For 20 years iRobot has been producing robotic floor cleaners in an effort to find the technology and advancements in computer science that results in the very best. If you were to ask the CEO, Colin Angle, he would tell you that they have finally done it. Earlier, iRobot released the Roomba i7.
Is the i7 the perfect vacuum robot? Will it perform as well for you as the hype suggests? While I disagree with the moniker of “perfect,” the Roomba i7 is pretty incredible. Let’s dive in and find out why the latest model from iRobot, once again, raises the bar.
- 1 Who is the Roomba i7 for?
- 2 Who is the Roomba i7 not for?
- 3 Dimensions, Features and Options
- 4 Specifications Chart
- 5 Alternative Options
- 6 In Conclusion
- 7 In a Nutshell
Who is the Roomba i7 for?
The i7 Roomba is designed for everyone. While there are a few exceptions, those in the market will find the i7 very alluring. You may be in this group if you:
- Need a robot that can clean the entire house or just a single room.
- Need HEPA quality filtration to help reduce in-home allergens.
- Want full control over all facets and details of the cleaning process.
- Want a machine that provides less maintenance and more production.
- Have pets that shed a lot (or small children that make large messes).
Who is the Roomba i7 not for?
Not everyone will find the Roomba i7 the best fit for their needs or situation. You might find yourself in this group if:
- You have a smaller budget for robot vacuums.
- Your floor space is small (under 900 square feet).
- There isn’t a wireless network in your home.
Dimensions, Features and Options
Let’s get right to the point. The Roomba i7 is one of the greatest robotic vacuums to date. The technology alone is groundbreaking. It isn’t perfect, though. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.
Controlling the Robot Vacuum
The technology blooms with the new control methods. While the iRobot Home app and the Voice command controls have a new look, the local controls are untouched.
To be complete, I will cover them here, briefly. There are three buttons on the face of the robot; the large, central button is the cleaning button that will send the robot on its merry way to clean your floors.
The two smaller buttons on the sides of the cleaning button will either send the robot back to the charging station or order the i7 to perform a spot clean. As far as your local controls go, that’s all you get.
There are some great Roomba deals on Amazon today:
- $50 off on the Roomba i3
- Pros: brushless rollers, smart navigation, good basic vacuum, good price
- Cons: no "keep out zones" feature found on higher end Roombas
- $289 off on the Roomba i7 <-- hot deal
- Pros: efficient cleaning, logical navigation
- Cons: no front camera for obstacle avoidance, no auto-empty
- $200 off on the Roomba j7
- Pros: front camera for obstacle avoidance, best "bang for your buck"
- Cons: no auto-empty
- $200 off on the Roomba j7+
- Pros: obstacle avoidance, auto-emptying
- Cons: none
- $200 off on the Roomba s9+
- Pros: strongest suction, wider brushrolls, improved corner cleaning, auto-emptying
- Cons: price
Or see all current robot vacuum deals
The Voice Commands Have a Few Added Options
Along with the ability to use your voice the same as you could with the 800 and 900 series (and later retrofitted to some of the 600 series models), you can also use Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant enabled devices with the i7.
You can still tell the robot to clean, pause, resume, or stop a cleaning cycle or send the robot back to the charging station whenever you like. Using just your voice has benefits, as you may need to do a quick clean or stop a cleaning when you can’t get to your mobile phone or are otherwise indisposed.
The previous update also gave us the ability to create or cancel a scheduled cleaning, or find out what the current cleaning schedule is. You can also now find out where the robot is and what it’s current status is, all by using your voice.
The release of the Roomba i7, though, gave us a few new options in the voice command realm, as well. You can tell your robot to clean specific rooms. That’s right after the mobile app is set up, you can tell the robot to specifically clean only the kitchen if you prefer.
The Mobile App Has Everything You Need Built-In
The iRobot Home App has seen a large upgrade since the last version. With the release of the i7, they had to make some serious changes. The basics are still there, of course, as the other models (900 series, 800 series, etc.) still use the same app.
The basics are, of course, the ability to fully control your robot. The same actions as you can do with your voice: start, stop, pause, resume, etc.
You can create, edit, cancel and see schedules as well as have the ability to see the status (running, cleaning, charging, etc.) of the robot and the percentage remaining on the battery. You can swipe through the screens and see information about your cleaning and the robot as well.
You will be able to see the schedule for changing the filter and side brushes, as well as the overall health of the system: how long it has run, how long it charged, if the i7 had to stop and recharge during the last cycle, and several other details.
What is new, though, is on the mapping screens. In a feature that iRobot calls Imprint Smart Mapping, you will be able to see the map created by the robot through the first few mapping runs.
Here, you can draw your lines to separate rooms, pinpoint doorways or make minor corrections. Once you have done that, you can then name each room. When you have done all of that the robot will have its internal map updated with your names and edits.
