If you’re as cleaning-averse as us you’ll agree that the robot vacuum is the king of smart home devices. Or at least it was, before the dual-purpose Roomba Combo j7+ rocked up. This is the first robot vac that vacuums and mops, without you having to be present to switch between modes. So you can be out of your home, enjoying life, while your robotic pal sucks and swabs. It’ll even empty itself when it’s done.
Costing $1100/£999, the Roomba Combo j7+ is an ultra-premium product, aimed squarely at affluent smart home aficionados. It’s the most expensive and best of iRobot’s high end Combo models, and the only one that avoids obstacles like toys, pet waste, socks and shoes. Even the dirt-illuminating Dyson Gen5 Detect is easier on the wallet. It’s difficult to compare it to the king of standard vacs though, seeing as it’s a robot, which also mops… can it fully handle all your cleaning needs?
Roomba Combo j7+ features
This is a nicely designed bit of tech – it’s modern looking but not wildly futuristic, in spun metal with matte finish with a one-button design. The bin and tank are integrated and it’s a tidy looking unit, that you won’t mind being on show.
The Roomba Combo j7+ comes with a docking station called a ‘Clean Base’ which handles the automatic dirt disposal feature. In the first few cleans using the robot, which you control via the iRobot app, it creates a Smart Map of your home and automatically identifies, and marks on the Smart Map, which areas of your home have hard floors, carpet and rugs, thanks to its floor detect sensors.
The Roomba Combo j7+ offers all the iRobot robot vacuum cleaning features, in addition to mopping capabilities – so you aren’t getting a lesser vacuum because of the mop. iRobot’s four stage cleaning system uses an edge-sweeping brush, dual multi-surface rubber brushes, power-lifting suction and the first-of-its-kind mopping.
The robot’s PrecisionVision Navigation system saves you from cleaning up before it gets to work, which is reassuring if you use it on a schedule when you aren’t at home. The robot can specifically clean around objects like sofas, tables and kitchen islands and can also automatically detect and proactively recommend Clean Zones around dishwashers, toilets, ovens and pet areas.
New to the Roomba Combo j7+ is the front-facing camera with an LED light, which helps it detect and avoid obstacles, as well as being the primary navigation sensor. The robot also uses the camera to take shots of obstacles, for you to review later on, in the app.
The ability to pair the robot with smart assistants is great: you don’t even have to use the app to get started, just tell it to clean specific rooms or by specific objects in your home and it’ll get to work. iRobot say that the Roomba Combo j7+ understands approximately 600 voice commands (more than any other 2-in-1) and it did indeed understand everything we asked it to do.
In addition to automatically emptying into the Clean Base at the end of a clean (or when full and then carrying on), the enclosed bag inside the base goes a couple of months without needing to be changed. Roomba Combo j7+ tells you when it needs emptying and changing is simple and we are pleased to say there was no dust cloud.
iRobot OS 5.0 Home Intelligence
iRobot OS sees new and improved features with this model, including expanded object recognition for more cleaning on command, navigation of every floor’s obstacle course, and a continued focus on delivering more pet features than previous robots.
The iRobot OS visual vocabulary expansion sees it recommend clean zones to you – around pet bowls for example (obviously you can set ones not recommended by the robot too). So, using Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant-enabled devices, you can simply tell it to “clean around the dog’s bowls.”
Another nice touch is that the Roomba Combo j7+ updates automatically, so users will continue to benefit from new software.
Roomba Combo j7+ performance
Having just shelled out for a plush new carpet, I was a little apprehensive about letting a robot with a reservoir filled with floor cleaner on the loose. 2-in-1 models have a bad rep for wet messes, but sometimes you got to just trust the tech, right?
Turns out the Roomba Combo j7+ is a safe bet and incredibly well behaved. So, once it’s learnt your space and created the Smart Map, it will vacuum all carpets and rugs in a room, before travelling to the hard floor spaces, lower its mopping pad and simultaneously vacuum and mop all the hard floors in that room. When it’s done, it lifts the mop pad to the very top of the unit and then move to the next room and repeat the process. So basically, whenever the mop pad isn’t being used it’s stowed safely away on the top of the robot and not leaking on the carpet.
In terms of the clean you get – it’s a proper job for both vacuuming and mopping. The size and shape of the Roomba Combo j7+ means it gets under most sofas and units etc – areas where dust often builds up when you’re doing the hard work yourself. For a circular vac it handles corners pretty well, with its wide radius brush earning it’s keep. In terms of the mopping, the design of the robot is faultless for keeping carpets safe but it also gives a lovely through mop and leaves the floor practically dry as it goes. The only thing it can’t do is stairs.
Clever beast that it is, the Roomba Combo j7+ recognises more than 80 common household objects. This knowledge is what enables the robot to clean more specific places on command, like around toilet bowls, dishwashers etc. – very handy. When the robot is cleaning, it’s not just learning and remapping your home as needed, it reacts to it in real time (using what iRobot call ‘PrecisionVision Navigation’) so it identifies and avoids common obstacles, such as cords, clothes, shoes, socks, backpacks, pet bowls, pet toys and any child/pet accidents too. We tested it extensively and not once did it knock something over or suck up anything but dust and dirt.
Roomba Combo j7+ verdict
It’s no exaggeration to say the Roomba Combo j7+ has changed the way I live at home during this test. With a young family and a dog, the ability to set ‘Robert’ as my son affectionally calls him, a weekly clean schedule for both vacuuming and mopping has freed up more time for fun stuff. Being able to send him off to isolated areas to clear up spills etc. has also made life less stressful and I love that he’s quiet, too. Good old Robert. My old vac has been relegated to stairs and upholstery duty.
This particular model is a truly hands-free affair as you don’t have to touch the robot at all – not to change between sucking and mopping and not even to empty it afterwards. You will of course have to carry the Roomba Combo j7+ up and down stairs but it is clever enough to detect the drop of stairs, so wont throw itself down. The mapping feature works excellently and reviewing the photos the robot takes highlighting obstacles and marking them as temporary or changing to keep out zones, helps make sure you get the perfect clean every time and is, dare I say, actually quite fun…
In terms of features, performance and usability the Roomba Combo j7+ is a truly an excellent bit of kit. If you have a grand to spend on a vac, it’s absolutely worth the money.
A brilliant robot vac and mop that cleans excellently and is easy and (ahem) fun to use thanks to its great features and App.
Easy to setup
Offers an excellent clean
True hands-free operation
Can’t clean stairs
Roomba Combo j7+ technical specifications
|Wi-Fi, smartphone companion app