The best-known robot vacuums on the market, iRobot Roombas feature innovative technology to make cleaning your floors as easy as possible. Two of the brand’s more advanced models, the Roomba i8+ and Roomba j8+, offer very similar features, so choosing between these robots can be difficult.
Both the i8+ and j8+ are self-emptying models, meaning they automatically return to their base to empty their bins when full. They offer excellent navigation with the ability to learn your home and remember rooms for targeted cleaning. And when it comes to suction power, they both do equally well on hard surfaces and carpeting.
However, when the BestReviews Testing Lab checked out the i8+ to see how it stacked up to the j8+, there were some areas where it simply couldn’t compete. The j8+, for instance, has a front-facing camera, so it can detect obstacles in its path and go around them, while the i8+ was more likely to get stuck on items like cords and wires. The j8+ also has a longer battery life than the i8+, so it can quickly cover more ground on a single charge.
While the i8+ might work well for spaces without much clutter, the j8+ is the better option, as it offers more convenience for the same price.
Though their cleaning performance is similar, the specs for the i8+ and j8+ are fairly different. In particular, their battery life and navigation software have the most significant impact on the user experience.
Battery life: 89 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.6” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Navigation software: iAdapt 3.0 with vSLAM | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes | Selective room cleaning: Yes | Warranty: 1 year
Released in 2020, the Roomba i8+ has an advertised battery life of 90 minutes, and during testing, it lived up to those claims, cleaning for 89 minutes before recharging. Its dimensions are similar to most other Roomba models, and it has the same dustbin capacity as the j8+. It’s also a self-emptying model, which means that it returns to its base to empty itself when the internal bin is full. The bin in its base can hold 60 days’ worth of debris, so there’s no need to regularly check on it.
The i8+ uses iAdapt 3.0 with vSLAM navigation software, which allows it to learn and map your home. It remembers specific rooms and boundaries, so you can send it out to clean selected rooms rather than the entire floor. However, the i8+ doesn’t detect obstacles in its path, so it can’t react to them in real time and move around them.
Battery life: 150 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.49 lb | Navigation software: PrecisionVision | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes | Selective room cleaning: Yes | Warranty: 1 year
The newer Roomba j8+, which came out in 2022, can clean for over two hours without recharging, making it the longest-running Roomba model. Like the i8+ and most other robot vacuums, it is round. However, the j8+ is a tiny bit shorter than the i8+, so it may fit under more furniture around the house. It is also a self-emptying model, which means its cleaning won’t be interrupted if you don’t know its bin is full.
With a front-facing camera and PrecisionVision navigation, the j8+ doesn’t just learn and remember your home’s layout. It can also detect obstacles in its path and react to them in real time. That means it won’t get stuck on toys, clothes, power cords and wires — or run over pet poop if your pet has an accident.
The Roomba i8+ and j8+ both offer 10 times the suction power of the Roomba 600-series entry-level robots. They also use Roomba’s powerful three-stage cleaning system that helps loosen, lift and remove dirt, hair and debris from carpeting and hard flooring such as vinyl plank, tile, laminate and hardwood.
Suction power can affect how loud a vacuum is, but these models are generally quieter than a standard vacuum, which operates at about 75 decibels. The i8+ typically ranges from 60 to 68 decibels, depending on the type of floor it’s cleaning. The j8+ generally registers 55 to 65 decibels, which is about as noisy as a normal conversation.
Both the i8+ and j8+ have dual multisurface rubber brushes. These brushes are flexible enough to adjust to different flooring types and prevent pet hair from tangling around them. A side, edge-sweeping brush helps move dirt, cat litter and hair away from the edges of a room, so they can pick up the debris better.
The i8+ and j8+ have a high-efficiency filter that traps up to 99% of pet dander and other allergens. These filters must be replaced every two months, but the i8+ includes two extra filters, and the j8+ comes with one extra.
Their dustbins are the same size, but their capacity isn’t especially important because they are both self-emptying models. Their bases hold up to 60 days’ worth of debris, which means a lot less work for you. Both vacuums have their dustbin at the back of the robot and feature a bin-release tab that makes it easy to remove. Their bin-release door is also marked with a bin icon, so you can quickly open the bin when you want to clean it or empty it manually.
The i8+ and j8+ are both round and feature a mainly plastic exterior. The i8+ is gray and black, while the j8+ is black with a black chrome disc that features the iRobot logo on top. They are roughly the same size, though the j8+ is 0.2 inches shorter, so it may fit beneath more furniture.
Both models feature large, rugged side wheels that help them easily transition between different flooring types such as carpet to hardwood. They also have a caster wheel in the front that pops out, so you can clean any hair and dust that might get trapped around it.
Both the i8+ and j8+ have excellent navigation thanks to their smart-mapping capabilities, so they learn and map your home to make cleaning more efficient. They can go on mapping-only runs before cleaning, too, so they focus solely on learning your home’s layout rather than vacuuming. Afterward, they generate a smart map with the rooms labeled and divided, allowing you to then send the robot out to clean specific rooms rather than every area on the floor. Both models can store up to 10 smart maps, letting you use the same robot for every floor of your home.
