I recently completed a review of the Roomba 694, so I thought it was a good idea to compare it to the high-end iRobot – J7 +.
This comparison is not apple to apple, but it is an excellent way to measure the differences between the basic and premium Roomba options.
I put these robots to an exhaustive series of tests to determine which option is better.
Let’s start with a quick look at product specifications and results overview.
Overview of Roomba 694 and J7 +
- Air flow: 7.27 CFM
- Deep cleaning: 80.2%
- Navigation sensors: IR sensors
- Self-emptying: No
- Bag capacity: ON
- Net base station: No
- Navigation: Accidental
- Save map: No
- Number of maps: ON
- Detention: No
- Keep out of zones: No
- Selective room cleaning: No
- Recharging and recovery: No
- Rubber extractors: No
- Trash capacity: 600 ml
- Side brush: One
- Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
- Runtime: 90 minutes
- Noise: 65.6 dB
- Air flow: 7.27 CFM
- Deep cleaning: 85.7%
- Navigation sensors: Front camera + gyroscope + optical sensor
- Self-emptying: Yes
- Bag capacity: 2.4 liters
- Save map: Yes
- Number of maps: 10
- Detention: Yes
- Selective room cleaning: Yes
- Recharging and recovery: Yes
- Brush roller: Double rubber pullers
- Trash capacity: 400 ml
- Wiping: Yes
- Water tank capacity: ON
- Type: ON
- Side brush: One
- Battery: 2410 mAh Li-ion
- Runtime: 90 minutes
- Noise: 63 dB
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Introducing Roomba 694 and J7 +
Roomba 694 and J7 + represent two opposite spectra in the iRobot product line.
If you are interested in how the base level Roomba compares to the premium variant, this article is for you.
There is a significant price difference between these robots, and my goal for this comparison is to show whether the difference is worth the performance.
Base level: Roomba 694
The Roomba 694 is the latest iRobot model in its core line.
Nothing has changed between this variant and the variant older options 675 and 690.
However, the exterior has several subtle adjustments.
It has the same button layout as the other two models above, but without the handle.
Whether a handle is necessary or not will depend on your preferences.
Some people prefer this handle because it makes it easier to move the robot around the house.
7And others may not mind omitting it, perhaps because they live in a smaller house with one room.
The airflow is similar to the Roomby 675 at 7.27 CFM, which means it uses the same engine.
The cleaning performance is similar to the other basic variants of the 600 series, although I noticed a slight deterioration in deep cleaning (80% vs. 85%).
In total, the Roomba 694 offers basic functions without the intelligent navigation capabilities of the I, J and S series.
I would recommend this option for smaller houses due to its random navigation pattern.
The best obstacle-avoiding robot: Roomba J7 +
At the other end of the iRobot price range is the Roomba J7 +.
It is the current flagship Roomba and their first with the ability to avoid obstacles and also with a redesigned base station.
The front camera and LEDs make the J7 the best obstacle-avoiding robot I’ve tested.
Not only does he avoid objects, but he’s smart enough not to get too close, which is a problem with other brands I’ve tested, such as Roborock S6 MaxV and Ecovacs T8 AIVI.
iRobot has a POOP guarantee or an official promise from pet owners that if the J7 touches dry animal feces, they will replace it for free!
Under the hood, the J7 + shares the same components as the Roomba I6 (or I7) because it uses the same engine, vacuum cleaner, trash can and side brush.
Do not expect performance at the S9 level because it lacks airflow.
Prior to the launch of the J7 +, I thought the iRobot would continue the D-shaped trend and use the same high-performance engine, but it wasn’t.
Overall, J7 + is best suited for pet owners or people who don’t want to clean up the clutter around their homes.
He’s smart enough to avoid objects, even cables (or wires), kryptonite, other obstacle-avoiding robots.
Similarities between Roomba 694 and J7 +
There may not be many, but let’s look at the similarities between these Roomba products.
The shape and dimensions are the most obvious, while the Roomba j7 has slightly smaller dimensions than the 694.
Most Roomba products have a round frame, with the exception of the S9, and iRobot says it’s because they prioritize navigation efficiency.
Square-shaped robots tend to wedge in tight spaces, and iRobot wants to avoid this problem with its products.
2. Brush layout
Another similarity is the layout of the brushes, as they both use one side brush and opposite primary brushes.
