Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: bObsweep

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners – The Best (and Worst) Robotic Vacuums of 2017

Want to compare robotic vacuum cleaners?  If so, you’re in the right place.  By the end of this quick-and-to-the-point roundup, you’ll know all there is to know about carpet ‘bots.

7 robot vacuum brands you need to know

The iRobot Roomba is probably the most well-known line of robot vacuums.  But what most people don’t realize yet is that iRobot stopped innovating years ago– and they’ve been “coasting by” on the Roomba brand name ever since.

My personal favorite robotic vacuum brand is bObsweep.  However, Samsung, Bissell and iClebo also make pretty good robotic vacs that are worth checking out.

Neato and Dyson also make robotic vacuum cleaners.  But in my opinion, their ‘bots are not ready for prime time.

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What’s wrong with Neato and Dyson?

Newcomer Neato robotics started off on the wrong foot with a pretty horrible robotic vacuum called the Neato XV-21 back in 2014.  The brand’s catalogue improved a bit last year with the debut of the Neato Botvac 80.  Even though the Botvac 80 represents a step in the right direction, Neato’s poor customer support and lack of quality control is still a big issue.

Another robotic vacuum brand to avoid right now is Dyson.  The engineers at Dyson spent a decade working on the impressive looking Dyson 360 Eye.  But when the Dyson 360 Eye finally debuted, it was so disappointing that iRobot’s executives probably threw a party.  Until Dyson’s engineers figure out how to make a robot that works as good as it looks, stick to other more established robot brands.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: iRobot

  • This “too big to fail” robotic vacuum manufacturer used to make good stuff back in the 00s, but modern Roomba vacs are overrated and overpriced.

Everyone knows iRobot.  They’re the guys that make the famous Roomba floor ‘bots.

iRobot is still the market leader.  But the latest Roomba– the Roomba 980– is a mess.

According to Consumer Reports, older versions of the Roomba are actually better at cleaning compared to the 980.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: iRobot Roomba

The Roomba 980’s #1 best feature: its brand name

Fortunately for iRobot, name recognition goes a long way.  People see the name “Roomba” and immediately decide to buy the new model because they recognize the brand.

The iRobot 980 looks impressive because it’s equipped with an intelligent navigation system that allows it to move in straight lines instead of crazy random patterns.  Also, it has a camera that maps out your house.  There’s also a brand new Roomba app.

But who cares?

The new Roomba’s not so great at vacuuming  

None of the Roomba 980’s new features really matter, because it doesn’t vacuum floors as well as its predecessors.  Also, it’s ridiculously expensive.

Thankfully, iRobot’s complacent reign over the home robotics industry may be coming to an end.  Stock market analyst Ben Axler believes that iRobot’s stock is set to short-circuit soon.

We believe iRobot is a struggling consumer product company whose dominance in the home vacuum market is now in question.

Ben Axler, SeekingAlpha

Best features

  • Intelligent navigation / camera
  • Smartphone app

Bottom line

iRobot is still the king of the home robotics world.  However, don’t be blinded by the mighty Roomba brand name.  In my opinion, the new Roomba 980 is an overpriced ripoff.   Other robotic vacuum cleaners are cheaper and better.

Check the price on Amazon.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Samsung

  • Samsung POWERBot is the most powerful high performance robotic vacuum.  This expensive but muscular smart appliance kicked some serious butt in the Consumer Reports lab.

If you’ve got about a grand to spend on a top-of-the-line robotic appliance , don’t blow it on a Roomba.  Get a Samsung POWERBot Turbo instead.

Heavy duty

Think of the Samsung POWERBot Turbo as the “power tool” of robotic vacuum cleaners.  It’s a Roomba 980 on steroids.

POWERBot Turbo’s raw suction power is the main reason why it was able to beat out all the other vacuums that competed for the robotic vacuum throne in Consumer Reports’ 2016 lab test.

The Samsung ads say that this bot has got 70 times more suction power than the average robo vac.  Its extra long combo brush helps it pick up dirt that other vacuums miss.

Samsung’s POWERBot eked out a win in the battle of the best robotics, a category that has seen an onslaught of noteworthy new entrants, including models from Dyson and Miele.

Consumer Reports labs

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Samsung

Agile and smart

Unlike the Roomba 980, the POWERBot’s intelligent navigation actually helps it clean.  Consumer Reports noted that the POWERBot Turbo was excellent at cleaning edges and getting into corners.

Pricey and tall

This vac’s obvious downside is its steep price tag.  Not many people can afford to spend a thousand bucks on a vacuum.

But also, the POWERBot is tall compared to other cordless vacuums.  Unless all your furniture stands 5.3 inches off the ground, POWERBot will probably wind up bumping its “head” a lot as it cleans.

