iRobot’s Roombas are some of the most innovative robot vacuums on the market, and the brand’s newest models, the Roomba j7 and Roomba j7+, offer intriguing features you can’t find anywhere else. Deciding the between the two isn’t easy, though, because the two robots are incredibly similar.
Released in 2021, both models run for just over 90 minutes and boast extremely advanced navigation, allowing them to react quickly to obstacles. They can also clean specific rooms and avoid areas where you don’t want them to clean. However, there are some significant differences — the two models differ in price, and the j7 requires manual emptying, while the j7+ is self-emptying.
The BestReviews Testing Lab put the j7 and j7+ to work in real-world conditions to see how they match up. After careful consideration, we give the j7+ the edge because its self-emptying base eliminates much of the maintenance required with a robot vacuum. However, if you’re on a budget, the j7 is still an excellent model that costs a couple hundred less.
The j7 and j7+ are identical robot vacuums except for their base, so their specs match up almost exactly.
Battery life: 97 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: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes | Selective room cleaning: Yes | Warranty: 1 Year
Like most robot vacuums, the Roomba j7 is round. It is roughly the same size as most other Roombas we tested and has the same dimensions as the j7+. It also has the same dustbin capacity, though this detail is more important for the j7 because it can’t empty itself like the j7+. During testing, it cleaned for over an hour and a half just like the j7+ and many other premium robot vacuums. Its charging time was just under two hours, which was almost similar to most Roombas we tested.
The j7 has a front-facing camera and uses PrecisionVision navigation to map a home. Because of this advanced software, it, along with the j7+ and j7+ Combo, is one of the few Roomba models that offers obstacle avoidance. That means it can react to objects in its path in real time. It also learns your home’s layout and remembers rooms, so you can send it out to clean specific areas.
Battery life: 97 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 Roomba j7+ is similar in size to other robot vacuums, matching up to the j7 exactly in its dimensions. During testing, it cleaned for more than 90 minutes on a single charge, which is about what we expect from premium robot vacuums. Its battery then needed an hour and 58 minutes to fully recharge afterward. Its 0.4-liter dustbin is the same size as the j7s. However, the j7+ has the ability to empty itself into its base’s dust bag when its internal bin is full, so you never have to worry about it getting interrupted in the middle of cleaning.
The j7+ uses the same PrecisionVision navigation software as the j7, so it offers smart mapping and obstacle avoidance. The smart maps allow it to learn your floor plan and rooms, so you can clean specific areas or the entire floor. It can store multiple maps, too, which means it can vacuum all your floors efficiently. Its obstacle avoidance also prevents it from running into cords, wires, toys and even pet poop.
Read more: iRobot Roomba j7+
The j7 and j7+ both offer 10 times the suction power as the Roomba 600 series robots, so they perform similarly on both hard flooring and carpeting.
We tested the robots on medium-pile carpeting and low-pile rugs and discovered they could successfully remove most types of debris. Both robots successfully captured pet hair on medium-pile carpeting, removing an entire clump in a single pass. They also did a fine job vacuuming up coarse kosher salt, kitty litter and cereal on carpeting but required a second pass to remove every particle. We found that their anti-tangle rubber brush roll helped them maintain effective suction on carpeting because the brushes never got stuck with hair, which can block proper airflow.
Both the j7 and j7+ had even better suction on hard flooring, including laminate, tile, vinyl plank and hardwood. The robots captured all the pet hair we placed in their path in a single pass but needed a second pass for kosher salt, kitty litter and cereal because they sometimes blew the particles out of their path. This is an issue that most Roombas we tested ran into, though.
Because their suction power is identical, the j7 and j7+ make the same amount of noise when cleaning. They both register around 60 decibels on carpeting and 65 decibels on hard flooring. A standard vacuum usually hits between 75 and 85 decibels, so these robots are noticeably quieter.
