Straight out of the Valley and into our studio comes the $899 bObsweep PetHair Plus. A robot cleaner that covers two A4 pages of paper with its feature list, all in the aim of making you and your pet's environment clean - the headliners being its 4x boosted suction for cleaning and the ability to transform into a mop.
The bObsweep is an affectionately marketed product that wants to be adopted as a member of your family, hoping to seal the deal by having a charming personalised name card written with ‘Bob’ followed by your surname on arrival - it won us over! Whilst its circumference differs little from the iRobot Roomba and Miele offerings, it's a lot taller than them both at 10cm. All of the previous robot cleaners we’ve reviewed have had glossy finishes, making them more prone to scratching, and although this obviously does nothing to alter cleaning performance, our iRobot Roomba 880 looks a bit sorry for itself after years of service. No glossy plastics are to be found on the bObsweep, instead we have a sheeny finish that doesn't rapidly collect static dust and has so far resisted any really horrifying surface scratches. Maybe this finish isn't quite as swanky to look at in its charcoal grey or cobalt blue colour option, but the overall appearance is still modernist and perhaps it's a more friendly image, which is what this brand is all about. One odd design flaw is that there's no handle. Underneath there’s the familiar spring loaded robot cleaner wheels, a detachable single spinning brush and on this one a traditional nylon brushbar - we find out how well this works later on. Located on the side and accessed with a gentle push is the 1L waste bin with integrated HEPA filter.
In the box you’ll find the blOck Plus, a single solution for creating two individual digital boundaries that the bObsweep will not cross. One boundary is emitted from the side and the other from the front, each being about 3 metres in projection. This system works flawlessly and is much the same as the iRobot lighthouse mode featured in their similar visual wall system. The cleaner has a sporadic approach to cleaning, so darts all over the place. Despite this cleaning style losing popularity in the industry, the implementation still works well here, albeit it takes roughly 40% longer to clean a room than our Vorwerk Kobold VR200 would; but we’re not having to physically do the cleaning either way! It notably does cover all the surface areas even when taking on multiple rooms at once and duly pays attention to the edges of skirting and furniture legs. A definite initial downside, however, is its tallness which means it simply can’t get underneath some of the furniture at our studio that our iRobot, Vorwerk and Miele friends can. So whilst it did reach underneath bed frames, coffee tables and raised cupboards, it means we are occasionally required to reach for something like the Dyson V6 Animal if using this as our primary cleaner for floors. There’s an inbuilt delicacy in its getting around, as this little fellow doesn't head-butt into furniture often or close doors on itself. It does cause a little apprehension when we see it dart along to the cliff edge of stairs and abruptly stop, but whilst none of our other robot friends repeat this maverick behaviour, the array of sensors keep it level headed to prevent damage.
Controls & Modes
It has its own FullCommand remote pad that looks like the kind of bundled extra you’d find with a home cinema system that can do everything you’d expect, but with a robot cleaner. Such as toggling the cleaning mode, setting the time, scheduling when you want cleaning to take place, as well as actually being able to manually steer the cleaner in any direction. There's also an onboard control panel on the cleaner to give a more convenient level of flexibility. Here we can see battery life and the cleaning mode selected. There are six separate cleaning modes to toggle. These are: Deep clean, our go to for standard day to day routine cleaning. Quick clean - 30 minutes. Touch up - 15 minutes. Wall track - a dedicated mode for just going along the perimeter of rooms. Waffle track - traces a grid patten for spills. Spiral track - spirals outwards for larger spills. Additionally the bObsweep PetHair Plu has lots of preset warning messages on its screen area, like 'bin full' or an alert of a component issue, and this screen can be illuminated. Whilst choice is nice to have, we feel that the sheer amount of symbols and buttons is one of the weaknesses of the whole product experience. There’s an overwhelming array of options to get the same outcome that we’re already able to achieve with just a few simple buttons displayed on our other cleaners. A simplification seems in order for future releases.
Battery Life & Charging
It’s a good little docker, finding its way back almost, and we stress the almost, every time. Its battery lasts for around 50-60 minutes of cleaning and if it doesn't finish on the first charge, it will just go back to its dock to gain some more juice and stroll back out to finish what it started.
Hard Floor Test: The last cleaner we reviewed, a Hotpoint upright, had a UV light on it which we’d never come across before. Strangely this cleaner, the bObsweep, has the feature too and the science shows it should eradicate bacteria on floors which is excellent. In terms of the combination of suction, side brushing and the utilisation of the brushbar on our hard wooden and tiled floors, we find the cleaning design works well, judging from general day to day casual cleaning, and the bObsweep PetHair Plus has retrieved the evidence of its work - like talcum powder on bathroom flooring, static dust from pencils on wooden floors and food dropped in the kitchen. Although when we stress tested it by sprinkling flour on our wooden floor (the test we set for all our robot cleaners, to see how many passes it will take to capture everything). The bObsweep took seven passes, which is a tolerable result for cleaning the floors in homes as it uses a sporadic cleaning approach. However it puts itself firmly behind the iRobot Roomba, Miele Scout RX1 and our top performing robot cleaner - the Vorwerk Kobald VR200 in our flour test.
Carpet Test: Hard floors and pet hair make a fairly simple task for a vacuum cleaner to handle. However, carpets are much harder and cat hair is a never ending chase. bObsweep PetHair Plus has enough suction combined with its brushbar design to eradicate deeply embedded pet hair in carpets in a few passes at different angles. Left to get on with the job in hand it can effectively clean carpets proficiently and static dust is included in that. The level of suction is adjustable via the settings on the control pad with Thorough Lift or TurboLift to choose from. The latter option apparently offers 4x boosted suction over previous models and it’s not all that noisy for it, being quieter than the iRobot Roomba 880. Our flour test on a carpet revealed that in eight passes it could capture what appeared to be all the flour. It delivers a confusing set of results in a regard, as whilst it's totally proficient at taking away the pet hair and large debris in our day to day living environments over the past few months. Send the bObsweep along a path littered with fine debris and it doesn't like it. It's a little and often robot cleaner and this will definitely not suit many busy families who want to fetch for a speedy spot clean in the morning to rid those spilt cornflakes.
The bObsweep PetHair Plus is an athletic performer that will make its way around your home smoothly, ridding hard floors and carpets of pet hair, odour and debris. But bear in mind, this is a robot cleaner that doesn't fancy taking on huge amounts of dust or debris in one attempt. Seemingly one of the more expensive automated cleaning options we’ve reviewed, it does offer extra functionality others lack, like transforming into a decent mopping proposition, and that UV light too. The only criticism we have is that moving forward bOb needs to simplify its controls and maybe consider offering App integration as well.