robotic vacuum comparison review

bObsweep vs Roomba: the Ultimate Showdown

irobot new pool robot

Remember this meme?

In 2002, the first Roomba came out and robot vacuum fever swept the world.

First generation 400 series Roombas weren’t perfect.  And they were expensive. However, they were definitely fun to watch.

Roomba evolved in 2007, then again in 2011 and 2013. Each iteration of Roomba yielded decent but rather dull improvements.

And then in 2015– seemingly out of nowhere– a quirky Canadian robot with a funny name burst onto the scene: bObsweep.  And just a few months ago, British powerhouse appliance maker Dyson threw its hat into the ring with the epic fail it dubbed Dyson 360 Eye.

All the wrong robotic vacuums are getting all the media attention.  

In my opinion, bObsweep’s stellar, tragically underrated PetHair Plus automated vacuum deserves the robo-vacuum crown.  Read on to find out why.

bObsweep vs Roomba: David vs. Goliath

This is what the beta version of Roomba probably looked like

The bObsweep vs. Roomba showdown is the classic David vs. Goliath matchup.

In 2015, a spunky Canadian startup had dared to go up against an American tech juggernaut with deep military ties.  iRobot’s founders had famously gotten their start designing war robots.

The first bObsweep (bObsweep Standard) actually matched up pretty well against the mighty Roomba.  For a minute, it looked like it was going to be 1812 all over again.  The Canadians had seen a few chinks in the Roomba’s armor, so they took full advantage.

The bObsweep 1.0 edition floor robot offered more suction, a bigger capacity dustbin and a much more reasonable price tag.  Also, bOb was more clever than the Roomba.

Just like iRobot’s uncle (a fellow named Sam), the Roomba had a tendency to spread itself a little too thin during its extended away missions.  The bObsweep, on the other hand, was much better at consistently finding its way back home.

Awww, bObsweep needs a nap


Awww, bObsweep needs a nap

Despite its many strengths, the original bObsweep robot never made much of a dent in the robotic vacuum cleaner market.  So far, bObsweep has only managed to sell 150,000 units in the US and Canada.  By comparison, iRobot has sold 14 million Roombas.

To be fair, iRobot has been in the vacuum robot game for a much longer period of time.  But still, with such a strong product line you’d think that bObsweep would be experiencing greater success by now.

Part of bObsweep’s problem is that the mainstream media in the US doesn’t give bObsweep the attention it deserves.  Every time you see something on TV about robotic vacuum cleaners, it’s all about Roomba.

Roomba 980 spies on its owners

The new Roomba has a camera. But here's the thing-- the camera doesn't help it clean any better than it did before. Consumer Reports lab tests have demonstrated that the latest Roomba doesn't clean as well as its predecessors. 

When Roomba 980 first came out a year ago I was puzzled about why iRobot would bother implementing a camera. But then in July of 2017, iRobot CEO Colin Angle revealed iRobot's master plan when he said that iRobot plans to sell the maps that the Roomba 980 is collecting.

Privacy experts are concerned about what could happen after iRobot and other companies start selling information about what's inside our homes. From that information, they could then determine very personal details about our lives.

“Especially combined with other data, this is going to be able to reveal a ton of information about what people’s lifestyles are like, what people’s daily patterns are like.” - Jamie Lee Williams, Electronic Frontier Foundation

No recliner in your living room? You might see ads for La-Z-boy sofas the next time you open Facebook. Did your Roomba hear your baby crying? Ads for diapers might appear in your feed.

Here’s another fact that supports my Roomba conspiracy theory: Consumer Reports always reviews Roomba as soon as iRobot comes out with a new model. But they have yet to review even a single bObsweep robot.

Why won’t you give bObsweep a fair shake, Consumer Reports?  Are you in bed with Big Robot?

fat cat robot capitalist

Then bObsweep Improved (and Roomba Got Worse)

The latest version of Roomba– the Roomba 980– is a ripoff.  The engineers at iRobot were probably out of ideas.  It seems like they cynically tacked on a few flashy features and cashed in on camera that actually hampered the Roomba's cleaning abilities.  

Clearly, iRobot is more interested in selling maps of your house than it is in cleaning it.