From there you can use the Imprint Smart Mapping to select specific rooms. You can check off as many as you like, or as few as you like. When the robot goes out to clean, with the mapping enabled, it will only clean the rooms you have authorized.
When you use voice commands, you can say “clean the kitchen,” or “clean the living room.” What you won’t be able to do is have it clean multiple rooms. You will be unable to say “clean the kitchen and dining rooms.”
The workaround for this, though, is to check off the rooms you want to be cleaned in the Smart Mapping screen and then tell the robot just to go clean.
iRobot has stated they are working on improvements to the Smart Mapping technology and are quite sure multiple room voice controls will be available soon. When “soon” is is anyone’s guess, but at least they are working on it.
You should also note, that if you have the Smart Mapping enabled, any method of control that you use to have the robot clean your home, will only follow the Smart Mapping selections. Voice, mobile app buttons or even local controls, it won’t matter. So you will need to double check before letting your scheduled cleanings run.
If you want the entire house cleaned, you will either need to check off each room or disable the smart map before the robot starting its cycle.
So you have set everything up, charged the robot and given it a nickname in the app. So you have a scheduled cleaning set for tomorrow morning at 10 am. Just after you leave for work.
When the schedule kicks off, the robot will get to work. You have a couple of options though. Either just let the robot clean, and it will map as it goes (this is the default method for most users) or you can set up mapping cycles.
Either way, you won’t be able to use the Imprint Smart Mapping until the map is complete, which usually takes about three runs through your home.
After the mapping is complete, the robot will only update the map. You can move furniture around and the Roomba i7 won’t even get confused. It will know which room it is in and it will update the map accordingly, as needed.
The i7 is so smart, in fact, that it can map ten entirely different floor plans. This means you can map your downstairs, your upstairs, your neighbor’s house, your oversized playhouse in the backyard and your grandmas small home in Bogata. The i7 will map and remember them all.
You will also never have to tell the robot which map it needs to use. Once it starts cleaning, it will know. The robot will pull up the correct map in its memory and clean as efficient as ever. You can even rearrange all the floor plans’ furniture and obstacles and the robot will still know where it is.
With Map in Hand (so to speak) the Roomba i7 Effortlessly Maneuvers Your Home
The navigation technology, iAdapt version 3.0 uses cameras to create the maps and navigate the home. It takes a few low-resolution images per second to create the three-dimensional map it stores of later use.
When you send it out to clean, the new technology scans the map and entire area to be cleaned and chooses the most efficient path through the home. What used to take Roomba robots an hour or more to complete is done in a fraction of the time.
Since it does have a map and a plan of attack, the cleaning is efficient, and the paths it takes are human-like, not sporadic and pseudo-random like previous versions.
One of the biggest mishaps of the 900 series (especially the 980 and 960) was that they made the motor too powerful. You see, the robots were running at such efficient speeds that they cleaned very well. Until they got on the carpet.
Because of the carpet boost, when the 900 series robots were on carpet and the motor kicked up a notch, the airflow actually became too great for the extractor bars to keep up. Now, this wasn’t a huge problem, but now and then, debris and dust would fly out the sides instead of up into the collection bin.
The robots would usually circle back and everything would be picked up, but it almost defeated the purpose of efficiency.
The Roomba i7 aims to change that. It still has the high powered motor, and it still has the carpet boost up-kick. What is different though, is the motor location. They moved it away from the collection bin and deeper into the robot. This small adjustment helps the airflow and reduces the occurrence of the debris kick out.
The Extraction Bars Received a Make Over as Well
The brushless extractors underwent a little do-over also. They are still rubberized bars with rubber paddles of varying size that counter-rotate. However, now, the grooves are a little different, and when they come together, they do a little more tearing of larger debris.
The front roller is still responsible for carpet agitation and loosening of stuck on debris. The paddles on the roller are slightly more stiff (but not so much you really notice), and they seem to agitate the carpet fibers a little better. They also loosen debris on hard floors as well.
The rear roller has the job of collection and lifting. The angles of the rubber blades and their spacing have been changed slightly. This allows them to scoop better and to lift the debris into the air suction instead of the flinging action of the older style.
This scoop and lift helps reduce the accidental debris flying out the side that the 980 owners complained about.
Like the 900 series rollers, the i7 extractor bars are still easy to remove from the machine and easy to clean off with just a wipe, so you can still complete the entire maintenance regimen in 15 minutes (or less!).
The Collection Bin
The last really noticeable upgrade comes from the dustbin. The large bin is more durable. It can also be washed under running water (it is not dishwasher safe!) After you empty the contents, you can run the collection bin underwater to get the remainder of the dust a lint out of the container.
