This year has brought massive steps forward in robotic vacuuming and mopping technology and today on the hookup we’re going to rigorously test the flagship cleaners from iRobot Roomba, Ecovacs, and Roborock to figure out which one is the best of the best.
It’s been 20 years since iRobot released the original Roomba, and after that there were about 15 years of incremental but pretty SMALL improvements. Then around 2015, 5 years after its initial introduction by NEATO, LIDAR laser mapping technology started to show up everywhere and finally made robotic vacuums reliable enough to clean without babysitting which caused massive new interest and sales growth. Then in 2018 iRobot changed the game again when they released the first self-empty bin giving you at least a month of maintenance free cleaning and adding another must have feature to the list.
Since 2018, robotic vacuum makers have been aggressively innovating in an arms race to see who can build the perfect robotic vacuum and mop and the biggest players in that game are Roborock, Ecovacs, and of course iRobot.
We’re going to be looking at the flagship models from each of those brands, and I’m happy to say that they aren’t just copies of one another and each one has taken a unique approach, especially when it comes to mopping.
Starting with the Roomba, for whatever reason iRobot has never put lidar sensors on their robots, and up until this year they have relied entirely on upward facing cameras using a mapping technology called VSLAM that basically takes thousands of pictures of your house and uses landmarks to determine the layout and the robot’s position. When compared to LIDAR mapping VSLAM using an upward facing cameras is slow, complicated, and offers basically no upside. Thankfully this year they decided to switch things up on their newest Roomba, the J7, and used a front facing camera instead. The J7 still relies on VSLAM to create maps which is still slower and less accurate than LIDAR, but at least now they can also use the front facing camera to also do AI Obstacle recognition to avoid running over things like shoes, cords, and course pet waste.
iRobot has also resisted adding mopping to their robotic vacuums and instead uses a separate mopping line of robots called the Braava series, and for this video I bought the highest end version which is the Braava M6. The Braava and Roomba are able to communicate information about maps through what iRobot calls imprint technology, so in addition to vacuuming and mopping performance we’re also going to test how well that works.
Moving on to Roborock I’ll be testing the brand new Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. That’s a lot of modifiers in the name, but they do all mean something. S7 is the model number which designates things like brush design, suction power, and battery capacity, while MaxV is Roborock’s AI computer vision that uses a front facing camera to detect and avoid objects like shoes, cords and again pet waste. Last, the Ultra in the name refers to the base that comes with. If it said plus instead then that would designate Roborocks auto empty vacuum base, but the ultra version includes their mop washing and refilling station in addition to an auto empty bin system.
Although it has a front facing camera the Roborock S7 MaxV still uses LIDAR for its primary mapping system which as I mentioned is both very fast and incredibly accurate. In addition to computer vision object avoidance the S7 MaxV also has front facing laser object avoidance that roborock calls 3d structured light scanning. For mopping the S7 MaxV uses Roborock’s vibrarise technology that vibrates the middle portion of the mopping pad for an efficient scrubbing action, and unique to roborock is the ability to raise that mopping pad approximately a half inch to avoid dragging the mop on carpeted areas as long as you have low to medium pile carpet.
Last moving on to the very aptly named Ecovacs Deebot X1 OMNI, this is the most futuristic, feature rich robotic vacuum ever made. The X1 vacuum itself has lidar mapping, laser object avoidance, and a front facing camera for AI object detection while the OMNI base includes a mop washing and filling station, hot air drying, a very well designed auto empty bin system, and it even has a built in voice assistant called YIKO that can respond to dozens of cleaning and maintenance commands.
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For the first test I want to get the basic stuff out of the way: A robotic vacuum should be good at vacuuming. I made a mixture of 10g of rice, 10g of flax, and 10g of baking flour, sprinkled that onto my laminate flooring and weighed the robots dust bin before and after a cleaning run.
On this hard flooring test the Roborock cleaned up all 30 grams for a score of 100%, while Roomba and the Ecovacs each picked up 24g for a score of 80%. However, something I found interesting with this test was that each of the vacuums left behind a different kind debris. With the roborock there were traces of flour left over but no flax or rice, while the Roomba seemed to clean up almost all of the flour and rice, but left the flax, and the Ecovacs cleaned up everything but the rice. This is pretty surprising since the suction power on the Ecovacs X1 high compared to the Roomba J7, but I think it actually has more to do with brush design than suction.
