Design and Features:
The Roomba Combo J7+ introduces a new dimension to the robot vacuum market by combining vacuuming and mopping capabilities. It inherits many features from the Roomba J7, including two central brushes, a side brush, and a front camera for navigation and obstacle detection. What sets it apart is its innovative mop attachment system, which adds a new layer of versatility to this robot.
The mop attachment deploys and retracts automatically, ensuring that the mop only comes into contact with hard floors and not carpets, effectively preventing them from getting wet. This design feature demonstrates thoughtful engineering, allowing the robot to seamlessly transition between vacuuming and mopping without user intervention.
In the “Plus” version, which we tested, the Combo J7+ comes with a charging station that can automatically empty the robot’s dustbin, reducing the need for frequent manual emptying. This feature enhances the overall convenience of the robot, although the station’s larger footprint may require a bit of space in your home.
Usability and User Interface:
The Roomba Combo J7+ boasts a user-friendly design. It’s relatively compact and slim, making it suitable for navigating around furniture and tight spaces. The front camera plays a crucial role in mapping your home and identifying obstacles, allowing the robot to efficiently clean different areas.
Controlling the robot is done through the Roomba app, which, for the most part, offers a clear and intuitive interface. However, during our testing, we encountered occasional language mixing within the app, which can be confusing.
One notable limitation is the absence of live mapping during the initial cleaning run. Unlike some competitors that provide real-time mapping progress, iRobot’s app requires you to wait until the cleaning cycle is complete before viewing the map. This might be a minor inconvenience for some users.
The Combo J7+ adopts a navigation system based on a front camera rather than a laser rangefinder, which is a common approach among its competitors. While this setup is relatively compact and efficient, it has its pros and cons.
On the positive side, the robot adeptly avoids obstacles in its path, making it a good choice for homes with many items or clutter. However, it tends to be more collision-prone and can sometimes overlook cleaning areas that require precise navigation, like tight corners and edges. This shortcoming is more pronounced in spaces with lots of furniture or complex layouts.
The robot’s ability to recognize certain obstacles and take photos of them is a promising feature, but during our testing, we didn’t observe this function in action. This aspect could be improved to enhance the user experience.
In terms of suction power, the Combo J7+ delivers decent performance. It successfully picked up a significant portion of debris on hard floors and low-pile carpets. However, its performance on high-pile carpets was less impressive, as it struggled to deep-clean these surfaces.
On the mopping front, the robot’s efficiency leaves room for improvement. Even after multiple passes, it had difficulty removing some stubborn stains. iRobot suggests using their cleaning solution, which did improve results to some extent, but it’s worth noting that it may not be a complete solution for tough stains.
Cleaning Performance Assessment:
Our evaluation of the Roomba Combo J7+ included a comprehensive examination of its cleaning capabilities, encompassing various surfaces and types of debris. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the cleaning performance assessment:
1. Suction Power:
- We conducted tests on different floor surfaces, including hard floors, low-pile carpets, and high-pile carpets.
- The Roomba Combo J7+ demonstrated satisfactory suction power, effectively picking up debris like dust, pet hair, and crumbs.
- While it performed well on most surfaces, it didn’t reach the level of the best-performing models in its category.
2. Washing Efficiency:
- To evaluate the robot’s washing capabilities, we subjected it to a range of common household stains, including soda spills, oil spots, carbon black marks, and lipstick smudges.
- Our tests indicated that the Roomba Combo J7+ struggled to remove these stains in a single pass, often requiring multiple passes or additional intervention.
- The robot’s performance improved when we utilized iRobot’s recommended cleaning solution, though complete stain removal was not always achieved.
- For some users, the need for additional passes or the use of cleaning solutions may be a minor inconvenience.
3. Surface Adaptability:
- The Roomba Combo J7+ automatically adjusted its cleaning power based on the type of surface it encountered, such as transitioning from hard floors to carpets.
- This adaptability ensured that it effectively tackled different surfaces without manual adjustments.
- While it excelled in adapting to varying surfaces, it didn’t reach the top-tier performance levels found in specialized vacuum or mop-only models.
4. Cleaning Efficiency in Tight Spaces:
- We assessed the robot’s ability to clean tight spaces, corners, and areas near walls.
- The Roomba Combo J7+ faced challenges in these areas, as its navigation system occasionally led it to miss some debris along walls or corners.
- However, its side brush proved effective when it ventured into these regions, but it had a tendency to get entangled in carpets.
5. Tough Debris and Stains:
- For tougher and heavier debris, such as larger particles or accumulated dirt, the Roomba Combo J7+ sometimes struggled.
- Heavy debris remained in its dustbin, requiring more frequent emptying, and occasionally, manual intervention to clear clogs.
- For some users, especially those with pets or high-traffic areas, this might necessitate more maintenance than desired.
In summary, the Roomba Combo J7+ delivers respectable cleaning performance on a variety of surfaces and common debris types. It offers convenience with its automatic adjustments based on surface type and adaptability to mixed flooring environments. However, it falls short of top-tier models in terms of stain removal and may require additional passes or cleaning solutions for tougher stains. Its performance in tight spaces and handling heavy debris could also be improved for a more seamless cleaning experience.
Battery Life and Noise:
The robot’s battery life is influenced by its automatic power adjustment based on surface type. This means that the runtime can vary depending on the environment it operates in. In our testing, the Combo J7+ managed to vacuum for nearly 2.5 hours on a setup that included mostly carpeted areas. While it may not be the longest-lasting model on the market, it should be sufficient for cleaning an area of around 100 square meters in a single pass. When its battery is low, the robot returns to its docking station for recharging before completing the cleaning task.
In terms of noise, the Combo J7+ emits a mechanical noise that can be somewhat high-pitched and bothersome over extended periods. It’s advisable to either avoid being in the same room while it’s cleaning or schedule its operation when you’re away to minimize disruption.
In our rigorous evaluation of the Roomba Combo J7+, we’ve gained a nuanced understanding of its performance across a spectrum of criteria. Here’s a concise summary of our findings:
- Innovative mop attachment system that intelligently avoids wetting carpets.
- Neat and compact design, suitable for navigating under furniture.
- Intuitive app control with scheduling, no-go zones, and voice command capabilities.
- Convenient automatic emptying feature in the charging station.
- Respectable battery life and efficient adaptability to different surfaces.
- Navigation system, relying on a front camera, tends to bump into obstacles and struggles in tight spaces.
- Cleaning performance, while adequate, doesn’t excel in comparison to top-tier models, especially for tough stains.
- Maintenance requirements, including frequent dustbin emptying and occasional mop and brush cleaning.
- Limited water and dustbin capacities.
In essence, the Roomba Combo J7+ impresses with its innovative mop deployment and ease of use. It offers a convenient cleaning solution, especially for those with mixed flooring types. However, its navigation and cleaning performance exhibit room for improvement, particularly in challenging environments. Considering its strengths and limitations, potential buyers should weigh their specific needs against what this robot has to offer.
- Clever integration of the mop.
- Rather compact station despite automatic emptying.
- Effective obstacle detection.
- Clear and functional application.
- Does not run along walls correctly.
- Pass the same place several times.
- Gets lost regularly.
- Ineffective suction on long pile carpet.
- Washing not very effective.
- Quite annoying noise.