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This midrange Roomba adds smarts and empties its own dustbin

iRobot's new Roomba i3 Plus gets you a cool feature for less cash than other Roombas.

The new Roomba i3 Plus can empty its dustbin.

iRobot's new $600 Roomba i3 Plus strikes an interesting balance between price and features. This robot vacuum cleaner offers some of iRobot's most advanced features, like connectivity and automated bin emptying, but at a lower price than iRobot's higher-end models. 

The Roomba i3 Plus is also compatible, at least partially, with the iRobot Genius Home Intelligence platform. The complete system combines a newly revamped mobile application with voice controls and sophisticated mapping and trap avoidance. To enjoy all those features, you still have to spend big bucks on either the Roomba s9 Plus ($1,100) or Roomba i7 Plus ($800).

The trade-off

The Roomba i3 Plus does provide suggested cleaning times (within the app) based on your cleaning history. The robot will also build a temporary map as it cleans. It uses this working floorplan to systematically navigate through spaces. It's certainly more efficient than randomly bumping around the room. The vacuum also connects to your home network via Wi-Fi. You can control it through the app, and with basic voice assistant commands.

Use basic voice commands to control the Roomba i3 Plus.


That said, the Roomba i3 Plus can't save the maps it builds for later use. It must create a fresh one each time it cleans. So, this model lacks the detailed mapping functions of the s9 and i7. For example you can't clean in specific rooms or zones using the app or your voice. 

And because the Roomba i3 Plus doesn't have a camera, it won't be able to recognize objects like chairs, couches and tables. Robots that do, specifically the Roomba s9 and i7, should over time detect problem areas along with more targeted cleaning zones.

A closer look at the Roomba i3 Plus without its Clean Base dock.


Where to buy it

If you're still interested in the $600 Roomba i3 Plus despite its limitations you're in luck. The model goes on sale today, sold directly by iRobot, both in the US and Canada. It will also land at other retailers in September. iRobot expects to offer global availability starting in the first quarter of 2021.