I live at home with my partner, two children under six, two cats and a dog. There was no world in which I would pass up the opportunity to test out the iRobot Roomba j7+. I vacuum the house daily because of crumbs, pet hair and cat litter. This family really put Waltbo (our loving name for it) through his paces, and he kept up well the majority of the time.
First and foremost, this device comes in at a knee-weakening $1049.99, and I couldn’t picture a scenario in which I would consider paying that much for a device, but after a few weeks, I see the appeal. As a parent, anything that can save me time, especially significant time daily, is worth its weight in gold. Combine that with keeping our floors clean and safe for my toddler, and I’m sold.
Unboxing the Roomba j7+, it wasn’t in a million pieces, just the back base, power cord and the Roomba itself. A couple of extra parts came with it, a filter and sweeper. I was surprised with how little instructions came with it. It essentially tells you to plug it in, and download the app. The iRobot app does most of the work from there on out. It guided me through the process, naming our Roomba, connecting it to the Wi-Fi, and getting it started to begin mapping out our home.
The way the map works is really interesting. After the first full home run of the Roomba j7+ the area it mapped out was unrecognizable. After the third or fourth time, it looked perfect. I could see where the walls to our kitchen were, where my couch was and even where the kids LEGO table is. Once that process is complete, you can label the areas and set the Roomba to clean specific areas instead of everywhere. This is great for high traffic areas, or when you’re short on time.
“The iRobot Roomba j7+ has excellent navigation skills, getting around every individual table leg, chair and abandoned stuffed animal. “
Adding the j7+ to our smart home was a separate process, but just as simple once I found the button through the menus. Once choosing my smart home of choice, Alexa or Google Assistant, connection was seamless. “Alexa, tell Roomba to start vacuuming.” It’s as simple as that. Alexa then asked if we would like to have it clean the whole home. The assistant even calls the Roomba “Waltbo” like we named it, so it was a fun added touch that the kids loved.
Our house is cluttered, covered in baby gates, sometimes toys, awkward corners, and angles. I thought for sure that a Roomba was out of the cards for us, just based on navigation alone. To my surprise, the iRobot Roomba j7+ has excellent navigation skills, getting around every individual table leg, chair and abandoned stuffed animal.
The device is meant to see an obstruction and stop, but our experience was that it would plow right into it before turning around. We may or may not have tested this with pet messes, only to cave, panic and redirect the iRobot Roomba j7+ at the last minute. Instead, I tried the test with a small black ball, and Waltbo launched it every time. I would not recommend leaving the Roomba unattended around pets.
Since speaking to iRobot, they have noted a few things about the Roomba j7+ is programmed to deal with pet messes, “The Roomba j7+ is only trained to recognize cords, headphones and pet waste...This will soon be followed by objects like shoes and socks via a software update.” Essentially, the test could have been flawed, but we had some close calls, and I wasn’t willing to risk the consequences. They also noted that the program won’t see these things while in its “training run” during Smart-Map set up, so that very possibly could have been the issue in the first place.
When you invest in a Roomba, I would suggest adjusting your expectations. The word “vacuum” is a little misleading. For a family like mine, you can’t live on just a Roomba. However, the iRobot Roomba j7+ has drastically improved our day-to-day cleaning. Previously, I had to vacuum with a small stick vacuum every day, plus a large deep clean with our Kenmore vacuum a couple times a week. With the iRobot Roomba j7+ I can skip the daily hands-on vacuuming, making time for literally anything else.
The Roomba does great work on our tile and wood floors, but our area rugs seem to be a challenge. We have one that is thicker, and though the j7+ can help, it just doesn’t get everything up. A stronger vacuum is definitely needed occasionally in our case. We have two smaller low-pile rugs, and Waltbo does okay with those, but again, a deep cleaning every once in a while is required. The iRobot Roomba j7+ saves us tons of time, but it isn’t an all-in-one solution for us.
This version of the Roomba also comes with…its own vacuum. The vacuum has a vacuum. When the device completes a job, it runs back over to its little dock, and it sucks up everything inside the Roomba. It’s a neat concept, but unnecessary. Instead of emptying out a small bin each time, you purchase disposable bags that need to be emptied less often. I can see the appeal, though some may not want to have to make additional purchases.
” The iRobot Roomba j7+ saves us tons of time…”
The issue is that this takes a rather quiet vacuum and creates a sound that could rival a jet engine. My two-year-old is terrified whenever it happens. She knows when it is coming, and crawls onto my lap because she hates it. I was impressed with how silent the iRobot Roomba j7+ was, so this part was a bit of a disappointment. The good news is, if sound is an issue, iRobot carries plenty of other models to suit your specific needs.
Something else I want to note is how dinged up the Roomba gets. After only a couple of runs, or j7+ was covered in scuffs and scratches. Though it doesn’t bother me, I worry that it could cause damage to someone’s furniture or walls if it is bumping into things hard enough to be marked up so quickly. I haven’t noticed damage myself, but with all the tiny humans and chaos, we don’t have a flawless paint job anymore.
I really didn’t think a Roomba was right for us, with the clutter and lack of open space in our home, I just didn’t believe it could work. After trying the iRobot Roomba j7+, however, I’m hooked. It saves me time, it keeps the floors tidy, the kids think it’s the coolest thing in the world, when the base isn’t preparing for takeoff. I have no intention of going back to life without it now. The iRobot Roomba j7+ is a part of our Alexa family now.