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The iRobot Roomba i3+ was my first-ever robot vacuum. I’m not sure what I expected: maybe a miniature Rosey the Robot, like the maid in the Jetsons, or a spinning disc that would weave around my house and entertain my cat for me. What I got was a mix of both, and then some; I named him Roomboo, and he kept my cat engaged while he swept up cat hair and crumbs from my floors.

It’s not all good for all of us, though. Fern, my little rescue cat, lives in fear of running into Roomboo by accident. She won’t ride this iRobot Roomba, choosing instead to follow it from a respectful distance. She stalks it around the house as it vacuums up her hair and kibble, convinced that she’s keeping us safe from it (while in reality, it’s keeping me safe from her dander).

What in the box of the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum?

The iRobot Roomba i3+ comes in a large box. It’s heavy, and for good reason; the Roomba itself is plastic, but it’s sturdily made and heavy enough to maintain course. The Plus of the i3+ references the fact that it comes as a vacuum plus disposal; its large Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal serves as both a docking station and waste bin. The disposal is tall and sleek, and designed to store up to 60 days of vacuuming waste.

iRobot-Roomba-i3-plus-1Also in the box of the Roomba i3+, you’ll find an instruction manual and power cord, as well as two sets of filters and vacuum bags. Each bag features an AllergenLock Bag design, which iRobot says traps “99% of pollen and mould to keep your home fresh and clean.” I don’t have a problem with pollen or mould, and I tried out this vacuum in October, so I can’t speak to its pollen-capturing abilities. I can, however, say that it does an excellent job of vacuuming up and capturing cat hairs from my heavy-shedding kitty!

The Roomba i3+ doesn’t come with a mopping function, but it features Imprint Link Technology. Imprint Link lets you connect your Roomba to an iRobot Braava Jet (specifically, the Braava Jet m6 Robot Mop), so that they can vacuum and mop in sequence. Each one is given access to the other’s map, so they can finish the job in less time and without mop-to-vacuum overlap.

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What makes the iRobot Roomba i3+ unique?

The iRobot Roomba i3+ is a more affordable option in the i+ (Plus) line. Each of the Roomba lines available at time of publication (October, 2020) highlights a different feature from the brand’s technology. The luxury s Series features the best of what iRobot has to offer. The i Series is a small step down, but is still feels luxurious. Slightly more affordable than the s Series, i Series vacuums mix a sleek design with intense suction and custom control through the iRobot app.

The remainder of the Roomba line, including the e Series and the 600 Series, features more affordable options with less powerful motors. These products clean diligently, but don’t necessarily offer app support.

What makes the iRobot i3 and i3+ so noteworthy is that they introduce slightly more affordable options to the i Series. Each one offers smart connectivity and voice control, letting you see where it cleans and giving seasonal cleaning recommendations. However, unlike the i7 products, the i3 and i3+ only show you the map of your home. They don’t allow you to select regions to clean, or mark off areas as “Keep Out” zones. While the i3 needs to be emptied after every vacuuming job, the i3+ goes back to its tower-like home base when it’s full and allows itself to be (very noisily and effectively) emptied.

Beyond that, it also looks great. The i3+ has a ring of high-quality fabric around its upper edge, and it’s honestly just stunning. For a vacuum, I think it’s very stylish, and I say this as a long-time Dyson user! Its salt and pepper grey fabric finish on a black body make it look sleek, minimalistic, and a little masculine, which I love. A man should be cleaning my floors every now and again!

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What I loved about the iRobot i3+

I loved having a Roomba in the house. As a neat freak with chronic pain, it’s difficult for me to keep up with the cleaning—especially when it comes to the floors. I can’t haul around a vacuum anymore, and the ones that I can wrangle rarely provide the suction I’m looking for.

The iRobot i3+ is heavy, but not as heavy as a full vacuum. It’s easy to pick up when necessary, but does most of its traversing without any help. It uses a three-stage cleaning system, which gives it “10 times the power-lifting suction of previous models.” I’m often skeptical of “ten times” statements, but for the iRobot i3+, I believe it: if my lack of a runny nose is to be trusted, this tiny little vacuum cleaned up as much dander as our central vacuum does.

I loved being able to see which areas my little Roomboo the Roomba finished cleaning, and its Dirt Detect sensors and wonderful little rotating brushes were able to get my home sparkling clean without my ever having to lift a finger. You also get a handy memory feature with the i Series; when interrupted partway through a cleaning session, these models remember where they left off, and continue their session when they’re able.

The result is a faster, more efficient clean for larger homes. Paired with the fact that its tower only needs to be emptied once every two months (instead of its bin needing to be emptied after every use) and the fact that Roombas are smart enough not to throw themselves down the stairs during regular use, the iRobot i Series Plus models lend themselves to a very hands-off, worry-free, automatic clean.

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The limitations of the iRobot i3+ 

As much as I loved the iRobot Roomba i3+ (and would definitely still recommend it to a friend), it isn’t without its limitations. iRobot is notorious for sending its robot vacuums in inefficient paths around your house, and unfortunately, the i Series is no different. While it has an option for one-pass cleaning, its automatic setting cleans as the vacuum sees fit—and does it take its time! My cleaning sessions took a half hour each time, but when I actually look at the map that the Roomba followed, it’s only covering about half of my house.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only issue I had with the Roomba i3+. The poor little guy kept getting stuck on my high-pile carpet, and trapped himself twice in the bottom of a side table. It was a very cute predicament—he sent an alert to my phone and everything!—but it was far from an automatic clean.

From what I can guess, Roomboo was able to gather enough momentum to hurdle himself over and into the base of the table. Once inside, however, he couldn’t manage the necessary speed to pop himself back out. The result is that my i3+ kept running out of battery, stuck in the living room, and would return to its Clean Base without having actually vacuumed my living room at all.

Finally, there’s what I like to call “The Rice Issue.” The Rice Issue is that the i3+ has a powerful vacuum and a wonderful amount of cleaning strength. Its Clean Base, however, lacks the strength to fully empty its washable bin. You might be able to guess what I’m about to say next: it reliably emptied the vacuum efficiently of everything except rice. For some reason, there was always a little bit of rice left over.

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Who is the i3+ right for?

My experiences with this particular iRobot were both good and bad. I loved having a little automatic vacuum to do my cleaning, and it did a spectacular job in most of my house! The smart mapping of the i Series and 60-day Clean Base of the Plus models are smart, handy enrichments for any household.

However, the iRobot i3+ wasn’t quite right for me. The high pile carpet in my living room, paired with a boxed-in table like this one and a floor-length mirror with mirrored edges, turned out to be too much for my poor little iRobot and its sensors. It entered my living room each day and got hopelessly lost, trapped, or stuck, resulting in an incomplete cleaning job and a series of hilarious but disappointing cleaning maps. You can see them above, crisp and clear but delightfully nonsensical given the actual shape of my house (approximated in blue).

If you’re looking for a hands-free clean and you don’t have a high-pile carpet or floor-length mirrored furniture anywhere in your house, the i3+ is fantastic. I loved its personable design and simple app control. It did a great job of cleaning up kitty litter and kitchen crumbs, and got into every corner and cranny of our home. Just make sure to survey your layout before you purchase, and check for any surefire robot traps (like thick carpet and furniture with frames on the floor)!

Shop the iRobot Roomba i3+ online at Best Buy.

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