The j7 and j7+ are identical in appearance and design. They are round and feature a black plastic exterior with a stainless steel disc on top that features the iRobot logo. Both models have a front-facing camera and a headlight at the front, too.
As noted, these robots also have an anti-tangle rubber brush roll rather than traditional bristle brushes. The rubber brushes are flexible, so they prevent hair from wrapping around and getting tangled. During testing in an area with two medium to large dogs, these models never had an issue with their brushes getting stuck. After they finished cleaning, we didn’t observe much hair on the brush rolls — and the hair we did see was easily removed with our fingers.
The j7 and j7+ have two large, rugged side wheels and a front caster wheel. The side wheels are highly durable and provide good traction for the robots, while the caster wheel pops out to make it easier to clean. The wheels also allowed both models to successfully transition between different floor types. They moved effortlessly between carpeting and rugs, carpeting and hardwood and hardwood to carpet. However, they struggled once or twice going from hardwood to rugs or runners with a thicker, banded edge, so they sometimes had to back up and make a second attempt to get over the edge.
Along with the j7+ Combo, the j7 and j7+ are the only Roomba models with a front-facing camera and PrecisionVision Navigation to learn and map a floor plan. We sent the robots out for mapping runs before cleaning, and both models needed just about 30 minutes to fully map a 350-square-foot area. The maps generated were highly accurate, with more than half the rooms correctly identified after just one mapping run.
Both the j7 and j7+ can store up to 10 smart maps, so you can have one for every floor or area of your home. They also allow for Keep-Out Zones, so we created one around the pet bowls in our testing area. Both robots successfully avoided the zone every time we sent them out to clean.
But the most impressive navigation feature for these models is their obstacle avoidance. Their PrecisionVision Navigation lets them sense objects in their path, so they can move around them without bumping into them. We placed a handbag, a shoe and a stuffed dog toy in their path, and both the j7 and j7+ “saw” the objects and swerved around them without making contact. The same thing happened when we stepped in front of the robots — they pivoted away without touching our feet.
The j7+ stands out from the j7 for its ability to empty itself into its specialized base called the Clean Base. If it senses its dustbin is full during cleaning, it returns to the Clean Base. When it’s fully seated in the base, suction is activated to pull all the dirt inside the robot into the dust bag at the base’s top. The base’s dust bag can hold up to 60 days’ worth of dirt, so you only have to empty it every couple of months.
On the other hand, the j7 doesn’t have a self-emptying base. When its dustbin is full, you must manually empty its contents into the trash. If you are unaware the bin is full, the robot’s cleaning is interrupted until you intervene.
Both the j7 and j7+ have built-in Wi-Fi and allow you to use voice commands via a home assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. You can give the robots basic commands, such as “start vacuuming” or “stop vacuuming,” as well as more complex prompts, like “vacuum the living room.” We connected the robots to Alexa to test the voice commands and found they were highly responsive, acting within seconds based on our prompts.
To better understand how the j7 and j7+ perform, we timed how long their batteries lasted and how long they took to recharge when fully drained. We noted how long they needed to clean an entire room, as well as the square footage of the space, to determine how efficient they were.
We evaluated their suction power by placing different types of debris, such as pet hair, kitty litter, coarse kosher salt and cereal, in their path and observing how many passes the robots needed to fully clean the mess. Because you need the iRobot Home app to access all of its many features, we tested it out by scheduling cleaning sessions, adjusting cleaning preferences, customizing smart maps and rebooting the robots. Finally, we cleaned the robots after they vacuumed to see how complicated the process was and how much hair and dirt we found around various components.
The Roomba j7 and j7+ are essentially identical robot vacuums, so their cleaning performance makes them both excellent options. However, the j7+’s self-emptying Clean Base made operation much more convenient and hassle-free, so we gave it the edge. But if you’re on a budget, you may find the j7’s more affordable price tag appealing enough to get your hands dirty and empty its dustbin manually.
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.