The Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba matchup is an interesting one. In one corner, we have a 140-year-old company that invented the vacuum cleaner. In the other, we have the world’s most well-known household robotics brand name.
At first glance, you might be tempted to bet that the muscular Roomba 980 is the better bot. The Roomba 980 has lots of “gee whiz” features, plus it bears the most recognizable brand name in home robotics.
But don’t be fooled. The Roomba 980 is a rip-off.
The Roomba’s expensive, geeky extra features are basically worthless. They don’t help the Roomba do its main job: clean floors.
The Bissell Smartclean Robot, on the other hand, does a great job at what it’s supposed to do. It’s not as fancy, but it’s great at cleaning. That’s why I think that it’s a much better deal.
Read on to learn more about how Roomba compares to Bissell Smartclean. Or, jump over to my Ultimate Robotic Vacuum Review Roundup for a detailed look at 7 popular robotic vacuum brands.
- Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: Old vs New
- The Bissell Smartclean Isn’t Quite as Clever as Roomba (Yet)
- Roomba 980: All Sizzle, No Steak
- Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: a Head-to-Head Comparison
- Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: the Bottom Line
- Bissell Smartclean: Very Good Overall (but Not the Best)
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Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: Old vs New
People in the market for a new vacuum cleaner want to know two things:
- How well can it clean?
- How difficult is it to maintain?
As smart as they surely are, I’m not sure that the eggheads at iRobot understand that.
The Bissell Smartclean does an excellent job when it comes to sweeping floors. Its 2.23 amp vacuum is quite powerful. And its two sweeper “feet” are awesome.
Roomba 980 only has one rotating sweeper.
The Bissell Smartclean Robot is Easier to Clean
My second favorite feature on this vac has to do with changing out the bin.
Bissell Smartclean has a cool little bin “box” that you can lift directly out of the robot and wash out in the sink. The Roomba 980 also has a bagless dust collection system, but it’s a lot messier and harder to empty out.
The Bissell Smartclean could use some work in some areas, but it is already a very good robotic vacuum. Future upgrades might give Roomba some very stiff competition.
Bissell Invented the Vacuum Cleaner Way Back in 1876
Bissell’s attention to detail and reputation for making great vacuums may help it compete in the home robotics arena if the company continues to invest in automation.
Bissell reputation for making cost effective “no nonsense” vacuum cleaner products dates back to the 19th century.
The Bissell company is named after its founder, American inventor Melville Reuben Bissell– the father of the modern day vacuum cleaner.
When Melville died at the age of 45 in 1889, his remarkable wife Anna took over and became America’s first female CEO.
Under Anna Bissell’s leadership, the Bissell brand exploded.
Anna Bissell famously studied the vacuum market “the way other women studied French.” Then, she helped create and design a cost effective, revolutionary vac that everyone wanted to buy. She toured America, selling Bissells to eager consumers for a dollar and fifty cents. (What a deal!)
By the turn of the century, Bissell had become the largest vacuum manufacturer in the world. Even today, one out of every five vacuums sold in North America bears the Bissell brand name.
iRobot’s Newest Vacuum is Horrible (but at Least Its Army ‘Bots are Quite Good)
iRobot is pretty good at making robots for the government. But the company is clueless when it comes to designing useful household appliances for civilians.
iRobot got its start making war machines in the 90s. That’s the main reason why the company was able to jump ahead of other robot makers in the early 2000s. iRobot had access to robot tech that nobody else had at the time.
But over the last decade and a half, iRobot has struggled to revolutionize home robotics in the way that everyone thought they would 15 years ago.
iRobot is still the market leader– and it is making money. But the company has failed to take household robotics to the next level. And it won’t be long before consumers begin to grow tired of iRobot’s inability (or unwillingness) to design affordable home robotics products.
The Bissell Smartclean Isn’t Quite as Clever as Roomba (Yet)
The Bissell Smartclean is good, but it’s not perfect.
It occasionally does some goofy things. Every once in awhile, it runs out of batteries before it returns to its home charging base. And, sometimes it doesn’t plug in properly and fails to recharge itself.
However, the latest edition of the Bissell Smartclean– the Bissell Smartclean 1974– is a lot smarter than the 1605 model.
The new edition of Bissell Smartclean is just as good at cleaning. But, it has better sensors and an upgraded brain. Also, its battery is stronger.
Meanwhile, the latest version of the Roomba is actually worse than the one that preceded it.
A change to the Roomba’s innovative way of cleaning has surprised us with a small step back for the company’s latest model, the iRobot Roomba 980.
– Senior Editor Ed Perratore, Consumer Reports
Roomba 980: All Sizzle, No Steak
Who really cares if a robotic vacuum can map out your home when it does a mediocre job of actually cleaning your carpet?
As Consumer Reports has noted, the Roomba 980’s “straight line” cleaning mode is surprisingly ineffective. Robots that go in random directions and retrace their steps multiple times do a much better job of sweeping floors.
As mentioned above, some of Bissell Smartclean’s automated functions are a bit clumsy.
