A robot vacuum is supposed to take some of the pain out of cleaning your home, but you still have to clean out its bin every time it fills up.
iRobot is hoping its latest robot vacuum, the i7+, can solve that issue... by cleaning out its own bin. The i7+ comes with a new Clean Base charger, which not only charges the Roomba but also sucks up all the dirt in the bin and puts it in a bag in the Clean Base station. The bag can hold 30 full bins, which iRobot tells The Ambient is enough to last weeks.
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The i7+ is also getting smart mapping. Right now, Roombas don't really learn the layout of your home, but the i7+ can now learn your home's floor plan to improve cleaning efficiency. It can remember up to 10 floor plans, and with the companion app you can even name different rooms.
That feature isn't simply cosmetic. You can use it to command your Roomba i7+ to clean only certain rooms. You can do this via the app, yes, but you can also use Alexa or Google Assistant to send your orders to the Roomba. Like other high-end Roombas, the i7+ will also go and top up its charge if it needs more battery juice to complete a job.
iRobot also redesigned the rubber brushes on the bottom of the i7+ to make them more effective at digging into carpets and sucking out dirt. While we didn't get a chance to see how much more effective those new brushes were at cleaning, we did get a little one-on-one time with the i7+.
Returning to its Clean Base station to empty out its own bit is pretty marvelous; it's just a cool convenience that makes the robot much more pleasant to use. It's especially welcome after the small bin on the Roomba 980, which is hard to clean out, and often ends with us spluttering on some dust.
However, when the Clean Base is sucking the dirt out of the i7+ it can get very, very loud. It only lasts about 10 seconds or so, but it is a little startling.
The Roomba also responds well to room commands. We got to command it to go clean a specific bedroom, which has a connected bathroom. The Roomba knew that it was only cleaning the bedroom, so it didn't even consider going into the bathroom for a quick clean after, returning to its station instead. What a good boy.
This actually eliminates half the reason to use the virtual lines, the other being to keep the Roomba from going things like pet food and Legos.
The iRoomba i7+ will be available on 12 September for $949. There's also a version without the Clean Base for $699, but this version does come with a bigger bin than i7+ with the Clean Base. If you do opt to buy the Clean Base separately later it'll cost $299.