ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The Roomba Combo j9+ It’s a $1,400 two-in-one robot vacuum and mop that uses a retractable mop head. It’s $400 off at the time of writing.
- Its biggest upgrade comes with the Clean Base, which can now automatically refill the water tank.
- The mopping feature is only passable when dealing with loud noises, especially compared to competitors with dual oscillating mop heads.
The Roomba Combo j9+ The robot made its way into my rotation of vacuums — and let me tell you, I’m very impressed. It’s sleek and has a modern look and feel, and iRobot has gone out of its way to fix the shortcomings of the previous combo j7+. The most notable feature is the clean base’s auto-fill dock, which means the robot can return to the docking station whenever it needs to refill its clean water tank.
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The Combo j9+ is iRobot’s most efficient robot yet, using iRobotOS to map your home seven times faster than ever before. The robot can automatically label your map with up to 90% accuracy, maintain its POOP (Pet Owner’s Official Promise) guarantee, and more. I loved my Roomba j7+ last year, but wanted more with the Combo j7+. I now feel as if the two worlds have successfully collided with the Combo j9+.
Straight out of the box
I love the high-end look and feel of the Roomba Combo j9+. The robot blends in nicely with my furniture, and it’s not a machine I’d move into my laundry room or office so guests can’t see it. It’s bigger than its predecessor, but that’s because this model has a sturdy, refillable water tank, a drawer that holds a removable dust bin, and storage inside for extra mop pads. The trade off is well worth it.
The robot has a relatively simple setup process. You need to find a suitable spot against a wall near an outlet, plug in the clean base and align the robot with the charging port. Pair the device with the iRobot companion app and you’re all set.
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Next, run the mapping. With the app up to date, it only took the robot a few minutes to figure out the layout of my house. The robot clings to the walls and edges of furniture, uses AI to guess where rooms are divided, and then labels them accordingly. I only needed to make a few tweaks to the mapping, so it was generally reliable. If you already own an iRobot device and you’ve created a map of your home, you can transfer the map from one device to another in the iRobot app.
How does the J9+ combo work?
When I first tested the robot, I decided to run it a few hours before I hosted my family for Thanksgiving, because who doesn’t live life on the edge? One thing I noticed immediately was how much longer the robot took to clean my house compared to my previous j7+ model. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Combo j9+ clears in short, short passes as opposed to j7+’s long passes. By the way, this allows the robot to clean at a delicate speed. To give you an idea of how long it took, the j7+ can clean my living room in 14 minutes while the j9+ combo takes 30 minutes. It’s not a huge deal when you’re just cleaning a room or two, but it definitely made a difference when I was cleaning my whole house.
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The biggest difference and most significant improvement comes with the clean base. The Roomba Combo j9+ can now automatically refill its clean water tank, fixing one of my biggest gripes with its predecessor. I no longer have to babysit the machine; The combo j9+ is self-contained. The water tank itself feels solid and holds a significant amount of cleaning solution before it needs to be refilled.
The Clean Base allows the Roomba j9+ to self-empty as needed, storing dirt and debris in the disposable bag for up to 60 days. Your mileage will vary with this feature; My house with pets and kids would definitely be dirtier than a house with two.
Just as impressive is how quiet the Combo j9+ self-zeros. It’s noticeably quieter than any previous Roomba model; I can run the combo j9+ while my little one sleeps, without worrying that the suction from auto-empty will wake him up. I can’t stress enough how much I love this feature. I can reset my main living areas in the evening while I do my vacuuming and mopping. This is a very attractive feature and a must for parents with little ones.
For what it’s worth, vacuuming has never been an issue for any Roomba I’ve tested. My house is often full of dirt, debris, pet hair, food scraps, and more, and I’ve been impressed time and time again with the suction power of these robot vacuums. Pet hair is cleaned up efficiently, my rugs and carpets have pretty vacuuming lines, and the space under my dining room table is free of crumbs.
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With the Combo j9+, you can choose between robot vacuum or both vacuum and mop. If you just send the j9+ into a room with carpet, it somehow knows it will perform a vacuum-only job. Also, obstacle avoidance is fairly reliable. My ropes, pet toys, stray shoes, and everything in between are always kept untouched.
The clean base liquid container is equipped for iRobot operation approved liquid cleaning solutions, So this is the only liquid I put in a refillable container. I prefer this over just using water because I need something a little stronger on the floor.
While the Combo j9+ won’t put your local deep cleaning service out of business, it’s capable of keeping floors looking tidy enough. During testing, I noticed that the longer I went without mopping, the more streaks I saw left by the robot. The j9+ applies enough pressure to remove most stains, dirt marks, and other messes, so I felt comfortable letting it clean the house during the week while manually mopping on the weekends.
ZDNET’s buying advice
I am thoroughly impressed with the upgrade that came Roomba Combo j9+ From the previous model. If you’re like me and can do heavy-duty mopping on the weekend, this machine will keep your floors clean between those deep cleans. In a house full of pets, kids and everything in between, this is a big win for me.
It certainly helps that iRobot loves to drive sales, especially around the holidays, and I’ve seen this model regularly drop below the $1,000 price point (from $1,400).