Vacuums have come a long way. From manual, noisy vacuums to wireless ones, and now to robot vacuums. The robot vacuums clean your carpet and other surfaces with accuracy and precision. iRobot’s Roomba i7+ and Roomba i9+ were game-changers in the robot vacuuming industry. Other robots still required you to manually empty the collected debris from the dustbin. The Roomba changed all that with a self-emptying dustbin. iRobot Roomba i3, while representing true hands-free cleaning with a self-emptying dustbin, is the company’s cheapest robot vacuum. But does it get the job done? Here’s our take.
iRobot Roomba i3: Price and Availability
Roomba i3 was released in early 2020 and was the first robot vacuum integrated with the Clean Base (self-emptying dustbin) that was actually affordable. Usually, a robot vacuum with such tech would cost upwards of $800 (check iRobot Roomba i6+ or Roomba i7+), which originally cost $796.00 and $999.99 respectively. At only $599.99 on Amazon (now offered at $499.00 (17 percent discount) and $499 on iRobot store , it's one of the cheapest robot vacuums with automatic dirt disposal. However, you can opt for the model without the Clean Base for $200 less, at $399 (now offered at a limited discount of $299). The Clean Base uses disposable vacuum bags to ensure that you don’t get anywhere near the dust. According to the company, the unit comes with two disposable vacuum bags. One already installed and an extra one in the box. iRobot claims that one bag can last around 60 days on the i3. You can replace the bags by getting a three-pack at $15 on Amazon or for $5 more on the iRobot site. However, the dirt bags are wasteful since you cannot empty the dirt and reuse them. We hope iRobot considers developing a system that utilized reusable bags.
iRobot Roomba i3: Design
The i3 shares the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal dock as the more expensive models, which also charges the device. Whenever the robot vacuum cleaner docks after cleaning, the motor kicks in as it sucks the content of the dustbin into the disposable bag. You’ll notice three buttons on the top side of the robot. One large “Clean” button takes the center, flanked by the Spot Clean and Home buttons on the opposite sides. The “Clean” button has a ring that pulses when it's charging and turns a solid white when it's fully charged. The ring pulses red when the battery is low, turns blue when initiating the Clean Base, and flashes blue when it's in Dirt Detect mode. The unit is equipped with a Room Confinement (RCON) sensor, which enables it to detect its Clean Base. There is a Light Touch sensor that detects obstacles like walls and furniture. At the bottom, the unit is fitted with four Cliff sensors that help prevent it from falling off the stairs. It also comes with a Tracking sensor that helps it to clean in a neat row-fashion, instead of randomly. The Roomba i3 measures 13.26 inches, which puts it between the 13-inch Roomba 675 and the 13.3-inch Roomba i7. It's 3.6 inches high, like the Roomba i7, which means it can clean under certain types of furniture.
iRobot Roomba i3: Performance
The Roomba i3 does most of what it's designed to do. It starts by cleaning the center of the rooms, before heading out to the edges. When it detects a particularly dirty area, it automatically switches to Dirt Detect mode, cleaning the area multiple times until it's squeaky clean. Some customers shared complaints about the lack of Roomba i3’s accuracy when picking pet hair. However, it excelled on other debris like cereal. Overall, the i3 worked efficiently and fast. But, there’s one downside. The noise can be too much. If you hate loud noise, you may want to consider scheduling cleaning when you're not in your office or after you leave the house. It can clean for up to 90 minutes before it requires recharging. However, the time might differ depending on the type of surface and the level of dirt. The best part is that it returns to the Clean Base to recharge and pick up where it left off once the power is sufficient.
iRobot Roomba i3: App
The Roomba’s control app works pretty well and sports a nice interface. You can customize it to include your “Favorite” cleaning modes. You can also create cleaning schedules for when you want the Roomba to clean your rooms. You can schedule the robot to start cleaning at a specific time or opt for the ‘Automation’ schedule that sets the robot to start cleaning when you leaving the house. The app easily integrates with other home automation devices like Ecobee smart thermostat, August Smart Lock, or smart power switches. It also supports Alexa and Google Assistant. The app alerts you when the battery runs low, when the robot gets stuck, and when it will resume cleaning after recharging, among other things.
iRobot Roomba i3+: Verdict
Overall, the iRobot Roomba i3 vacuum cleaner is a good option for those looking for an affordable version of the Roomba i7+. However, the i3+ lacks customizable maps that other higher-end options have. You also don’t get a virtual wall barrier, which can be purchased separately for $60. Despite the drawbacks, you get a solid performance from this machine, without having to drain your bank account. All in all, it makes for a good starting point for anyone trying to test the waters of complete hands-free cleaning.
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