Review: iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO with Clean Base Dirt Disposal

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Erin Lawrence

irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

I’ve owned a robot vacuum of one kind or another for years. The convenience and ease with which they can keep your home tidy between deep cleanings is important to me. While the cleaning properties and helpfulness of these gadgets have been hard to argue with, the price has kept this technology out of reach for a lot of customers. That may change with the launch of the Roomba® i3+ robot vacuum. This iRobot version is packed with advanced features and has a softer new look. Starting at a much more budget-friendly $749CAD, the Roomba i3+ gives you some of the features of the higher end Roombas like intelligent navigation, self-emptying capabilities using the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, and it lets you control almost every aspect of your clean using the iRobot app. So is this budget bot on par with pricier vacuums and how well does it clean? Let’s dig in since I had a chance to have one of these running in my home for a few weeks of review…

iRobot i3+ EVO
4

Summary

Overall, this vacuum does a lot: it cleans very well, and I love the automatic dirt disposal, since it cleaner and means I don’t need to empty my bot daily.  I think this Roomba is a great blend of useful features and an affordable price point.

Pros

  • Budget bot; affordable
  • Comes with automatic dirt disposal dock
  • Cleans well
  • Smart navigation

Cons

  • Gets stuck more often than smarter bots

A word about older models of i3+

I’ll make a quick note here about anyone who bought the original i3+. If you purchased your vacuum a few years ago, it was simply known as the i3+, without the EVO designation. The great news for anyone who owns one of the original bots is that a firmware update will give you the mapping smarts, without you needing to purchase a brand new bot. Kudos to iRobot for that, and for dropping the price on this model, while adding those smarts.

Starting at a much more budget-friendly $549US/$699CAD, the Roomba i3+ gives you some of the features of the higher end Roombas like intelligent navigation, self-emptying capabilities using the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, and it lets you control almost every aspect of your clean using the iRobot app. So is this budget bot on par with pricier vacuums and how well does it clean? Let’s dig in since I had a chance to have one of these running in my home for a few weeks of review…

What do you get with iRobot Roomba i3+ Evo?

In the package you’ll get a new look round Roomba vacuum; the new look is thanks to a softer woven panel on the top of the bot. While iRobot says it’s meant to be more durable, and that the woven texture will minimize fingerprints and collect less dust, I think it’s more likely you just won’t be able to see the dust and prints so well any more on the textured surface.

irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, reviewThe i3+ works just like any other Roomba, it kind of feels its way around your room by nudging into things, then avoiding obstacles or blocks and moving on. Cliff sensors prevent it from falling down stairs.

Also in this kit is the iRobot Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit. This automatic empty container was launched a couple years ago on pricier Roombas like the i7 and s9 (the + in the name indicates the disposal base is included). You do also have the option of just purchasing the vacuum bot for a lower price.
irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

What’s the advantage of the iRobot Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit?

This dustbin is a game changer for vacuum owners and it has a few features which make it an upgrade worth considering.

The clean base means the Roomba can now empty itself. The newest Robot in the Roomba fleet is available with a special dock that contains a dustbin and sealed vacuum bag, so that any time the Roomba is full, it’ll head back to its base station and automatically empty itself. This dock is also a charging station, and the robot will go home to recharge before finishing a clean if it needs to.

Once it docks you’ll hear the internal vacuum come on (yes, this is very much a vacuum within a vacuum!) and it sucks all the dirt out of the onboard dustbin and into a bag inside the base. You’ll never see a grain of dirt.

The emptying process is loud and I’d say it sounds like a regular upright vacuum on full, and it’s definitely quite a contrast to the low noise level of the Roomba itself.

Special vacuum bags to keep grime & allergens in

Roomba i3+ and its Clean Base also has a high efficiency filter and Allergen-Lock bags that capture 99 % of pollen, mold, and dustmites plus cat and dog allergens. That means that when the vacuum empties itself it’s not spewing dirty air back into the room. The base and bags should hold about 60 days worth of cleaning debris, depending on how often you use your bot. In my experience, sweeping every few days only, the bag lasted 3 months!
irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

Getting started with smart mapping

For this bot to work effectively, you need it to first map your space. Essentially your Roomba i3 will go out all over your house and use its sensors to draw an accurate floorplan of your home. Then you can use that to do room-specific cleaning.
Creating the smart map will probably take several passes. You can make this happen all in one day by repeatedly sending the bot out on suction-less mapping runs, or you can just instruct it to go out and clean over a few days. The app will tell you when it’s had enough time in your house to generate the automatic map.

View the map, make adjustments and label rooms

Next, view the map and label your rooms. This will involve putting dividers between rooms or spaces, and giving each room a label. The i3 did a very accurate job of mapping my space. The labelling and naming is pretty straightforward and is easy enough to manage.

Once you have all of your rooms labelled and assigned, you’ll be able to schedule or initiate room specific cleanings on the spot whenever you want. More on that in a bit…

irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

Roomba s9 on left and the i3 on right.

How well does Roomba i3+ clean?

To the question you all no doubt have: how well does this less expensive Roomba clean?

