Comparing top Bobsweep and Roomba robot vacuums
People who own robot vacuums tend to treat them as pets, giving them names and talking about them as if they were alive. Bobsweep is a robot vacuum maker that has made personifying their robots part of their brand. Bobsweep calls its robot vacuums Bob.
We at the BestReviews Testing Lab wanted to compare the Bobsweep to the iRobot Roomba in areas such as suction, navigation, features and price to see how they matched up. We think the best Bob you can get is the expensive (but often marked down) Bob PetHair SLAM, which compares well with one of our favorite Roombas, the Combo j7+.
Bobsweep is based in Toronto, Canada. It stands out for giving their robot vacuums cute names and treating them like pets to adopt rather than electronics to purchase. Bobsweep also makes robot vacuums in an array of striking colors.
iRobot, the maker of Roomba, is headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts. A former contractor for the United States military, iRobot introduced the first Roomba in 2002, creating the household robot vacuum market.
Bobsweep vs. Roomba: What they do well
Roombas are known for being well-built robots that offer dependability over flashy features. Bobsweep robot vacuums are associated with bright colors, big dustbins and UV sterilization.
iRobot Roomba benefits
- Durability: Roombas have been known to last five years or more. Some models have been described as being “built like tanks.” During testing, we found that Roombas are easy to repair and iRobot makes replacement parts available long after a model has been retired.
- Cleaning: We found that, despite having lower suction measurements than competitors, Roombas clean very well. Part of that is the double-roller system that few other robot vacuums have, but which helps all Roombas pick up and gather dirt and debris better than single-roller robot vacuums.
- User-friendly app: Easy to use, the iRobot Home app for iOS and Android controls all Roombas with Wi-Fi capability. We appreciated that we could use the app to make the Roombas start cleaning even when we weren’t home.
- Vivid colors: Bobsweep robot vacuums stand out for their bright colors, like red, green, blue and more.
- Large dustbin: Bobsweep models have some of the largest internal dustbins among robot vacuums, ranging from 600 milliliters to 1 liter.
- UV light: Bob robot vacuums formerly all featured a UV lamp to sterilize surfaces as it cleaned. While more advanced models no longer have this feature, a UV lamp is still available on some classic Bobsweep models.
What they could improve
Despite their popularity, both Roombas and Bobs have known drawbacks.
iRobot Roomba drawbacks
- Price: Roombas tend to cost more compared to other robot vacuums with the same or more features.
- Navigation: The original bump-and-go navigation of Roombas is legendary, or notorious, for looking goofy, while other Roombas prefer gyroscopes and odometers to lasers and cameras.
- Mopping: Only one Roomba, the Combo j7+, capable of mopping as well as vacuuming, is widely available.
- Size: Bob robot vacuums have been wider, heavier and thicker than other robot vacuums, affecting their ability to get into tight spaces.
- Complexity: Bob robot vacuums have needed more assembly and featured more control buttons and options than Roombas and other robot vacuums.
- Performance: Despite their friendly reputation, Bob models have not been known for the best performance among robot vacuum brands.
Top Roomba models
Roomba Combo j7+
Battery life: 128 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3″ L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.35 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
One of our top Roomba models, we love the Roomba j7+ Combo for being both an excellent robot vacuum and a helpful robot mop. The j7+ Combo, which was released in 2022, did well on all our tests, from spilled cereal to cat litter and pet hair, and it also mopped up small spills and cleaned floors with ease. We liked its accurate camera-based navigation and its ability to react in real time to avoid obstacles. The Roomba Combo j7+ comes with a self-emptying dock.
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25″ W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
Our other top Roomba model is the Roomba s9+, which we highlighted for its impressive power. Introduced in 2019, it has the most powerful suction of any Roomba model, and its D-shaped body lets it clean corners and edges like no round robot vacuum can. We liked its camera-based mapping and its ability to go to clean zones, such as when we asked it to clean specifically under a dining table. It powered through all our tests with salt, cereal, pet hair and cat litter with flying colors, and like the j7+ Combo, it’s a self-emptying model.
Battery life: 75 minutes | Dimensions: 13.4” L x 13.4” W x 3.54” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 6.77 lb. | Mapping: No | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba 694 is an entry-level Roomba that traces its design and features directly from the first Roombas. While not able to map, and cleaning in the random bump-and-go system that can look comical when you watch it, it’s nevertheless a capable vacuum, doing well on both carpet and hardwood in our testing. The 694’s simplicity is its best feature: you can run it just by setting it down and pressing one button. At the same time, it’s Wi-Fi capable and can be scheduled or controlled by Alexa, Google Home and Siri Shortcuts.
