iRobot Roomba j7 Plus vs. Samsung Jet Bot AI Plus: the battle of the poop-dodging bot vacs

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I used to babysit my original Roomba back in the day, and I used to follow it around to make sure it didn't go off a cliff or ignore the miniature lighthouses. My biggest issue back then was coming home to a robot vacuum that had gone about 10 minutes into its clean up route and been derailed by a shoe, sock, or dress-up wig.

The robot vacuum manufacturers claim they have cracked it. The latest crop of bots can now see and recognize everyday household objects and navigate around them with ease using improved sensors and artificial intelligence.

Is this feature worth the cost of a top-of-the-line bot? I tested two of the newest products, iRobot's Roomba j7 vacuum and the JetBotai Plus robot and base, and they are not available in your store.

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The main advantage of this feature is that you don't have to clean up before the robot runs. I don't think this is as big of a selling point as some other advances. If the floor is still cluttered, it can't be cleaned. If it means the bot won't get tripped up by that stray cable you didn't know was sitting under the couch or the pair of shoes your significant other carelessly discarded in its path, then there's some benefit.

One of the perks for pet owners is that the bots will avoid poop. If you have a dog who often poops in the living room, iRobot promises its newest vacuum won't clean the place all over the place thanks to its PrecisionVision navigation technology.

The only robot that actually looked at the fake poop was the Roomba.

If it fails, the iRobot Pet Owner Official Promise kicks in, and they will send you a new one, only in the first year, with no word on who will come and clean up the catastrophe. It will avoid phone cords, power cables, shoes, and socks with more objects on their way.

The Jet Bot AI Plus is powered by an Intel processor and has 3D object recognition technology that can identify turds and other common objects. You can use the vacuum to check in on your dog throughout the day.

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The charging docks that can empty the robot's dustbin are found in the Roomba j7 Plus and the JetBot AI Plus. The debris can be held for two to three months before being replaced.

There are all the features.

Both models have all the features you would expect from a high-end robot vacuum: smart mapping, voice assistant compatibility, scheduling, and location-based.

Both robots have an upgrade to intelligent mapping that includes furniture and appliances. It means you can tell the robot to clean in front of the fridge. The Roomba works with a number of voice assistants, including the ones from Amazon and the ones from the other companies.

Adding appliances to the map in the app is possible with the Jet Bot AI Plus. If it gets it wrong, you can add or edit it. The iRobot app lets you add Clean Zones to the map, but it didn't suggest them to me over the course of six weeks. The Jet Bot only has one map, the Roomba allows you to create multiple maps.

The JetBot was clearly inspired by a distant universe.

You can link the robot to the garage door controller or lock of your August lock if you leave a smart connection on the Roomba. You can use a location-based prompt for the robot to get busy while you are gone. This feature is offered through SmartThings. The app is difficult to navigate as it is an entire smart home system, not just an app to run your robot, but it also has a wide variety of automation options.

The mopping robot in Roomba can share maps with the vacuum and you can program it to pop out and mop after the vacuum is done. There are no linked features yet for the robot mop. Stand-alone mop bots are better. Most robot vacs that also mop put most of their power into vacuuming, and the mopping portion is more about ineffectually dragging a wet towel over your floor.

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The Jet Bot is controlled by the SmartThings app. The layout of the test space is shown on the map. It shows an image of an obstacle in the cleaning report. The robot has a camera feed.

One of the most expensive robot vacuums you can buy is the one thatSamsung has. It is a mobile security camera that can be purchased with a bonus that you can actually buy, like Ring's Always Home cam without the hazard of flying.

The Jet Bot AI Plus can be used as a home monitoring device because it has an onboard lens. It can also do things like track your pet and monitor someone sneaking around your house. Because of its height, it can only see what it sees, and it can't do stairs. You can schedule it to patrol on the hour and look for motion, as well as choose up to five spots on the robot's map to go surveil.

If you need to rebuild your Roomba, you can make it an investment that will last.

The free SmartThings Pet add-on in the app can be used to add a pet monitoring feature. You can set a schedule for the Jet Bot to patrol around and look for your pet. If it doesn't find him or her, it will report back. If it does see them, it records a video. This was spotty in my testing. It only ever went into two rooms and refused to check out the living room where the pet was sitting.

You can use the app to control the robot and find your pet, but you have to say, "I am not a helicopter pet parent." I am not a helicopter parent. You can upgrade to 60-second clips for $8 a month or $80 a year, and live streaming and 10-second video clips are free.

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The Clean Base of the Roomba j7 has a ribbed, black plastic design and a faux leather pull tab for access to the bin.

Design decisions.

Both of the robots have unique designs. If you have always wanted a sleek-looking storm-trooper-like robot in your home, this is it. It is a beast, measuring about 10 pounds and measuring at its tallest point, which is when the little LiDAR sensor pops up. It won't be easy to get under that couch. Its tank-like wheels will overcome almost any obstacle.

The Roomba is smaller. It got under all my furniture at 3.5 inches tall. While the Jet Bot has a squared off front end that is 2 inches shorter than the Roomba, it is still able to get into places like along kitchen cabinets.

The bin/dock of the Roomba is much shorter than most of the others. It's not long enough to live under a couch or bed, but it's less obtrusive and has an extra bag, which is helpful. You need to replace your bags every two to three months, with the cost of a five-pack being more expensive than a three-pack.

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The all-white Jet Bot AI Plus has a robot-like eye that glows when the vacuum is in.