You can see that the X1 has ecovacs standard bristle and rubber roller which I think when combined with my smooth floors caused it to push the rice grains out of the way before it could suck them up.
In contrast the Roborock S7 has a single rubber roller which is able to make better contact with the floor for pickup of the rice grains.
The Roomba on the other hand has their patented double roller which is known for making great contact with all flooring types and I expected to do very well in this test, but it’s possible that the lower suction power on the J7 wasn’t enough to pick up the heavier flax, and while the rollers could grip the rice for pickup, it’s possible that the flax was just too thin.
To test carpet performance I used the same 30 gram mixture on my brand new 1 week old high pile carpet,and this time the roborock picked up 23 grams or 77%, while the ecovacs picked up 20 grams, or 67%,and last the J7 did surprisingly poorly here only picking up only 16g for a score of 53%. I say surprisingly poorly because this high pile thick carpet is supposed to be where the patented dual roller system shines and is one of the reasons why iRobot has been able to stay competitive despite lacking features like LIDAR mapping and combination mopping robots. It is possible that my carpet is just too high pile and too dense for these rollers which typically do perform much better.
But that wasn’t the only issue caused by my obnoxiously high pile carpet.
First, this is the only carpet that I’ve ever seen that the Roborock vibrarise mop can’t accommodate. The carpet is just too soft and too thick and it caused wheels sink down and cause the mop to make full contact with the carpet. This not only meant that mop got the carpet pretty wet, but it also caused the Roborock S7 to get stuck several times during normal cleaning because the mop dragging on the carpet created a significant amount of friction and caused the wheels to slip. I was able to solve this issue by just manually removing the mop from the back of the Roborock, but to me defeats the main selling point of the vibrarise system.
I did do a little further testing using some carpet samples and a thermal camera and I was able to determine that the vibrarise system is effective for carpets with under a half inch pile, but no matter what style of carpet you have there will be some slight dampness on the transitions between hard flooring and carpet just due to the angle of approach on the robotic mop.
However in contrast to the S7 with vibrarise, the iRobot braava and Ecovacs X1 won’t even attempt to cross carpeted areas, so in my opinion the vibrarise system is still superior if you have a mixture of both carpet and hard flooring.
The second issue that popped up with my new high pile carpet was that the bristles on the Ecovacs brush created a significant amount of carpet fuzz. So much so that the entire bin was filled with fuzz after just a short run. I’m also slightly concerned that this could cause the carpet to look worn prematurely since I do run my upstairs robotic vacuum 5 days a week.
The Roomba J7 also produced a decent amount of carpet fuzz, but only about half as much as the Ecovacs X1, and out of the three vacuums the roborock S7 produced by far the least amount of carpet fuzz with its single rubber roller design.
I also used this carpet fuzz test to evaluate the design of the auto empty bins, since I had specifically run into an issue with the previous Ecovacs auto empty design which used two smaller ports and often struggled when emptying large amount of pet hair, or carpet fuzz.
In this test none of the vacuums had any issues with the large amounts fuzz clogging the bin and all of them were able to completely empty their bins autonomously. I also did a quick check to measure the quality of the filtration system on these auto empty bins by filling each robot’s dust bin with 30 grams of fine dust from an old vacuum bag and I measured the air quality around the base during emptying. In this test the ecovacs X1 OMNI base and roborock ultra base actually decreased the number of fine particles in the surrounding air during the emptying process, while the Roomba J7 base caused a slight increase in small particles indicating a less efficient air filtration system, but still not enough to cause alarm.
Next let’s talk about mopping performance. For this test I placed 1 teaspoon of coffee and 1 teaspoon of grape jelly on my vinyl flooring and let them dry for exactly 30 minutes. After that I sent the mops out to do an area clean in a roughly 10ft by 10ft area and here are the results.
The Ecovacs X1 OMNI completed this mopping run in 11 minutes with very good results. The dual spinning mopping pads were able to easily clean up the coffee spill and left very little residue from the jelly. Also impressive was that the area around the jelly wasn’t sticky or wet, which can’t be said for the other mops.
