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When the Roomba 980 debuted, it rose to the top of the robot vacuum mountain and remained there, virtually unchallenged, for quite a while. Recently, however, a challenger has risen in the form of the Roomba i7+. This vacuum is one of, if not the most advanced smart robot vacuum on the market.
These two high powered robot vacuums have a lot to offer in terms of features and functionality. So what is the end result when these two devices are compared against one another? That’s what we want to do throughout this article. Something to keep in mind as we along though, is how much do you dislike emptying the dustbin.
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These two smart robot vacuums have a lot in common, however, when you see them both in action, you’ll notice their differences. Some of these differences include:
- The i7+ uses iAdapt 3.0 technology while the Roomba 980 uses iAdapt 2.0
- Smart Mapping allows the i7+ to remember that layout of your home. You can tell the vacuum to only clean specific rooms in your home. The 980 does not have this capability.
- 980’s dustbin has to be wiped out, while the i7+ dustbin is completely washable
- No need to manually empty the dustbin with the i7+ while you do with the 980
- Both devices boast significant air power over other Roomba models
- Each will map out your home which gives you the ability to view cleaning history through the Roomba mobile application
- Brushless rollers are available on both models
- Batteries are the same on both the i7+ and the 980
- Both make use of virtual wall barriers to define containment parameters
- The i7+ and the 980 each use wifi technology for voice commands and mobile applications
- Each robot vacuum can highlight specific areas for deep cleaning
- Third-party compatibility available with both vacuums. This includes Google, Amazon, IFTTT, SmartThings, and Wink
- Both units will return to their bases to automatically recharge when the battery runs low
Features and Options
Let’s visit some of the features and options available on these two robot vacuums, along with how they compare with one another.
You’ll notice with the Roomba 980, that its navigation causes it to clean in straight lines throughout your home. iRobot’s iAdapt mapping and navigation technology has gone through its fair share of iterations over the years. iAdapt 2.0 is the version that put the 900 series vacuums at the top of the market.
At the time, this was the only technology which gave robot vacuums the ability to create a visual map of your home and floor plan. This gave the 900 series robot vacuums the ability to clean using parallel lines, mimicking human-like behavior.
You can also view the mapping and floor plan via the mobile app. Through the app, you can see areas in which the vacuum has already cleaned and what areas it has yet to visit. Other sensors, like the drop sensors and the bump sensors, are integrated into the technology to help map the home and provide a more thorough clean.
For example, the bump sensors on the device keep the 980 from running into furniture and walls at full speed. With the use of acoustic and infrared sensors, the vacuum is able to detect large objects to keep from bumping into them.
When it detects an obstruction or a wall, the 980 will slow down, but will still run into the obstacle. Passable objects are pushed aside so that the robot can continue with its cleaning, where non-passable objects won’t be damaged as the 980 cleans.
The primary method of mapping and navigation is performed by the mounted camera on the 980’s frame. As the robot moves throughout your home, the camera constantly takes pictures so that it has its own memory of your floorplan.
With these photos, which the robot constantly takes so that it’s always up to date, your 980 always knows where it is in your home. It also knows what needs to be cleaned and what has already been covered.
With iAdapt 3.0, the i7+ can use its navigation software to remember your floorplan, just like the 980, but it also provides more mapping features.
For instance, the dirt detection option is upgraded so that when it detects soiled areas, it will spend a little more time to address them. It may not do so on the first go round, but the i7+ will make a note and take care of the spot at a later time.
Additionally, the upgraded software gives the i7+ the ability to map out several floor plans. With iAdapt 3.0, the robot vacuum can map out and remember up to 10 separate plans. Now, your i7+ can map not only your entire home but several others as well.
When the i7+ maps out a floor, it identifies specific landmarks and commits them to memory. This gives the robot the ability to quickly identify which floor plan it is cleaning and make the necessary adjustments. The landmarks might be tables, shelves, or any other type of furniture.
If you decide to make changes to the layout of your room by moving furniture around, the Roomba i7+ will identify those changes and update its map accordingly.
Dustbin and Maintenance
One of the most overlooked, yet important aspects of your robot vacuum is the dustbin. If you get a vacuum with a bin that’s too small, you have to empty it all the time. And if you don’t clean them out on a regular basis, your robot will stop working until you do.
The 980 comes with a fairly large dustbin, plus, you don’t have to shell out for replacement bags. You’ll get a 0.5L dustbin with the 980, and it takes at least a few cleanings before you need to empty it out. Obviously, the number of cleanings will depend on the size of your floor plan and how much dirt the robot picks up.
Once the dustbin is full, you’ll need to take it out of the 980 and dump it into your garbage. Be sure to also check your filter while you’re cleaning the dustbin. It might need to be cleaned and every six months you’ll want to replace it as well.
Prior to putting it back into your 980, be sure to clean it out with a dry cloth. This way, the sensors stay clean and you know the dustbin is completely clear. Don’t forget to clean out any debris and tangles you find as well. Last, clean off any dust you find on the external and infrared sensors.
The beauty of the i7+ is that it empties its dustbin on its own. However, that convenience comes at a price, as you have to purchase replacement bags for the vacuum. When the i7+ vacuums it automatically dumps its debris into a docking tower, which contains disposable bags. It performs this task using its Automatic Dirt Disposal System.
The biggest difference between the Roomba i7+ and other Roomba robot vacuums, including the 980, is the charging dock. While the robot still sits comfortably on the dock to recharge, the dock also includes a tower that is 12-inches tall. It’s this tower that houses the disposable bags, which you’ll find when you flip open the lid on top.
This bag is what holds the contents of what the i7+ vacuumed up while cleaning. When the i7+ heads back to its charging dock, the dirt, debris, and other contaminants are sucked out of the dustbin and up into the bag.
After about 30 cleanings, the tower bag is full. You’ll receive an alert via the mobile application. When it’s full, just pull the bag out, toss it in the trash, and put a new one in. It’s that simple. And since you can go longer between emptying the tower than you can between dustbins, it’s important that you maintain the i7+ properly.
It’s a good idea to clean out the dustbin anytime you change out the bag. With the i7+, the dustbin is washable, which makes it easier to clean. You shouldn’t just throw it in the dishwasher, however, you can put it in the sink, which make cleaning it out much simpler.
The whole process with the i7+ means you don’t have to mess with cleaning out the dustbin every again, aside from washing it out once in a while. All you have to worry about it replacing the disposable bag every 30 cleans, which for some people can be a few months.
There isn’t any difference in the batteries for these two robot vacuums. Both use a large-celled lithium-ion 3300mAh battery pack. The battery will run for a solid two-hours, which should cover the vast majority of residential homes out there. Even if you have a mixture of hard flooring and carpet, the battery should last long enough to cover around 1800 square feet.
Of course, the floor space the vacuums clean will depend largely on the amount of obstructions they encounter as they go about their cycle. Additionally, areas with heavily soiled floors will require more battery usage, as well as the robot, will have to spend more time addressing these spots.
That doesn’t mean you should worry about your floors getting clean. Once they start a cycle, the vacuums will continue until completely finished. If the battery starts to run low, the robot vacuum will make its way to the dock and charge back up. It’ll mark its spot on its floorplan map and then pick up right where it left off.
Methods of Control
There are several ways which you can control your robot vacuum. Most people will use the mobile application to control their device, however, they can also be managed via voice, or by buttons on the vacuum itself.
You can control the Roomba 980 with your voice, via the mobile app, or through local controls. Local controls are the same for both the 980 and the i7+. You can push the buttons on the robot for a spot clean, to tell the robot to return to its docking station, or you can press the big “Clean” button to tell the vacuum to start vacuuming.
Voice commands are also standard across both devices. You can use either your Google Home or Amazon Alexa device to tell the robot what you want it to do.
Roomba’s mobile applicaiton is one of the better robot vacuum apps available on the market. You can download it for fre from either the iOS or Android stores and use it as the primary source to control your robot vacuum.
With your mobile app, you can perform some of the following functions with your robot vacuum:
- Give it a name
- Start, stop, or pause a cleaning cycle
- Select cleaning mode type
- Set cleaning preferences
- Tell your robot vacuum to return to its dock
The mobile app will also let you view the status of your robot vacuum as well. You can view what rooms and areas have been cleaned and where the device has yet to clean. You can also see the battery status, along with whether the robot vacuum is cleaning, finished cleaning, or currently charging.
Additionally, mobile application also offers a standard “Clean” mode, which is essentially telling the vacuum to start cleaning the floors. It also has a “Spot Clean” mode, which will focus on specific areas that need a more thorough cleaning.
Lastly, you can put your robot vacuum in “Edge Clean” mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. The vacuum will move along the edges of your home, cleaning corners and baseboards as it goes.
With imprint mapping, you can have the i7+ clean any room you want it to. This functionality is not available on the 980, only on Roomba’s i7 and i7+ robot vacuums. However, with this advanced technology, you can tell your robot vacuum to clean a specific room. You can do this through the mobile app or through voice controls with Amazon and Google.
Let your i7+ run a few cycles through your home first, that way it will have a detailed map of your floorplan. You want the map to include all the rooms, walls, furniture, and doorways throughout your home.
Once mapping is complete, you then want to go into the mobile app and label all your rooms. From there, you can then instruct your i7+ to clean a specific room based on the name you gave it in the app.
Remember that with its iAdapt 3.0 technology, the i7+ can store ten different maps. That means you can choose specific rooms that you want your robot vacuum to clean. So if you only want the living room, office, and kitchen cleaned, but not your bedroom, you can specify that in the app (or via voice control) and that’s all the vacuum will clean.
Here’s a quick comparison of these two robot vacuums, so you can see how the Roomba i7+ and the 980 stack up against one another.
|Navigation||iAdapt 2.0||iAdapt 3.0|
|Runtime||120 minutes||120 minutes|
|Drop and Bump Sensors||Yes||Yes|
|Imprint Smart Mapping||No||Yes|
|Auto Dustbin Emptying||No||Yes|
With the release of the i7+ in 2018, it’s clear that Roomba intends on staying at the top of the robot vacuum market for the foreseeable future. It’s no secret that the i7+ is the best robot vacuum on the market today, however, that depends on how you view its value. Is it worth the extra money for the self-emptying functionality?
The i7+ (read my full review here!) means that you have one less thing to mess with, however, you do have to purchase new bags every time you run out, which is just an additional expense to an already costly robot vacuum.
If you want to have a high-end robot vacuum, but still save a little bit of money, then you’re better off going with the 980. This vacuum was still at the top-end of the market for several years, so it’s not like you’re skimping on quality and features by going with the 980 (read my full review here!).
The bottom line for these two robot vacuums comes down to two things: cost and self-emptying functionality. If you don’t mind shelling out the extra money to have the most recent features and technology, then the i7+ is the robot vacuum for you. If, however, you don’t mind settling for a high-quality robot vacuum that doesn’t have the latest features and is a little cheaper, you might consider the 980.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!