Top Bobsweep models
Bobsweep Bob PetHair SLAM
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 13” L x 13” W x 4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.6 L | Weight: 6.5 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Bob PetHair SLAM is one of Bobsweep’s most powerful and popular models, competing in the same market segment as the Roomba j7, Shark IQ or Roborock Q5. Like those high-end models, the Bob PetHair SLAM features LiDAR mapping and a SLAM camera for mapping and navigation, letting it clean in an orderly pattern and keep track of where it is in a room.
Its 600-milliliter dustbin is a little smaller than other Bob robot vacuums, but it’s still on the larger end of dustbins among brands we’ve seen. The Bob PetHair Pro comes with two microfiber pads you can attach to its belly for light mopping or sweeping, and a mopping attachment to dispense water. The Bob PetHair SLAM foregoes a remote control and LCD panel for a smartphone app for iOS or Android.
Notably, it has the ability to clean on dark-colored rugs, something other brands can’t often do. It’s available in three colors.
Bobsweep Bob PetHair Plus
Battery life: 65 minutes | Dimensions: 13.8” L x 13.8” W x 4.2” H | Dustbin capacity: 1 L | Weight: 8 lb | Mapping: No | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Bob PetHair Plus is a classic Bobsweep model with plenty of design elements and features that Bobsweep is known for. The Bob PetHair plus is a remote-control operated robot with a semi-random cleaning pattern. A large LCD screen readout keeps you informed of its status.
Aside from its suction power, which Bobsweep markets as four times the power of older models, the Bob PetHair Plus also has an antimicrobial UV lamp for killing germs and bacteria on your floors. It also supports light mopping with user-attachable mop cloths. The PetHair Plus is available in five colors.
Battery life: 75 minutes | Dimensions: 13” L x 13” W x 3.75” H | Dust bin capacity: 0.6 L | Weight: 7.43 lb. | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
Introduced in mid-2023, the Bobsweep Dustin takes on high-end competitors like the Roomba s9+ or the Shark AI 2-in-1 as the first Bobsweep model with a self-emptying dock. Like other high-end Bob models, such as the PetHair Appetite and PetHair SLAM, the Dustin navigates with LiDAR and SLAM with support for mapping and object avoidance.
Its dimensions are more in line with other robot vacuum brands than previous Bobsweep models. In addition to its vacuuming functions, it also supports mopping with its included mop attachment. Its self-emptying dock can hold a full gallon of dirt.
Bobsweep vs. Roomba 694
We wanted to compare the Bob PetHair Plus with the Roomba 694, one of iRobot’s entry-level Roomba 600 models. Physically, the Bob PetHair Plus is taller than the Roomba 694, a little bit wider across, and also slightly heavier. The added height makes it harder for the Bob to fit under low thresholds, but the Roomba only got in trouble during testing when it tried to fit under narrow gaps.
The PetHair Plus promises “four times the suction” of the Bob Standard model. The Roomba 694 doesn’t give values for its suction power, but has been measured at a low 600 Pascals. Nevertheless, the 694 is a capable cleaner thanks to its double brushroll system, while the PetHair Plus only has a single bristle brush. It does have two side-sweeping brushes, however, while the Roomba 694 only has one.
The Bob PetHair Plus is remote-controlled and doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi, unlike the Roomba 694, which can be controlled over Wi-Fi via a smartphone app. Both support scheduling, but the Roomba’s app control lets you control it even if you’re out of the house, and it also supports smart assistants like Alexa or Google Home.
Neither the Bob PetHair Plus nor the Roomba 694 support mapping. Both of them use semi-random bounce navigation rather than orderly cleaning, although the PetHair Plus can also do spot and edge cleaning,
The Roomba 694 has no ability to mop, while the Bob PetHair Plus comes with mopping pads users can attach to its underside. Both the PetHair Plus and the 694 support virtual barriers, and both can return to their docks if they run low on juice during a job.
The Bob PetHair Plus promises an average of 60 minutes run time on a full charge, while in our tests the Roomba 694 achieved 75 minutes of run time.
Bobsweep vs. Roomba functionality
Bobsweep robot vacuums have the same capabilities as Roombas and other robot vacuum brands, but they also have a few quirks not found elsewhere.
