American company iRobot has cemented itself as the most well-established developer of automated cleaning robots since 2002, with Roomba becoming a household name.
In that time, they have proved they are more than just a toy for geeks, continually perfecting and evolving their Roombas.
The i3+ is the newest addition to their fleet, claiming to offer a better level of cleaning but with far less work at a more affordable price.
The Roomba i3 still showcases the classic circular design however, it feels sleeker, incorporating muted colour tones of grey and black with minimal flourishes and a small subtle iRobot logo in the centre.
The woven texture on top minimises fingerprints, smudges and collects less dust, as well as the illusion of soft material to help it blend into its surroundings better – even if it does look like an Amazon Echo Dot on wheels.
Actual controls on the Roomba itself are sparse, with the i3 featuring just three buttons; you can also activate it via the app or Amazon Alexa.
One press of this turns the Roomba on, a second press begins its cleaning cycle.
This button tells the Roomba to return to its Clean Base docking station where it will begin charging and empty its bin.
This makes the Roomba intensely clean a localised area by spiralling about 3 ft outwards with full suction power, then return spiral back. This is useful for cleaning up small messes in one area.
The Camera has been removed and replaced with a floor tracking sensor in the bottom of the unit, but despite this the i3 is just as agile as ever.
The i3 is 13.26 inches wide x 3.63 inches high x 13.34 deep and it weighs 7.44 lbs, making it roughly the same size as other Roombas.
I was concerned with the smaller bin size on the robot at first however, with the i3+ using the Clean Base to empty itself, that didn’t become an issue.
The Clean Base is an all black docking station that stands at 19” Tall, 12.2” Wide x 15.1” Deep. Once plugged into a nearby socket it charges the Roomba and collects all the debris the Roomba has gathered, holding up to 60 days’ worth.
Due to its capacity requirements, the Clean Base stands out and it can be difficult to find somewhere suitable to place it. Being able to change the placement of the bin or have a horizontal base would be handy if, like me, you try and house the Roomba out of sight until needed.
Once connected to your Wi-Fi and charged the i3 is good to go. But like most robotic vacuums some pre-prep is required as you need to clear the floor of objects, cables, and strings that the Roomba may accidentally hoover up. This is a minor annoyance but better than damaging the Roomba or shredding your phone charging cables.
Despite having used Roombas before I’m still fascinated by the i3; it cleans places a standard vacuum cannot reach, like disappearing under my sofa or wardrobe.
Once you start it up the i3 will begin cleaning in straight lines using floor tracking sensors to clean in efficient rows and mapping your home.
It will then automatically make its way back to its Clean Base to charge if it runs out of power or empties its bin if full, then continues cleaning till the job is done.
Connection to the robot was simple through the iRobot app. During set up the app requested that I name the Roomba and I had taken to calling our i3 Basildon, so I can sound like I have a butler.
The iRobot app allows you to set the i3 cleaning from your smartphone even when you are not in the home, allowing you to track its progress and view detailed maps of the Roombas coverage once it has finished.
Within the app, there’s also a battery indicator, the ability to create a recurring cleaning schedule, and a history of clean jobs.
The app also offers personalised suggestions such as recommended cleaning schedules based on past cleaning jobs and suggestions during pet-shedding or allergy seasons, which can make a huge difference to hay fever sufferers like myself.
I was slightly disappointed that it did not support some of the i7’s advanced control features such as smart mapping or keep out ones.
The i3 Cleaned my whole flat in 3 hours with one hour needed to recharge and empty, and it did a very thorough job, especially with how it deep-cleaned my carpet going from carpet to hard floors with ease.
This is due to the improved suction power on the i3; compared to the previous Roomba 600 Series the i3 boasts 10X the suction.
Most impressive was its precision and ability to pick up more fine debris with less becoming scattered and spread around.
Despite the lack of the on top camera smart navigation is still possible so the i3+ will clean in logical rows, and once it has mapped your home it will clean in straight, efficient rows instead of randomly like some brands of automated vaccuum.
The most important feature here is the Clean Base and i3 is the third automated vacuum to use this system, alongside the flagship i7+ and S9+ models.
This base not only acts as the charger for the Roomba but also collects the contents of the Roombas bin, so it can empty itself into the Clean Base then continue cleaning, so you don’t have to empty it like previous models.
The bin in the Clean Base can then be opened for you to remove a replaceable bag that claims to store 60 bins worth of debris.
Once the Robot docks you can hear the motor kick in, emptying out the i3’s bin. I was shocked when I first heard it as I was used to how quiet the i3 is when vacuuming. It’s about as loud as a standard vacuum but it’s not an issue as you only hear it briefly.
The Clean Base uses enclosed disposable AllergenLock Bags that trap 99% of pollen and mould, which is a must for those with dust allergies, and they also make it much easier to empty.
The i3 can also be activated by your voice via Alexa or Google Assistant, When I would ask Roomba to start of it would go until the end of its cycle or until I would tell it to stop, which is a cool feature, but I prefer to use my phone.
One of the issues I had with previous models was when I would leave my home and set a Roomba to clean, but its bin would become full while I was out and it would stop and wait for me to return, but the i3 addresses this issue with the Clean Base.
The i3 also sports a 3-Stage Cleaning System that uses two large, rubber tread brushes that excel at deep cleaning were able to pick up anything I could throw at them, from sand, hair, soil, and rice.
It also utilises an Edge-Sweeping brush for walls and corners and would often catch hair before it could get any further.
Maintenance was surprisingly simple too; the two large rubber brushes are incredibly easy to remove and clean and allowing you to get to any obstruction, especially hair that can get wrapped around the brushes.
The high-efficiency filter was easy to remove and clean and the i3+ even came with an extra.
removing the i3s Bin is also easy if you want to unload it the old-fashioned way by hand and the bin is unique because you can also wash it due to having no electronic parts.
The Lithium-Ion battery on the i3 lasts around 80 mins and takes around 2 hours to charge. This is enough for a light clean of my flat but when it’s particularly dusty it will need to stop to charge then carry on. A light ring indicator around the centre clean button indicates battery status.
While it isn’t the cheapest automated vacuum or even the cheapest Roomba, if you don’t want to empty it after each use or to be anywhere near dust and pet hair the extra cost is worth it for the convenience.
The i3+ features numerous improvements and tweaks over older models and even shares many features with the top tier models, but for a fraction of the price offers awesome value for money.
However, the showstopper is the Clean Base, meaning you don’t need to pay as much attention to the i3+ and empty it after use. I do however wish the Clean Base was a little more discreet.
Despite having used Roombas before I was shocked at how deep the i3 had cleaned and how precise it was, even compared to other Roombas.
The Roomba i3+ is a worthy upgrade to previous models and the perfect time saver around the home, as well as a fantastic addition to those with allergies.
The Roomba i3+ is available now for £699.99 from the iRobot website.