The controls on the device vary, too, with one button to start, another to stop, and a third to send it home. A glowing strip at the front gives you an indication of what it is doing and adds to the Star Wars vibe. You will hear a lot of chatter from theSamsung about its daily life. If it gets stuck or runs into a problem, it will keep talking until you rescue it, which is one of its cutesiest phrases. It's not ideal if you like to run it at night. This feature can be turned off.

A single button will start, stop, and pause a clean with a tap or long press to send it home. A spinning ring around the button tells you what the button is doing, white for cleaning, red for low battery, and blue for thinking about stuff.

The spot clean button has been taken away. When your kid knocks the box over, you have to press one button. Most other robot vacuums have this feature. You have to use the app to spot clean.

Testing the JetBot with fake dog poop.

The fake dog poop was being tested on the Roomba j7.

What about that poop?

Back to that signature feature. How well do these machines avoid the daily messes of life? Overall, great. I put a lot of obstacles in their path, from shoes to cables to socks.

The main difference was how it avoided an object. The two bots were able to react to things that could derail them. The item was personal for the SAMSUNG and it always got up close and personal with it before moving on. The Roomba has a light that turns on when it navigates to help it see objects. You can't turn off this light.

This was true with dog poop. If poop was spotted, it would do a dramatic about-turn and give the said excrement a decent amount of space. On the other hand, theSamsung tried to clean everywhere but the spot it was on. It would probably take a small souvenir with it as it brushed up against it. Our test poop was less squishy than the real thing.

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The iRobot app is used to control the Roomba. You manually add clean zones when you map the space. It takes a photo when it encounters an obstacle. If it thinks it can't get around it safely, it will cancel the run.

The Roomba used its intelligence in a way that impressed me. They both take pictures of the objects it finds, but the same thing happens with the Roomba, which gives you the option to create a keep-out zone in the app, so it doesn't go there again. If it is a temporary problem, you can mark it as so. Once you have cleaned up, it will go back and do the places it missed.

The robot flags objects on the map, shows an image, and offers up a guess as to what it was. It doesn't do anything about it.

The ultimate test was failed by the Roomba.

The only robot that went over the fake poop in the repeated trials was the Roomba. It only failed once out of about a dozen tests, but that's all it takes.

Peak performance.

Both of these bots were able to deliver in terms of seamless, methodical navigation that covered the majority of the space while sucking up most of the debris from my hardwood floors. The Jet Bot has a side brush, but it is square, so it is more powerful than the Roomba, which has a side brush.

The Roomba is a bruiser. The j7 took out a piece of my baseboards, even though the new feature, "Sight Touch", supposedly more gently navigates and encounters obstacles than previous generation Roombas. The Jet Bot is too cautious, not getting close enough to some objects to clean properly around them.

When the robot goes over non-plush carpet, it can suck harder. In testing, both performed well, with the Roomba edging theSamsung on dog hair, likely thanks to its two rubber brushes that are in opposite directions.

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The vac ditches wheels for treads that are tank-like, but not good for going under.

The Jet Botai Plus had to check the thresholds for a minute or two before deciding if it was safe to proceed, whereas the Roomba just barreled over them. It sailed right over with its tank-like treads instead of wheels.

The most powerful dog in the lineup is the $1,099 Roomba s9 Plus, which includes the dock/bin. Even if you have more challenging tasks, the j7 is still a good choice, as you don't get the obstacle navigation features of the s9. It fell prey to socks and charging cables in my testing.

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The JetBot has larger wheels than the Roomba. It has a side brush and two rubber brushes.

Both vacuums are loud, and both have one setting, but they all suck the same. In my testing, the max and low levels both hit 73 decibels. Both of them sound like jet engines when they empty their bins. The Jet Bot was more reliable at emptying its bin than I was, since I had to pull some hair and fibers out of the Roomba once or twice.

The Jet Bot has an hour and 45 minutes on full power, while the Roomba has an hour and 45 minutes on one charge. The Jet Bot took almost twice as long to clean our entire downstairs living area as the Roomba because it had to refill in the middle while the Roomba could do the whole space in one go.

I don't like the way the SAMSUNG gets easily confused. If you pick it up while it is running a job, it will forget what it is doing. Occasionally, it would stop mid- job and say there was a problem with its sensor and to turn it off and on again. It would fix it, but it did this many times that it was really annoying.

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The JetBot has a tall cylinder at the back of it that holds a camera and a light source.

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The j7 has a camera that illuminates when it is working.

Is they worth it?

The object navigation is probably not worth the price premium. Is it not going to kill you to tidy up a bit? If you care about the home / pet monitoring feature, the SAMSUNG gets more attractive, but its cleaning prowess is not as good as the Roomba.

The Jet Bot has a built-in camera that costs almost $1,000, but the smart home platform of theSamsung gives it an edge. It has more advanced pet monitoring features, which include playing music to keep your pet calm.

If you are looking for the best clean for your buck and really want to avoid the possibility that the robot won't finish its run because of a stray piece of debris, the Roomba j7 is the one to go with. I like how repairable Roombas are. This investment should last a long time because of the fact that parts are available and you can rebuild your bot if you need to.

I am looking forward to the day when robot vacs sprout arms and actually remove the garbage before they clean. It may be closer than that. Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, told me that the home understanding and object recognition that today helps a Roomba do its job better will be the foundation for the next class of home robots that may, one day, have arms.