After a quick clean up the Roborock S7 MaxV with the vibrarise mop was next. For this 10ft by 10ft area the Roborock took significantly longer, completing its mopping run in 18 minutes compared to the ecovacs 11 minutes, and while it was able to easily clean up the coffee spill, there was unfortunately still a very noticeable jelly stain and even more unfortunately the stickiness of the jelly got spread around to the entire area, so before starting the next run I did a thorough manual mopping of the floor.
Then sent out irobot’s mop, the Braava M6.
The M6 cleans by spraying a cleaning solution out the front of the robot and then driving over stains with a microfiber mopping pad. The Braava M6 was the slowest of the three needing 19 minutes to mop the same 10ft by 10ft area and although it was able to mop up the coffee spill, the jelly was way too much for it and you can see that just like the with Roborock, everywhere the Braava went after running over the Jelly was a sticky wet mess.
I also noticed that the Braava M6 seemed to leave the floor the wettest, so I measured the water usage for each of the robots. Starting with the easiest calculation, the Braava mop’s water tank weighed 551 grams before the mopping run and 434grams after, meaning 117mL of water ended up on the floor in a 10ft by 10ft area.
The roborock s7 and the ecovacs X1 were slightly more difficult to calculate because they use clean water to wash the mopping pads, and they also refill the robots internal water tank, but after subtracting out the water in the dirty water tank I calculated that the roborock S7 left 132mL of water on the floor and the ecovacs X1 left 140mL. However, just a visual inspection after mopping makes me question these results since there was almost no visible water after the Ecovacs X1 mopping run and very little after the S7, especially when compared to the Braava M6. My guess is that these discrepancies are based off of water that was used to wash the mops but didn’t get sucked into the dirty water tank, and water that was left in the mopping pad after washing.
On the ecovacs OMNI base the mopping pads are washed by rotating them against these suction stations and spraying them with clean water, while the Roborock Ultra base has a spinning brush that not only sprays water, but also moves back and forth over the mopping pad to remove any dirt.
Both the Ecovacs OMNI base and the Roborock Ultra base cleaned the pads before and after the mopping run for two total cleanings and the Roborock Ultra base had 158mL of dirty water in the tank, which means roughly 79mL per cleaning while the Ecovacs OMNI base used significantly more water with 442mL in the dirty water tank, meaning it used around 221mL per wash.
After normalizing the volume in the dirty water tanks and giving them a through mixing I measured the total dissolved solids using a TDS meter and found that the dirty water in the roborock ultra base had a TDS of 277 ppm vs 269 ppm in the X1 OMNI dirty water tank. This indicates that the Roborock Ultra base is slightly more efficient at cleaning the mopping pads, but after a physical inspection I can say that neither the X1 OMNI nor the Roborock S7 had any residual stickiness from the jelly on the pad after washing, while the microfiber pad on the Braava M6 mop was noticeably sticky to the touch.
One of the most interesting things that happened during the mopping test was when the Roborock S7 MaxV stopped and turned to look at the Jelly stain before cleaning it up. I’m guessing that the purple color indicated that it wasn’t pet waste and therefore was okay to clean. As I mentioned the Roborock S7 MaxV, Ecovacs X1, and Roomba J7 all have camera based AI object detection designed to help it avoid all objects, but most specifically pet waste.
To test out these object avoidance systems I used two different models of pet waste and an untied running shoe. In this test the Ecovacs X1 did a great job identifying and avoiding the pet waste, but was almost too close for my comfort and I think I’d prefer if it kept a little more distance. The same goes for the shoe, which it did give a slight nudge, and it could have just been pure luck that it didn’t suck the laces into the brush.
The Roborock S7 MaxV didn’t have that same luck and even though it identified and tried to avoid the shoe it did run over the laces and sucked them up into the main brush. I’m not sure if what happened next was programmed in or just luck, but it looks like the vacuum used the furniture in combination with aggressive rotation to pull the laces out of the vacuum, which was a pretty impressive move.
