New to the world of robotic vacuums this year is the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, which combines the company’s most advanced self-contained vacuum with a self-service docking station. The station is the place where the vacuum cleaner recharges and where it can automatically empty the dust and dirty water from the mop, refill with fresh water and clean the rag.
I’ve tested quite a few robotic 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 tested. It has some serious technology built in that it uses (mostly) for obstacle avoidance. Your docking station saves time. Their mobile app is easy to use. Also clean the floor as best I could.
When it comes to pushing, there are a few drawbacks: the docking station is a bit unsightly, and the price is a serious compromise. But if you’re willing to spend money, this is the robot vacuum to consider first.
- User-friendly mobile app
- Privacy is highly promoted with map images that stay local.
- Satisfactory vacuuming and scrubbing results
- The drive got stuck in the same spot multiple times
- High price
Coming soon to Roborock.
For the S7 MaxV series of vacuum cleaners, 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 tried the top-end Ultra, which has the ability to automatically wash the mop, clean and refill the water tanks, and empty the dust on its own.
Unless you just have a carpet and you’re not going to be mopping, I think those extra features around emptying and refilling water are key to the whole self-cleaning experience. Emptying and refilling the robot’s water yourself after each cleaning is more hassle than it’s worth.
All of the S7 MaxV series of vacuum cleaners have features similar to things like ReactiveAI 2.0 obstacle avoidance, 5100 Pa suction, 180 min run time, ultrasonic carpet detection, high-speed sonic scrubbing, and more. (Opting for a vacuum without a cleaning station is one way to save money without losing out on advanced technology.)
To do all the visual smarts, the vacuums include an RGB camera, lidar, and 3D mapping to detect obstacles and avoid them before running over or colliding with them. This is an area that I was most interested in seeing how it worked in my home.
In the past, the mid-level quality of vacuuming by a provided robot wasn’t worth the extra work of moving items 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 couple of weeks with the S7 MaxV Ultra, and Roborock managed to change my opinion of robotic vacuum cleaners for the better.
After my experience with the S7 MaxV Ultra, I am now more convinced than ever about the concept of a robotic vacuum cleaner. I no longer need to constantly monitor the vacuum and hold my breath on whether it will derail with a jacket. Even leaving your shoes off 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 a side table, sofa, and fireplace. He became obsessed with a shag rug and a gold metal side table. A few tweaks to the forbidden areas on her map resolved the anomaly and the vacuum was able to clean without further human intervention. It’s liberating to have a device that does a respectable job of cleaning on its own.
The biggest problem here and with all automated vacuum cleaners in 2022 is that it costs around $1,000 or more to get the promised experience in this product category. The price becomes easier to justify the longer you go without vacuuming dirt or cleaning floors yourself. However, the cost is a big investment no matter how you split it.
The S7 MaxV Ultra only has a rotating brush to help you get at crumbs and other bits of dirt. The lack of multiple rotating brushes doesn’t seem to stop it from picking up a lot of dust and pet hair from the floor. I didn’t measure how much dirt the vacuum picked up, because I was primarily judging its cleaning performance in other ways: I was checking to see if my wife felt the need to pull out the Dyson vacuum or if the robot was doing a clean. I work well enough to satisfy her opinion of cleanliness, and she has.
Our hardwood floors make it hard to tell the detail level of the mopping, but based on how it feels to walk barefoot on them, the mopping was excellent. When I tried to vacuum and mop on shiny tile floors, there seemed to be more water streaks than on hardwood floors, or maybe they were just more visible.
To be clear, the S7 MaxV Ultra is not a replacement for the level of cleanliness a human can achieve. If that’s what you expect, chances are you’ll still be disappointed. However, it will cover all light cleaning needs, making deep cleaning less of a necessity.
Roborock Mobile App
Out of the box, the S7 MaxV Ultra is smart and does a remarkable job of mapping a house, but it’s not perfect. To get to the point where I was satisfied with his routing, I needed to spend some time with the Roborock mobile app.
For example, I needed to add some no go zones and since it was pretty easy I added some no go zones to be more cautious. I’m impressed with how Roborock manages to fit all of its controls and settings into one portable interface, yet still make it easy to use and understand. This is a direct comparison to the Ecovacs mobile app, which I found a bit more difficult to use quickly.
Using the Roborock app, I set up schedules. I did some spot cleaning from time to time. I set up zones that span the boundaries of the room. I had no problem using all the options available within the app.
The app also includes the novelty feature of being able to see through the vacuum cleaner’s camera remotely, and it’s a fun hack. You must activate the remote display explicitly with the physical buttons on the vacuum. This is to make the feature more difficult to abuse without your knowledge.
I found it interesting how Roborock expresses his stance on privacy. Yes, she’s a vacuum cleaner, but she’s also wandering around mapping her home with an advanced camera system. Roborock says that all images used for mapping are kept local. She is not sending images to someone’s servers. This is important because even if you trust Roborock to do nothing malicious, once the data is out, it can be attacked 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 seems efficient to me. It means I won’t have to listen to it for very long, and it means it has plenty of battery life to do a lot of rooms.
Even when cleaning the living room, kitchen, dining room, and family room, I never saw the battery drop below 60 percent. Granted, it usually needed to visit the docking station midway to empty and recharge and might have been boosting its battery slightly during that time, but ultimately battery life has never been an issue.
The noise the vacuum makes to empty its dust into the docking station is extremely loud. It lasts about 10 seconds, but will wake up a sleeping child or dog in that short amount of time. This feature is one of the reasons why it would be smart to schedule cleaning while you are away from home.
Even though the vacuum will empty and clean itself, a human still needs to attend to the docking station. I tried to pay attention to the odors coming from the docking station, but I never noticed an odor, until I actually dumped 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 opening the dirty tank is too much to handle.
The all-in-one docking station looks like a station for a vacuum cleaner. It’s not elegant or overly attractive. In this sense, it is a bit unsightly, especially compared to a similar one from Ecovacs. Still, the Roborock docking station feels as compact as can be and is short enough to hide over the side of a sofa. The tanks are easy enough 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 elegant.
Should you buy the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra?
If the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra was less expensive, I’d be excited that everyone should be using a robot vacuum now, particularly this one. You would be proclaiming that this type of product is finally delivering on its intended promise. But as it stands, the price of a vacuum cleaner that can see well enough to avoid most objects is prohibitively expensive for many people. Add a docking station that does it all so you don’t have to mess with the vacuum and the price goes up even more.
Still, if price isn’t a concern or if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re willing to trade a little more money for more convenience, then I’d recommend this vacuum. I have found that it is helpful with cleaning and really saves time and energy. Now these robotic vacuum cleaner types need to learn how to climb the stairs on their own so that they can actually clean the entire house without help.
Coming soon to Roborock.
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