Want a cheap robot vacuum with a mop? iRobot’s new Roomba could be for you

Roomba Combo Essential cleaning dust in a bedroom
(Image credit: iRobot)

The world’s best robot vacuums – such as the Roomba Combo j9 Plus – don’t just suck up dirt from your carpets, they’re also smart mops that scrub your hard floors whenever you tell them to. Unfortunately, if you want a 2-in-1 robot cleaner from a reliable brand like iRobot you can expect to pay a fairly high price (the aforementioned j9 vacuum can set you back up to $1,399.99 / £1,249, for example). Or at least, until now.

That’s because iRobot has unveiled its most affordable 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop ever. The Roomba Combo Essential comes with a mop function alongside its vacuuming abilities, and it won’t break the bank, coming in at just $275 / £269. 

What's more, it boasts some pretty decent specs. It has a 120-minute battery life, and iRobot says the Combo Essential delivers 18 times more suction power than its Roomba 600 Series robots, and it’s smarter to boot. 

You can set different suction and liquid settings based on the strength of clean you need, it’ll give you Clean Map reports to show you the exact areas your robot cleaned, and thanks to the iRobot OS you can set up automations like Clean While I’m Away – which sets your Roomba going when it detects you’ve left home.

Is this an Essential cleaning gadget?

We haven’t had the chance to test out this Roomba Combo Essential for ourselves yet, but there are a couple of potential downsides you might notice from this machine compared to Roomba’s pricier robot vacuum and mops.

Roomba Combo Essential shown from above on its chargings tataion, and below to see the mop and vacuum elements

(Image credit: iRobot)

Firstly there’s no self-emptying base, just a charging one. This means that while your Roomba will recharge itself, you’ll have to empty out the dirt and refill the water tank in the mop manually between each clean. Secondly, the mop sits underneath the robot rather than folding down from above like some of iRobot’s other combo cleaners – so there’s a chance it could catch on rugs and carpets and spread dirt if you don’t plan your cleans carefully.  

Lastly, we expect it won’t offer quite as powerful a clean as some of Roomba’s higher-end models, though we’d have to put it through its paces ourselves to know for sure. That said, a few downgrades are to be expected from a budget-friendly gadget like the Combo Essential, and based on what we’ve seen we imagine it’ll be a capable cleaning companion.

If you’re desperate to buy iRobot’s Roomba Combo Essential ASAP then you’re in luck: it’s available to buy right now from iRobot’s official store. If you don’t have many hard floors then you could instead pick up the mopless Roomba Vac Essential, which launches on April 7 in the US, and costs $249. Outside of the lack of mop it’s otherwise identical to the Combo model. 

For any of you that have a Roomba 600 Series model already and are tempted to upgrade, iRobot is sweetening the deal by offering US customers (sorry those of you in the UK) $50 credit towards a Combo Essential robot when you trade-in your old robot.

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.