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Roomba i3+ Review: Proof That Robot Vacuums Are Getting Smarter But Still Cannot Beat All Laws Of Physics

The iRobot Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner

The iRobot Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner

Without doubt, the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner has ironed out a lot of the common issues with similar robot vacuum cleaners meant for homes.

Cleaning your home has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic. Let no one try to sell you the idea of cleanliness on the basis that you now spend more time at home. Traditional brooms and vacuum cleaners have been bought for years before the pandemic arrived, and the fundamentals will remain the same years after we see the back of this pandemic. What has changed however, is the attention and approach to keeping the floors clean and the amount of dust we otherwise welcome in our homes. Particularly on the floors, below the furniture and the corners where your lower back pain doesn’t allow you to reach with a broom. A robot vacuum cleaner is one branch of the broomless cleaning mission, the other being vacuum cleaners which you need to operate yourself. The Roomba i3+ robot vacuum doesn’t need your guidance.

I must make this clear from the outset—I have a deep mistrust of vacuum robots and how well they can clean the floor of your living room when you aren’t looking. Because they have the habit of conveniently skipping and ignoring large patches of floor area for no apparent reason. And that’s been the experience with multiple brands and different variants. That is why when the iRobot Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner arrived for review, there was a sense of discomfort. What has changed? Has anything even changed for the better? Can it actually clean the floor, wall to wall and not miss corners? Is it worth Rs 59,900 onwards for the i3+ variant that iRobot has on sale in India? The Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner is the newest addition to the iRobot range and sits as the entry spec option with the i7 series and the S9 series being the more expensive and more powerful options if you need those.

The Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner is the newest addition to the iRobot range and sits as the entry spec option with the i7 series and the S9 series being the more expensive and more powerful options if you need those

The basics remain the same. The beefy circular disc design of the robot cleaner itself, a docking station that also charges it when not in use and the ability to scamper over rugs and carpets as well. Yet, there are significant changes in the way this is designed and how it operates. For instance, there aren’t the traditional brushes that a lot of robot vacuums use, and instead this has the rubberized rollers (two of these working in opposing sync) which are much less susceptible to falling at the altar of entangled hair—either they suck those in since they slide off the surface easily or you can pull them out when doing the periodical cleaning of the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner (which you should, if you aren’t). the edge sweeping brush works alongside to pick up the smaller dust and redirect them towards the suction zone. iRobot says this has 10 times the suction power of the Roomba 600 series of robot vacuum cleaners.

There is a nice amount of heft to the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner. You may be wondering why I say that. The heavier the robot cleaner as it tries to clean rugs and carpets, the more pressure they can exert downwards allowing for a surer and stable footing allowing the suction that extra help to pick up the more difficult to dislodge dust. I tested the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner with two carpets of different thickness and it is quite relieving to see that this has the skills to understand the height differences and like a car altering its ride height, makes those changes and carries on with the job at hand. The direct detection does a really good job and quite often, the Roomba i3+ robot detected an extra dirty zone on carpets and floors and does multiple rounds of that zone for that extra cleaning.

In a way, the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner is ideal for someone who really doesn’t want to get their hands dirty and wants a reliable automated cleaning system. Set this up with timers and the robot vacuum cleaner will automatically get on the job as the clock ticks to the deadline. You can carry on with your work from home routine, your child’s online classes and everything else, without really having to step in. You’ll be able to connect the iRobot Roomba with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa as well.

The basics remain the same. The beefy circular disc design of the robot cleaner itself, a docking station that also charges it when not in use and the ability to scamper over rugs and carpets as well. Yet, there are significant changes in the way this is designed and how it operates (Image: Vishal Mathur / News18)

Yet, and there is no getting around it, the typical robot vacuum cleaner drawbacks are still very much there. Mind you, the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner has tempered some of them down quite well, but some things such as the laws of physics, don’t really change. For instance, this is quieter than a lot of other similar tech wizardry, but I wouldn’t recommend you run this in the same room if you are on a voice call or official meetings. It is still very much noticeable. Secondly, it takes a few days to discover its way around your home and make a map in its intelligent mind about where it needs to go and where there is a physical object. In that time, it’ll quite often bang its head against tables, sofas and furniture in general. Interestingly enough, it always sidestepped the refrigerator! Third, the circular design means it will never be able to clean as efficiently in corners as a vacuum cleaner head would. You will end up with pockets of dust accumulating in the corners, 90-degree walls and just around the edges of tables and seating.

A lot of how the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner creates a mini-map of you home depends on its own height and the height of the furniture—whether it can get under it or not. A Dyson vacuum cleaner roller head, for instance, can get under some sofas but the Roomba i3+ which is vertically a bit taller, cannot. Also, there are times when it leaves a thin line of dust unattended in its runs, which though meticulously designed to follow a pattern, can often get a bit sidetracked.

The automatic bin disposal is extremely useful. You don’t have to clean the vacuum bin every time this runs or before it has to run. If the bin disposal isn’t there, as it isn’t with a lot of robot vacuum cleaners, you’d just have a futile run from the cleaner as it cannot really suck in any more dust. The Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner, after every cleaning run, aligns itself on the base and the automatic dump from the robot’s bin to the bin in the base starts. Mind you, this gets really loud for a few seconds—that’s the incredibly powerful suction working. Just don’t be standing too close, else your ears will not have a pleasant day. iRobot says the bin bag in the charging base can be left as is for up to 60 days—I haven’t had this to review for 60 days and wouldn’t be able to judge that claim. But, this timeframe would depend on how dusty your floors get.

And that’s when you need to think of buying the accessories. The dirt disposal bag for the bin, in a set of three, costs around Rs 1,660. You’d need to change the high-efficiency filter in the Roomba i3+ robot itself at some point, and a pack of three for this is priced at Rs 1,890. Mind you, when you buy the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner, you get one each installed in the robot cleaner and the docking station, and a fresh unit of the dirt disposal bag and the filter as part of the box.

The automatic bin disposal is extremely useful. You don’t have to clean the vacuum bin every time this runs or before it has to run. If the bin disposal isn’t there, as it isn’t with a lot of robot vacuum cleaners, you’d just have a futile run from the cleaner as it cannot really suck in any more dust

The Last Word: Smart, Smarter But Still Not The Smartest, Because Well, Physics

Without doubt, the Roomba i3+ robot vacuum cleaner has ironed out a lot of the common issues with similar robot vacuum cleaners meant for homes. It’s got powerful suction paired with pretty good navigation skills and the automatic bin disposal is priceless. Most definitely, this is a pleasant change after the disappointing robot vacuum cleaner experiences I’ve had over the past few years. Yet, it still cannot do far corners and cannot scamper under all seating and furniture. You’ll still have some corners left unclean, while some are pristine clean with no dust in sight. All said and done, Rs 59,900 is something you would pay after a lot of head scratching and pacing up and down your living room deep in thought. Totally depends on how much you need an automated cleaning system running around your home every day. And how much you do not want to pick up a vacuum cleaner once ever so often and burn some calories.

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first published:August 31, 2021, 12:03 IST