iRobot Roomba i3 EVO
The i3 EVO is better than competitors at getting pet hair out of rugs, and its nimble nav system consistently and thoroughly cleans large spaces. Like any iRobot Roomba, it should be durable.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $295.
iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO
This is the Roomba i3 EVO packaged with a charging dock that automatically sucks all the debris out of the robot after a cleaning session. It works! And it makes it even easier to own a robot vacuum.
Like most great robot vacuums today, the Roomba i3 EVO works well in most homes, large or small, because it drives in orderly, back-and-forth rows, keeping track of where it has or hasn’t been, so that it doesn’t miss any big patches of flooring. But unlike most of its competitors, the Roomba i3 EVO is actually a sturdy, repairable appliance—and while longevity is never guaranteed, you can reasonably expect to own and use it regularly for years. It’s also better at cleaning rugs than most bots, and hair doesn’t get tangled in its brushes as quickly. With the companion app and a Wi-Fi connection, you can turn the robot on or off, and optionally set an automatic cleaning schedule. That’s all you need to know—it’s simple. The downside is that it doesn’t work quite as fast as some competing models.
In March 2022, iRobot released a software update that allows you to create a smart map for your bot to tell it to clean specific rooms and adjust cleaning preferences for them using the app. We haven’t yet tested this new feature with the i3 EVO. But it should grant you the greater level of control you get with other smart-mapping models, like the Roborock S4 Max (more on that one shortly).
Another neat option: The Roomba i3+ EVO package is the i3 EVO robot, plus a charging dock that automatically sucks the debris out of the robot and stores it in a disposable bag, which you’ll only have to change once a month. It actually works and makes owning a robot even more convenient. Owners really seem to find it valuable.
iRobot also sells a few models that are very similar to the Roomba i3 EVO and are worth buying if you find them on sale, including the Roomba i4 EVO (sold only at Costco and basically identical to the i3 EVO) and the Roomba 900 series, which is older but works similarly.
Roborock S4 Max
This is one of the most affordable robots smart enough to memorize a home’s layout (even a large one) and then quickly and gracefully clean specific rooms or zones on command via smartphone app. But it can’t clean rugs as well as a Roomba, and may not last as long.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $380.
Note: The Roborock S4 Max has been discontinued and is no longer available. We’re currently testing the Roborock Q5, which the company says is its replacement for the S4.
There are at least a couple dozen super-smart yet affordable robots that, using invisible lasers, can quickly learn the layout of any home, then clean individual rooms (or even sections of a room) on command, and skip everything else. If you’re up for fiddling with maps in a smartphone app, it’s a fantastic and flexible system.
Many of these laser-navigation bots have similar (and sometimes nearly identical) specs, designs, and behaviors, and there’s no clear evidence to suggest that some are more reliable or durable than the others. But we’re inclined to recommend the Roborock S4 Max in particular because it’s frequently one of the lower-priced models of its ilk (it often sells in the mid-$300 range), and it has the most full-featured app with the richest set of controls. The main downside to the Roborock and similar laser robots is that they’re unlikely to last as long as iRobot’s Roomba models, including our pick, the Roomba i3 EVO, and their single-brush designs don’t clean rugs as well, either.
iRobot Roomba 694
This tried-and-true robot vacuum is much more durable and repairable than similar bots from other brands and is better at cleaning rugs, too. It’s a nimble navigator that rarely gets stuck, though it works best when it only has to clean a few rooms at a time.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $275.
Eufy RoboVac 11S
This affordable robot vacuum is quieter and fits under more furniture than any other model we’ve tested. While it works best in small spaces, it rarely gets stuck and does a good job on bare floors and short-pile rugs. It’s not as durable as a Roomba 694, though.
Cheaper robots usually have semi-random navigation systems. (We like to call them bump-and-run bots.) That’s actually perfectly fine for cleaning three or four rooms per session (or a little more if you’re patient), though the bumbling aimlessness gets on some people’s nerves and isn’t consistently effective at tidying larger areas. We actually recommended the semi-random style for most people up until fall 2021, but it became clear from analyzing user reviews that the zeitgeist has shifted. Now that prices have dropped, most would-be robot owners expect their robot to look like it knows what it’s doing, instead of cruising around randomly, bumping into stuff. But we still think bump-and-run bots have a place, so we’ve shuffled our favorites to budget pick status.
The first one we’d recommend is the Roomba 600 series. This is a sturdier robot than any bump-and-run model from any other brand, which in our opinion more than offsets the Roomba’s slightly higher sticker price. The Roomba 600 series is also a stronger cleaner than other brands’ low-end robots, especially on rugs, thanks to the dual-brush and dirt-detection systems. The Roomba 694 is the most current model with Wi-Fi (for on-off remote control through a smartphone app), but you sometimes might be able to find a more basic model without Wi-Fi. Paying $250 or less for any of them is a fair deal; $200 or less is an excellent price.
Also consider the Eufy RoboVac 11S, which is so quiet and nimble that it blends into the background like no other robot (apart from the dozen or so clones from Eufy itself and other brands). This basic, affordable bot sounds more like a desk fan than a vacuum—even if you’re home while it works, you’ll barely notice it running. It’s shorter than most bots, which lets it glide under more furniture, picking up plenty of hidden debris. The big downside is that the 11S (and others like it) don’t seem to be built to last for more than a couple of years on average, and we’ve heard about plenty of unrepairable breakdowns that happen even sooner. And while the 11S will get your floors much cleaner than if you didn’t vacuum at all, this bot just isn’t built to dig up much debris from rugs, especially softer, thicker types. Like the Roomba 600 series (and most other bots in this price range), the 11S is a semi-random navigator and works best in small spaces.