After you put it all back together with the filter you can slide it in place and resume cleaning. While you should make every attempt to dry it thoroughly, a little moisture won’t hurt. Since the motor was moved away from the bin, any remaining droplets will be dried by the air moving through the machine.
Upgrade to the i7+
If you find yourself not wanting to empty the collection bin, you can do yet another upgrade to the machine. If you purchase the Clean Base (this is the name of the new charging station, opposed to the Home Base that ships with all other Roomba models, including the i7), you will get a new collection bin.
This bin is also washable. It also has a little hole in the bottom that is covered with a rubber flap. The rubber flap is recognized by the Clean Base and when the robot docks, the motor in the charging station kicks on, sucking out the contents of the collection bin.
They are stored in a 14-inch tall tower that extends up from the charging dock. Inside is a vacuum bag similar in style to those old bags in your grandma’s old, red, Eureka vacuum. This bag can hold up to 30 full collection bins from the i7, and when it is full, the mobile app will alert you. You will also be notified by the tower if need be.
You simply lift the lid, grasp the plastic handle and lift. The hole in the bag is sealed shut and you just toss the entire bag away.
Of course, you will have to purchase replacement bags. They come in a pack of three and each should last you at least a month or more.
If you are inclined, purchasing the Clean Base comes with the base itself, the new collection bin, a bag for the tower and a power cord. When you make the swap, congratulations, you now have the Roomba i7+. You can also see the comparison between the i7 and i7+ models if you want more information on that.
Let’s take a look at the Roomba i7 with a little visual aid to help you see all the features it has and doesn’t have.
|Charge Time||3 hours|
|Entire Level Clean||Yes|
|Dirt Detection Sensors||Yes|
|Imprint Smart Mapping||Yes|
|Washable Collection Bin||Yes|
|Automatic Collection Bin Emptying||No (Optional Purchase)|
|Side Brushes||1 Side Brush|
|Containment||Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier|
|Price||Check on Amazon|
If you aren’t enthralled by the Roomba i7, there are a few other options you can review or consider.
The Roomba 980
The greatest Roomba robot before the release of the i7. Besides a nice price drop, you will also enjoy almost every feature that is found on the i7. HEPA quality filtration, industry-leading mobile app, voice commands, large battery and collection bin.
The 980 also comes with brushless extractor bars for an all floor type rating and a maintenance schedule that is one of the quickest on the market. You will forfeit the Imprint Smart Mapping and single room cleaning, but to save a bit of money and still have a premium robot, it is hard to beat. Click here to read my Roomba i7 vs 980 comparison
> See the Roomba 980 on Amazon <
Staying in theme, the Roomba 890 is the top of the 800 series class. It offers virtually identical stats to the 980 in both performance and cleanliness. There are a few differences, though, such as the battery size, the collection bin size and the lightning fast maintenance schedule (though, it is still fairly simple).
As with all other Roomba models, it is benefiting from a price drop as well due to the release of the i7. Full wireless controls and voice commands help remove the blemish of not having camera aided navigation. Just because it doesn’t map your home doesn’t mean it won’t clean it well. Read my Roomba 890 vs 980 comparison.
> See the Roomba 890 on Amazon <
Neato BotVac D7 Connected
One of the best Neato robots ever made, the D7 connected was one of the very few models that could stand toe to toe with the Roomba 980. It offers laser guided navigation (instead of camera-based) and mapped your entire home with ease.
You can even use the mobile app for containment with the virtual no-go lines. We have a full review up for you to read over if you want to compare this model.
> See the Neato Botvac D7 Connected on Amazon <
The Roomba i7 is the epitome of robotic vacuums, at least to date. The bar has been raised once again, but nothing is perfect. There are still issues with the Roomba models being a little violent with their sensor testing while mapping. The i7 is no different. It will still bang into furniture legs and doors until it is sure it cannot pass.
If you want the best of the best and want to enjoy some of the cleanest floors the current robotic world can offer, then you have found your robot. The i7 delivers on all promised points and still has updates and upgrades in the works to make it even better.
Should You Buy It?
As long as you have the budget for the vacuum, a floor plan larger than 1000 feet and want the reliability and dependability of the Roomba name along with the best robot built so far, then yes. Make the purchase. You won’t regret it.
In a Nutshell
The Roomba i7 is the top tier robot that everyone will be trying to duplicate or beat. That will be hard to do, with features like Smart Mapping and single room cleaning, the bar is seriously raised. Well worth the purchase for years of reliable service.
What I Like
- The large battery and collection bin make the i7 run and last longer than previous models.
- Imprint Smart Mapping gives you more control over the cleaning cycles.
- HEPA quality filtration to reduce in-home allergens.
What I Don’t Like
- Voice commands for multiple rooms doesn’t exist. Yet.
- Navigation still causes the robot to run into things.
- Roomba i7+ upgrades are costly.