The location of these brushes is in a similar place, but the material for the primary brush is different (more on that later).
3. Compatible with iRobot
Finally, the Roomba 694 and J7 + are compatible with the iRobot home application and provide consumers with access to these robots outside the home.
Features vary, but the app helps users diagnose potential problems by telling them what is causing the problem and potential fixes.
Differences between Roomba 694 and J7 +
Next we look at the differences, starting with a clean base station.
1. Dirt disposal system
In the last five years, the most significant innovation for robotic vacuum cleaners is the automatic emptying function, which iRobot introduced with the I7.
IRobot has further improved the design of the J7 + by reducing its vertical space without sacrificing capacity and adding a slot for another bag.
Roomba 694 does not have a clean base station, so consumers will have to empty the trash by hand.
2. Avoiding obstacles [J7+ only]
Another variation is avoiding the obstacles that 694 lacks.
iRobot picked up this feature in its first release because the J7 + avoids obstacles better than any robot I’ve tested.
Its front camera and LED combo provide adequate lighting even in low light conditions.
This sensor also serves as the J7’s navigation aid in determining its position and unlocks advanced features such as selective room cleaning.
3. Trash capacity
While both robots have the same shape, each has different capacities.
Roomba 694 has a larger capacity of 600 ml, 200 more than 400 ml J7 +.
However, the “plus” has a clean base station, which increases this capacity sixfold (2.4 liters).
Both are mounted at the rear, but with different release levers. The Roomby 694 lever is located at the top, while the J7 is behind the robot.
4. Counter-rotating brush design
The Roomba is the only robot available in North America with counter-rotating brushes because it holds a patent.
Roomba 694 and J7 have this feature, but use different materials.
The older 694 has a more traditional combination of bristles and rubber blades, while the J7 uses bristle-free rollers, which iRobot calls extractors.
These all-rubber brushes provide better durability and mixing and at the same time better resistance to tangling (at least on the surface).
5. Batteries and running time
Roomba J7 + has a larger battery than 694 (2410 vs. 1800 mAh), but the reported operating time is slightly shorter, 85 minutes (compared to 694 90 minutes).
One reason may be that the J7 and VSLAM cameras use more power than the simpler 694 sensors.
Both robots are compatible with the home application iRobot, but with different functions, which we will look at in this section.
1. Save the map [J7 only]
One of the advantages of top iRobot robots is the map storage function [up to 10 levels].
People can customize each level of the map, such as custom room names, protection zones, clean zones, etc.
iRobot recommends buying an extra clean base station if you use it in a multi-storey house, but it is not economical.
You can use the J7 without a clean base station at another level and then move it back to near the dock to empty itself.
This will be my suggestion if you want to save some money.
2. Protection zones [J7]
Consumers can add protection zones or forbidden boxes that the robot cannot enter using the map saving function.
This is a great feature if you have children, because you can draw a box around the designated playground so that the robot does not get inside.
3. Clean zones
Another feature that can only be found in J7 is pure zones, which is a function facing zones without presence.
Instead of blocking the area, the clean zones are marked as “clean” zones that J7 will vacuum.
These can be high-traffic areas, such as the living room or dining room.
4. Custom naming of rooms [J7 only]
Consumers can add custom names for each room or clean zone, providing more options with custom room naming.
It is possible to use any name you want, making it easier to identify for scheduled cleaners or Alexa (using voice).
5. Selective room cleaning [J7 only]
Consumers can also use this feature to select a specific room that the robot will clean on request.
Unlike other brands like Roborock, it allows users to check a room on a map, the iRobot version is a bit rougher.
People will need to check the areas they want to vacuum – either zones or rooms.
6. Obstacle areas [J7 only]
The obstacle avoidance function on the J7 is further enhanced by the obstacle area card in the application.
This feature allows consumers to define whether an object is persistent or not.
If you choose the first method, protection zones are automatically added, saving you the time you would have to draw manually.
Therefore, when the robot is running, it automatically avoids these areas, which improves its efficiency in the long run.
7. Robot health [J7 only]
One of the features of the application that iRobot introduced with J7 is the health of the robot.
I’ve checked the older version of Roomba, but I haven’t seen this card, so only time will tell if iRobot inherits this feature on earlier models.
