For years homeowners envied the Jetson Family as they had their own humanoid robot Rosie to tidy up after them. While technology is still a little bit away from an all-in-one device that cooks our meals, folds our laundry, and cracks wise all at the same time, the robotic vacuums have proven to be a small slice of convenience. These robovacs have proven to be very effective at picking up debris in tight corners and their intelligent programming for the most part prevents them from repeatedly banging into a wall as if they had too many robo-cocktails.
Two of the well-known robotic vacuums on the consumer market are the bObsweep Standard and the Roomba 780. Both combine different features that entice them to a homeowner but set them apart from each other. If you’re in the market for programmable vacuum cleaner to finally get some help around the house with the chores, here’s some info to help you make your choice:
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Roomba 780 Review
The Bobsweep is a Canadian robotic vacuum that became one of the first to offer not only sweeping but also mopping features. The Bobsweep boasts the largest brush in the robotic vacuum industry so it covers a larger cleaning area in each pass. The Bobsweep model similar to the Roomba is designed for pet lovers, eliminating almost all the hair off of carpets, hardwood floors, etc. Of course dander still remains on couches and furniture but the Bobsweep does its best to minimize the allergens.
The Bobsweep features many of the industry standard features that makes it one of the best selling robotic vacuums on the market. Infrared technologies allow Bob to navigate around rooms, avoiding chairs and other obstacles. The Bob can move from room to room, recognizing changes from hardwood to carpet and adjusting as necessary. Homeowners need not worry about the Bob falling down steps or off overhangs as the sensors help prevent that at well, thus protecting the investment.
There are two main things that set the Bobsweep apart from other robotic vacuum cleaners on the market. First off is the ability to vacuum, sweep, and mop a floor simultaneously. There is a small pad that the user gets wet to immediately mop the area as the Bobsweep picks up debris from it. This function works great in kitchen or bathroom floors once the programs are set up. The Bobsweep can be set up to run 7 days a week, with different programs for each day.
The second feature that makes the Bobsweep enticing over its competitors is a larger dust bin capacity. One of the main gripes from Roomba owners is the frequency in which the vacuum must be emptied. The Bobsweep contains an industry-leading 1-liter bin that ensures multiple cleaning tasks can be completed without becoming over filled.
Other Bobsweep Quirks
One of the really neat things about the Bobsweep vacuum is its ability to tell when it gets tired. The Bobsweep can recognize the distance needed to get back to its charging station and will automatically head there before the battery drains. The device recharges and heads back out assuring that no tasks for the day remain unfinished. The Bobsweep also features a remote control so that it can be pointed in the right direction if it loses its way, one of the major gripes of the early robotic vacuums.
Customer Complaints About Bobsweep
There are a few distinct complaints about Bobsweep from a number of its users. The first is what’s perceived as a design flaw in that the dustbin needs to be emptied each time whereas people would rather have a bag that can be removed, thrown out and replaced to avoid allergen exposure.
The other main issue is with dark colored rugs. The Bobsweep infrared technologies don’t pick up these as well and the device needs to be outfitted with special blinders for the sensors to work. There are also some qualms about the programming but that could be from the same people whose VCR has blinked “12:00” since 1987.
Video Review of the Bobsweep
Here’s a good video demonstration that one of our reader’s recommended. It clearly demonstrates some of the Bobsweep’s limitations. Definitely worth watching:
Roomba 780 Vs. Bobsweep Head to Head
|Average battery life||60-90 minutes||70-90 minutes|
|Dustbin size||1000 ML||450 ML|
|Charging time||180 minutes||180 minutes|
|Multi speed||3-speed adjustment||No|
Both the Roomba 780 and the Bobsweep perform the same basic functions in the same manners. They use infrared sensors to travel a room in a seemingly random pattern while corralling dust and sweeping it up. Both have side-swiping brushes that allow cleaning along walls and in tight places and cost roughly the same (about $600 new.)
There are a few things that set the models apart from each other, mainly the Bobsweep’s ability to mop and sterilize a floor in addition to sweeping it. Some people find this as an unnecessary feature though as a special setup of dipping a pad in liquid is needed to engage in the wet mopping. Size also matters in the Bobsweep as it has a much larger cleaning brush and a bigger dust bin than the Roomba. One area where the Roomba 780 excels though is picking up pet hair. The Roomba has brushes designed for this whereas Bobsweep features a product designed just for this, the Bobsweep Pet Rogue which costs an additional $50-$75.
To be honest both products perform adequately enough as a $600 robotic vacuum should. I like the Roomba 780 a bit more in terms of reliability and proven results. Consumers need to remember that no robovac will ever give a comparative clean to a standup vacuum nor should it be expected to. The technology – while established – is still improving on a monthly basis. Right now, robotic vacuums excel in the day to day maintenance of crumbs and dust mites and should be purchased mainly as an accessory to the more powerful standing vacs.
UPDATE 10/6/16: Amazon has started carrying the Bobsweep for a very reasonable price of $269 (see here for latest pricing). The price discrepancy is now much more interesting. Whereas the Roomba 780 is about $549, the $250 savings for the Bobsweep is significant. I’m still personally a “Roomba guy” but I own a Bobsweep too and it’s a competent robot.
It can be a bit hit or miss to find the classic Bobsweep for a reliable price. It tends to run out of stock quickly at most major retailers. They do sometimes run promotions on Groupon and similar sites, but – again – its hit or miss. Amazon did recently start carrying them at this listing here. However, it’s usually selling at full retail $749 and the supply tends to be erratic. UPDATE: You can now find theBobi and Bobsweep on less than 1/3rd of what the original retail price was.
UPDATE: With the release of the Roomba 800 series, the differences between the Bobsweep vs Roomba have only become more clear. You can read my full review of the top end Roomba 880 here, but the key improvements include 1) 50% more effective cleaning system, 2) a larger dust bin, and 3) quieter operation (easy to sleep through and won’t scare your dog!). The point about the dustbin is important because it was my main gripe with the Roomba 780 vs Bobsweep when I initially wrote this article. The main drawback? It’s more expensive. However, they’ve recently reduced the price to under $600 at this listing. If you are on a budget, the Bobsweep may be your only choice because of this price discrepancy.
FURTHER UPDATE: Guess what? iRobot released their new Roomba 980. In my humble opinion, it’s the best robot vacuum currently on the market. However, it’s priced pretty darn high! It’s not necessarily the best value relative to the price (and what you need it to do). The core attraction of it is that you can now control your Roomba via an App/Web Enabled device. So, you can start, stop, and monitor your Roomba from the office or any remote location with WiFi. If you are tempted, please check out my full review of it.
Which One Would I Buy Today?
Overall, both tiny vacuums do their job, it’s just that consumers need to remember they’re not dealing with Rosie the smart-mouthed robomaid from the Jetsons. Bobsweep isn’t bad, but it’s not quite up to the performance of the Roomba. On features alone, it looks like the Bobsweep is better, but the truth is in the results and reliability. If this is your first experience with robot vacuums, I would definitely stick with established track record of the Roomba 780 (see link below). iRobot has a much longer track record of positive reviews, a strong user community, a better market for replacement parts, and better customer support overall. However, I also own a Bobsweep and wouldn’t fault anyone for going that route.