Robotic Vacuums

Bobsweep vs Roomba 780 – Can Bobsweep Compete with Roomba?

roomba 780 vs bobsweepFor 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:

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.

Bobsweep’s Trademarks

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

 

Feature Bobsweep Roomba 780
Average battery life 60-90 minutes 70-90 minutes
Auto charging Yes Yes
Auto resuming Yes No
Dustbin size 1000 ML 450 ML
Cleaning schedule Yes Yes
Collision avoidance Yes No
Charging time 180 minutes 180 minutes
Multi speed 3-speed adjustment No
Mopping function Yes No
Containment No Virtual wall
UV disinfection Yes No
Remote control Yes Yes
Country Canada USA

 

Bobsweep vs Roomba

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.

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn't have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

31 Comments

  • Wow….what a wimp conclusion! Throughout the whole review you show us that the Bobsweep is a reasonable alternative to the Roomba and even has some major advantages, then you wimp out and recommend Roomba! Grow a pair or stop doing reviews!

    • Hi Dave,

      You are right. The Bobsweep is a reasonable option in many respects; however, if you are a new to the robotic vacuum space going with an establish brand like iRobot is preferable for a number of reasons.
      1) Better customer support – iRobot has more dedicated resources for support (both in official and via fan communities).
      2) More responsive to problems – as a publicly traded and highly visible company, iRobot has a larger vested interest in customer satisfaction and reputation management.
      3) Better market for accessories – the Roomba series has a relatively well-developed after-market for replacement parts and accessories, meaning that you aren’t necessarily stuck with the factory default options.
      4) Longer Track Record – the Roomba series has a much longer positive track record than Bobsweep. Period.

      Nothing against Bobsweep. I think it has a great product offering, but it has some obvious bigger picture limitations. On the vacuums themselves, they are competitive with Roomba’s.

      • Very good points and would have been nice justification to your conclusion in your post. Thanks. I had come across the Bobsweep in Groupon for something like $200! It may be worth the risk at that price!

  • I have also seen the Bobsweep on Groupon. Which made me do a little research as to which i should buy. I have been considering this for some time now, and i was leaning more towards the Bobsweep only because of the mopping and recharging features. But now reading Patricks reply, i think that “the bigger picture” makes me lean more towards the iRobot. I want something that is going to last and when/if it needs replacement parts, i want to be able to find them easy at a cheap price.
    Dave, If you purchase the Bobsweep on Groupon, i would love to hear what you think about it.

  • I just wanted to say thanks for this review, Patrick! The new wife and I are looking to use some of our wedding money on a vacuum, and she emailed me the Groupon this morning. Did a quick look for reviews and this was one of the first things that popped up. Very informative and helpful, especially since we never owned a robo-vacuum and were unsure if we should get one or not.

  • I bought one on Groupon. I loved it, then about a month in, the brush broke. I contacted the company, they sent another one for free. It broke again, then the sensors stopped working. They sent another brush, this time a metal one instead of plastic and blinders for the sensors. It worked for about an hour. I contacted company again and was told id have to pay for shipping to and from to get it fixed. I went ballistic. The thing had been broken more than used. They agreed, paid for shipping and now it’s running fine. The customer service was excellent. My house tends to be dirtier than most because we have 3 pets and heat with a woodstove. It’s a bit more cluttered than I would like which makes it hard to use Bobsweep as often as I wish I could. Eventually, I hope to get back to using it daily. The mop feature is nice. I will spray the floor with a light bleach blend and it does clean it. I don’t use it as much as when I first got it, but love it when I can use it. I’d never leave it alone because it gets stuck often (my fault because of cluttered house).

  • I purchased a Bobsweep pet hair in October (through a groupon deal as well). When I was researching it, I came across this article, which is very informative and well written. Although I felt like I learned a lot, after reading the article I did not leave with a conviction of whether I should buy it or not. Back then, there were fewer comments by users (there was only Dave’s comments and Patrick’s replies). I agreed with Dave, that the article’s conclusion sounded partial and biased. So I did some more research found a facebook post by Bobsweep on which many bobsweep owners commented and tagged their friends to recommend buying it to them. Seeing that current owners are trying to get their friends buy it was a great sign, so I finally ended up ordering a Bobsweep, still unsure, but knowing from experience that Groupon’s return policy would be headache free (I copied the bobsweep’s facebook post below so others can read the comments I am referring to). I also decided that I would come and leave a comment here after using the vacuum so other users can decide better after reading it. Coming to do it now, I read the more recent comments… Had these posts been here when I was buying mine, they would probably dissuade me! I am glad that was NOT the case and lucky that I did order my Bobsweep while Groupon had it for $240! I have had the vacuum for about 3 weeks now and absolutely happy with my purchase! Can’t say I am in love with it, it has its glitches here and there especially on my bedrooms shag rug, but totally worth it and definitely vacuums better than my sister’s Neato ( I have never examined a Roomba up close to be able to compare) but from what I hear none of these robots are perfect. Anyway, I think there is enough said in the comments of the post, so I will stop here for now and just say that Beth Mulvey’s comments pretty much reflect my experience too. I’d be happy to answer more specific questions and will try to check back again!
    https://www.facebook.com/bObsweep/posts/740762092626000