But here’s the thing about the Bissell Smartclean Robot: it’s awesome at cleaning floors. Plus, you don’t have to empty your bank account if you want to own one.
Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: a Head-to-Head Comparison
In my opinion, Bissell Smartclean absolutely blows Roomba out of the water. It comes with an electronic fence system that makes up for its somewhat ditzy behavior. Also, it’s got a powerful vacuum. It’s super easy to clean. And of course, the Bissell Smartclean is much, much cheaper than Roomba.
When you look at what Roomba 980 brings to the table, it’s hard to find any features that are worth getting excited about. I personally don’t care about the new Roomba app. The Roomba 980’s ability to travel in straight lines is straight up pointless, because robotic vacuums that move around randomly actually do a better job of cleaning.
Here is Why Roomba 980 Is Bad
- It doesn’t vacuum very well. The 980 didn’t do very well on the Consumer Reports floor sweep test. The Consumer Reports testers suspect that the 980’s new behavior pattern could be to blame.
- If you don’t own a smartphone, it won’t talk to you. The Roomba 980 is a snob. If you don’t own a smartphone, it won’t let you control it from afar. You have to download and use the Roomba app if you want to do that.
- It doesn’t clean up very well around the edges. Honestly none of the robotic vacuums do edges well. But with all the DARPA connections the company has, you’d think that the MIT geniuses at iRobot would have figured out edges by now.
- There’s no kill switch. I’m not making this up. There’s no way to turn the Roomba 980 off manually. That means that once SkyNet takes control, there’s no way to prevent this robot from vacuuming your face off.
Here is Why the Bissell Smartclean Robot Is Good
- It’s got 2 spinning brushes. It cleans more efficiently than the Roomba 980, which has only one spinning brush.
- Low profile. Bissell Smartclean squeezes underneath low furniture ( it’s .2 inches shorter than the Roomba 980).
- Electronic fence. The fence prevents the Bissell Smartclean from wandering into places where you don’t want it to go.
- Easier to clean. Just pull the bin out by the handle and rinse it out with water.
- Cliff sensors. This bot may not always get home time for a recharge, but it never falls down stairs.
- Powerful Bissell vac. Smartclean sucks up more dust and dirt than most robotic floor cleaners.
- Reasonable price tag. Overall, Bissell Smartclean is one of the all-around best budget robotic vacs on the market right now.
Bissell Smartclean Robot vs Roomba: the Bottom Line
A lot of people buy Roomba vacuums just because they know the Roomba brand name. But actually, Roomba’s reign over the home robotics industry is coming to an end.
The latest Roomba vacuums aren’t as cutting edge as they used to be. And the Roomba 980 is particularly awful. The Roomba 980 costs a fortune, yet it doesn’t even clean the floor as well as other robotic vacuums.
If it were a choice between Bissell Smartclean and Roomba, I’d choose Bissell Smartclean every time. Bissell Smartclean gets stuck sometimes. However, it’s actually better at cleaning than Roomba– plus it’s less than 1/4th the price.
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Bissell Smartclean: Very Good Overall (but Not the Best)
Bissell Smartclean is quite good. However, bObsweep PetHair is still my personal favorite robotic vacuum.
bObsweep PetHair is similar to Bissell Smartclean in many ways. Both robotic vacs are far less expensive than the Roomba 980. Also, bObsweep PetHair and Bissell Smartclean both come with electronic fences that keep them from wandering away. The price is about the same for both vacuums, too.
What’s so special about bObsweep?
However, bObsweep allows you to “spot clean” an area of the carpet. If you see a section of the floor that needs cleaning, you can tell bObsweep to go there by using the remote to point at where you want it to go.
Also, bObsweep PetHair is just a tad bit more powerful than Bissell Smartclean. In 2016, bObsweep was the most powerful robotic vacuum on the market.
Additionally, bObsweep PetHair is smarter than Bissell Smartclean. It always makes it back to home base when it needs a recharge. And it doesn’t get stuck on difficult surfaces.
Another reason why I think bObsweep PetHair is still the best all-around robotic vacuum is the fact that you can turn him into a Swiffer mop. bObsweep comes with pads that allow you to keep your hardwood floor clean.
The final reason why I like bObsweep more has to do with the fact that the guys who make bObsweep robots are robotics engineers. The company has near perfect Amazon reviews because bObsweep robots are well-made and don’t break easily. I also like the fact that if you don’t like bObsweep, you can send him back for a full refund.
I Still Think bObsweep is #1
- Electronic fence. My favorite bObsweep vacuum comes with bObsweep blOck.
- Spot cleaning. Use the bObsweep remote to point bObsweep towards a particular spot on the floor.
- Powerful suction. bObsweep PetHair was 2016’s most powerful robotic vacuum in terms of suction.
- Smart navigation. Always returns to his charger when he gets “tired.”
- Mop functionality. Turn bObsweep into a Swiffer style hardwood floor mop.
- If you don’t like bOb, you can send him back. I’m a huge fan of bObsweep’s excellent customer support.
- Super low price tag. bObsweep vacs cost way less than overpriced Roombas.
For more info about bObsweep robotic floor cleaners, check out this article: