The Bissell SmartClean is a $299 entry into the increasingly crowded robotic floor cleaning market. Many brands have seen Roomba’s success and figured out where they could undercut the market leader or try to differentiate.
For under $300 you get a low-profile cleaner powered by a lithium ion battery offering over an hour of cleaning.
It can clean multiple surfaces, using a mix of brushes and suction for a deeper clean, and offers advanced features like auto docking for recharge, and navigation and hazard avoidance.
Special Holiday Pricing Update: In case you missed it, you can actually pick up the SmartClean robot here for 33% off today. That’s an even steeper discount than normal.
The company has a background in traditional vacuum cleaners, so has it managed to transition its own cleaning power into something the size of a chunky frisbee?
It sounds like they have packed in a lot of technology for something that is one third the price of Roomba, could it really be as good as we’d hope, let’s find out!
Contents (Jump to)
Bissell SmartClean Key Features
- Looks the Part: The Bissell SmartClean looks pretty high tech, with a charming geodesic effect on the top and a smart blue trim to it. On the top is an LCD display a range of buttons for setting up and changing the settings. Underneath is a small 5-inch gap for dust to be vacuumed up plus the main brush and the spider-like spinners.
- Standard Dimensions: The SmartClean is a little bigger than an old LP, measuring around 13-inches and it is 3.4 inches tall so should fit under some furniture, but probably not classic style seating with those low edges.
- Full Kit: The kit comes with a docking station, charger, detector to set up the invisible wall, one filter and a set of spare brushes, but you’ll probably want to stock up on more spares.
Pros of the Bissell SmartClean
- Fast and Furious: The Bissell is one of the faster robotic cleaning devices we’ve seen, if not the fastest. That’s down to the small size of its cleaning heads, which is something discussed in the cons section. However, if you like your technology whizzing around the room, then the Bissell is something to behold. Even at speed it can detect obstacles and avoid them, although you need to be careful with cabling and wires as they will foul it up and could cause damage.
- Some Smart Sensors: Along with the speed you also get some pretty high tech extras including the wall settings to prevent it going into uncharted territory, and a sensor to stop it from flinging itself down the stairs or on to a lower level.
- Knows When to Recharge: It will also head back to the power dock when its charge is running low, although sometimes it won’t make it, or can’t manage to dock, and needs a little human intervention.
Cons of the Bissell SmartClean
- Difficult Deep Cleaning: As mentioned, the Bissell comes with very small cleaning brushes, which means that while it might be speedy, it is not the deepest of cleaning products on the market. If you take a look at one, you’ll also notice that the gap for suction is also pretty small, leaving the side spinners to do an awful lot of the work, and these are just not as efficient as the main brush. This also means that long hair or chunky bits of dug fluff won’t get pulled into the bin and will act as barriers that prevent proper cleaning and will likely act as drag on the unit.
- Small Bin: Continuing on the small theme the bin in pretty tiny, so this will need changing often, no matter how long the actual unit can run for. Clearly, the next generation for all robot cleaners will be the ability to self empty the bin. Heading in the other direction, when it has run out of power, it can take up to four hours to charge the battery, so larger homes might want multiple units, or something with more juice.
- Non-Intuitive Interface and Instructions: Another flaw in the Bissell is that its interface designers have never heard of user experience. You need to make many multiple button presses to get it do anything or set it up. The manual is also one of these horrible Chinese translated affairs with phrases like “ The unit will stop where it is when the work time is done or battery low” which will not aid comprehension when setting it up and using it.
Final Recommendation – Useful Enough?
The Bissell SmartClean really looks like a great piece of kit, but it is a shame that doesn’t translate into the design and usability. It is a pain to program and set up, and it feels almost quaint without a smartphone app to set it up.
However, all of that would have added to the cost and here we have a pretty decent cleaner for a lot less than some of the market leaders. So, the buyer faces the age old dilemma of paying more for a bit more performance and smarter features.
On the plus side there is a lot more to the Bissell than some models, and if you can live without some of the bells and whistles on the Roomba range then it may be worth the shot.
Bottom Line: This is more of a “me too” offering from Bissell. It’s neither the smartest or the cheapest robot (even among budget robots).
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!