iRobot Roomba j7+ review: dog do dodging robot vacuum cleaner is best in class

The new Roomba J7+ is one of the best auto bin-emptying robovacs money can buy

T3 Platinum Award
iRobot Roomba J7+ review
(Image credit: iRobot)
T3 Verdict

Although the excellent Roborock S7 is still king of the hybrid robot vac-cum-mops, the J7 takes the crown for straight-up, no nonsense vacuuming. Yes, it’s auto-emptying bin system is exceedingly noisy for about five seconds but that’s the only foible amongst a raft of wondrous features, including the ability to dodge solid dog mess. Highly commended.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    It empties itself

  • +

    Exceptional navigation skills

  • +

    Great on hard floors with rugs

  • +

    Avoids scattered items

  • +

    Commendable vacuuming performance

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Smallish roller heads

  • -

    Battery performance not great

Here's the iRobot Roomba J7+ review in a sentence: if you can't afford the most expensive iRobots of all, this slightly scaled-down model is a more than adequate alternative. It's among the Best robot vacuum cleaners you can buy. 

After witnessing the result of an unfortunate incident in my home between a robot vac and a wayward dog poo, I was doubly keen to get my mitts on the new iRobot Roomba J7+ because, according to the marketing blurb, the J7 can ‘recognise and avoid pet waste and is even backed by the Pet Owner Official Promise (P.O.O.P.), where iRobot will replace any Roomba j7+ that doesn’t avoid solid pet waste.’ Bring it on.

Actually, this robot doesn’t just steer around poo, it can allegedly also avoid cables and other items which is another reason why I’ve been eager to try it because my home has more cables than an electricity substation and more dog toys lying around than I care to mention. My home also has a lot of rugs scattered about the hard wooden flooring and I also have carpet upstairs and in one bedroom a carpet so deep that my otherwise stupendous Roomba S9 refuses to enter.

As alluded to above, I also have two dogs and three cats – plus inevitably a few field mice brought in by the felines. So plenty of hair in this house, then. Figure in a sofa with a valance and lots of sticky-out bits of furniture and I think I’m in a good position to evaluate the Roomba J7.

So, without further ado, I shall mount the new charging base against the wall in a small space that iRobot says would be too narrow for it and I shall open my iRobot app and sync it up. I shall do this without once looking at the instruction manual, mostly because I don’t know where I put it.

So c’mon J7+, impress me.

iRobot Roomba J7+: price and availability

If you live in Britain, head over to Amazon where the J7+ is shifting for £899.99, or the iRobot store for the same price. Amazon US is out of stock at the moment so you’re better off heading straight to iRobot’s US store where you can snap one up for $849.99. Or maybe Walmart where the J7+ is selling for 99 cents less.

Sadly, in Australia, the J7+ appears to be thin on the ground. So thin we can’t find a single store with it in stock. Which suggests iRobot hasn’t yet arranged a launch of the J7+ in the land of Oz.

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

(Image credit: iRobot)

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: design

I’m very much liking the design of this robovac. It’s fairly compact and elegantly styled, with a metallic finish and intuitive single-button design. The robot itself is 33cm in diameter though the centrally-mounted twin ribbed rubber rollers are only 17cm in length against the pricier S9’s substantial 23cm. This means the J7 will have to do a longer cleaning run than the S9. Also, because its battery doesn’t last as long, it may have to return two or three times to its Clean Base charging dock if sweeping a large area.

The J7 is available to buy with or without the Clean Base, the name for iRobot’s automatic self-emptying bin system. If buying without the base, the model number is simply J7 and with the Clean Base it’s J7+. With the Clean Base in situ, whenever the J7’s small internal bin gets full, the robot trundles back to the Clean Base where a powerful fan sucks all the detritus into the Clean Base's large, disposable AllergenLock dust bag. If the robot hasn’t completed its cleaning session, it will trundle over to where it left off.

