• Original review date: November 2022
• Newer Roomba Combo J9 Plus now out
• Launch price: $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199
• Official price now: The same, though frequently discounted by circa. $200 / £200 / AU$400
Updated: January 2024. While it's no longer iRobot's leader of the pack, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus still stands as one of the best robot vacuums. Still, we imagine it'll move to a slightly lower position once we've been able to test the more premium Combo J9 Plus. The J7 Plus is regularly discounted at this point; as of writing, it's £749 / AU$1899, and we've seen prices drop to $899 in the US previously during Black Friday. Especially at this discounted price, it's well worth the money, offering one of the most thorough and intelligent cleans we've seen. The rest of this review remains as previously published.
The Roomba Combo J7 Plus (stylized as Roomba Combo j7+) is a revelation. It’s without doubt one of the best robot vacuums on the market right now, thanks to the fantastic features we’ve come to expect from iRobot, and the fact that it can mop too. It’s the first of its kind, introducing a new retractable mop pad mechanic that marks a significant improvement over the bottom-mounted mop pads we’re used to seeing on robovacs, with which there was a risk of dampening carpets.
Otherwise, it mirrors the vacuum-only iRobot Roomba J7 Plus in almost every way – which is no bad thing, considering we were impressed by its intelligence, suction power, and design elements such as the dual rubber brushes that prevent hair from becoming tangled around the brush bar. Mapping is superb, and as the robot learns more about your home, it will suggest areas that might need more attention.
As one of the pioneers in the robovac market, it’s no surprise to see great quality from iRobot. While this model isn’t quite as premium as the Roomba S9 Plus in terms of its suction power, the J7 Plus still holds its own, collecting dust and debris from both hard floors and carpets with relative ease.
It’s an incredibly smart machine, armed with a full gamut of exciting smart features, including object and dirt detection. These are powered by built-in AI that can spot the most common items cluttering your home, and your pets, cleaning around them without incident. Plus, it can pick up particles as small as 0.7 microns and can detect and avoid pet poop, making it perfect for pet owners. Note that iRobot regularly updates its operating system, so you can expect to see new functions added to your bot in the future.
As with other iRobot models, the “Plus” suffix refers to the inclusion of a larger base station that facilitates automatic dirt disposal. After each clean, or whenever the 14oz / 0.4-liter internal dustbin is full, the vacuum will empty itself into a 57oz / 1.7-liter bag in its home base, which can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt, depending on how regularly you clean your floors. Using this feature does mean you’ll have to consider the longer-term cost of replacing the bags, however.
All of these features make the iRobot Roomba J7 Plus one of the most hassle and hands-free robot vacuum cleaners we’ve tested, and during our time using it, we also noticed a reduction in the amount of time we spent cleaning – a real boon when life gets in the way. However, this robot vacuum is very expensive at $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199, so you definitely pay for the privilege of a low-maintenance cleanup.
Keep in mind though that Roomba Black Friday deals are live now. You might find this model at a heavily discounted price.
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus price & availability
- List price: $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199
The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus robot vacuum and mop is currently available online, and can be bought directly from the iRobot store and Amazon for $1,099.99 / £999.99 / AU$2,199. As well as the self-emptying base, the Plus model comes with two AllergenLock bags, an extra filter, and a spare side brush. If you want to skip out on the base, the regular Roomba Combo J7 will set you back £799 / AU$1,699; as of writing, only the Plus package is available in the US.
There’s no denying this cleaner is expensive, and if this sophisticated robot vacuum’s many bells and whistles don’t appeal to you, it definitely won’t be money well spent. However, especially compared to budget-friendly vacuums, the intelligence and low-maintenance nature of this cleaner make it well worth the money for those with busy lifestyles or an aversion to cleaning. Plus, the mopping function adds only $200 / £100 / AU$400 to the price tag of the regular J7.
Of course, there are ongoing costs to consider, too. You’ll need to replace the self-emptying base station’s vacuum bags if you intend to use this feature regularly, and if you want a deeper clean with the mop pad than just using water, you’ll want to pick up some of the iRobot-approved cleaning solution, too.
