iRobot has just announced a brand new model in its already ample portfolio of robot vacs. It’s called the Roomba J7 and it’s quite a departure from, well, pretty much every other robovac currently on the market.
Having engaged in a Zoom meeting with iRobot’s bot bods, the first thing that struck me was how in tune they were with the genuine needs of an average householder and, more importantly, how a robot vac should fit in with people’s lives without adding extra complications like constantly getting stuck, riding slipshod over dog turds or tangling itself up in loose wires. I recently experienced a quite severe robot vac dog poop disaster and if iRobot's plop avoidance technology means that never happens again, I'll be a very happy man.
Powered by iRobot’s new Genius 3.0 operating system, the Roomba J7 promises ‘superior cleaning performance with every mission, to navigate floors, remembering specific rooms and certain furniture, and to clean where it’s most needed’. Having seen a brief online demo, I’ll admit I’m smitten by some of the new tech that’s been added. So let’s delve in.
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iRobot Roomba J7+: design
Firstly it should be noted that, like most higher-end Roomba robots, the J7 is available to buy with or without the automatic, super-deluxe, self-emptying bin system. With Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal in place, whenever the J7’s small internal bin gets full, it trundles back to the Clean Base where a powerful fan sucks all the detritus into the Clean Base's large, disposable dust bag.
I have a houseful of hairy pets so I really need a robot vac that empties its small internal bin on its own without my intervention. Hence, for pet owners especially, I would always suggest opting for the model that comes with the Clean Base charging station– in this instance the J7+.
Unlike previous iRobot Clean Bases which have been quite tall (about 48cm in height) and even a little bit ugly, the J7+’s Clean Base is shorter and wider, and dressed in attractive pinstripe cladding replete with a leather lid tab that gives it a really stylish look.
The vac itself looks very similar to the S9 though I prefer the J7’s silver-toned top to the S9’s Dubai gold, but that’s a personal preference. There are no size specs available just yet but the J7 looks about the same size and height as other botvacs in the iRobot Roomba range.
iRobot Roomba J7+: features
With its new iRobot Genius 3.0 operating system, the Roomba J7 promises ‘greater levels of personalisation, new home automations and the ability to get smarter over time’. So what’s so clever about it then?
Let’s start with obstacle avoidance since I have personally had a dog poo experience with a robot vac and don’t really fancy another. Allegedly, the J7 identifies obstacles and avoids them when necessary, rather like some Roborock vacs are meant to do. In fact, iRobot is so confident of the J7’s turd-evasion technology, it will ‘replace any Roomba j7+ that doesn’t avoid solid pet waste’.
As I haven’t received a Roomba J7 to review yet, I’m unable to enrol the help of my Labrador pup to try this out but will do so when the time comes to give the J7 a full hands-on review. What I have seen, though, are a couple of very impressive demonstrations of the J7 in avoidance mode.
The most impressive demo involved a large obstacle placed in the path of the J7’s usual pre-mapped route in an open-plan environment. Instead of faffing about trying to find a way around the obstacle, the bot very quickly made up its mind and proceeded to veer off down another passage that led to the same destination. It simply circumnavigated the issue without a second thought.
The second demo involved a headphone wire that wasn’t in the area the last time the J7 did a clean so it sent a photo of the offending obstacle to the user’s phone asking if the wire is a new permanent fixture that should always be avoided or if it is simply the result of a lazy swine who leaves crap all over the place all the time. Or words to that effect.
The upshot is that this Roomba robovac learns as it goes about its daily business by asking questions via the app. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to spend any time at all answering questions from a robot? Of course you don’t have to, but if you do, it’ll likely ensure that the J7 maps your abode more accurately and cleans it more effectively.
Apparently, the J7 is also capable of preempting seasonal factors like pet shedding so it will remind the owner that Fido the filthy dog may have started shedding his coat and the floors could be in dire need of a sweep. According to the blurb, it will also ask if you want the floor cleaned as you leave the home. And using iRobot’s Imprint Link Technology, it will tell iRobot’s Braava Jet M6 robot mop (which we’ll be reviewing very shortly) to get biz-zay with a mopping session.
I can’t vouch for how well the J7 handles transitions from hard floor to rugs without getting in a tangle but I’ll be sure to let you know once I’ve given it some hands-on time. Until then, from what I’ve seen and read, the J7+ looks like it could be the most intelligent robot vac yet – and yet another inexorably robotic step towards world domination and the ultimate downfall of humanity.
When is the J7+ available in the UK?
The J7+ launches today (9 September 2021) with a retail price of £899.99. The J7 on its own, with no self-emptying bin, retails at £699.99. Take your pick but I’d advise getting the Plus version every time. Both options should be available at Amazon and most robot vac emporiums.
In America and Canada the J7+ and J7 are around $849 and $649 respectively. In Australia, we think it'll be about AU$1,300 for the J7+ and AU$1,000 for the J7.
Can’t wait for J7+ availability? Dip into our guide to the Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners