I came across this clever new robot vacuum cleaner by chance at a Best Buy electronics store in Brooklyn, where I’d gone to find some arcane lead for a gadget back at Technopolis Towers. The iRobot Roomba i7+ solves the key problem that besets such autonomous cleaning appliances: they have to be compact enough to move nimbly around and clean under sofas and so on, but their small size also necessitates that they have barely any space onboard to store dirt, which means the inconvenience of frequent emptying.
The i7+, however, is automatically emptied by a base unit when it returns for a battery recharge, which it does every 90 minutes or so. There’s a secondary (very loud) cleaner in the base unit to vacuum out the mobile machine while it’s having its pit stop. What’s more, the base unit can empty the robot 30 times before it needs attending to by a human. So now, you can programme the robot to clean an entire floor of a house or a big apartment twice a week while you’re at work and you still shouldn’t need to empty the main dust container more than once a quarter. Using its “smart mapping”, the i7+ also knows which room it’s in and, via its phone app, you can instruct it (from the office, or the beach if you choose) to clean or leave out specific parts of your home. Outstanding gadgetry – and I use that word because you do need to absolutely love gadgets and be understanding of their ways to get the most out of the i7+. Yes, it is expensive – the cost of 10 lesser robot vacuums and 50 per cent more than even the perkily priced Dyson 360 Eye – but to me worth the money and the moderate effort to master it.