This bot’s oversized height is a big disadvantage.  But that’s the tradeoff you have to make if you want the most powerful robotic vac money can buy.  There’s no way to fit such a heavy duty robotic vacuum into a low-to-the-ground form factor.

Best features

  • More powerful than any other robo vac
  • Smart navigation / built-in camera
  • Cleans edges and corners
  • Smartphone app

Bottom line

This top-of-the-line robotic vac is awesome, but it isn’t perfect– and it definitely isn’t for everyone.

If you’re comfortable with the POWERBot Turbo’s expensive price tag and if its extra tall frame isn’t a problem, you’ll be quite happy with this heavy duty monster.  Otherwise, you’ll probably be better off with a bObsweep or a Bissell Smartclean.

Check the price on Amazon.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Bissell

  • Bissell Smartclean sometimes doesn’t make it back to home base.  However, it’s the least expensive robot vac on this list– plus its vacuum is quite powerful. 

If you’re looking for an inexpensive name brand robotic vacuum cleaner, Bissell Smartclean is the vacuum to buy.  Smartclean sometimes exhibits weird behavior, but it is cheap and it’s armed with a beefy vac.

Bissell knows vacuums

Bissell has been making vacuums for 140 years.  Along the way, the company has learned a thing or two about what shoppers want out of a vacuum.

Power is good.  So is ease of use.  However, most people don’t want to have to empty their bank accounts just to buy a new vacuum.  These are the basic facts about consumer products that other robotic vac brands haven’t figured out.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Bissell

Boundary fences

Like bObsweep vacs, Bissell Smartclean relies on electronic “fences” instead of an advanced brain and an internal camera to figure out where to go.

More brawn than brains

Critics have knocked Smartclean because it sometimes doesn’t make it all the way back to the charging station.  However, I feel that Smartclean makes up for its quirks with its low price tag and sheer vacuuming power.  Smartclean is equipped with a strong Bissell vacuum that’s extremely good at sucking up dirt and dust.

Smallish bin (but it’s easy to empty out)

Smartclean’s bin can only hold .4 liters of dust.  That’s pretty small compared to the bObsweep PetHair, which can hold an entire liter.  But, it is pretty easy to clean.

Smartclean has the only bin I’ve seen that can be pulled out of the chassis from above.  Most robotic vacuums require you to pick up the unit when emptying out the dust.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Bissell's bin

Slides under furniture

Another thing that sets the Smartclean apart is its low profile.  Smartclean stands just 3.4 inches off the ground, so it’s short enough to get underneath most couches and beds.

Best features

  • Super low price
  • Shorter than most robotic vacuums
  • Comes with an electronic fence
  • Powerful suction
  • Hassle-free bin

Bottom line

Bissell Smartclean is a dirt cheap, bare bones robotic carpet cleaner that’s equipped with an excellent Bissell vacuum.  However, it does sometimes exhibit “ditsy” behavior.

Check the price on Amazon.

Bissell 1974 SmartClean Robot Vacuum
List Price: $299.99
Price: $219.99
You Save: $80.00
Price Disclaimer

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: iClebo

  • Thanks to its stellar performance in the Consumer Reports lab, the iClebo Arte is set to invade North America.  Arte’s advanced tech and easy-to-use features have already made it a best seller in Asia. 

Right now, iClebo’s flagship vacuum ‘bot the Arte YCR–M05 only has 8 Amazon reviews.

iClebo is a household name in Asia, but North Americans seem hesitant to give it a chance.  However, a recent outstanding Consumer Reports lab performance might help it gain popularity in the United States.

The iClebo Arte YCR-M05, a CR Best Buy at $450, took almost 2 hours to clean our 12×16-foot test room and did almost as well on carpets as the Roomba.
 

Consumer Reports labs

Two arms are better than one

One secret to the iClebo Arte’s cleaning success could be its dual rotating brushes.  Roomba only has one brush, but the iClebo Arte has two.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: iClebo

3 Microcontrollers

In addition to being an excellent floor sweeper, iClebo Arte is also smart and efficient.

The iClebo has 3 MCU “brains.”  One is dedicated to vision, and the other two are dedicated to control and power management.  Like Roomba, iClebo uses a navigational camera to map out your home as it cleans.

Stealth mode

Yet another thing to like about the iClebo Arte is that it is extremely quiet.  It operates at 55 decibels– that’s about the same volume as elevator music.  Most robotic vacuums operate at 65 decibels or more.

Best features

  • Camera
  • Quiet operation
  • Advanced intelligence
  • 2 sweeper brushes

Bottom line

Personally, I don’t think that the iClebo’s extra brainpower is worth the extra cost.  Lab tests have demonstrated that robotic vacuums that move around randomly tend to sweep up more dirt compared to “smart” ones that move in straight lines.  However, I’d still choose iClebo over Roomba any day of the week.

