The iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ is the latest addition to the family of versatile cleaning robots, designed to handle both vacuuming and floor washing tasks. However, what sets it apart is its unique approach to these tasks compared to other robots in its class. The big question is, does “different” equate to “better”?
iRobot has built upon the success of its previous model, the Roomba Combo j7+, which was a 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop. With the Roomba Combo j9+, they’ve taken things up a notch by introducing a feature that has become increasingly popular among competitors: the ability to refill its own water tank.
One standout feature of the Roomba Combo j9+ vacuum cleaner is its innovative retractable mop, carried over from its predecessor. This mop offers efficient floor cleaning, giving you that extra convenience in your daily chores. However, the true star of this model is the new Clean Base Auto-fill Dock, which significantly enhances the robot’s self-sufficiency.
While this advanced technology offers tremendous advantages, it comes at a price. The Roomba Combo j9+ is available for preorder at $1,399, which is $400 more than its predecessor, the Roomba Combo j7+. Whether it’s worth the premium price point is a decision best made based on your specific requirements and priorities.
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+: Video Review
|iRobot Roomba Combo j9+
|Mapping Sensor Type
|Mapping / Path planning
|Objects recognition (front camera)
|Magnetic/Optical Virtual Walls
|Anti-drop / Cliff Sensor
|Automatic Dirt Disposal
|Full Dustbin Sensor
|Electric water flow control
|Automatic mop lifting
|Refilling the water tank
|Amazon Alexa, Siri, Voice Control, iRobot Home App
|Digital Blocked Areas, Zoned cleaning, Multi-floor maps, Manual
|movement control, Selected Room Cleaning, No-mop zones
|3.4 x 13.7 x 13.7 inch
|Clean Base Auto-Fill Dock Dimensions
|15.8 (W) x 16.4 (D) x 16.3 (H) inch
|Clean Base Weight
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+: Station
Having used various cleaning robots in the past, I can attest that most docking stations are typically large, utilitarian, and lack any aesthetic appeal. Their primary function is to conceal containers for water and dirt, and that’s about it.
However, the Clean Base AutoFill station for the Roomba Combo i9+ breaks away from this norm. Despite its size, it’s designed in a way that makes it far from an eyesore. In fact, it can even be seamlessly integrated into your interior decor. Thanks to its front-facing opening mechanism, you can place objects like a flower pot or even provide a cozy resting spot for your cat on its wood-like tile surface.
The station exudes quality craftsmanship. The only minor gripe might be a narrow strip of piano black plastic on the top, which has a tendency to accumulate dust and dirt. Nevertheless, the corrugated sides more than compensate for this slight drawback. When you open the station’s front panel, you can unmistakably sense the premium quality.
The materials used are top-notch, and even the act of removing the waste bag container is a class apart from the competition. It’s akin to closing the doors of a luxurious Mercedes, distinct from the everyday experience you’d get from a more mundane vehicle.
In line with other self-emptying stations, the Clean Base station is also designed to hold spare parts for the robot. The shelves on the station’s door can effortlessly accommodate spare bags, brushes, filters, and mopping pads. It’s a well-thought-out feature that adds to the overall convenience.
The water tank is another feature worth noting. It can be pulled out from the front, making the process of refilling it a tad different from the traditional top-loading design. While not the most convenient for pouring water, it allows the station to maintain its sleek dimensions. The manufacturer claims that the liquid is sufficient for approximately 30 days.
For those who want to use floor cleaning liquid, the station accommodates that option as well. However, caution is advised to prevent overfilling and the use of foaming liquids, which could accidentally lead to foam being poured into the robot’s water tank instead of the intended liquid.
The iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ is the latest iteration in the Roomba lineup, and it brings a significant upgrade in terms of cleaning power and intelligent features. The manufacturer proudly boasts of a 100% increase in suction power compared to its predecessor, the j7 model.
My living space is a small house covering an approximate area of 65 square meters. In this compact yet lively environment, cat and a large dog call it home, making it a challenging place for any cleaning robot. Cat hair and dirt brought in by the dog are common elements of everyday life. To keep up with this, I use the vacuum cleaner daily, sometimes even twice a day.
Despite these extreme conditions, the Roomba Combo j9+ excels at vacuuming. Its combination of two rubber brushes, a rotating side brush, and enhanced suction power effectively handles most dirt and debris. What’s more, the Roomba j9+ has slightly smaller dimensions than some other cleaning robots, allowing it to access and clean areas that were previously out of reach.
The introduction of the Dirt Detective function is a notable enhancement. This feature, combined with other intelligent functions such as obstacle recognition and avoidance, allows the iRobot app to determine which rooms require cleaning most urgently based on work intensity and usage schedules. In practice, the Dirt Detective feature works surprisingly well, accurately identifying the rooms with higher dirt levels, typically the areas where the dog frequents.