You can also create Keep-Out Zones for both robots. These zones are areas where you don’t want your Roomba to venture. For example, you might create a Keep-Out Zone around your pet’s bowls so your robot doesn’t bump into them and make a mess while vacuuming.
The most significant difference between the i8+ and j8+’s navigation capabilities is that the j8+ has a front-facing camera rather than a top-mounted camera, so it can “see” objects in front of it. This obstacle-avoidance feature means it can swerve around items instead of bumping into or running over them. In fact, iRobot is so confident in the j8+’s ability to detect objects that it comes with the Pet Owner Official Promise (P.O.O.P. is its humorous acronym), which guarantees that the robot won’t run into pet waste or it will replace your Roomba for free.
Not only does the obstacle-avoidance feature prevent the j8+ from running into pet poop and spreading it all over your floors, but it also means you don’t have to prepare your home before sending it out to clean. If your kids leave toys or laundry scattered across the floor, the j8+ can clean around these items.
On the other hand, the i8+ can get caught on objects like power cords, wires, shoes and even the fringe on a rug, stopping the robot where it is. Unless you don’t mind picking items off the floor before it goes out to vacuum, it isn’t the best option for cluttered homes.
The Roomba i8+ and j8+ are both self-emptying models, so they come with a Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal. When the robot’s internal dustbin is full, it returns to its base, activating its suction power. The base then removes all the dirt from the Roomba’s internal dustbin into the dust bag at the top of the base. Both models’ self-emptying feature works the same, but their Clean Bases are different sizes. While roughly the same width, the i8+’s Clean Base is 19 inches tall, and the j8+’s base is 15.8 inches tall. Because the j8+’s base is more compact, you may have an easier time finding a spot for it, such as beneath an end table.
While the j8+’s battery lasts about an hour longer than the i8+’s, it should be noted that both models have the Recharge and Resume feature. When the robot is low on power, it automatically returns to its base to recharge for just long enough to complete the job it was doing. It then goes back to where it left off and finishes cleaning before returning to the base to fully recharge, requiring no effort from you.
The i8+ also came with a Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier, a small device that emits an invisible wall only the Roomba can detect to keep it out of certain areas. During testing, we successfully used it in Virtual Wall mode to prevent the i8+ from going into a cluttered laundry room. The device also has a Halo mode, which is designed to create a circular boundary around areas or items. However, we didn’t have as much success with this mode when we placed the device near pet bowls to prevent spills; the robot still bumped into the bowls and even moved the device itself a few inches.
Both the i8+ and j8+ offer Wi-Fi connectivity and are compatible with home assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This makes it possible to use voice commands to control them. They respond to basic commands like “start vacuuming,” “return to home base” and “schedule vacuuming,” as well as more advanced prompts like “vacuum the living room” or “vacuum under the dining table.”
Like all Wi-Fi-connected Roombas, the i8+ and j8+ use the iRobot Home app for setup and operation. You can send the robots out to map or clean an area directly from the app. You can also use the app to schedule cleaning, customize your smart maps, adjust your cleaning preferences and even check how many cleaning hours are left for your Roomba’s filter and brushes before they need to be replaced.
Various components of a Roomba need to be cleaned to keep it running properly. iRobot recommends that you clean the i8+’s and j8+’s brushes weekly. If you have pets, though, they suggest you do it twice a week. Fortunately, both models have anti-tangle brush rolls, so it’s easy to remove any hair from the brushes with your fingers.
Roombas also have sensors that need to be cleaned for the best performace. Wiping them with a soft, dry cloth will remove dirt and dust that could affect navigation.
In addition to the high-efficiency filters that require replacement every two months, the robots’ multisurface and edge-sweeping brushes should be replaced every six to 12 months. If you are unsure whether you need a new filter or brushes, check the Product Health tab in the iRobot Home app to see whether these components are due for replacement.
Our testing started with capturing basic stats, so we timed the battery life on a single charge and how long the battery took to recharge when fully drained. We also noted how long it took to clean an entire room, including the square footage of the space.
To better understand performance and suction power, we ran tests on both hard flooring and carpeting. We placed different types of debris, including coarse salt, pet hair, kitty litter and cereal, and observed how many passes it took to clean the mess. We also tested other features, such as obstacle avoidance, mapping, scheduling and voice commands, to see how much convenience was added.
Both models were first released as Costco exclusives but are now sold elsewhere. The Roomba i8+ regularly costs $899.99 and is available at Best Buy and Walmart. The Roomba j8+ costs $899.99. You can find it at Costco and Walmart. However, you can often find both models on sale.
While they offer similar suction power and convenience, the Roomba j8+ bests the i8+ in two key areas — battery life and obstacle avoidance. It can clean for more than two hours before recharging, so it’s ideal for large homes. Its ability to detect objects in its path makes it an excellent option for pet owners with dogs or cats that might poop on the floor as well as cluttered family homes where toys and other items are often lying around. Though the Roomba i8+ is a solid vacuum, you’ll have to pick power cords, wires and other items off the floor before it cleans to keep it from getting stuck.
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.