    • Thanks for sharing, Becca! I’ve been adding additional information and resources to this page as I go. Thanks for sharing the Facebook page. I’m sure that will help provide another perspective.

      My perspective still is that the Roomba is a better machine overall, with more investment and results in cutting edge robotics technology. In head to head comparisons, the Roomba will pick up more dust and dander and have a better navigation system. See the YouTube video referenced in the post and comments section.

      That said, the Bobsweep looks a lot better on paper in terms of features. I personally think it’s spread a bit thin. If rather have a vacuum that’s the best in class at picking up debris than one that had a larger dust bin, mop feature, etc… But this is clearly a matter of preference. The Bobsweep is considerably more affordable so I really can’t say it’s “better” than the Roomba in terms of value. I have no doubt that the Bobsweep IS better than an older 400 or 500 series Roomba at the same price point.

  • I’m considering the Bobsweep with the groupon for my daughter’s family for Christmas. I really can’t afford the more well know Roomba. They have all hardwood floors, with no throw rugs, but 3 cats and a dog. Plus a toddler and a tween, which probably drag in more than the pets. Any thoughts on if that would make a difference in performance?

      • LOL! The cats are used to a toddler! Handling a bobsweep should be a snap!

        I have one in my shopping cart on groupon. I think I’ll hit send. I’ll keep you posted on how it works for them.

        Thanks for your review, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Patrick, as of now, the Bobsweep is still on sale on Groupon. However, it is the bObi by Bobsweep that is on sale, the brand new model. I had to choose between the Roomba 630 (which is on sale at 280+tx for Black Friday) or the bObi by Bobsweep for 299 (tx incl) and I went with the latter. I’ll try to come back in a few weeks to post a review. I found that there is not a lot of info on the web about the Bobsweep, even less about the last model (bObi) so it would be great if you could review that one as well.

  • We have owned a Roomba for years. Came across the Bobsweep Groupon, so got it. Paid a little less for our Bobsweep than we did for the Roomba ( got a good deal on it as well) and our Roomba was wearing out, so it was time to get a new one. Give the Bobsweep a try. Well, I have never used the mopping feature because it mops or vacuums not both, you can’t stop it from going on the carpet when it is mopping, so if I have to be there to direct it , then why use a robot, just do it myself. It gets caught on things that the Roomba does not- it is a little taller and gets caught under our coffee table and couch all the time, it can’t make it over the threshold to get into some of the rooms when the flooring changes and sometimes gets caught at the top of the stairs where the laminate meets the carpet. When the Bobsweep has an error, you get a number on top. You have to go to the owners manual and look up what the error is so you can figure out how to fix it ( there are about 8 different errors for something caught in left wheel, versus right wheel, or empty the bin, or clean the brush etc) on the Roomba, when it has an error, a voice says, please charge Roomba, or move Roomba to a new area, or clean Roomba’s brushes, easy, don’t need to look it up, it tells me what I need. When Bobsweep gets stuck, the thing beeps until I fix it. well if I am not home, it continues to beep until the battery runs out, when I get home, I have no idea what is wrong with it, I need to charge it first. When the Roomba gets stuck, it stops, then when I come home, I push the start button and it tells me what is wrong. Sure the bin in the Bobsweep is bigger, but I run my roomba every day and empty the bin every few days. The Roomba picks up debris the Bobsweep leaves behind. When the Roomba needs to have the brushes cleaned, you flip a switch, pull the brushes out, use the handy tool that comes with it and clean the brushes, put them back. Every part of it opens easily with a flip or a pull or a push and can be detangled easily ( three dogs, one cat, and long haired people in the house means lot of hair for it to pick up ) with the Bobsweep, i have to get a screw driver to open up the compartment to get the brushes out and fix it

    oh and I mentioned that I needed a new Roomba and that is why we tried the Bobsweep, well I contacted iRobot and told them what was wrong, they suggested buying a replacement part for $49, which we did, it came with easy instructions to replace it , and it works perfectly again.