After that it didn’t have any issues avoiding the pet waste but it also got a little too close for comfort, however unlike the X1, there’s actually a setting in the Roborock app to specify that you are in a home with pets which will increase the sensitivity for finding pet waste and will cause the vacuum to keep a safer distance from any potential problem zones.
Last to complete this test was the Roomba J7 which has iRobots P.O.O.P, or pet owners official promise which basically means that they’ll replace your J7 vacuum if it ever runs over pet waste. When the Poop promise was initially announced there were rumors that iRobot would also reimburse you for professionally cleaning your floors, but the actual agreement is a lot more underwhelming only covering replacement of the robot itself and only for 1 year after purchase. Still you can tell that the Roomba J7 was by far the most cautious of the three robots when it came to pet waste and avoided a 2 foot radius around each of the doggy landmines.
But what about the Braava mop?
My initial understanding of the iRobot imprint technology was that the roomba J7 would be able to transmit information about potential problem areas to the Braava M6 mop whenever they were scheduled to do a mop after cleaning run. However, after testing I can confirm that that is not the case the Braava mop has absolutely no ability to avoid objects and will spray and smear any and all dog poop on your hardwood flooring.
Aside from the Braava I was impressed with the AI computer vision performance from all three companies, and in general I thought all three vacuums did much better than average in every category, but I don’t think there is a one size fits all winner between these three flagship vacuums. So here are my overall recommendations but be sure to stick around afterwards to hear some additional nitpicks and final thoughts.
First, if you have a combination of hard flooring and medium to low pile carpet, the Roborock S7 MaxV ultra is the best mopping and vacuuming combination robot ever made. You can create highly customized cleaning schedules that will keep your house vacuumed and mopped with very little maintenance on your part, basically once a month just empty the dirty water tank, fill the clean water tank, and check the brush for tangles.
The vibrarise mopping system is the only one on the market that can travel over carpeted areas to go from one hard surface room to another without dragging the mop on your carpet. Meaning it can perform both tasks without any input on your part which can’t be said for the Ecovacs.
However, if you have only hard floors the Ecovacs X1 OMNI is the best choice since it has significantly better mopping performance than the other two robots.
Its major downfall is that if you DO have carpet you’ll need to manually remove the spinning mopping pads from the X1 to put it in carpet cleaning mode. For me, that defeats the purpose of all the automation built into the base, because I’d still have to remember to switch between mopping and vacuuming modes multiple times a week. In the future I hope we see some arms in the OMNI base that can reach out and detach the mopping pads automatically, which would significantly increase the value of the Ecovacs X1 OMNI in my opinion.
I’ve also got two other small nitpicks and design notes on the OMNI base while I’m at it. First comparing the water tanks on the X1 OMNI to the Roborock Ultra, roborock put the handles on the side of the tanks while Ecovacs put them on the top. The problem with that is that water is pretty heavy and the entire weight of the tank is being supported by this one small plastic tab. If that tab were to wear out or break then you could potentially spill 3 and a half liters of dirty water onto your floor.
Second, the X1 OMNI is an upgrade over the Narwal T10 in almost every way, except that the Narwal base has a convenient removable insert in the mop washing area and that’s important because that area tends to get really gross and being able to pull the entire section out to wash it in the sink is much more convenient and effective than trying to reach your hand into the OMNI base. So while the OMNI base is great and the most advanced system we’ve ever seen on a Robot vacuum, I’ll be looking forward to the improved OMNI V2 Base whenever that happens.
Moving on, we still need to talk about Roomba. If you don’t care about mopping and have primarily carpet then the Roomba J7+ is definitely the cheapest and best way to get computer vision object avoidance, high performance vacuuming, and an auto empty base. Unfortunately, the accompanying mopping solution the Braava M6 is mostly terrible, and you shouldn’t buy it. J7 good, M6 bad.
So those are my general conclusions, but this review isn’t quite over. For regular viewers of my channel you probably know that I’m not a fan of cameras inside my house, especially ones that are connected to random cloud services. So let’s talk privacy.
First, I want to make clear that cameras on Robotic vacuums aren’t new and Roomba has been using them exclusively for over 7 years. I personally don’t love the idea of always on cloud connected cameras and microphone in my house, but my privacy concerns tend to be higher than normal and you will obviously need to make those decisions for yourself, but I want you to have all the information to make that decision.
