New to the world of robot vacuums this year is the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, which combines the company’s most advanced standalone vacuum cleaner with a self-service docking station. The station is where the vacuum recharges and where it can automatically empty its dust and dirty mop water, refill with fresh water and clean its mop.
I’ve tried quite a few robot vacuums over the years, including a very comparable competitor vacuum recently, and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is easily one of the best I’ve worked with. It has some serious tech built in that it uses to (mostly) avoid obstacles. Its docking station saves time. Its mobile app is easy to use. In addition, it cleans the floor as well as possible.
Ultimately, there are a few downsides: The docking station is a bit unsightly and the price is a serious commitment. But if you’re willing to spend the money, this is the robot vacuum you should consider first.
- Easy to use mobile app
- Privacy is highly touted with map images remaining local
- Satisfactory suction and cleaning results
- The unit got stuck in the same place several times
- High price
Soon on Roborock.
For the S7 MaxV series of vacuums, the differences between the Ultra, Plus, and regular models largely reflect whether they come with an advanced docking station and what that station can do. I tested the top-of-the-line Ultra, which has the ability to automatically wash the mop, clean and refill the water reservoirs, and empty the dust on its own.
Unless you only have carpet and aren’t cleaning, I think those extra features around draining and refilling water are essential to the whole automatic cleaning experience. Emptying and refilling the robot water yourself after each cleaning is more hassle than it is worth.
All S7 MaxV series vacuums have parity with things like ReactiveAI 2.0 obstacle avoidance, 5100Pa suction, 180mins runtime, ultrasonic carpet detection, high-speed sonic cleaning and more. (Going for a vacuum without a cleaning station is a way to save money without losing the advanced technology.)
To do all the visual intelligence, the vacuums include an RGB camera, lidar and 3D mapping with the aim of detecting obstacles and avoiding them before crushing or colliding with them. This is an area that interested me the most to see how it worked for me.
In the past, the average quality of suction a bundled robot wasn’t worth the extra work of moving things my kids left on the floor. However, once our family got a dog, the equation changed with the daily need to clean up pet hair. I spent a few weeks with the S7 MaxV Ultra, and Roborock managed to sway my opinion of robot vacuums for the better.
After my S7 MaxV Ultra experience, I am now more convinced than ever by the robotic vacuum concept. I no longer need to constantly watch the vacuum and hold my breath to know if it would be derailed by a jacket. Even leaving shoes outside is less of a concern than before.
Of course, even though its object avoidance is pretty good, the Ultra still couldn’t figure out the Bermuda Triangle area in my living room between an end table, couch, and fireplace. He became obsessed with a shag rug and a gold metal side table. A few tweaks to the no-go areas on his map fixed the anomaly, and the vacuum was able to clean up without further human intervention. It’s liberating to have a gadget that does a respectable cleaning job on its own.
The biggest problem here and with all automated vacuums in 2022 is that it costs around $1,000 or more to get the experience promised in this product category. The price becomes easier to justify the further you go without needing to vacuum dirt or mop floors yourself. Cost is a big investment no matter how you slice it, though.
The S7 MaxV Ultra only has one rotating brush to help it reach crumbs and other messes. The lack of multiple rotating brushes doesn’t seem to prevent it from picking up a lot of dust and pet hair on the floor. I didn’t measure how much dirt the vacuum picked up, as I mainly judged its cleaning performance in another way: I monitored whether my wife felt the need to remove the Dyson stick vacuum or whether the robot did a pretty good job of satisfying his opinion on cleanliness – and it does.
Our wood floors make it hard to tell the level of detail of the mop, but from the feel of walking barefoot on it, the mop was excellent. When I tried to use the vacuum and mop on a shiny tile floor, there seemed to be more water streaking than on wooden floors, or maybe it was just more noticeable.
To be clear, the S7 MaxV Ultra is no substitute for the level of cleaning a human can accomplish. If this is what you expect, it will probably disappoint you again. However, it will cover all light cleaning needs, making deep cleaning less necessary.
Roborock mobile app
Out of the box, the S7 MaxV Ultra is smart and does a stellar job of mapping a home, but it’s not perfect. Getting to the point where I was happy with its routing took some time with Roborock’s mobile app.
For example, I needed to add some no-mop areas, and because it was quite easy, I added no-mop areas to be extra careful. I’m impressed with how Roborock manages to include all of its controls and settings in a portable interface while making it easy to use and understand. This is in direct comparison to Ecovacs’ mobile app, which I found a bit harder to use quickly.
Using the Roborock app, I set up schedules. I did a few spot cleanings from time to time. I set up zones that spanned the boundaries of the room. I had no problem using all the options available in the app.
The app also includes the novelty of being able to remotely see through the vacuum’s camera, and that’s a fun trick. You need to enable remote viewing explicitly with the vacuum’s physical buttons. This is to make the feature harder to abuse without your knowledge.
What interested me was how Roborock states its position on privacy. Yes, it’s a vacuum, but it also walks around mapping your home with an advanced camera system. Roborock says that all images used for mapping remain local. It does not send images to anyone’s servers. This is important because even if you trust Roborock not to do anything malicious, once the data comes out it can be targeted by other entities. This should not be possible in this case.
Battery life and miscellaneous notes
Cleaning my 200 square foot living room takes about 20 minutes to vacuum and mop. It seems effective to me. This means I don’t have to listen to it for too long, and it means it has enough battery life to do a lot of pieces.
Even when cleaning the living room, kitchen, dining room, and family room, I never saw the battery drop below 60%. Sure, you usually had to visit the dock halfway to drain and refill and might have had a slight battery boost during that time, but ultimately battery life was never an issue.
The noise the vacuum makes emptying its dust to the docking station is extremely loud. It lasts about 10 seconds, but it will wake up a sleeping child or dog in that short time. This feature is one of the reasons why it would be a good idea to schedule cleaning when you are away from home.
Even though the vacuum empties and cleans itself, a human still needs to tend to the docking station. I tried to pay attention to the smells coming from the docking station, but never noticed a smell, until I drained the dirty water in the sink. Letting dirty water sit for several weeks will create an odor. I verified that this is true not only for the S7 MaxV Ultra, but also for other similar products. There is a cleaning solution that can be added to the tank to help prevent odors if the dirty tank opening is too much to handle.
The all-in-one docking station looks like a vacuum cleaner station. It’s not elegant or overly attractive. In this regard, it is a bit unsightly, especially compared to a similar one from Ecovacs. Still, the Roborock docking station is as compact as it gets and is short enough to hide on the side of a couch. The tanks are fairly easy to remove and replace, and there’s an indicator light that turns red when something needs your attention. The docking station does its job and does it well, even if it’s not the most stylish.
Should you buy the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra?
If the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra were cheaper, I’d love everyone to use a robot vacuum now, especially this one. I would proclaim that this type of product finally fulfills its promise. But, as things stand, the price of a vacuum that can see well enough to avoid most objects is prohibitively expensive for many people. Add a do-it-all docking station so you don’t have to worry about vacuuming at all and the price goes up even more.
Still, if price isn’t an issue or you’ve reached the point where you’re willing to trade a little more cash for convenience, then I recommend this vacuum. I have found it useful for cleaning and for saving time and energy. Now, these types of robot vacuums have to learn to climb stairs on their own so they can really clean the whole house without help.
Soon at Roborock.
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