Value: 4 / 5
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus design
- Self-emptying bin
- Retractable mop pad
- 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin
In most ways, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus mirrors its regular vacuum-only sibling, the Roomba J7 Plus. It’s an all-black beauty with a matte black casing and a gunmetal disc on its flush top. Here, you’ll also find its very minimalist control system: one button you can press to pause and start the vacuum or hold for five seconds to send it home. Measuring 13.3 x 13.3 x 3.4 inches / 33.8 x 33.8 x 8.6cm (h x w x d), it has relatively good clearance but will struggle with some lower-down furnishings.
Of course, the big difference is the retractable mop pad, which sits on the top of the vacuum at the rear. When called upon, the mop pad lifts and tucks beneath the unit in an incredibly satisfying, smooth motion - it's a real feat of design. You can attach the mop pads to the arm easily by sliding and clicking in the snap-fit attachments.
The front half of the vacuum is surrounded by a plastic bumper, which has a window through which the robovac’s detectors can sense its surroundings and obstacles. On its underside, there are two bidirectional wheels and one swivel wheel, a three-armed side brush to flick debris out of corners and away from walls, and dual rubber brush bars. These bars are designed to be flexible, working across floor types without damaging them, and preventing hair from becoming tangled.
On the rear half, there’s the 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin, which can be ejected by pressing the tactile panel next to it. This is also where you’ll find the liquid chamber – and, unlike some other robot vacuums and mops, the Roomba Combo J7 Plus is cleaning solution-compatible, arriving with a sample bottle of iRobot cleaning solution that won’t damage your device. iRobot’s help section suggests Bona Hardwood/Hard Surface Cleaner is safe to use, too.
As with previous models, the Combo J7 Plus comes with plenty of swish features that are designed to make life easier. Instead of manually controlling suction, the clever robovac can detect dirtier areas and increase power if need be, which doubles as a great battery conservation feature if you want thorough cleaning but can’t supervise the vacuum to adjust its suction settings in dirtier rooms. The built-in camera helps the robot navigate intelligently, but also detects obstacles and hazards – from socks to stairs. And, of course, this model comes with iRobot’s Pet Ownership Official Promise – also known as P.O.O.P – to detect and avoid pet messes, thus preventing nasty clean-up jobs.
This model includes iRobot’s Clean Base with automatic dirt disposal. Unfortunately, it can’t clean your mop pads or refill the water tank, but considering it does just about everything else, we’ll let that slide. The clean base measures 12.55 x 13.39 x 15.35 inches / 31.9 x 34 x 39cm and needs clearance of 1.5ft / 0.5m on each side and 4ft / 1.2m in front. Like the vacuum itself, the base is all-black with some textured accents, and a brown-leather tag provides easy access to the bin.
Under the base hood, there’s a pre-fitted cleaning bag and one spare in a neat little compartment that reduces the need for extra external storage space – although additional space to house a spare mop pad and side brush would have been welcome. The vacuum bags can hold up to 60 days of dirt, according to iRobot, and the LED indicator on the front of the canister will turn red when the dirt bag is full.
Design: 5 / 5
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus performance
- Fantastic pickup on both carpet and hard floor
- Object detection works wonderfully
- Mop works well once it soaks through
As we’ve highlighted earlier in this review, the iRobot Combo J7 Plus vacuums to the same high standard as the non-mopping J7 Plus model. It performs well on hard floors, collecting both fine debris and larger crumbs, although with larger spills in particular, the side brush will often make a meal of flicking the litter across the floor, which extends cleaning time.
Large spills of fine powders such as those in our flour and biscuit test will be tracked across the floor by the bot, and when overwhelmed by such debris, the vacuum throws some of it back on the ground when making its way to the charging station to unload. When it returned to the floor to finish the job, it mostly collected the remnants; however, some of the oats that had been flung further afield were missed. Of course, the frequency with which your robot vacuum will be collecting large amounts of concentrated debris is fairly minimal. During a regular clean, the vacuum is very systematic and successful at sucking up standard household grime; we never once saw it creating any mess.
As stated earlier, there’s no manual control option for suction power on the Combo J7 Plus. Instead, it intelligently detects the dirt level on the floor and makes adjustments itself accordingly. The bot will maintain a winding route around your home while cleaning, but if it detects a messier space, it will pause to go over it before resuming on its path. Similarly, when encountering an obstacle, the bot will pause, find a way around whatever clutter it has identified (we tested with socks, wires and toys), either avoiding the object to continue its journey from the next logical place, or intentionally nudging larger, non-furniture obstacles such as toys out of its way.
