iRobot’s Combo j7 Plus is iRobot’s smartest and most powerful robot yet

iRobot’s new robotic vacuum cleaners are smarter and more powerful, and the mopping robot can scrub floors deeper. At least, that’s what the company is claiming when it launches its latest flagship products: the $1,399 Roomba Combo j9 Plus vacuum/mop and the $899 j9 Plus vacuum. Both models are available for pre-order now in the United States and Canada. iRobot also launched two mid-range robot vacuums that can mop last week.

What robot is it Feeling of pressure clearly of its many competitors. These latest models focus on bringing more intelligence, power and cleaning routines to keep up with the likes of Ecovacs, Roborock and Dreame, who are releasing cooler home cleaning robots than ever before.

Let’s start with Combo j9 Plus. It has the same retractable mop system as the Combo j7, which deftly lifts the robotic mop up and over the vacuum so it doesn’t touch your carpets. Most competitions deal with the problem of dragging dirty mops over the carpet by raising their mop pads a few millimeters, which can be a problem with high-pile carpets.

I liked the retractable mop when I tested the Combo j7, but actual mopping was fine — it didn’t really scrub, and was easily outdone by the swing-out mop pads and rotating mop heads of combo vacuums from Roborock and others.

iRobot’s answer to the competition, which it calls SmartScrub, He is Actually very smart. Instead of redesigning the mopping device, iRobot makes the entire robot move back and forth, mimicking the way you scrub the floor with a manual mop.

It does not do this in every room; SmartScrub combines with another new software feature called Dirt Detective (more on this later) to target rooms that are likely to need it, like kitchens and entryways. You can also choose to enable it on a room-by-room basis in the app. Best of all, SmartScrub also comes to Combo j7 Plus via software update.

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The Roomba Combo j9 Plus is iRobot’s latest flagship robot that features higher suction power, a self-emptying charging base that refills its cleaning tank tank, and can be used as a side table.
Image: iRobot

Another new feature of the Combo j9 is the redesigned auto charge/discharge base which now automatically refills the mop water tank. This is something I felt was missing when I reviewed the Combo j7 Plus; You must manually refill the mop tank.

The lower-priced $899 j9 Plus is a deflated-only version of the j9 Plus Combo and comes with the same dock as the j7. Both new models have the same AI obstacle avoidance feature that arrived in the Roomba line with the j7 — so we’ll avoid the common household clutter and dog poop that robotics companies believe is all over our homes. It is important to note that this feature uses a camera located in the vacuum cleaner.

The company also says that the j9 Plus models are the most powerful Roomba models yet. iRobot doesn’t release Pa numbers but says it’s 100 percent more powerful than the i-series. (However, iRobot’s suction power claims sometimes seem deliberately obtuse – its website says that both the j-series and i-series are 10 times stronger than the 600 series, while the s9 is 40 times stronger. Assuming the j9 is stronger Twice the series i-series, and that’s still only half As powerful as the S9. We’ve reached out to iRobot for clarification.)

The new robots will avoid the common household clutter and dog feces that robotics companies believe are all over our homes

Both new models come with iRobot OS version 7.0, which introduces an interesting feature called Dirt Detective. This identifies the dirtiest rooms in your home and cleans them first. iRobot says this Analyzes past cleaning preferences, patterns and timing to automatically prioritize rooms that need the most attention.

Dirt Detective works with a feature introduced in iRobot OS 6.0 that automatically identifies room types using the built-in camera. So, the room containing the refrigerator and oven could be the kitchen (you can set these names in the app). They’re also smart enough to know how to clean the bathroom last, avoiding the possibility of smearing any bathroom debris on your carpets.

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The J9 Combo dock adds a water tank (top) and more storage space for bags and spare mop pads, plus a wooden table on top.
Image: iRobot

The j9 Plus has the same dock as the j7 Plus. It charges the robot and empties the trash automatically.
Image: iRobot

Interestingly, the new Combo j9 dock does not have a dirty water tank – a feature found in competing docks from Roborock and Ecovacs. This is because it does not clean the mop pad; Instead, you are expected to remove and wash it. This eliminates the possibility of cluttered sinks, which is a real risk with new multi-function sinks if you don’t keep them clean. However, the Roomba’s mop is thinner and smaller than competing mops, so I’m skeptical about how effective it is.

iRobot is finally bringing suction level options to its vacuums

The Roomba’s auto-empty dock, which remains for the j9 Plus, is the best-designed of the current crop of docks, and feels more like a piece of furniture than most. A fun feature is that the new j9 Combo base can also be a piece of furniture; They designed the top to be a side table.

iRobot also says its new dock is quieter than the previous version when emptying automatically — a process that, in the current dock, sounds a lot like a jet engine whizzing into your living room.

Speaking of quiet, iRobot is finally offering suction level options to its vacuums. On J9 models only, you can now choose between low, medium and high suction levels in the app. As an option on every other robot vacuum, iRobot has never allowed users to have this type of control before. The main benefit is the ability to run the vacuum on a low level when you are home without disturbing you or your family members.

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The Dirt Detective feature in the Roomba j9 line will customize settings such as suction strength and the number of cleaning passes from room to room.
Image: iRobot

I spoke to Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, prior to the launch, and he explained that the strategy with these new robots is to go back to basics with robotic vacuum cleaners. “The features you’re supposed to want are spinning pads and lasers [lidar navigation]“And long battery life,” he said. “But what you really need is cleaning, ease of use, and will it get back on the sidewalk.”

He’s not wrong here – it doesn’t matter how many cool features a robot has; If you get stuck, you won’t clean your house. In my testing of robots with rotary mops, I noticed that they were more likely to get stuck; Large mops stuck to the side are an obvious trip hazard. However, they do a good job of cleaning your floors. We’ll have to see if the combo j9’s new cleaning procedure makes up for that once I get these new models to test.

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