Roborock S7 Plus robot vacuum review
In New Zealand, Roborock has concentrated its releases on hybrid mopping vacs. We took a look at the S7 Plus model ($1495), which is Roborock’s mid-range offering with an auto-empty dock. We asked ourselves, “Do these robots rock?”
- Mops as well as vacuums
- Can detect carpet and lift mop head - great if you have multiple flooring types
- Can add room to map
- Has bagless auto-empty dock, which is very easy to empty
- Can create additional maps for multi-storey/multi-area homes
- Dock design might not be to everyone’s taste
- Auto-returns to dock when 20% of battery charge is left
Features: mops, vacs and empties
The S7 Plus is a hybrid mopping vac, with the plus indicating it has an auto-empty dock (although you can buy the vac on its own if you like).
The feature that sets the S7 Plus apart from other hybrid bots is its ability to raise its mop head when vacuuming carpets. Roborock calls this feature “VibraRise”, and it means you won’t get damp carpets.
For navigation and mapping, the S7 uses the tried and tested LIDAR system. LIDAR (which stands for light detection and ranging) is essentially a laser-based system that measures the time it takes for the laser’s light to return from a surface, then uses this information to build a map of your home.
You’ll need to download the Roborock smartphone app to control the S7, and the app can be integrated with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for voice control.
Roborock’s dock is a little different from other robot vac manufacturers, in that it is a bagless cyclonic type. This will be a bonus for those who don’t like purchasing or throwing away dust bags.
Never fear though! If you have dust allergies, you can still buy bags that will fit into the dock’s cylinder. Extra marks to Roborock for flexibility.
Setup and design: polarising dock?
We thought the design of the S7 Plus might be a little polarising, especially the dock, which is basically two cylinders with a bright red cone in the dust collection bin. The other cylinder houses the replaceable filter.
The dock looks totally different to other manufacturers’ docks and will certainly stand out wherever you place it in your home. In other respects, it’s quite a nicely detailed design. Build quality is good too.
We have the S7+ at home and we’ve hidden the dock behind an armchair due to its size and appearance
Once out of its box, there is a little assembly work to do for the dock. For the robot, you have to slide on the mopping pad, fill the mopping tank with water, then connect the robot to the app.
As the S7 is the second robot vac we’ve had at our home on Butt Street in Wellington, it was given the imaginative name “ButtBot the Second”.
Mapping: reliable and flexible
To perform the initial map for your home, just click on the “clean” button – the S7 will then roam around creating a real-time map of your home. The bot has a very methodical mapping process, cruising around the perimeters of rooms before filling in the middle – this is the benefit of LIDAR.
You need to be present for this first map, as the robot may get stuck in some areas: in our house, it got wedged under the sofa.
This raises an important point. If you want a robot that will clean under your furniture, you need to compare the height of the bot (including the periscope) and the available sub-furniture space. Some robots are lower profile than others. You can find their specs in our test results or on the manufacturer’s website.
Once your first clean and map is complete, the app has the usual tools for modifying rooms – merging, dividing, naming, and creating no-go zones for areas the robot might get stuck or that you don’t want it to clean.
I’m happy to report that it’s possible to add rooms to the map after the initial mapping is complete too. Just send the S7 out for a full clean and it will explore any new areas and add them to the map. You can then edit and name the new rooms.
Roborock’s app is a clear and clean affair.
From the main screen, choose your robot. You will then be taken to the map, which gives you three main cleaning options – Full, Rooms and Zones.
These are pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth noting that if you choose the Rooms or Zones options, you can change the number of cycles. This means you can clean individual rooms up to three times in one go if you are a particularly grubby human.
A nice touch is that the second clean will be carried out at right angles to the first. This creates an attractive crosshatch effect in thick carpet making it look reassuringly clean.
On the main screen there’s also a small editing button, which takes you to the room editing options mentioned earlier. This is also where you change maps if you have more than one, although this isn’t really that intuitive.
The app lets you switch to a 3d view, if you prefer – this view removes all the room colours, though, so isn’t really worth using.
Access to all other features is via the menu in the top-right corner. Here you’ll find all the settings, plus the set up for scheduled cleans, cleaning history and maintenance remainders to tell you when filters need changing, brushes replacing and sensors cleaning.
Vacuuming and mopping: auto-lifting mop head
We’ve run the S7 Plus through our lab tests and it scored well enough to become a recommended model.
As for most of the robot vacs we’ve tested so far, the S7 does well on hard floors (scoring 96/100) but falls down on cleaning carpet (only scoring 56). It’s also not great at picking up pet hair, so if you have a lot of shedding going on at your abode you might want to look for a different robot.
But for everyday cleaning, the S7 does a more than adequate job.
We think it’s especially convenient that you can send the S7 out to mop and vac at the same time without having to attach anything. Surely this is a route all manufacturers will eventually take for hybrid units?
When the S7 senses it’s on carpet, it lifts its mop head and turns off its water flow and sonic mop vibration. You can tell it’s not mopping, because the crescent-shaped light on top stops glowing blue.
While on a hard floor, it’s not obvious that the mop vibrates at all, but the bot leaves a wet trail like a slug, and we were happy with the in-home results (we don’t currently test mopping in the lab).
It’s quite funny when the S7 encounters the edge between a carpeted area and hard floor as it kind of lurches along a little like Quasimodo.
Docking and emptying
Once the bot has finished cleaning, or its battery charge has dropped below 20%, it will scuttle back to the dock to empty and re-charge. We weren’t clear why it needs this amount of battery power just to get back to the dock (although it could be to protect the battery from degrading).
The S7 Plus has a very pleasant voice that announces when it’s started or finished cleaning (and good quality speakers – take note Ecovacs!). At the dock, it will warn you when it’s about to be emptied, which is good as it’s pretty darn noisy to say the least.
Emptying the dock’s bin is nice and easy. There’s a flip-up handle on top for carrying, and a latch on the base opens the bin for emptying.
If you’ve mopped any particularly dirty floors, you’ll also need to manually remove the mop unit, and take off the mop pad (attached with Velcro) and give it a wash.
Robot vacs aren’t ideally suited to multi-storey homes as they can’t currently climb stairs. (There was a rumour that Dyson was developing a stair cleaning robot, but we can’t really see it happening.)
However, with the S7 you can have multiple maps, so if you don’t mind carrying your bot to the other levels you can clean the whole house.
Once a level is mapped, the S7 is pretty good at locating itself. The bot will spin round a couple of times while its kindly voice tells you it’s “locating, please wait”; and 95% of the time it gets its location right.
When cleaning is complete, the bot will initially try to find the dock. After a moment though, it registers it’s on a different level and returns to the starting point and goes to sleep.
This means you can set the bot to clean as you head off to work. When you get back, it should be finished and patiently waiting for you to return it to its dock home.
In future, we’re guessing prices will come down enough that you won’t even have to do this – you’ll be able to afford a robot vacuum on each level.
Should you buy a Roborock S7 Plus?
Well, I am little biased as I bought one myself!
But I’d say, if you have a mix of flooring types in your home, then the S7 is a super choice. It’s a true set-and-forget machine, due to the VibraRise lifting mop, its mapping abilities are top notch, and it has a bagless auto-empty bin.
It doesn’t have a camera, so can’t detect obstacles like some other bots, which means you’ll need to tidy your floors before cleaning. But hey, that’s no bad thing, right?