Buy now £469, Irobot.co.uk
Unpacking the i7 was really easy, although the robot unit is quite heavy. You then plug in the charge base and pop the robot on it. The charge base needs to be placed with space all around it. If you have objects too close to the base the robot will have trouble setting off and returning home – this is an issue we had with ours, but it proved easy to rectify.
While the robot is charging, the main light on it will illuminate so you can see what it’s up to. You then need to download the app onto a smart device and pair it with the robot. This is incredibly simple to do and took a matter of minutes. During this process you get to give your roomba a name – we implore you to get creative.
The first time the i7 runs, it’ll take a while to get to grips with your floorplan. But after the first few cleans it will show you a map of your home. You can then name each room and create borders and limits.
You can also use a small device included to mark out invisible borders. For example, you could put it next to your dog’s bowls, so it avoids bumping into them and slopping water everywhere.
We were super impressed with the i7. We have tried other automated vacuums and this was definitely the best. The i7 is adventurous – ours went under our sofas and all the other neglected areas of our house. It’s extremely thorough.
The suction power is decent – it performed really well on all surfaces, and our house was noticeably cleaner after it had run. Thanks to the edge-sweeping brush, it even got under radiators and that awkward bit under kitchen counters.
We would say because of it’s impressive ambition, sometimes our i7 had to be rescued from getting trapped in places, or from trying to suck up items too large – a post-it note proved too big a challenge. But if it does get into trouble while running, it alerts you on the app and tells you what’s wrong so you can fix it quickly and easily. Even when large items got stuck in the bin, it was easy to release them manually. And this was a surprisingly rare occurrence.
One of the stand-out features of the i7 is that you can choose which areas you want it to clean. We absolutely loved this feature, as our kitchen needs much more regular vacuuming than our dining room. And if we’d made a mess in the living room it was just a case of doing a quick clean of that room rather than letting the robot run through the whole house.
The i7 can negotiate small thresholds – a lip in a doorframe, say. However, it cannot do flights of stairs, or even one actual step. This was fine in our house, but might be annoying if your main living floor isn’t all on one level. If you want to run the i7 on an entirely different floor, you can manually take it upstairs, say, and let it run as normal.
We liked that if the i7 detects a build up of dirt in one area, it activates a dirt detect mode. This sees the vacuum cleaner work more thoroughly on a particular area, moving backwards and forwards over it. This was useful under our kitchen table and by the front door – the i7 managed to get virtually everything sucked up.
Once a clean is over, you get a map sent to your phone of where the i7 has been, and where was particularly dirty. We found this feature grimly fascinating – and accurate. There’s something satisfying in seeing all this without having to lift a finger.
You can also choose to have your i7 run when it detects you have left the house. This IFTTT feature uses location services on your phone to see when you’re out. It can also loop into other connected devices, such as an August door look, or an ecobee thermostat, which use similar IFTTT technology. Creepy or ingenious? You decide. This function could be wildly helpful if you went out to work most days. But it’s less useful if you’re just popping to put the bins out, or grab something from the car.
You can also use virtual assistants with the i7. We set up the skill on Alexa, which we found simple to do, and very convenient if we didn’t have our phone nearby, or if someone without the app wanted to control the i7. We could say, “Alexa, ask roomba to vacuum under the kitchen table,” and it would do the rest.
It’s also possible to set a schedule for your roomba so it regularly cleans for you. We set our i7 to run every evening (again, we are a messy household) when we were upstairs putting our kids to bed. This was a brilliant function – it meant we returned downstairs to a clean living room.
The i7 is noisy. You couldn’t watch the TV with it working in the same room. Indeed, you can clearly hear it running downstairs when you’re upstairs. This is great if you like the smug satisfaction of hearing the cleaning going when you’re relaxing., but it’s less good if you have a baby sleeping upstairs, or you want it to run overnight.
From our testing, the i7 uses more power vacuuming carpet than it does hard floors. However, it managed to do a sizeable floorplan without ever running out of batteries.
If it does run out of juice part way through a clean, the i7 returns itself to the charge base and waits until it has enough power to finish the job. Then it goes back out and starts from where it left off.
The verdict: iRobot roomba i7 review
We give the iRobot roomba i7 a solid 9/10. It’s thorough, smart and it really did lighten our load when it came to house work. Yes, it’s expensive, but we think it’s worth the investment for never having to hoover again.