This tab shows the status of various components such as the filter, side brush and rollers – when to replace them.
It is a time-based system, so consumers will need to perform a visual inspection to confirm whether these components need to be replaced.
8. Error code explanation [Both]
There will be cases where the robot will flash the error code during the run.
The robot will tell you the error number, but it’s hard to decipher it if you don’t remember all the Roomby error codes.
Fortunately, iRobot helps by letting the user know what’s wrong and potential fixes through the app.
9. Planning [Both]
Consumers can set up scheduled cleaning for both robots, but there are variations.
The Roomba 694 allows one scheduled run per day, while the J7 application supports multiple runs with a minimum interval of 4 hours between runs.
Next we look at these navigations 694 and J7 – one of the biggest differences.
The Roomba 694 has what iRobot calls adaptive navigation, which moves randomly.
He’s smart enough to cover most places.
However, the larger the area, the less efficient and I would not recommend this product for large layouts with more rooms.
In this scenario, Roomba J7 + (or any clever Roomba) comes into play.
The front camera, gyroscopic sensor and VSLAM allow you to create maps and track location.
It is the most sophisticated iRobot navigation robot with an obstacle avoidance system that is able to clean households with more rooms with better efficiency than the Roomba 694.
Air flow comparison
Roomba 694 and J7 surprisingly have the same airflow at 7.27 CFMwhich may be at odds with what people expect from a premium robotic vacuum cleaner.
Airflow tests show that these variants use the same engine. But one difference is that the Roomba J7 engine is located inside the robot, while the 694 engine is inside the trash can.
All the robotic vacuum cleaners I test have been subjected to a rigorous series of tests on a variety of impurities such as coffee grounds, quaker oats, quinoa, pet bedding, sand and hair.
Check the results below.
The Roomba J7 + has a better overall score, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a few things.
First, the J7’s smart navigation plays a factor in performance on a solid floor, as it has achieved higher averages.
Its predictable pattern reduces the side brush scatter problem that occurs with the 600 Series Roombasses, such as the 694.
The J7 extractors also performed better by capturing settled sand on the carpet by five percentage points.
This is not a significant difference, but it shows that the rubber extractors provide excellent mixing despite the lack of stiff bristles.
What’s better for hard floors?
The answer based on the numbers and eye test is obvious – Roomba J7 +.
There was less scattering of debris with a predictable pattern, which is evident in the numbers.
Despite the same air flow, it rose more sand (98.46% vs. 96.8%) than 694.
Here is the before and after for Roomba 694 (this is an eye test).
A Roomba J7 +.
The difference is not big, but it shows one advantage of an intelligent navigation robot.
Edge cleaning comparison
The predictable pattern of the Roomby J7 helps to clean more along the edges – check it before and after the shot.
He got almost every crumb and some pieces remained on the edges, but it was minimal.
Roomba 694 was not so good due to random navigation.
In the photos above, it is clear that 694 left more debris.
Again, the random navigation pattern and older design of the reverse brush could explain why it didn’t work so well.
Hair wrap comparison
Surprisingly, there is not much of a gap between Roomba 694 and J7 with a hair wrap test. See the table below for test results.
Roomba 694 picked up a little more hair than J7, which surprised me because it used older, counter-rotating brushes.
However, one problem with the combination of bristles and blades is that cleaning hair from bristles is more difficult than with rubber extractors.
Take a look at this photo to see what I mean.
If it curls tight enough, a tool is needed to release the hair from the brush.
Roomby J7 rubber vacuum cleaners are easier to clean because there are no bristles in them.
You could see above that there is no hair on the surface of the roller. Most are on axles that are easier to remove.
What’s better about a rug?
The Roomby J7 vacuum cleaners performed better than the more traditional 694 carpet brushes, both on the surface and in the embedded waste.
A predictable cleaning pattern also helps in this category, as it disperses less dirt.
The variance is evident in the deep cleaning test, where J7 scored five percent more than 694 (85% vs. 80%).
But surface impurities are not widely dispersed, so this should not be the deciding factor.
However, Roomby J7 navigation is excellent and better equipped in larger multi-room homes and should be considered.
Although the Roomba J7 has a larger battery (2140 mAh vs. 1800 mAh), it has a shorter operating time than 694.
