, unlike the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra which comes with a full self-cleaning charging station for both the vacuuming and mopping plus automatic refilling of the robot's water container, the Roomba Combo J7’s water reservoir requires manual filling and the mop will need some manual cleaning from time to time by removing it and wringing it under a tap. I should also add that one downside to having a wet mop on board is that the Combo J7’s suction channel and rubber rollers may get coated in dampened dust so this model will require more cleaning than the regular vac-only J7.
The Roomba Combo J7+ comes with two microfibre mopping pads, two small packets of concentrated cleaner for hard surfaces and wooden floors, two vacuum bags – one already mounted and the other in its storage holder – a spare filter and an extra side sweeping brush.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: mopping performance
The very first thing to note about all robot vac mops is that they can’t clean up large spills like porridge, vomit or other disgusting messes. This is because they simply drag a wet pad around behind them. Yes, they will definitely clean a dried wine stain or some muddy footprints but they’ll simply smear larger spills across the floor. If you want a machine that cleans up most heavy spills effectively, buy a best hard floor cleaner like the superb Bissell Crosswave Cordless Max, which I rate very highly.
The Combo J7 proved to be very effective during my bathroom and kitchen tests, leaving a clean, broad path of shininess in its wake. I got the best results on these floors when using the highest wet setting. However, for my wooden floors I selected the lowest water setting just in case of damage.
I admit to having had marginally better results with the Roborock S7 I reviewed some time ago because its mop actually vibrates. But in the main I’ve been impressed with the Combo J7’s mopping performance and I absolutely love the way the mopping pad is retracted when the unit detects carpets or rugs – it never once made a mistake by leaving the mopping plate in situ when going over even a short rug. I’d say a tank of cleaning fluid will do around 700 square feet of mopping before it needs a refill.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: vacuum performance
I have absolutely no qualms with the vacuuming performance of this robot vac on both hard floors and carpet. In fact it’s one of the best robot vacs on carpet. I put this down to iRobot’s innovative dual, ribbed rubber roller system which batters the carpet, releasing all manner of buried matter and sucking it up using its above-average suction system. However, the downside to these rollers is that they have been known mark really shiny specialised floors like polished concrete or glass-like surfaces over time.
Rather cleverly, the onboard AI ensures that the Combo J7 avoids the majority of obstacles – even dog mess – and when its mini bin is full it trundles back to the charging base whereupon all the stuff it has collected is sucked into the Clean Base’s disposable dust bag. You should get a month’s worth of cleaning before having to instal a new dust bag.
I’ve been using the standard J7 – essentially the same machine – for the past year or so and it’s rarely missed a beat. It cleans really well – as well as to be expected from a robot vac – and I love the style of the Clean Base though I can’t stand the noise it makes when emptying.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: iRobot app
The Roomba Comba J7+ works in conjunction with the excellent iRobot app. Once installed, this intuitive app will let you create new maps of the home, retrieve existing maps for any previous iRobot vacs, mark no-go zones like dog water bowls and set daily cleaning schedules. However, if setting a daily cleaning regime for early morning or late at night, be sure to have a light on so it can see where it’s going. Although the Combo J7 has an LED headlight, it still requires a little extra light to function correctly. Yes, it’s a bit of an inconvenience but sadly this vac isn’t equipped with LIDAR navigation so it’s not great in total darkness.
The Roomba Combo J7+ can also be commanded using Alexa or Google Assistant voice prompts though I hasten to add that I have never tried voice commands with any robot vac I’ve ever had because I can’t see the point. After all, it was painful enough just setting up Alexa to turn on my Philips Hue lights.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7+ review: verdict
Given that the Combo J7+ costs £100 more than the standard vac-only version, it’s arguably worth spending the extra ton if you have a lot of hard floors in the home, specifically the kitchen and bathroom. From a vacuuming point of view it genuinely is one of the very best models on the market, especially on carpet. But whether you really need the mopping ability as well is open to debate.
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