At 34cm in height, 32cm in width and 41cm in depth, the J7+’s sleek Clean Base is shorter and wider than previous iRobot models, and dressed in extremely attractive black pinstripe cladding, replete with a real leather lid tab that gives it stylish Scandinavian looks. It’s far and away the most attractive bin dock on the market but it does have one marginally negative factor which you can read about below. 

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: set up

I’ve set up quite a few robot vacs in the past and this one was an absolute breeze. Simply find a permanent place for it to live, make sure the bot is in its charging dock, turn it on and launch the excellent iRobot app. Now add the J7 and after typing in your wifi password it will connect after a few minutes and you’re ready to go. I had zero issues in this regard – everything just worked. 

If you already have other iRobot products in the home, the app makes it very easy to change units via a quick tap of the phone screen. For technophobes, this model is a cinch to set up.

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: mapping and navigation

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

The iRobot app provides a range of easy-to-use features that help make the J7+ more efficient

(Image credit: iRobot)

Like its stablemates, the i7 and S9, the Roomba J7 does automatic mapping of the home while while it sweeps. Simply leave it to do its thing and after several cleaning sessions it will produce a map in the app which you can customise by creating partitions and room names, plus keep-out zones like Coir door mats and splatters of aqua around the dog’s water bowl. For quicker mapping with less battery usage, simply select ‘Mapping Run’ and the J7 will navigate its way around without using the vacuum function.

The J7 is very methodical in the way it maps a home. It uses a front-mounted camera along with iRobot’s PrecisionVision Navigation software to accurately map an entire floor no matter how cluttered it is. In fact, I even replicated a demonstration scenario I was shown by some of iRobot’s designers when I attended a recent Zoom meeting. I placed a long Dyson box across the middle of my open-plan kitchen/lounge and, instead of the J7 faffing about trying to find a way around the obstacle, it seemed to think ’screw that’ and very quickly proceeded to veer around the edge of the box and carry on into the other room. In other words it simply circumnavigated the issue without a second thought.

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

The J7's turd-avoidance system in operation

(Image credit: iRobot)

One of the J7’s chief selling points is its ability to avoid obstacles like wires, toys and even dog turds. Its Genius 3.0 Home Intelligence software presumably plays a big part in this because there’s apparently a bank of images like wires and several shapes of doggy poo in its database so it can actually recognise different objects as it approaches. It even sends a notification to the user to ask whether the offending obstacle is a permanent fixture or the result of household laziness.

According to iRobot, ‘cleaning tasks won’t interrupt your life because the Roomba j7+ learns your habits to offer personalised schedules, even suggesting an extra clean when your area’s pollen count is high or during pet moulting season.’ I personally haven’t received any such suggestions but then I don’t care. 

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: Clean Base dock

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

The J7+ trundles over to its bin where all muck and dust is sucked into a disposable bag.  

(Image credit: iRobot)

The motor in the Clean Base is really powerful so it’s impressively capable of completely emptying the J7’s mini bin, usually in one go. If there’s a hair ball stuck somewhere in its suction tube, it will perform another sucking session until the obstruction is cleared. If you have pets, you will actually hear a ‘whoop’ sound as the offending clog of hair is sucked into the Clean Base’s dust bag.

However, unlike, say, the premium S9+ model which is fairly quiet when emptying the bin, the J7 is hideously loud. So loud you literally have to put your fingers in your ears. It’s like a high-pitched buzzsaw mixed with a dentist drill, a jet aircraft during take off and someone scratching a blackboard. Thankfully the noise only last for about 5 seconds but bear this in mind if you’ve just put the baby to bed while the J7 is cleaning.

iRobot suggests situating the clean base dock with at least 1.5ft (46cm) clearance on either side but my test model has just one inch of space on one side and a radiator with three inches of clearance on the other and it has had no problems getting in and out of its garage.