I’ve found overall Roombas clean very well and this robot is no exception; Roombas can pick up a lot of different things, from pet hair, to crumbs, from fine dirt or flour to grittier bits like cereal or crackers. While bigger and looser items like cereal pieces might ger spun across the floor by the brushes sometimes, I find they do gert picked up in subsequent passes.

Special power features of iRobot i3+ Evo

This robot has 3-Stage Cleaning and 10 times the power of older iRobot models says iRobot, which allows it to better inhale embedded dirt, debris and pet hair. Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes underneath also provide different ways to get dirt off the floor and into the bot.

Dirt Detect technology

Something called Dirt Detect Technology removes dirt from high-traffic spots thanks to special sensors that recognize areas that need more attention, prompting the robot to clean them more thoroughly. In my experience with this it was kind of hard to see it working; I didn’t notice it going over certain spots more than others, so I’ll take iRobot’s word for this for now.
irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

How does Roomba i3+ handle different floor types?

The Roomba i3+ handles going over multiple types of floors quite well.

In my home it went from tile to hardwood to carpet and cleaned each floor well. I’ve heard from viewers on my YouTube channel that it doesn’t handle tall transitions between floors well, but in my home it hasn’t been an issue (though honestly my transitions are mostly flat). In short, I would say this Roomba does a great job vacuuming up.

The i3 can get around and underneath things where the pet hair tends to collect, like underneath chairs, dressers and narrower spaces in the hallways.

And the i3 even did a good job of getting into tighter spaces and getting close to corners thanks to a spinning brush near the front of the bot, however his round shape means he can’t get into them perfectly.

That’s another difference the i3 has from the more expensive s9: the D-shape of that Roomba is meant to let it nudge into corners better. With that said, the tiny brushes that extend from the Roomba i3 do increase the robot’s reach.

Overall I was pleased with how the robot was able to clean, and the spaces he was able to get into, but yes, corners and narrow areas are sometimes a challenge.

Handy Spot Cleaning with Roomba i3

The i3 Roomba also has a very handy ‘spot clean’ mode and it works very well. If you drop something on the floor or have a particularly dirty or dusty area, you can carry the Roomba over to it and choose ‘spot clean’.

The i3 starts a spinning dance, sweeping in a series of swirl patterns and picks up whatever’s in that small area. I decided to test this feature by pouring some flour on the floor and then bringing the Roomba over to test it.

I have some grout missing from spots on our tile floor, and while the Roomba did not have the suction power to get the flour out of those deeper crevices, he was able to get every last bit of flour from the tile surface.
irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

Does Roomba i3 get stuck?

I will say I have come home a couple of times to find my Roombas hovering over the stairs, or stuck on a rug or a stray pair of underwear, but it’s not too frequent. That’s because if the i3 gets in a spot he can’t get out of, he’ll just shut down and wait for you to rescue him, beeping out a few ‘help me’ chirps.

He also has a built-in ability to untangle himself from any cords he may get caught on.

Even so, I find Roombas are the least likely of all the robot vacuums I’ve reviewed, to ever get stuck.

Schedule your clean for when you’re not home

Using the schedule feature in the iRobot app, you can choose which days of the week and times of day you’d like your robot to clean for you, making it easy to sweep up while you’re at work or out.

Is iRobot Roomba i3 noisy?

One of the questions many shoppers have when shopping for a robot vacuum is, will it be noisy when it’s running? I can say with confidence, that all vacuums are noisy; where we can debate is the degree of noise. Most folks would not be able to sleep through a robot vacuum cleaning cycle, and you probably wouldn’t want to take a zoom call when it’s running. The handy thing about your robot housekeeper is that you can schedule him to do your bidding while you’re outside, running errands, or otherwise not home.

The emptying of the Dirt Disposal unit is ear-splittingly loud by contrast and audible even clear across the house.

Will my Roomba i3 work with Google or Alexa?

One of the great things about iRobot’s Roomba devices is that it works with both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. That means you can just ask your assistant to send it out, send it home, pause the clean and more. I’ve found the digital assistant features work very well and they’re very convenient. Getting them set up involves linking your digital assistant app to the iRobot app, and from there you can say, ‘Google, tell Roomba to sweep the house’.
irobot, roomba, i3+, vacuum, robot, review

Can a Roomba robot vacuum replace an upright vacuum?

This is a question I get all the time. The answer is, that depends. While Roomba is a great way to keep regular maintenance down, it can’t go everywhere.
In my experience, it does a lot but you may still need to keep a larger or more powerful vacuum with some attachments to do deeper cleans now and again, and to get into small spaces and handle things like carpet and upholstery.

Overall review: iRobot Roomba i3+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal

Overall, this vacuum does a lot: it cleans very well, and I love the automatic dirt disposal, since it cleaner and means I don’t need to empty my bot daily. Any downsides to this device can be fixed by upgrading to different Roombas: if you wan to get that home mapping and clean by room, upgrade to a i7 or s9. While I do think Roombas still get caught or stuck more than they should, that’s a hazard of not picking up dog toys, socks or phone cords before you clean.

I think this Roomba is a great blend of useful features and an affordable price point.

 

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