Bobsweep models have a reputation for being good cleaners on hardwood, but not doing as well on carpet. This may reflect more on its past models than recent versions like the Bob PetHair SLAM, PetHair Appetite or 2023’s Dustin.
Like most robot vacuums, Bobsweep Bob models use a single roller brush to agitate and lift dirt from surfaces to where their suction can grab onto them. By contrast, Roombas’ dual rollers consistently give them better cleaning performance despite lower suction power than other brands. Neither iRobot nor Bobsweep make numerical suction ratings in pascals (Pa) easily available for head-to-head comparison.
Bobsweep robot vacuums also have a reputation for being somewhat loud. The Bob PetHair model has been measured at 67 decibels, a bit louder than an air conditioner. Roombas are slightly quieter, and the Roomba i4 can get as quiet as 56 decibels on carpet, the level of a conversation.
Bobsweep has adopted navigation and location technologies such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). LiDAR shoots invisible lasers from a turret on the top of the vacuum, allowing them to build a highly accurate map in a short amount of time. SLAM lets Bobsweep robot vacuums orient themselves in a room and identify obstacles.
SLAM, specifically visual SLAM (vSLAM), is present on high-end Roombas like the j and s series. The j series features real-time object avoidance that iRobot guarantees will avoid pet waste if your pet has an accident on the floor.
Entry-level models from both Bobsweep and Roomba use the bump or bounce navigation pioneered by iRobot with the first Roomba. Bobsweep also allows some models to be driven from their remote controls using arrow keys. The last Roombas with remote controls were the 800-series models.
Bobsweep robot vacuums were known for the large LCD panels on top of the units and controls on their docks. Models without Wi-Fi also have round remote controls with power, options, scheduling and steering functions.
Basic Bobs like the Bob Standard or Bob Pethair support the “blOck” virtual barrier emitter, while Wi-Fi models like the PetHair SLAM and PetHair Appetite support software no-go zones from the Bobsweep app. Basic Roombas like the Roomba 694 support virtual barrier beacons as well, but software no-go zones are supported only by vSLAM models like the j and s series.
Many Bobsweep models come with two spinning side brushes to sweep dirt into their cleaning path. Roombas only come with one side brush. In Roombas, the side brush is preinstalled, but you have to attach the Bobsweep side brushes yourself with the included screwdriver and screws.
iRobot has released only 4 Roombas with mopping capabilities, and only one, the high-end Roomba j7+ Combo, widely available. In contrast, seven Bob models have some kind of mopping capability, from the Bob PetHair to the Dustin.
Bobsweep prices start at $279 for the Bob Pro to $1,099 for the self-emptying Dustin. Its LiDAR and SLAM robots, like the Bob PetHair Vision Plus or Bob PetHair SLAM, sell for $569 and $899, respectively, although the PetHair SLAM is often steeply discounted to below $300 on Bobsweep’s partner retailers.
Bobsweep has recently focused on pet branding for its Bob robot vacuums, with six models out of 11 bearing the PetHair branding. It also had two other lines, Junior, a basic model, and Bobi, a smaller, lower-profile line.
iRobot has a similar number and range of models, starting with the entry-level Roomba 694 and its twin, the Roomba 692, the midrange i series, the flagship j series and the high-powered s series.
Color clearly sets Bobsweep apart, certainly from Roombas, and also from most any other brand available. Bob robot vacuums are brightly and vividly colored, with colors like “Mocha”, “Jasper” and “Thai Tea”.
iRobot Roombas are generally somewhat utilitarian looking, in black or gray plastic, occasionally with metallic accents such as the bronze plate on the s9+.
By and large, Bobsweep robot vacuums are thicker than Roombas and many other robot vacuum brands.
Bob robot vacuums have one- to two-year limited warranties and offer customer support regardless of warranty status. Bobsweep also offers a two-year battery replacement warranty and a five-year subsidized selected parts replacement program.
Roombas have a one-year warranty and a 60-day money-back guarantee. Longer coverage plans are available but for purchase.
Bobsweep robot vacuums are definitely eye-catching. Their bright colors and friendly branding set them apart not only from Roombas but from most other major robot vacuum brands. However, the dependability and usability of Roombas are some of their best features, and unless you have the budget and the desire for a high-end Bob in a beautiful color, you might be safer getting a Roomba.
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Jmar Gambol writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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