iRobot – soon to be owned by Amazon – announces the flagship Roomba with a new feature: it can vacuum and wash at the same time. Meet Roomba Combo j7 +, a $ 1,100 combo cleaning robot that will be delivered on October 4.
iRobot doesn’t redesign the j7 + series from scratch to add mop functionality. In fact, the update almost looks like a modernization. The new j7 looks the same as the old j7 with a camera on the front, a large dust container on the back, and a layout on the bottom that is almost identical to the old bot. There’s a new dust box and … is that a rear spoiler?
The functionality of the mop is based on Top (yes, top) the j7 + which now has a large cutout on the back. The top of this cutout is made of plastic and the bottom is a wet mop pad which is connected to the robot by two side arms. When it’s time to wipe, there’s a dramatic Transformers-like transition. The two flaps on the side of Roomba open, revealing that the top mop cutout is actually connected to the robot by a pair of rocker arms. The cutout section on top of the robot is raised and sways down and underneath the robot with a large, 180-degree movement. You now drag the wet mop across the floor with minimal j7 + layout changes.
It doesn’t look like the j7 + will deliver a top-notch iRobot mopping experience, which will still be part of the purpose-built Braava Jet M6. The dedicated iRobot mop beats the j7 + as approximately 50 percent of Braava’s body is a water tank that has a front water sprayer. The J7 + has a redesigned dust container that is now a dust and water container. The dust area is smaller to make room for the 210ml water tank. This means a lot less dust capacity, but it doesn’t really matter as Roomba will just visit the base station to clean up every time the bin is full.
The most modern combo cleaners are probably the $ 1,400 Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra or the $ 1,550 Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni, both of which have a dust bin and the robot’s water tank along with a giant base station that empties the robot of dust, fills it with fresh water, then cleans the mop and stores the waste water in a separate tank. iRobot has a long way to go to make up for it.
The rocker arm kit looks cool, but you have to wonder about its longevity. These robots endure a lot of abuse, bumping into anything and constantly dealing with dust – that’s just the nature of the job. Such a lot of movement requires a lot of little moving parts and tiny pivot points. Something like the Roborock just has a mop permanently attached to the bottom of the robot and the mop configuration is on a suspension with a variable height so you can lift it up slightly to avoid touching the carpet. This works for thinner rugs, but if you have serious piles, the robot can sink too deep and wet the rug. IRobot says the rocker arm configuration was designed to avoid this.
The iRobot press release casts a shadow over the competition, saying: “Other 2-in-1 mops only lift a few millimeters – if at all – and can leave a wet mess on many carpets or rugs as a result. The Roomba Combo j7 + is the only 2-in-1 mop device that floats to the top of the robot, completely away from carpet and rugs Two fully retractable, durable metal mop arms raise the mop pad when the robot senses the carpet and rugs, preventing unwanted wet messes “.
The new combo bot is now available for pre-order.
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Photo from the auction by Roomba