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iRobot takes charge, stirs up competition with new direction of Roomba i3 Plus

The iRobot Roomba lineup represents the gold standard of robot vacuum cleaners, but the most advanced features are typically only present in flagship models. The downside to this, of course, is the high price point; for example, the Roomba i7 Plus with automatic dirt disposal is a cool $800, while the s9 Plus is a staggering $1,100.

Both of these models include the Clean Base that automatically empties the Roomba after a cleaning cycle and recharges it. Both will hold up to 60 days’ worth of dirt and debris. For customers, this means far less time spent emptying the Roomba and far more time spent enjoying the benefits of a clean floor.

Before the Roomba i3 Plus, auto dirt disposal was restricted to the i7 Plus and the s9 Plus. Lower-priced Roombas lacked advanced features such as high-level artificial intelligence and performance; in fact, many of them had lower overall suction and cleaning power. The Roomba i3 Plus represents a totally new direction for iRobot devices that pits it against other robot vacuums like the popular Shark Robot Vac.

The Roomba i3 Plus also uses a high-efficiency filter that can capture up to 99% of pollen, mold, dust mites, and other types of allergens. These particles are locked away inside the Clean Base in an AllergenLock bag that ensures it doesn’t escape back into the air. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, frequent cleaning can help reduce sneezing and itchy eyes.

A clean look for clean floors

Given the size of the iRobot Roomba i3 Plus and its Base Station, it can’t be tucked away under furniture. As a result, it needs to have enough aesthetic appeal that it doesn’t look ugly and out of place in the home. The i3 Plus is designed with clean lines that allow it to fit neatly against the wall and blend in with other furniture.

The light ring atop the Roomba itself remains off unless the robot vacuum is sending out a notification or actively cleaning. This reduces the light pollution in the home and allows the device to better blend into the background.

More convenient and adaptable cleaning

iRobot recently designed its mobile app and gave it far more power and capabilities. The updated app, coupled with firmware updates to iRobot devices, enables more advanced artificial intelligence that allows the Roomba i3+ to learn when and how you like to clean your home.

If you frequently ask it to clean at a certain time of day, it will eventually begin to suggest that you clean during that time. Your Roomba will suggest automatic routines you can enable to ensure your home is cleaned at the same time each day. Furthermore, it will also suggest more frequent cleaning cycles during times of the year when allergens may be more prevalent, such as during allergy season or when pets begin to shed.

One of the features that sets the Roomba i3 Plus apart is how powerful its cleaning capabilities are. Many lower-priced Roombas lack the suction capabilities of higher-end models. For instance, the s9 Plus has 40 times the suction power of the budget-priced 600 series.

The i3 Plus has a three-stage cleaning system and 10 times the suction of the 600 series. While it isn’t the absolute top of the line, it’s an impressive device that will deliver an everyday clean. It also has state-of-the-art floor tracking sensors that allow it to adapt automatically whether on hardwood or carpeted floors.

The right price

A lot of people are interested in trying out a robot vacuum for themselves. After all, does anyone really enjoy vacuuming, aside from Monica Geller? The issue is that most robot vacuums are priced too high to be impulse purchases, and those that are priced low enough for budget buyers lack the performance of higher-end models.

The iRobot Roomba i3 Plus strikes a good balance between performance and price. It has the same performance as many higher-end Roombas, including the ability to link to the Braava jet m6 for automatic mopping of your floor once the vacuuming is finished. And it does it all for just $600. If you want to invest in the model without the Clean Base, you can purchase it for $400. This Roomba is available for purchase now.

Should you buy it right away? Possibly. On the other hand, Black Friday is coming up and there is a chance you can shave a couple of hundred off the price if you wait for a sale. Either way, iRobot has aggressively priced the new i3 Plus to make it compete with absolutely anything else on the market. It’s a bold move by the company that will make high-level robot vacuuming available at a midrange price point.

With iRobot’s new direction, other companies will need to adapt if they want to continue to compete. Rival companies may begin to produce new models with even more advanced features for a fraction of the cost, bringing the best features of robot vacuums into more homes than ever.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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