I love robot vacuums. As a full-time working parent of two elementary schoolers and one large, grouchy dog, there’s no way I could keep our floors mess-free without one.
In fact, I love them so much that I’m willing to overlook all manner of problems. Yes, you have to perform regular routine maintenance. Yes, you will have to pick up your floors. My kids are experts at setting robot vacuum booby traps (unstrung bobbins of embroidery floss are a favorite around here). And yes, they do occasionally get stuck, and the clean isn’t quite as deep as what you’d get from a handheld push vacuum.
But for the past six months, all those problems have fallen away. Simply put, the Roborock Q+ has been the least hassle and least maintenance that I’ve ever had with any robot vacuum, ever—which is saying something, because I’ve had robot vacuums running constantly for about five years. Even as other robot vacuums have come and gone, the Q+ stays. It’s not the most groundbreaking in terms of specs or features, but it’s the one I just can’t do without.
Simple Is Better
Compared to old-timers like the Roomba—the brand name synonymous with robot vacuum—Roborock is a newcomer. Since I started testing them in 2019, they’ve ironed out a lot of their annoying kinks. Roborock vacuums now perform comparably to some of the most well-known and reliable manufacturers, and are priced accordingly.
The Q5 vacuums are their midrange option, a step down from the premium Q7 and S7 MaxV Ultra. It has 2700-Pa suction power, or slightly less than the premium models, but it still starts at $460 without the auto-empty dock (I tried it with the dock. This is not the Rockdock Auto-Empty Purewhich, unfathomably, has a separate chamber for an air filter. The dock was supposed to be compatible with an older Roborock S7 that I also had on hand, but I couldn’t get the auto-empty function to work.
In some cases, the simpler the robot, the better. Visually, the Q5+ and auto-empty dock is indistinguishable from many other robot vacuums I’ve tested throughout the years. It doesn’t have a mopping function. The dock itself is 16.5 inches high and also easy to use and set up. The lid smoothly lifts off to reveal the auto-empty vacuum bag, with a deep handle that’s probably not meant to store the cleaning tool, but which I put there anyway.
The vacuum itself doesn’t look particularly special either. It’s round and about 3 inches tall, short enough to fit under all our couches. It was easy to set up and connect to Wi-Fi, which can be a pain for some robot vacuums . I’ve had to rename different bands of Wi-Fi just so a vacuum can connect, but that wasn’t a problem here. The app has gotten much easier to navigate as well.
There are two simple buttons on top, and the dust bin and air filters are easy to click out and remove. The sensors along the bottom and front are easy to find and wipe off when they get dusty. The roller on the bottom has a brush , but it’s easy to click out and cut off my daughter’s and my long hair when it gets wrapped around. There are even arrows to tell you how to replace the roller cover properly.
If these all seem like little things … well, they’re not. On many, many robot vacuums, these routine maintenance tasks are hard to do. The vacuum drops off Wi-Fi; it’s hard to remove the dust bin. Heck, you would simply not believe how hard it is to replace the roller cover sometimes—especially since both my daughter and I have long hair that regularly ensnares rubber rollers. The Q5+ is just very easy to maintain.
In contrast to simple bounce navigation, the Q5+ series uses Lidar, which uses lasers to navigate. Other robot vacuums, including the premium Roborock S7 models, use camera-based navigation to help identify obstacles in the house (Roborock’s version is called ReactiveAI). But honestly, I was fine with having fewer mobile cameras in my home.
In 2021, my family moved to a large, rambling house that most robot vacuums find difficult to navigate; many have simply pooped out halfway through, unable to cope. The Q5+ is the only vacuum that has cleaned the whole floor over and over. Even the Roomba j7+ left a corner untouched for a few weeks, unnoticed.