    Oh and about programming? without a manual, I can program Roomba in 3 minutes. With a manual and a call to the company, I cannot program the Bobsweep to work. It will not return to base to charge, I have to plug it in manually, It will not run on the program, I have to start it manually all the time, and I have no problem programming any other electronic device in my house , and trust me, we are fully wired, a robot vacuum is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. The company admitted the programming instructions were poor and emailed me a new copy, which was the exact instructions that were in the manual. So if anyone wants a Bobsweep, mine is for sale

    • as an addendum, when I complained to the company about how bad it was and could I return it? nope- bought it through Groupon, need to return it to them. And Groupons response? had it for more than a month ( it took me that long to try and figure out how to try to get it to work, and I gave up) so no, I cannot return it

    • Carole, You make some really good points. Clearly the Roomba has more advanced features. A lot of people get hung up on the mop + vacuum feature of the Bobsweep, but it’s really a matter: would you rather have a robot that does one thing well, or two things in a mediocre fashion. The Bobsweep is still a decent robot, but it’s not quite up to the caliber of iRobot, in my opinion.

      P.S. Also with regard to your experience with replacement parts for the Roomba, I always point this out to people. iRobot has a huge market for parts and both the company and third party sellers are very well attuned to the maintenance needs of Roomba’s. A Bobsweep just doesn’t have the market share to adequately service these needs.

      • yah, I was really looking forward to the mop feature, but I haven’t even used it, since I would have to be there to direct it where to not go. The virtual walls with the Roomba are great, I can set up where I don’t want the Roomba to go, and it still operates without me there. For the price ( since mine were about the same price) it is Roomba all the way. The BobSweep would have to be under $5 for me to want it, it was just so frustrating for me. The fact I can buy a Roomba anywhere ( Costco Canadian Tire, to name two) but the BobSweep can only be bought online and it is hard to return is another feature. I have come to learn that if something is being featured over and over on Groupon, there must be a reason they can’t sell it for the full price

  • I decided to research Bobsweep vs iRobot as there is a Groupon for Bobsweep right now. I have a BIG house (4000 sq ft) so I’d like to move the unit from level to level if possible. I’d been considering buying the top end iRobot (980) and the Scooba, as about 90% of my flooring is hardwood/ceramic tile. So….right now the iRobot 880 is on sale for $594CAD vs the 980 for $899CAD….is it worth it to suck up (no pun intended!) the extra price and go for the 980? OR….should I just try the Scooba first at $599CAD, which does vacuum, mop and deep clean? I do have 2 cats…HELP!!

    • Hey Stacey – The Scooba is a mop so it doesn’t “suction” so much as it wipes (either dry mop or wet mop). Even with the lighthouses, the Scooba isn’t really meant for covering a full 4,000 sq feet. Most people need the Scooba for disinfecting/cleaning kitchens and the infrequent hardwood floor clean.

      I would definitely take a hard look at the Roomba 980 or at the very least an 880 + 3+ virtual walls. The bobsweep doesn’t have the same advanced navigation that iRobot has and as such is suitable for a smaller floor plan than what you are dealing with.

  • Is there a choice of robotic vacuums for dark hardwood floors? We don’t have carpet, we installed dark grey hardwood floors and from everything I read, these robotic vacuums hate dark colors. Without tricking their sensors, do any of them work on darker hardwood floors?

    • I have a dark speckled terrazzo floor. The kind they have at supermarkets, only the speckles are black or charcoal. I have not had any problems with Roomba in that respect. Even the occasional navy colored rug was not a problem, except the fringes.

  • I have owned both a Roomba, and a Scooba. First I must say, when I saw BobSweep also mopped, my interest peaked. Terribly disappointed that this was in the form of a wet cloth. Sorry, this is NOT mopping. I will stick to my Scooba, which has left my floors so clean and shiny, my pets have had a hard time walking on it. Frequently I saw the scene of Bambi stepping on ice the first time. My main and major gripe with the robotic cleaners? iRobot makes military equipment, yet they cannot build in a burn-out protector in the motor? Both of my machines died after encountering a minute item. My Roomba encountered an overlooked paperclip. My Scooba a toothpick. This meant I had to pre-vacuum my home, before sending the robots to work. Even my $30 Shark handheld has motor burnout prevention. The motor stops when it overheats, and resumes when cooled down enough. iRobot cannot get the robot to shut down when the motor overheats before it reaches critical? I am dying to get another robot, especially a scooba, but not until safeguards are in place.

    • My Roomba stops when it gets hung up and asks me to fix it. the difference I found with it and the bob sweep though was things the Roomba trundled through, made the bob sweep get stuck

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