This high season, we will look back at some of the best techniques of the past year and give new reviews in a kind of "best hits" in a variety of categories. First up: iRobot's state-of-the-art household robots, Roomba s9 + robotic vacuum, and Braava m6 robot mop and floor sweeper. Both of these represent the current pinnacle of iRobot's technology, and although it appears in the price tag, it also shows in performance.
iRobot Roomba S9 +
The iRobot Roomba S9 + is actually two things: the Roomba S9, which is available separately, and the clean base that allows the vacuum to drain itself after a run, giving you a lot of cleaning before actually you need to open a trash can or replace a bag. Both the vacuum and its base are WiFi-connected and controllable via iRobot's app, as well as Google Assistant and Alexa. Combined, it is the most advanced autonomous home vacuum you can get, and it manages to outperform a lot of older or less sophisticated robot vacuum even in situations that have historically been difficult for this type of technology to handle.
Like the Roomba S7 before it (which is still available and still a good vacuum, for a little less money), the S9 uses what is called SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) and a specific variant of what is called vSLAM (stands for & # 39; visual & # 39;). This technology means that when it works, you generate and customize a map of your home to ensure it can be cleaned more efficiently and effectively.
After either some dedicated training runs (which you can choose to send the vacuum on when learning a new space) or some more active vacuum runs, the Roomba S9 will remember your home's layout and provide a map that you can customize with room dividers and labels. This then activates the vacuum's real smart super powers, which include being able to vacuum only specific rooms on command, as well as features such as letting it easily pick up where it left off if it has to return to its charging station in the middle of the run. With the S9 and its large battery, the vacuum can make a full run of my two-bedroom apartment on a single charge (i7 I used previously needed two charges to finish).
S9's vSLAM and navigation system seem incredibly well-developed in my use: I have never once got the vacuum stuck or confused by changes in flooring, even going from a very light to a very dark floor (this is something that previously vacuum has had difficulties with). It incompletely finds its way back to the clean base, and never seems to be flocked by even drastic changes in light during the day.
So it's smart, but it sucks? Yes, it does – in the best way. Just as it does not require a stop to recharge, it also manages to clean my entire space with just one compartment. There is a lot more space here thanks to the new design, and it also manages my dog hair with ease (my dog throws a lot, and it's very obviously light hair against dark wood floors). The new angled design on the front of the vacuum makes it a better job of getting into corners than previously completely round patterns, and it shows, because the corners were where the hair clumps go to be collected in a dog-friendly household.
"+" In S9 +, the pure base I mentioned – think of it as the tower for lazy cleanliness. The base has a port that sucks dirt from the S9 when it has made a run and shoots it in a bag at the top of the tower that can hold up to 30 full dirt bins. It ends up being a lot in practice – it should last for months, depending on the size of the house. Changing bags cost $ 20 for three, which is probably what you will be going through in a year, so it's really a negligible cost for the convenience you get.
Roomba S9's best friend, if you come, is Braava m6. This is iRobot's latest and best smart mop, which is exactly what it sounds like: While Roomba vacuum uses Braava either disposable, or washable / reusable microfibre pads, as well as iRobot's own cleaning fluid, to clean hardwood, trays, vinyl, cork and others. hard surface floors when vacuuming is complete. It can also only run a dry sweep, which is useful for picking up dust and pet hair, as a fine touch on the vacuum run.
iRobot has used its unique position to offer both these types of smart devices to have them work together – if you have added both S9 and Braava m6 to your iRobot Home app, you will get an option to mop the floors right after the vacuum job is done. It's a great convenience feature and one that works pretty well – but there are some differences in the smarts that drive the Braava m6 and Roomba s9 that lead to some temporary challenges.
Braava m6 does not seem to be as capable of mapping and navigating the surroundings. My apartment layout is relatively simple, all one level without drops or gaps. But the m6 has encountered some scenarios where it does not seem to be able to pass a threshold or understanding of all floor types. Based on error messages, it seems that it identifies some surfaces as "rocks" or steep drops as I transition from lighter floors to darker floors.
What this means in practice is that I have to move a couple of times per run Braava manually. However, there are ways to solve this, built into the software: Thanks to the smart mapping feature, I can only direct Braava to focus only on the rooms with dark hardwood, or I can only adjust it when I get a warning that it is difficult. It is still massively more comfortable than turning off by hand, and typically m6 makes about 90 percent of the apartment before it encounters difficulties in one of these few small problem areas.
If you have read online customers m6, you may also have seen complaints that it can leave tire marks on dark floors. I thought that was true – but with a few warnings. They are definitely not as pronounced as I expected based on some of the negative reviews out there, and I have very dark floors. They are also only really visible in direct sunlight and then only dim. They also fade fairly quickly, which means you won't notice them most of the time if you only hit a few vacuum runs once. In the end, it's something to be aware of, but to me it's not a dealbreaker – far from it. The M6 still does a fantastic job overall with beating and whipping and saves lots of manpower on what is normally a pretty back-to-back manual task.
These iRobot home cleaners are definitely advanced, with s9 starting at $ 1,099.99 ($ 1,399.99 with the cleaning base) and m6 staring at $ 499.99. You can get a package with both staring at $ 1439.98, but even that is still a great deal for cleaners. This is definitely a case where "you get what you pay for" turns out to be true. Either the batch s9 + alone, or the combination of vacuum and mop represents a huge convenience, especially when used on a daily or similar regular schedule, compared to doing the same manually. The S9 also sincerely does a better job than I ever could with my own manual vacuum, as it is much better to get into corners, under sofas and clean along and during the trip thanks to its swivel brush. And asking Alexa to get Roomba to start a cleaning run feels like living in the future in the best possible way.