The standout feature with the Combo J7 Plus is, of course, its mopping ability, and we were really impressed by how it performed. We were concerned that the mop pad wouldn’t dock neatly below the unit, or that its arms would be too delicate to deliver the pressure required to mop floors well. On the contrary, the Combo J7 Plus was capable of giving our floors a lovely shine-up, especially when we used the cleaning solution sample included with the vacuum. In the app, you can decide for each of your favorite cleaning modes whether you’d like to use a minimal, medium or maximum dose of liquid.
There are a few drawbacks. First, the mop pad takes a while to soak through; in our test, we had to wait about 5 minutes during the cleaning process before we saw consistent, non-streaky results. If the water tank is full, it can also sometimes leave the odd drip mark. If you’re planning to use the mopping function regularly, note that you’ll lose some of the hands-free perks of the self-emptying base station. All of the mopping features, from replacing and cleaning the mop pads to refilling the liquid, are entirely manual.
However, there’s no doubt that the Combo J7 Plus offers a mopping experience that’s far superior to anything we’ve yet seen in a combination robot vacuum and mop. Once it gets going, the mop is great – and it left our floors shiny and mark-free.
The Combo J7 Plus treats carpets with care, giving them a thorough clean before moving on to mop and vacuum the floors. We tested our vacuum to see if we could trick it into mopping our bathroom rug, by moving it around before and during a cleaning cycle. However, the clever little bot was more than capable of identifying the change in texture and storing away its mop so as to not damage or dampen the carpet.
In general, the Combo J7 Plus was fairly quiet as it made its way around our home, registering a maximum of 68dB on our decibel meter – generally, it’s even quieter, but the volume rises by around 5dB when the vacuum natively boosts its suction. However, we had a nasty shock when it returned to base for the first time. The noise of the self-emptying function scared the living daylights out of us, registering a colossal 90dB – and while it lasts for only a few seconds, it’s loud enough that we’d strongly recommend against using it in any circumstance where you need to be noise-conscious.
Performance: 4.5 / 5
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus app
- Can set vacuum to clean while you’re out
- Snaps any obstacles or errors
- Works with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant
If we were to summarise the iRobot app in three words, they’d be “peace of mind”. The app exists to make owning the Combo J7 Plus as easy and intelligent as possible, guiding you through the initial mapping phase, all the way through to voice assistant setup and map customization. There are tips and reminders, you can check the lifespan of the vacuum’s components, and you can even name your vacuum – we called ours Buttercup!
Since there are no advanced manual controls on the vacuum, the app plays a huge role in managing this robovac. It’s always preferable to give customers the option, but it makes sense to push people towards the app when you consider how many of those price-inflating features depend on user interaction.
Mapping is excellent, and it doesn’t end after your robot’s initial mapping task; the Combo J7 Plus continues to learn. It can detect different surface types and provides estimations in the app of where different rooms start and end. Even in larger, split rooms like our testing environment, it was able to identify where the living room space ended and where the kitchen/dining room began. It also noted the area in my kitchen where I most often stand to cook as a cleaning zone that requires more attention, notifying me in the app that it had a new recommendation.
The zoning feature also helped us solve a particular challenge we face with robot vacuums: doorstops. Living in an apartment with heavy fire doors that close without a doorstop isn’t the best setup for a robot vacuum that can’t open doors, and the bot doesn’t yet recognize doorstops as an obstacle, so it frequently dislodged them. However, with the zoning tool, we were able to fence off the area where our door is and stop the vacuum from imprisoning itself.
App: 5 / 5
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus battery
- Takes roughly two hours to recharge
- Difficult to tell how much charge remains
- Intelligent recharging while job is paused
Overall, the battery specs of the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus are something of a beautiful mystery; there’s no official word from iRobot on the length of the battery life, but we found it pretty difficult to drain. We were able to complete three full cleans (mopping and vacuuming) of our one-bedroom apartment and still have battery life to spare, so it can last at least 120 minutes.
The vacuum will automatically return to its base between jobs, or if it runs out of battery during a task, the spinning circular light around the button on its lid will let you know when it’s finished charging, shifting to illuminate just the lower half of the button. It does use a “very small amount of energy” when docked, says iRobot, but it’s possible to change its settings in the app to reduce this further.
Battery: 5 / 5
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus score card
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- First reviewed: November 2022