Check the price on Amazon.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Dyson

  • Dyson has the resources to evolve into a robotic appliance powerhouse.  But in 2016, the Dyson 360 Eye turned out to be a huge embarrassment for the company.

Ahead of its debut in July of 2016, gadget reviewers were salivating over the Dyson 360 Eye.

The 360 Eye looks menacing and cool– like a cross between a Battlestar Galactica cylon and a Soviet T-34 tank.  No other robotic vacuum uses treads to scoot around.

But don’t be fooled by the way the 360 Eye looks and moves.  When it comes to vacuuming, it’s even worse than the Roomba 980.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Dyson

A total let-down

Dyson’s promotional website advertises the Dyson 360 Eye as having “twice the suction of any other robotic vacuum.”

It is true that the 360 Eye has a very strong motor.  Most robotic vacs max out at 15,000 RPMs.  But the 360 Eye can spin its gears around at 78,000 revolutions per minute.

But when it comes to vacuum cleaners, a brawny motor will only get you so far.

rice-test-dyson-360-eye

Embarassing design mistakes doomed the Dyson 360 Eye before CNET put it to the test.  On rice and sand, the Dyson 360 Eye finished dead last.

Great at navigating.  But…

Like the Roomba 980, the 360 Eye is able to use its built-in camera to map out your house and work its way through your rooms in an organized way.  But that doesn’t matter, because the 360 Eye misses even more dirt and debris than Roomba.

It is exciting that robot vacuums that can understand the layout of a house and move around in straight lines.  But if advanced navigation doesn’t lead to cleaner floors… what’s the point?

Too tall

If you’re a human basketball player, you want to be tall.  But if you’re a vacuum cleaner robot, height is a big disadvantage.  Measuring in at 4.5 inches tall, 360 Eye doesn’t tower quite as high as Samsung’s POWERBot Turbo.  But, it’s quite big and awkward.

Inconvenient shape, no “arms”

Different robotic vacuums have different ways of getting into cracks and crevices.

For example, the POWERBot Turbo’s rectangular shape allows it to stick its brush into edges and get into corners.  Disc shaped robo vacs like bObsweep and iClebo use sweeper “arms” to flick crud toward their vacuum holes.

But the poor, roundish 360 Eye doesn’t have any arms.  So, it can only clean the middle of the carpet.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Dyson mapWell, at least it has an app

Much like the Roomba 980, the Dyson 360 Eye has a snobby personality.   You have to have a smartphone if you want to control this robotic vacuum.  If you don’t have a smartphone, it won’t talk to you.

The 360 Eye smartphone app does have some interesting novelty features, like the ability to set a cleaning schedule or view maps of where the 360 Eye has been in your house.

But who really cares about the geeky extras if the 360 Eye misses spots and can’t handle sand or small particles?

Best features

  • Menacing, shiny good looks
  • Tank treads
  • Smartphone app
  • Smart navigation

Bottom line

The Dyson 360 Eye could very well be one of the worst robotic vacuums ever made.  Yet, it’s also one of the most expensive appliances ever sold!

The 360 Eye’s intimidating looks only throw its hilariously poor vacuuming abilities into sharper focus.

One of the only good things about this ‘bot is its unique treaded wheels, which allow it to get across surfaces that would cause other robotic vacuums to get stuck.

Check the price on Amazon.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: Neato

  • Neato Botvac D80 is a step in the right direction, but it’s very average overall.  Also, Neato’s lack of quality control and customer support continues to hold the brand back.

When I first heard about Neato robotics, I was excited.

At first glance, the Neato brand seems like an American version of bObsweep.  According to the Neato website, the goals of the company include “building products people love” and “making the complex simple and affordable.”

Then, I checked out the Neato XV-21— and all my hopes and dreams that Neato could overtake iRobot were shattered.

The latest Neato robot– the Neato Botvac D80– is okay.  But it’s still no Roomba killer.

Way too many customer service horror stories

If Neato wants to take on iRobot, they’ve got to do two things:

  • Get better at quality control
  • Tighten up their customer support

There are way too many complaints about defective units and disappointing customer support experiences floating around out there.  If Neato was really serious about its mission statement, it would do a better job of addressing their customers’ problems.

 

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: NeatoThe D80’s navigational system: “superb,” but not worth the extra cost

Like the Samsung POWERBot Turbo, iClebo Arte, and Roomba, the Neato D8 is equipped with an intelligent navigational system.  The Consumer Reports lab team rated the Neato D8’s ability to map out a room and avoid objects as “superb.”

Navigational systems are impressive, but overrated.  In the end, I think robot vacuum makers will ditch cameras and advanced brains.  Consumer Reports laboratory tests have demonstrated that robots that move around randomly actually do a better job of cleaning.