The Roomba Combo j9+ also features automatic area recognition and zone suggestion, which simplifies the user experience. The app can suggest creating specific zones, such as one around the pet’s feeding bowls or another around a bathroom. While manually marking zones is an option, these automatic suggestions enhance convenience.
One curious aspect, however, is the continued reliance on a camera rather than LIDAR sensors for navigation. This choice introduces a couple of challenges. First, the robot’s cleaning effectiveness is noticeably better in well-lit rooms. So, if you want to ensure optimal cleaning in a specific area, leaving the lights on for the robot becomes a necessity.
Secondly, there’s the issue of bumping into furniture and walls. While the Roomba has effective “bumpers” for obstacle avoidance, this can lead to the robot’s housing getting dirty more quickly. If there are metal chair legs or other hard objects in the robot’s path, it can lead to plastic scratches. This is in contrast to top robots from Dream, which use LIDAR technology to navigate with millimeter accuracy and clean around obstacles without contact. It’s a perplexing choice that iRobot has maintained over time.
The mopping system employed by the Roomba Combo j9+ is a notable departure from traditional designs. It utilizes a cloth attached to a movable arm that can be easily folded and unfolded according to your cleaning requirements. After several weeks of rigorous testing, it’s clear that the washing station remains clean and carpets are free from stains, thanks to a unique design that minimizes contact with the ground.
Furthermore, the Roomba Combo j9+ exhibits intelligent cleaning behavior as it gets accustomed to your living space. It starts by vacuuming carpets and only deploys the mopping arm afterward to wash surfaces. This sequence enhances overall cleaning efficiency.
The mopping pad itself is user-friendly and easy to replace or clean. In my experience, with intensive use, it required replacement and washing every 3-4 days, but in a regular setting, once a week should suffice. A significant advantage is the ease of installation, as the pad securely attaches to a special mounting with Velcro, ensuring it can’t be installed incorrectly.
One feature is the Smart Scrub function, which significantly enhances mopping effectiveness. When activated, the robot moves back and forth multiple times to thoroughly scrub stains. You can apply this function globally or selectively for specific areas that demand extra attention. It can also activate itself when the robot detects particularly stubborn stains.
However, there are two considerations when using the Smart Scrub function. Firstly, it noticeably extends cleaning time, sometimes even doubling it, and it shortens the working time on a single charge. For instance, the Roomba Combo j9+ can vacuum and wash the entire house without Smart Scrub. Still, enabling it in just one room depletes its energy.
Given these limitations, I recommend using Smart Scrub only when necessary. The Roomba Combo j9+ performs well even without it. However, one challenge remains—streaks.
Roombas are known for their seemingly erratic cleaning patterns, which work well for vacuuming but not so much for mopping, particularly on hard floors. Streaks can become evident, especially on panels, which should ideally be mopped in the same direction as their alignment. The j9+ tends to run over panels haphazardly, leaving streaks and inadequately cleaned areas in its wake.
This issue, however, seems fixable with a software update from iRobot, which could introduce a feature that allows users to specify the direction of panel mopping, as seen in other cleaning robots. Additionally, the AI module responsible for stain recognition could benefit from further refinement to prevent overzealous cleaning of darker grains on panels, often mistaken for dirt.
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+: Conclusion
iRobot has established itself as a dominant player in the world of robot vacuum cleaners, and for good reason. A Roomba is more than just hardware; it’s a complete ecosystem, featuring a refined mobile application and exceptional after-sales support.
One of the significant advantages of choosing an iRobot product over cleaning robots from Chinese brands is the accessibility of spare parts. Original Roomba parts can be easily sourced not only from stores but also directly from the mobile application. When the application notifies you of significant wear on certain components, ordering replacements is a straightforward process. This seamless availability of parts adds to the reliability and convenience of Roomba products.
Furthermore, it’s undeniable that the Roomba Combo j9+ is a standout in terms of aesthetics among cleaning robots. When comparing the docking stations of Roomba to those of competitors like Roborock and Dreame L20 Ultra, it’s evident that Roomba takes the lead in terms of design and appearance. The sleek and attractive design of the Roomba adds a touch of elegance to your living space.
However, the key question arises: does the Roomba Combo j9+ outperform the competition when it comes to cleaning? Frankly, the answer might not be a clear yes. While it excels in vacuuming, matching or even surpassing its rivals, the mopping performance, despite the innovative movable arm with a mopping pad, may not outshine the top competitors like Dreame or Roborock.
The decision to choose a Roomba over other options should be a personal one. Consider whether the added benefits of a stylish appearance and exceptional after-sales service justify the higher price tag for a robot that may not outperform slightly cheaper competitors in the mopping department.
Ultimately, the decision should hinge on your individual priorities and preferences.