Review of the Roomba Combo j7+

Okay, this has been a review that's long since overdue.  We've had Rosey (that's what we named our new little godsend) now for 2 months and I really wanted to see what this Roomba could do, and how much I could talk about all the little features...

...but, what I found was that Rosey fit so well into our little home, that she was just seamless.  Now, I do have to take it entirely with a grain of salt, that this is a $1200 (on sale) cleaner.  Not just anybody can plop down that money to enjoy the benefits of Roomba.  There are definitely cheaper options out there, we know... our in-laws have a less expensive brand.  But nothing quite rings true like Rosey has, even compared to Spot, our i7+ that we've had for a couple years.

Overall, what I'm saying is that I would be hard pressed to imagine now a life without Rosey because she (and here I go anthropomorphising it) just works so well and without much thought about it.

Let's dive in.

So you've seen my unboxing, you've seen the quick comparison of it to the i7+, and even the initial app set up.

But now Rosey's gotta get out into the rooms and do some cleaning.  How'd she do?

Well, great - in just 1 word.

We've been used to Spot (our i7+) for  a couple years now, so we had been very used to the app and it was great that the rooms all came over from Spot to Rosey.

That being said, Rosey still wanted to do her own exploring and making sure that her experiences matched those of what Spot was telling her (I really don't believe these 2 robots are alive, just it makes it easier for me to explain what was happening).  After a few runs around the house, Rosey was an old pro of knowing where to go, getting exactly to the right angle to approach a section of the room.

I did notice that where our kitchen is slightly higher than our hallway, Spot would easily just roll over the lip, whereas Rosey struggles.  Both Roombas look to have the same guts all around in terms of motors, yet, now and again you can hear Rosey going back and trying again at that lip - I'll cheat and give her just a bit of a toe nudge and then is up into the kitchen.  Some days are totally fine, others just needs that extra boost.

So, getting around, Rosey is just fine.

The very cool feature that the j7+ models come with over the i7+ is the forward camera, Rosey's 'eye'.  The camera is out there looking for potential obstacles that the normal bumpers can't tell. 

Now, this is the item that was originally defective in our first j7+, but Roomba was tout de suite quick in getting us a replacement for it.  And that camera is definitely worth it.

Not only is the camera there to recognize and avoid things like 'poop', it can also avoid cables or slippers, or other means of bigger obstacles.

A common occurrence we had with Spot was that we (whether it actually needed it or not) were 'prepping the room' for a cleaning.  It felt sorta like that "let's rinse the dishes before we wash them" - we didn't mind, because it was still going to be way faster than doing it ourselves, and I didn't want a cord to get tangled up or anything.

Now, the camera can search around the room and see those obstacles and avoid them.  I can 'worry free' run Rosey to clean our room and not be worried about the charging cable that's dangling or I forgot a shoe that's not on the rack.  It really sees these obstacles and cleans around them

Even better, once Rosey's finished a run, you get a bit of a snapshot replay of these obstacles

That's neat.  (wait, is that a clothes hanger under the couch?)

In Spot runs, it just shows you the map of where he cleaned and where was dirtier than other areas.  You get this with the j7+ but you also review the obstacles.  

You tell the app if it is a temporary obstacle (i.e. it might not be there next time), or if it's something it should always avoid.

So cool.

That camera really provides some peace of mind to letting it clean.

AAAAand, I hear there's going to be some beta version of the apps that will let you watch the camera while it cleans.  I like it.  My wife thinks it's creepy.

The idea is (and it's only limited to iOS users in the US at the moment) you can 'check in' with the Roomba and have it go inspect a room for you in case there's someone breaking in.

And in terms of cleaning - it does every good a job as the i7+ does.  Goes, sucks up the dirt and whatnot and empties itself into the bin. Friends who don't have a CleanBase type of robot vacuum really are jealous.  Not having to go and empty the container manually is pretty awesome.

The rollers and the sweeping brush do a really good job cleaning.  Sure, I may do a better job of it myself, but it can do it quicker, and it can do it more often than I would like to that overall it's doing a better job than I would.  Several jobs it does is going to be way better than my one thorough job.

The only downside I can think of when it comes to Rosey is the lack of buttons on her top.  I did like having the option of a 'home' button on the Roomba if I ever just wanted to send it back to base.  With Rosey, I'll have to use the app.

So, that would be the review if it was just the Roomba j7+ ...

...but, this is a 'combo'.  And the combo here is that there's also a mop.  iRobot does make a series of robotic mops, their Brava lines, but this is kinda mashing both of them into one.

What happens is that they sacrifice a little of the space of the dirt chamber and make it a tank for some cleaning fluid.  That gets connected to a sprayer on the back end of Rosey and then she has a mop pad (think of like those swiffer style pads) that folds out to just the underside of the back end of Rosey.

The mechanical gizmo that slides the mop pad out and under has enough mechanical force to hold the pad against the ground to get some good friction so it can do a light mopping.

It pumps out a little bit of fluid to help with the cleaning.

Does it do a good job of mopping.  Honestly?  No.  Were Rosey my child, I'd make her redo it if that was the job presented.

The awesome thing about these Roombas are that we can do just that.  Did it do a great job cleaning... have it do another pass.

Or, what we did is we did a very thorough job ourselves ... and then Rosey's just been doing top up work.  Because, in all honesty, some bigger messes, I don't think they're really meant to do.  

That piece of cereal my kid dropped this morning after we all left for work and I see it when I get home at 7pm and it's now hardened, of course I'm not going to expect a robotic cleaner to be able to magically make it go away.  Just like I wouldn't expect it to vacuum up and clean the carpet if I dropped a big piece of cake on it.

There's always going to be some human element of cleaning required.

Where these excel is that they can do the menial amount of work, MULTIPLE times for us so that often it never has to get to a point where we have to a fully thorough job.  We're just there now for the heavy duty issues only.

The downside to this is now we have to always keep an eye on Rosey's cleaning fluid level.

We have a pretty small house, and we would be lucky to have 2 full passes with her for our main cleaning areas before a refill was needed.

That's not a lot.

Luckily, in the app you can tell what kind of cleaning you want, a lot of fluid, medium amount or eco mode.

The amount of fluid they give you in the box is not going to last long, and it took me a while to be able to find some replacement fluid - Canadian Tire has a bottle for $23.

And that's the thing - you HAVE to use Bona fluid - I don't mind, but I could only find it at one store, and it took a while to find it - but almost 4L of it should last us a good while.

In the end, the genius of these devices is that they don't have to be FANTASTIC cleaners.  They do a good job, but because it's so easy to use them, we can have it do it's good job several times, keeping our house at that right level of clean instead of me doing the mad deep cleaning once a week (and let's be honest, do we ALWAYS do that deep cleaning once a week?).  

The icing on the cake is that these iRobots are easily connected to the Google Home network, meaning I can ask any of the Google Assistants in my house to "get Rosey to clean the kitchen counter" and the Assistant will know that Rosey is my Roomba Combo j7+ connected to the app, it'll know in the iRobot app where the kitchen counter zone is and go off and do its job.

Is it worth $1200 ... I think so.  If I add up all the hours that Rosey has already done in the past couple months... seeing how it saved me from doing more work on the weekends or whenever it needs cleaning (and man, with spring starting, there is a lot more sand in our front entrance... if I had to go and lug the vacuum up and down to do that once a week...).

So, get a Roomba, have it help lighten your load of cleaning.