Wacky technical glitches & battery problems

Many people who bought the Neato D8 complained of technical issues and error codes.  Consumer Reports also ran into problems when they tested out the Neato D8 in the lab.  Also,battery performance seems to be a recurring issue with Neato vacs.

Easy to clean

Neato vacs do excel in one important area: easy maintenance.  The D8’s .7 liter bin isn’t as big as bObsweep PetHair’s, but it’s still bigger than most.  Also, it’s fairly easy to empty out.

Best features

  • Medium range price
  • Advanced navigation
  • Above average sized bin
  • Fairly powerful

Bottom line

If I had to pick one word to describe the Neato D8 itself, I would choose: average.  The D8 isn’t horrible, but it isn’t outstanding in any particular way either.  However, Neato’s horrible quality control and lack of customer support really puts a black mark on the Neato brand.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00XELDPL8″ locale=”US” tag=”i06a2-20″ cart=”n”]Check the price on Amazon.[/easyazon_link]

Neato Botvac D80 Robot Vacuum for Pets and Allergies
List Price: $499.00
Price: $368.30
You Save: $130.70
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Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: bObsweep

  • In my opinion, bObsweep PetHair is still the all-around best robotic vacuum cleaner on the market today.  

Before Samsung POWERBot and Dyson 360 Eye came out, bObsweep PetHair was the most powerful vacuum out there in terms of suction.

“bObsweep PetHair Plus has the strongest vacuum suction of any robotic product out there.”  – Ali Afrouzi, lead technologist at bObsweep

Even though there are other robotic vacuums that have more muscle now, I still think that bObsweep PetHair still offers the best bang for the buck overall.

Low price & special features

For the price of one Samsung POWERBot or one Roomba, you can get almost 4 bObsweep PetHair bots!

Considering the extras you get with bObsweep, I think bOb is the best deal out there.  With bObsweep, you get features that you can’t find anywhere else like UV sterilization and a hardwood floor mop add-on.

And unlike Bissell Smartclean, bObsweep has common sense.  He never forgets to return home for a recharge.

bObsweep was wise to invest heavily in customer service

If you haven’t heard of bObsweep before, that’s because the Canadian creators of bObsweep rely on word-of-mouth to sell their products.  Unless your friend owns a bOb, you probably don’t know the name.

Most robot manufacturers dump the majority of their dough into advertising.  But bObsweep relies on social media and its good reputation.

Compare Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: bObsweep

Everyone loves bOb

If you Google “bObsweep complaint,” all you’ll find is positive reviews.  But if you Google “iRobot complaint,” you’ll run into results like this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 3.27.06 PM

Just about every mention of the bObsweep brand online is positive.  And all bObsweep vacs have near perfect Amazon ratings.

One big reason why bObsweep gets so much love online is that the company puts their customers first.  Don’t believe me?  Try talking to one of their many fans.  Better yet, message bObsweep on Facebook or Twitter.  They’ll actually respond and answer your questions.

Send bOb back if there’s a problem

Also, bObsweep is the only robot vacuum manufacturer I know about that allows you to send back your vac within 30 days if you’re not fully satisfied.

The makers of bObsweep feel confident enough that once you bring bOb home, you’ll probably want to keep him.

Uses UV rays to disinfect

bObsweep has one very interesting feature that all the other robotic vacuums I’ve encountered so far lack: a UV lamp.

At first glance, the bObsweep’s UV lamp looks like a gimmick.  But actually, UV lamps are proven to kill germs.

Water treatment experts use UV rays to disinfect water.  And doctors use UV light to treat wounds and sterilize their instruments.

Huge Bin (1 Liter)

With bObsweep PetHair, you get the biggest bin on the market.

A big bin means that you don’t have to clean out your robotic vacuum as often.  Most robotic vacuum cleaners have bins that are .5 liters or smaller.

Downsides

bObsweep PetHair lacks a camera and doesn’t have the brainpower to map out your home.

But recent Consumer Reports lab tests have shown that robotic carpet cleaners don’t need to be smart or move in specific, orderly ways in order to be effective.

In fact, it’s the Roomba 980’s so-called “intelligence” that prevents it from performing as well as “dumber” vacuums.

The only other bad thing about bOb is that he’s quite loud compared to other vacs.  bObsweep PetHair can reach the 70 decibel noise range, which is a volume level that’s equivalent to being inside of a car when it’s going about 65 MPH.

Best features

  • Very powerful vacuum
  • Excellent customer support
  • Low price
  • Huge 1 liter bin
  • UV disinfection

Bottom line

In my book, the modest but awesome bObsweep PetHair is still the reigning champ of robotic vacuum cleaners.  It’s got just the right mix of power, features and smarts– and a price that everyone can afford.

Check the price on Amazon.

About Alex Munkachy

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