Finally! The good robovac stuff in a robot some people can afford. iRobot, maker of roving house helpers Roomba and Braava, today announced the launch of its Roomba i3+, a mid-range vacuum that’ll get features standard of models with a far steeper price tag.
At present, the most affordable models currently offered in the Roomba start around $US250 ($341) for the 600 Series. That’s not an insignificant amount of money for a robot cleaner that still requires regular human intervention for things like waste disposal (depending on how frequently you’re using it and how large your space is). iRobot introduced self-emptying vacuums a couple of years ago, but the docks necessary for this function — including the vacuum itself — can run upwards of a grand. (The Roomba i7 costs $US800 ($1,092), while the premium Roomba s9 retails for a staggering $US1,100 ($1,502) — which, ouch.)
The Roomba i3, however, knocks a couple hundred bucks off the cheaper of these two options and is compatible with a companion dirt-dumping base if you’re interested in paying a little extra for the vacuum to empty itself. The Roomba i3 — just the vacuum — will run you $US400 ($546), which isn’t too much more than you’d pay for a quality mid-range robot helper. But really you’ll want the version that can empty itself, so you’re not messing with it after every run over your floors. That’ the Roomba i3+, which starts at $US600 ($819) in the U.S. ($750 CAD), and includes automatic emptying with the Clean Base — which iRobot says can hold up to 60 days’ worth of dust and dirt before you’ll need to empty the bin yourself — however, the basic functionality is the same with or without charging station. That feels like a lot of cash until you remember the best stick and the best bag vacs are the exact same price.
The Clean Base doubles as a charging station for the Roomba i3+, which will allow the vacuum to charge itself when its battery is low before finishing its cleaning tasks. Additionally, iRobot claims the Roomba i3+ has 10 times the power-lifting suction compared to the Roomba 600 Series, Roomba’s budget model, and a spokesperson told Gizmodo its cleaning system is the same as on the Roomba i7 and i7+.
iRobot said the Roomba i3+ is capable of handling both hard floors and carpet — its on-unit brushes will adjust based on the environment — and will learn over time which areas in your home most prone to getting grimy to zero in on those zones. (And for you pet people, a spokesperson told Gizmodo these brushes can handle animal hair without it getting tangled.) As with other vacuums in the Roomba lineup, the device can be controlled with the iRobot Home App and can additionally be paired with virtual assistants Alexa and Google.
The Roomba i3+ and vacuum-only Roomba i3 are immediately available online and will hit stores later this month, with international markets to follow in 2021. We’ll try and get our hands on one as well — if only to see how it handles a house with a very good dog shedding absolutely everywhere.