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The New Roomba Can Vacuum and Mop -- Without Getting Water on Your Carpet

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7 Plus can navigate hard floors and carpets and switch cleaning methods for each.

A Roomba Combo j7 Plus moving from hardwood floor to carpet
The new Roomba Combo j7 Plus can easily move from mopping your hardwood floor to vacuuming your carpet. 
Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

The popular Roomba robot vacuum has a new trick: mopping. iRobot's Roomba Combo j7 Plus is the first model built for homes with carpets, rugs and hardwood or tile floors, and it can tell the difference between the two so as not to get water all over your carpet, the company announced Tuesday. 

However, you'll have to pay for those smarts: The Roomba Combo j7 Plus will retail for $1,099, far more expensive than our other picks for best robot vacuums (though none of those include a built-in mop). It's available for presale today on iRobot.com, and will ship starting Oct. 4. 

The new vacuum arrives nearly two months after Amazon signed a deal to acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion. That acquisition is now being scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission, after a group of organizations raised monopoly concerns about Amazon acquiring a competitor in the smart home field, as well as the possibility of adding information about Roomba users' homes to its trove of consumer data. However, for now, the acquisition has not yet been finalized, and iRobot's privacy policy remains the same.

I got a first look at the Combo j7 Plus in New York City earlier this month. In a demo in a hotel conference room, I watched as it mopped the hardwood floor, and then retracted its mop arms as it lifted itself up onto a carpet and began vacuuming, leaving the carpet dry. It could then travel back to its base and, like other recent Roomba models, empty its dustbin on its own into the base.

It was impressive, and I could see how it might be useful in particular for apartments or to keep on a busy main floor of a home -- especially compared to the previous option from iRobot, which was to purchase two devices, a Roomba to do the vacuuming and a $499 Braava Jet m6 to do the mopping. 

Roomba j7 Plus and base

The Roomba j7 Plus navigates back to its Clean Base, where it empties out the dirt it vacuumed up.

Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

And iRobot says that unlike other 2-in-1s, the Combo j7 Plus will vacuum carpets and rugs first, and then vacuum and mop hard floors at the same time, cleaning the area in a single job. But would it be useful enough to justify the $1,099 price tag, particularly when there are other combo vacuum and mops on the market for far less (though arguably with less advanced features)? We'll have a better sense once we've had a chance to run some more exhaustive comparison tests with devices like those.

The Combo j7 Plus runs with iRobot OS 5 and its Precision Vision Navigation system (which includes a camera and sensors that help it see and identify objects around it). It can identify more than 80 household objects and clean around them, including litter boxes, toilet bowls and dishwashers, according to the company. You can also pair it with your voice assistant (it understands 600 voice commands) to direct it to clean specific rooms, or customize the clean (like which rooms should be mopped and vacuumed or just one or the other) on the iRobot Home app. 

If you're looking for a robot vacuum that is not a Roomba, we've tested the best Roomba alternatives