I’ve tried quite a few robot vacuums over the years, including a very comparable competing vacuum recently, and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is easily one of the best I’ve gone hands-on with. It has serious technology built in that it utilizes to (mostly) avoid obstacles. Its docking station saves time. Its mobile app is easy to use. Plus it cleans the floor as well as I could.
When push comes to shove, there are a few drawbacks: The docking station is a little unsightly, and the price is a serious commitment. But if you’re willing to plunk down the cash, this is the robot vacuum you should consider first.
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Privacy is highly touted with map imagery remaining local
- Satisfactory vacuuming and mopping results
- The unit got stuck in the same location multiple times
- High price
Coming soon to 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 how much that station can do. I tested the high-end Ultra, which has the ability to automatically wash the mop, clean and refill the water tanks, and empty dust on its own.
Unless you only have carpet and won’t be mopping, I think those extra features around emptying and refilling the water are key to the whole autocleaning experience. It’s more hassle than it’s worth to be emptying and refilling water from the robot yourself after each cleaning.
All of the S7 MaxV series of vacuums have feature parity with things like ReactiveAI 2.0 obstacle avoidance, 5100Pa of suction, 180 minutes of runtime, ultrasonic carpet sensing, high-speed sonic mopping and more. (Opting for a vacuum without a cleaning station is one 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 goal of detecting obstacles and avoiding them before running over or bumping into them. This is one area I was most interested in seeing how it worked in my home.
In the past, the midlevel quality of vacuuming a robot provided was not worth the extra work of moving items that my kids left on the floor. Once our family got a dog, however, the equation changed with the daily necessity of cleaning up pet hair. I spent a couple of weeks with the S7 MaxV Ultra, and Roborock has managed to sway my opinion about robot vacuums for the better.
After my S7 MaxV Ultra experience, I’m now more sold on the robotic vacuum concept than ever before. I no longer need to constantly monitor the vacuum and hold my breath about whether it would get derailed by a jacket. Even leaving shoes out is less of a concern than it ever was before.
Of course, even though its object avoidance is pretty good, the Ultra still could not figure out the Bermuda Triangle area in my living room between an end table, couch and fireplace. It became obsessed with a shag rug and a gold metal end table. A few tweaks to the off-limits areas of its map solved the anomaly, and the vacuum was able to clean without further human intervention. It’s freeing to have a gadget do a respectable job of cleaning on its own.
The biggest problem here and with all automated vacuuming in 2022, is that it costs around $1,000 or more to get the experience that has been promised in this product category. The price gets easier to justify the longer you go without needing to suction up dirt or wipe down floors yourself. The cost is a large investment no matter how you slice it, though.
The S7 MaxV Ultra only has one rotating brush to help it reach crumbs and other pieces of dirt. The lack of multiple spinning brushes hasn’t seemed to stop it from grabbing plenty of dust and pet hair from the floor. I didn’t measure the amount of dirt the vacuum collected, because mostly I was judging its cleaning performance in other ways: I was keeping tabs on whether my wife felt the need to pull out the Dyson stick vacuum or if the robot was doing a good enough job to satisfy her opinion of cleanliness—and it has.
Our wood floors make it tough to tell the level of detail of the mopping, but based on how it feels to walk barefoot on them, the mopping was great. When I tried using the vacuum and mop on glossy tile flooring, there seemed to be more water streaks than on the wood floors, or maybe it was just more visible.
To be clear, the S7 MaxV Ultra isn’t a replacement for the level of cleaning a human can accomplish. If that’s what you’re expecting, it will likely still disappoint. It will, however, 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 remarkable job mapping a home, but it’s not perfect. To get to the point that I was satisfied with its routing, it took spending some time with Roborock’s mobile app.
For example, I needed to add a few no-go zones and, because it was easy enough, I added some no-mop zones to be extra cautious. I’m impressed with how Roborock manages to include all its controls and settings in a handheld interface but still make it easy to use and understand. This is in direct comparison to Ecovacs’ mobile app, which I found to be a little more difficult to use quickly.
Using the Roborock app, I set up schedules. I did a few spot cleans from time to time. I set up zones that spanned room boundaries. I had no problem using all of the available options inside the app.
The app also includes the novelty feature of being able to view through the vacuum’s camera remotely—and it’s a fun trick. You need to turn on remote viewing explicitly with the physical buttons on the vacuum. This is to make the feature harder to be abused without your knowledge.
Interesting to me was how Roborock calls out its stance on privacy. Yes, it’s a vacuum, but it’s also roaming around mapping your home with an advanced camera system. Roborock says that all images used for mapping stay local. It isn’t sending imagery out to someone’s servers. This is important because even if you trust Roborock not to do anything malicious, once data gets out, it can be targeted by other entities. That shouldn’t 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. That feels efficient to me. It means that I’m not having to listen to it for too long, and it means that it has plenty of battery life to do plenty of rooms.
Even when cleaning the living room, kitchen, dining room and family room, I never saw the battery fall below 60 percent. Of course, it usually needed to visit the docking station midway through to empty and refill itself and could have been boosting its battery slightly during that time, but ultimately the battery life hasn’t ever been an issue.
The noise the vacuum makes to empty its dust at the docking station is extremely loud. It lasts about 10 seconds, but it will wake up a sleeping child or dog in that short amount of time. This function is one reason scheduling cleaning while you’re out of the house would be smart.
Even though the vacuum will empty and clean itself, a human still needs to tend to the docking station. I tried to pay attention to any smells coming from the docking station but never noticed an odor—until actually dumping the dirty water in the sink. Letting dirty water sit for multiple weeks will create a smell. I verified this is true of not just the S7 MaxV Ultra, but other similar products. There is a cleaning solution that can be added to the tank to help avoid smells if opening the dirty tank is too much to handle.
The all-in-one docking station looks like a station for a vacuum. It’s not sleek or overly attractive. In this regard, it is a little unsightly, especially compared to a similar one from Ecovacs. Still, the Roborock docking station feels as compact as it can be and is short enough to hide to the side of a couch. The tanks are easy enough to remove and replace, and there is 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 one.
Should You Buy the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra?
If the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra was less expensive, I would be raving that everyone should be using a robot vacuum now, particularly this one. I would be proclaiming that this type of product is finally fulfilling its intended promise. But, as it stands, the price of a vacuum that can see well enough to avoid most objects is prohibitively expensive for a lot of people. Add in a do-it-all docking station so you don’t have to mess with the vacuum at all and the price goes up even more.
Still, if the price isn’t a concern or if you’ve reached the point where you’re willing to trade a little more money for added convenience, then I do recommend this vacuum. I found it to be helpful with cleaning and to actually save time and energy. Now these types of robot vacuums need to learn to climb the stairs on their own so they can really clean the whole house unassisted.
Coming soon at Roborock.
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