Famous for its iconic Roomba series, the iRobot is the leading manufacturer of robot vacuum cleaners. In this article, we feature an in-depth comparison of three of its notable robot vacuums, the iRobot i7+ (7550), the Roomba 980 and the Roomba 960. The Roomba i7+ is its most recent model and is the company’s magnum opus. The three robovacs feature the iAdapt navigation technology and infrared sensors that allow them to create a map of any floor plan, before utilizing the three-stage cleaning system to leave the house spotlessly clean. Let us look at the similarities and differences between the three robot vacuum cleaners.
Differences between iRobot i7+ vs. 980 vs. 960
980 & 960
The Roomba 980 and 960 feature the iAdapt 2.0 navigation system that utilizes a combination of a camera and sensors to navigate easily throughout the home. The camera creates a visual map of the whole house, while the infrared sensors allow the devices to steer around obstacles and avoid stairways. The mapping is visible on the iRobot Home App, which allows you to view where the two devices have cleaned and the areas they have not.
The i7+ utilizes the iAdapt 3.0 with vSLAM technology, an upgraded version of the iAdapt 2.0. Apart from smooth navigation, the 3.0 is also integrated with an upgraded dirt detection system, which allows the i7+ to take note of areas with a high concentration of dirt and commit them to memory. The next time it runs a cleaning cycle, it will perform a more thorough cleaning procedure in those areas. The upgrade also enables the i7+ to map up to 10 different floor plans. It has a large memory, which is enough to map your whole house plus any other house you take it to.
This robot vacuum also can create landmarks, such as furniture to help it identify and differentiate each room. This allows it to create proper cleaning plans for each room and to keep track of areas it has not yet cleaned. You can rearrange the room, and the i7+ will still identify the landmarks and update its cleaning plan with ease.
Bottom Line: The iAdapt 3.0 is an upgraded version of the iAdapt 2.0, which means that the i7+ has a better navigation system than the 980 and 960.
Collection Bins and Filter System
980 & 960
The Roomba 980 & 960 have the same 0.5L collection bins, which is enough to last several cleaning cycles before emptying. In both cases, debris disposal is done manually by dislodging the bin and emptying the contents in a dust bin. They also feature the same advanced filter system with HEPA grade filters that can get rid of 99% of debris and harmful allergens from the air. As a result, the two robot vacuums are recommended for people with pets or allergies.
The i7+ also comes with a washable collection bin that is slightly smaller at 0.3L capacity. Besides, it has the automatic dirt disposable feature that takes away the burden of emptying the bin from you. Its charging station has a unique design, which allows it to doubles as a dirt disposal area. It includes a 12-inch compartment that is referred to as the Clean Base and is where the i7+ automatically offloads the debris. Inside the Clean Base is a garbage bag that can hold up to 30 collection bins. And when the garbage bag is full, you will get a notification via the mobile app to dispose of the bag. The i7+ also features a highly efficient filter system that traps 99% of dust and allergens.
Bottom Line: The i7+ has the superior debris disposal system, due to the Clean Base and the automatic dirt disposable feature. The only problem is the additional costs of garbage bags.
Battery Power and Performance
iRobot i7+ & 980
The i7+ and 980 use the same 3300mAh lithium-ion battery, which can run up to 120 minutes depending on the cleaning mode. The two robot vacuums feature a power boost mode that increases speed and suction to handle the tough carpet fibers. As a result, the mode consumes more power and reduces the runtime. But this is not much of a hurdle as the two devices can sense when the battery is running low and automatically move back to the charging station. It takes about 3 to 4 hours for both batteries to charge fully and the two robovacs can resume work from where they left off.
When it comes to performance, both robot vacuums utilize the AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system with tangle-free multi-surface brushes and an edge sweeping brush. The Power-Lifting Suction offers 10X the air power needed to handle tough carpet fibers. With the Auto-Adjust cleaning head, the two robovacs are able to automatically adapt their height to allow the brushes to come into contact with different floor surfaces.
The Roomba 960 has a slightly less powerful battery with a maximum runtime of 75 minutes. It also features a self-recharging function that allows it to return to the docking station automatically. The charging time lasts up to 4 hours, after which the robot vacuum can resume work. This robovac also features the 3-stage cleaning system with multi-surface brushes and even includes the Auto-Adjust cleaning head for better floor contact. However, the Roomba 960 does not offer the Power Boost function, and its Power-Lifting Suction only delivers 5X air power.
Bottom Line: The Roomba 960 pales in comparison to the other two when it comes to performance and battery power.
Roomba 980 & 960
The two robot vacuums have only three control buttons on their design, which offer very limited cleaning options. There is a large clean button, a spot clean button, and a return to the charging dock button. Most of the functions of the two devices are controlled by the iRobot Home App. The app offers a wide range of cleaning options for you, such as naming the robot which is convenient for voice commands, setting various cleaning preferences, selecting cleaning modes, selecting one or two passes when cleaning and starting/stopping/pausing/resuming a cleaning cycle. You can view the Clean Map reports to see areas cleaned and also have access to support and tips from the company via your phone. The two devices also support Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, which allows you to use voice commands to control the two machines.
The i7+ also features the same design as the two and even includes the three control buttons on its body. It is also fully operated by the iRobot Home App and also supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands. However, the inclusion of the Imprint Smart Mapping feature separates the i7+ from the two. This advanced mapping feature allows the robot to create a detailed map of your home, creating and memorizing landmarks in each room. It then allows you to name each room, which makes it easier to command the i7+ to clean a specific room.
Bottom Line: Although the 980 and 960 have Virtual Wall Barriers feature that prevents the robot vacuums from accessing a room, the Imprint Smart Mapping is a very convenient and practical feature that makes scheduling cleaning a stress-free affair.
The Roomba i7+ is the clear cut winner. It is the latest model from iRobot and therefore includes all the fancy and latest features of the Roomba series. The iRobot Roomba 980 comes second followed by the 960. What makes the 960 come last in this head-to-head matchup is because it utilizes an older motor of the 800 series, has a shorter battery runtime and does not come with a power boost mode. It is the cheapest of the three and also performs well beyond expectations.