Roomba 694 will run for up to 90 minutes, which is five minutes longer than 85 minutes of J7 operation.
However, runtime renders only one aspect. Another factor is the more advanced J7 navigation algorithm, which allows it to be more efficient.
It has recharging and recovery, which means that it will continue to clean after recharging if it does not complete the cycle earlier.
The Roomba 694 does not have this feature, so once charged, it stays there until consumers press the purge button.
Despite the same airflow, the Roomba 694 is a noisier variant compared to the J7, reaching a maximum value of 65.6 decibels (the noise level of the J7 is 63 decibels).
But in my opinion, the difference is not too great for a breach of the agreement.
These robots require some maintenance to run at their peak for years.
If you spend several hundred dollars on these products, these steps are necessary to protect your investment.
I list the components that need to be cleaned and when to clean them.
- Counter-rotating brushes: These components are the most abused because they trap dirt. Check and clean once a week to remove any accumulated hair on the surface and axles.
- Side brush: Check and clean the other hair magnet twice a month to remove any strands adhering to the tips or base. You will need a Philips screwdriver to remove it.
- Bin: Empty the trash after each cleaning cycle to maximize performance. This is not necessary for J7 + owners, because a clean base will do it for you.
- Filter: Clean the filter twice a month. Use a hand-held vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft bristle tool to mix and remove dirt adhering to the filter.
- Fall sensors: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the fall sensors under the robot. These sensors prevent the robot from falling off cliffs such as stairs. Wipe gently at least once a month to prevent the error code from running and deactivating the robot.
- Clean base station (J7 only): Check the bag for fullness and replace it if the application says it has reached capacity. Make sure that the port leading to the bag is not blocked during the self-emptying cycle.
Where can I buy these robotic vacuum cleaners?
Roomba 694 and J7 + are available in online stores such as Amazon. For the latest pricing information, see the links below.
- Roomba J7 + on Amazon
- Roomba 694 on Amazon
Disclaimer: I get a commission if you buy through any of the links above, but at no additional cost, so it’s an advantage for us!
Which is better choice, Roomba 694 or J7 +?
Many variables need to be taken into account when choosing between these robotic vacuum cleaners.
And the biggest variable would be price. Are you willing to spend the premium for J7 or not?
Comparing the Roomba J7 and 694 is like comparing a base-level Toyota Corolla with a Premium Supra.
It’s not a comparison of apples to apples.
So consumers will need to know their budget before buying any of these products.
To help you, I will list the reasons why you choose each variant.
5 reasons to choose Roomba 675
- Budget alternative: The Roomba 675 is the cheapest alternative to the iRobot robotic vacuum cleaner, several hundred dollars cheaper than the J7 +.
- Thorough navigation: This robot will thoroughly traverse a small area with limited efficiency due to the basic algorithm.
- Large trash can: Its capacity of 600 ml is one of the largest in the industry.
- Wide availability of parts: The 675 shares the same components as the 675, so there are many options with spare parts.
- Robot worker: The simple design of the 675 ensures that there will be fewer moving parts that can potentially fail. I’ve heard that many of these robots can last double digits for proper maintenance.
4 reasons to choose Roomba J7 +
- Smart navigation: The J7 offers the latest obstacle-avoiding iRobot navigation, which the Roomba 694 does not offer.
- The best obstacle avoidance in its class: It’s smart enough not only to avoid objects, but also not to get too close, which makes it the best robotic vacuum cleaner I’ve (so far) tested to avoid obstacles.
- Self-emptying: The “plus” version comes with a clean base station that dumps the trash can for you.
- Advanced navigation features: The J7 + has a number of navigation features not found in the 694, such as selective room cleaning, protection zones, clean zones and much more.
Verdict: Set a budget before you decide
As I said, Roomba 694 and J7 + are not a comparison of apple to apple.
Choosing one will depend on what features you prefer and how much you are willing to spend.
Roomba 694 is much cheaper, but this option has only the basic navigation features that are best suited for smaller homes with carpets.
The Roomba J7 + has all the bells and whistles, from intelligent navigation to avoiding obstacles that the 694 could only dream of.
People who prefer avoiding obstacles and have bigger houses that require a more powerful robot will benefit most from the J7, while customers who care about a budget that doesn’t mind the constraints should opt for the Roomba 694.