Bobsweep Bobi Pet Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
Spend more or spend less for a better value.
The Bobsweep Bobi Pet—stylized as the bObi Pet and pronounced "Bobby Pet"—has every cleaning tool under the sun. Besides the normal combination of a brush and side sweeper, the Pet adds a UV sanitizing light and a dry mop attachment. Clearly Bobsweep wanted to create an appliance that was more than a one-trick pony. You can even keep the Pet on a leash with one of the largest virtual barriers we've ever seen.
However, our tests show that the Bobi Pet is a prime example of when a product's parts outweigh its whole.
Although the Pet had average dirt pickup and didn't strike furniture with too much force, the Pet's lack of force meant it frequently got stuck on transitions from hard floors to carpets, door mats and area rugs. If you're planning on letting a robot clean when you're not home, the Pet just won't get the job done.
We didn't expect perfection from a vacuum with a sale price of $299. Still, for just $219, the similarly equipped Bissell SmartClean did a better job than the Pet at picking up dirt and debris, and it did a better job navigating. Alternatively, you could spend $150 more and get the superb Neato Botvac 80.
The Look and Feel
The Pet we tested was silver, and had a mirror-like top with gray silicon sides designed to absorb shocks and bumps. While the vacuum lookd rather handsome out of the box, the entire cleaner ended up scuffed and banged up after just a week of testing. It's likely this problem does not extend to the scarlet version, but it's still disheartening to see a robot vacuum that's a gray fox one minute turn into a mangy dog the next.
Luckily, the accessories seemed well thought out and solid. A round remote lets you turn the unit on, schedule daily cleanings, and—thanks to directional control buttons—chauffeur your cat around the house. On both the remote and the machine, there are buttons labeled "Go" "Waffle," and "Juice" that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with breakfast. "Go" sets the vacuum into an automatic clean mode, "Waffle" tells the vacuum to spot-clean in a waffle pattern, and "Juice" sends the vacuum back to its charger.
The Pet also comes with a virtual barrier known as the Block, which is size–six inches wide and several inches deep—significantly larger than similar barriers from the competition. Having a beam that wide allows you to place the Block in front of delicate objects, like a vase, and protect them. However, it won't be able to protect anything out of the box because the required four AA batteries are not included.
The Not So Clean Getaway
Compared to other robot vacuums we've tested, the Bobi's dirt pickup is average: 8.6 grams of dirt per cleaning cycle. Roomba's entry-level 650 picks up 30 percent more dirt for the same price.
However, cleaning isn't the Pet's biggest challenge. Much of the difference between the Pet and better performing models has to do with aggression. A robot vacuum can't pickup dirt where it's brushes can't reach, and while the Pet gently navigated around furniture, it also got stuck. Multiple times, the Bobi got caught on the edge of a standard Ikea-brand doormat on our wood test floor. Maybe if it had more oomph, it could have freed itself, but instead it called out for help.
Depending on what you want from your robot vacuum, you may be able to forgive the Pet's lackluster dirt pickup because it has two other cleaning implements. First is a detachable dry mop, similar to a Swiffer. Homes with all hardwood floors will appreciate a robot that has more elbow grease than just some brushes.
There's also a UV light that can be toggled on and off via the remote. We're a little skeptical about the UV light: Exposure to ultraviolet rays can damage hardwood floors over time (just look at what happens to a wood floor near a window), and independent investigations show that the sanitizing benefits of most consumer UV lights are marginal, at best.
Should You Buy It?
You wouldn't let someone clean your house without meeting the person first, and the same should apply for a robot vacuum. Because they move around your house when you're not there, a good robot vacuum should be gentle, yet capable.
Although it was gentle on furniture, the Bobi Pet required human assistance on more than one occasion, which we think is a major red flag. While it's true that the Pet got more dirt than robot vacuums that cost more, those models never got stuck. Unless you don't mind coming home to a marooned robot, we recommend skipping the Bobi Pet.
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