Following the debut of Roomba 980, Consumer Reports gave the Roomba 980 a less than glowing review.

 Ed Perratore 

 Senior Editor, Consumer Reports 

quote-left

"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."

Why the Roomba 980 is bad

  • thumbs-o-down
    The Roomba circuit board looks very sketchy. If you pop a Roomba open and look at its circuit board, you’ll see that the soldering work often isn’t very good. Bad solder joints cause current to increase, which in turn causes components to overheat.
  • thumbs-o-down
    Roomba 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.
  • thumbs-o-down
    Roomba 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.
  • thumbs-o-down
    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.
  • thumbs-o-down
    It collects maps of your home.  iRobot has plans to sell its customers data to Amazon, Google and Apple.

The latest version of bObsweep--bObsweep PetHair Plus-- is pretty awesome.  Too bad almost nobody cares, though.

Why bObsweep is good

  • thumbs-o-up
    Just like the previous versions of bObsweep, bObsweep PetHair can do 5 different things: sweep, mop, vacuum, sterilize and remove pollen and dust from the air.
  • thumbs-o-up
    It comes with 2 blocker gizmos called blOck Plus that prevent bObsweep from wandering into areas he shouldn’t go.
  • thumbs-o-up
    It has an improved remote that can shoot instructions to bObsweep around corners.
  • thumbs-o-up
    It’s got an upgraded LCD screen that displays simple human sentences instead of confusing error codes.
  • thumbs-o-up
    It has an huge easy-to-clean dustbin.
  • thumbs-o-up
    The pethair version of bObsweep is super powerful.

bObsweep goes medieval on Dyson 

A few months ago, another well-funded robot entered the fray: the Dyson 360 Eye. The media hype leading up to its release was relentless. But when 360 Eye made its debut, it disappointed everyone.

Despite its size, the much-hyped Dyson 360 Eye’s suction actually kind of blows.

Technically, 360 Eye does have one of the most powerful motors out there.  But when it comes to vacuum cleaners, a powerful motor will only get you so far.

At the International Home & Housewares Show in March of 2016, bObsweep and Dyson 360 Eye went head to head.  Most likely, bObsweep mopped the floor with its inferior yet larger and more popular cousin.  Yet for whatever reason, nobody seems to have recorded a YouTube to document how the demonstration played out.  There aren’t any news stories about the showdown, either.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth that Big Robot doesn’t want you to hear: when it comes to vacuum cleaners, bObsweep sucks the hardest.

 Ali Afrouzi 

 Lead technologist at bObsweep 

quote-left

“bObsweep PetHair Plus has the strongest vacuum suction of any robotic product out there.”

Design flaws caused the Dyson 360 Eye to struggle when CNET put it to the test.  On rice and sand, the Dyson 360 Eye finished dead last.

Dyson 360 Eye “go live” day was a very relaxing afternoon at the Roomba office

The struggling Dyson 360 Eye robot depicted above is spinning its motor around at 78,000 revolutions per minute.  But it’s getting exactly nowhere with that rice.

The lithe, agile bObsweep only has a 11,500 RPM motor.  However, it does a much better job.

Design actually matters more than RPMs.  In comic book nerd terms, the Dyson 360 Eye is Rhino and bObsweep PetHair is Spiderman.  Rhino’s got more muscle than spidey.  But that doesn’t matter because Rhino is too slow and clumsy to compete with the webslinger.

The Dyson 360 Eye came out a few days ago– and iRobot’s stock shot up.  The market’s reaction is pretty appropriate.  The Dyson 360 is obviously no Roomba killer.

As long as the world continues to underestimate bObsweep, it looks like Roomba is here to stay.

bObsweep vs Roomba: Price comparison

bObsweep is cheap compared to both Roomba and 360 Eye.  And unlike both of its overpriced competitors-- it actually works. 

bObsweep video reviews

These video reviews from bObsweep testers on YouTube show you how the bObsweep works in real life.

bObsweep vacuuming in spiral mode

bObsweep mopping a tile floor

In-depth 25 minute bObsweep unboxing

More robotic vacuum cleaner reviews

About Alex Munkachy

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