Updated: Mar 21, 2022
They are getting smarter every year!
Jeffrey Clos is a participant in the Amazon Associates LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. There are some links within this article to the described product.
Well, I have a collection of Roombas. One for each floor, and seemingly an additional one on its last legs. I have had experience repairing these little units, but you have to send them out for repair in some cases. I learned the hard way repair could be just as costly as buying a new one. Such is the case for a lot of items we buy nowadays!
My latest purchase was the J7+ model, which improved the I3+ unit I had bought last year. I wrote about this unit in a previous article, and the I3 has served me well.
So what improvements have IRobot packed into their new J7 offering? Other than changing the unit to be a darker black and reducing the height of the cleaning base, the largest improvement is obstacle avoidance. When this model was announced, the big sell feature when this model was announced was this unit’s capability to avoid wires and loose objects left behind in our hectic lives. Are you worried about your kids leaving behind socks, shoes, blankets on floors? This unit will avoid these hindrances and is less apt to get stuck. iRobot didn’t stop there; they gave it a dog and cat waste guarantee. This unit will avoid their excrement (poop) at all costs, or they will replace the unit over the course of one year. Just the unit!
I don’t have pets, but our household is rife with loose obstacles. Anything I can do to eliminate the items which jam and delay my Roomba cleaning is welcome in my house. So in the few week’s I have put this J7 through its paces. It took roughly a week to perform a proper mapping of our main floor. Let me first say the mapping is extremely accurate. The I3 series map was accurate, but the J7 goes a step further by assigning rooms.
J7 Mapping (media by JC)
Upon completing the initial mapping, you are allowed to divide and label each room. This comes in handy at a later time when you want your Roomba to concentrate solely on cleaning a specific room. If you have experience with some of the earlier models of Roomba’s, they had virtual wall barriers you placed in or around rooms you didn’t want the Roomba to enter or leave. Those are now a thing of the past. You tell the Roomba which room to clean, and it will leave its base on its journey to that specific room. Once in the room, it begins cleaning, completes its task, and returns to base. As I placed the picture above, I noticed an added feature. It now has carpet detection. The shaded areas signify where we have throw-rugs amongst our house.
Favorite Cleaning (media by JC)
The application has a “favorite” section to have Roomba complete consistent jobs. The kitchen is our “heavy traffic” area, and it is a favorite hang-out for our Roomba. I also have a “vacuum everywhere” option.
Front Facing Visible Light Camera (media by JC)
So how does this avoid all obstacles and map each room accordingly? The front-facing visible light camera, along with software improvement, has brought a new level of intelligence to this Roomba offering. Now the vacuum can identify obstacles and react accordingly. Artificial intelligence never looked so good! Now my Roomba has a headlight!
Word to the wise: You still have to maintain your Roomba units. I periodically pull off the beater rollers and strip out the fibers and hairs accumulated during a week’s cleaning. The process is straightforward and much easier than in previous Roomba iterations. I was happiest when iRobot replaced the old beater brush with these wonderful contraptions.
Typical Beater Rollers
Helpful Note: The cleaning base will accumulate most of the dirt from the cleaning jobs but you will have to remove the dirt bin on the J7 occasionally to clean out remnants. You will also want to replace the air filter occasionally as it will tend to become clogged with dust over time. The best way to clean out the dustbin is to use another vacuum with a crevice tool.
In my experience, these items will only get better as time goes on. I will probably wait a few more years before making another iRobot purchase. It will be interesting to see where they go from here!