Starting with the Ecovacs X1 OMNI. Not only does the OMNI have a front facing camera, but it also has a built in voice assistant, and that means putting the X1 OMNI in your house gets you an always on cloud connected microphone and mobile camera. Unfortunately, just like most voice assistants the only command that is processed locally is the wake word and the rest of the voice recording needs to get sent to the cloud for processing. Usually with voice assistants which are basically ubiquitous at this point, that would mean connecting directly to a google service, or an amazon service, but YIKO on the other hand connects directly to the Ecovacs servers, which you may be more or less comfortable with.
That said, I found YIKO to be incredibly convenient and super innovative with features like spot based cleanup where you can tell Yiko to clean where you are and it will use its camera to find you and spot clean in that area. Room based cleaning using YIKO also worked very well, with my one nitpick being that the Ecovacs app doesn’t let you set custom room names, and for some reason puts a number after each room name so instead of saying clean the kitchen I have to say clean kitchen1. Ecovacs also leaned into the camera issue by allowing you to use your X1 OMNI to keep an eye on your house using their video manager function. It does have some pretty cool features like waypoints, home patrol and two way talk, but even though it requires a separate pin and gives an audible warning when someone is watching the camera via the app, it’s still a cloud based camera, and I’m personally not super comfortable with that.
Unfortunately, all of the Ecovacs X1 OMNI’s functionality is tied to the cloud and after blocking it from the internet using my firewall the Ecovacs X1 showed as offline in the app even when I was connected to the same local network. YIKO also became nonfunctional and the only way to start a cleaning was to press the button the dock. I also suspect that Ecovacs may be using some cloud processing for their AI
computer vision because it didn’t do nearly as well avoiding objects without an internet connection. Like most Ecovacs robots the X1 can be integrated into home assistant, which gives you a lot of great functionality, but the integration uses the Ecovacs cloud, so there is unfortunately local control option.
The Roborock S7 MaxV did slightly better in my local control testing, though it still shows up as offline in the app if you block it from the internet. The home assistant integration is impressive and allows for full control, map access and even area and spot cleaning as long as the S7 MaxV has access to the cloud, but once you block cloud access things got a little weird. It was possible to issue basic clean and return to base commands, but the vacuum bounced between connected and unavailable and the map download function stopped working. I will say that the computer vision on the S7 MaxV seems to be just as functional when blocked from the internet indicating that the image processing is done on the robot and not on the cloud, which is a good thing.
As far as manual control of the robot and accessing the video feed, Roborock does allow it via the Roborock app, but it requires manual activation by pressing all 3 buttons on the robot until you hear the voice prompt. The Roborock S7 MaxV also has two way talk which was actually incredibly clear for a wifi based camera, and the video feed wasn’t half bad either. Needless to say, none of this functionality is handled locally, and if you block your Roborock S7 MaxV from the cloud the only way to control it is by issuing those simple commands in home assistant.
As far as I could tell my Roomba J7 didn’t have the option to live stream the camera feed, but I have heard that that feature might be rolling out soon. However, I am happy to report that the J7 integrated into home assistant perfectly and is 100% functional using local control only. After blocking the J7 from the internet it shows offline in the iRobot app, but home assistant control is still instantaneous and like the S7 MaxV the camera avoidance system seems to work perfectly even when blocked from the internet. So, if you’re at all concerned about having a cloud connected camera on your robotic vacuum and you have the network equipment and know how to block specific devices with your firewall then the Roomba J7+ gets an A+ plus rating from me as far as local control and privacy, and will be my new vacuum for the second floor of my house.
Between the X1 OMNI and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra I’d love to be able to use the X1 OMNI for my main floor since I have all hard flooring, but I personally don’t feel comfortable with the always on cloud connected camera and microphone so I’m going to use the Roborock instead. I’d love to be able to get the mapping features working in home assistant using local control, but it doesn’t currently seem possible. Hopefully I’m just doing something wrong though, so if you know a way to do full local control with Roborock vacuums, or even better with the Ecovacs, make sure you let me know down in the comments and I’ll sticky it so everyone can see.
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