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

Empty the bag about once a month if you have pets and even later if you don't

(Image credit: iRobot)

The Roomba J7 should a get at least a month’s worth of crud and hair into the Clean Base disposable bag and you won’t need to hunt around for another one because the spare is kept to the left under the same lid. There are no stats available on the volume of the AllergenLock bags but rest assured they’re large enough to hold around 40 loads. In other words you won’t need to worry about replacing a bag for at least a month. At possibly £23 for three when they become available, the J7 bags themselves aren’t cheap, though you can buy cheaper copies on eBay that will work just fine.

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: performance

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

What lies beneath

(Image credit: iRobot)

Although the J7’s suction isn’t as powerful as the flagship S9, it proved more than capable at collecting everything I threw in its path. It was also impressively quiet in operation – at least until it came to empty its bin (see above). The J7’s 3-stage cleaning system packs some impressive punch and features patented dual multi-surface rubber rollers that beat down into carpet to release ingrained dust and dirt while its edge-sweeping brush pulls loose muck away from walls and into its hungry suction portal. 

The J7 is actually better on hard floor rugs than the lower-slung S9 which almost always ruffles up rugs during its cleaning runs. When the J7 detects a rug, it turns off its rubber rollers and works its way over the rug before continuing its vacuuming – duties without ruffling up the edges too much. Very impressed I was with this aspect because rugs, to me, are the robot vac’s arch nemesis. 

The J7 performed really well on ordinary carpet, too, though like the S9 it struggled to make any headway on really, really deep-pile carpet. That said, no robovac I’ve ever tested was able to handle this level of pile because their wheels sink too far into the pile, preventing the rollers from turning freely.

The Roomba J7’s battery performance isn’t that great it has to be said, so it may need to stop mid clean while it boosts itself for the rest of the job. I wouldn’t say this was a major issue as long as you have a moderately sized floorspace and you’re not in a hurry. By contrast, the Roomba S9 does much longer runs on a single charge.

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

If you also buy an iRobot Braava Jet M6 robomop, you can sync the two together. When the J7's finished its job, it tells the Braava Jet to start the mopping. Result? Pristine floors

(Image credit: iRobot)

One especially cool thing with this bot is that it can work in tandem with iRobot’s efficient Braava Jet M6 mopping bot which you can read about in our full length review. Basically, once the J7 has completed its vacuuming task, it sends a message to the Braava to get on with the mopping. You can buy the J7+ and the Braava Jet M6 as a bundle for an admittedly pricey £1,600.

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: iRobot app

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

(Image credit: iRobot)

The iRobot app is very well thought out and really easy to get around. It provides the option to divide rooms in the map and given them individual names. It also allows the user to create ‘favourites’, for instance to clean just the kitchen, kitchen and lounge, or the entire downstairs area. Like most robovacs, it’s also very easy to set a weekly schedule so it only cleans when you are normally not around. And with iRobot Genius 3.0 software onboard, you can even choose to set your robot to start cleaning when you leave and stop when you come home.

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: verdict

iRobot Roomba J7+ review

(Image credit: iRobot)

If you’re in the market for a stylish, high-end robot vac that behaves itself and is really efficient at keeping rooms clean on a regular basis, the Roomba J7+ is a very worthwhile contender. Despite the racket it makes when emptying its bin, the J7 vac itself is really quiet in operation, ridiculously easy to use and chock full of clever mapping features. It's perfect for pet owners, too.

iRobot Roomba j7+ review: also consider

Looking for an alternative? If money's no object, try the iRobot Roomba S9+ flagship model which sucks like a mollusc. Or the excellent Roborock S7 which you can read about in our Roborock S7 review, logically enough.

Derek (aka Delbert, Delvis, Delphinium, etc) specialises in home and outdoor wares, from coffee machines, white appliances and vacs to drones, garden gear and BBQs. He has been writing for more years than anyone can remember, starting at the legendary Time Out magazine – the original, London version. He now writes for T3.