Review: bObi Classic Robotic Vacuum by Bobsweep

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UPDATE: May 4, 2017. New video posted.

This is my second robotic vacuum; the first one was a Roomba from many years ago and that was a disaster, this is the bObi Classic, made by a Canadian company BobSweep. Both are bump-and-run models.

Rough estimate, I have gone through about 5-6 vacuum cleaners in my life. Currently I am still using the Dyson DC25 from 2009, it is still working these days without issues. I find robotic vacuum is convenient for maintenance cleaning jobs, but it is still not good enough to take over a regular vacuum cleaning session any time soon. I pick this up because it was on sale at Amazon and it is done by a Canadian company. It costs roughly about the same or less than the ILIFE or Robovac. Since wife is frequently affected by allergy and asthma, I have an excuse to try a new toy.

I looked up of Bobsweep, they are actually a company that makes the bots. They are unlike other companies who simply just re-badge another brand. I found them out via Indeed where they are hiring various programmers for the bots. That alone kind of gives out the idea where they can actually support the device, the bObi is not a throwaway. They even have instruction to literally take bObi apart and service on my own.

The unboxing and contents:

Everything is pre-assembled, except I have to put the battery in. The battery compartment is just about right where the NiMH battery will fit, I have to use a black stick to tuck the excess cables around, and under the opening at the bottom. I would expect the screws would be machine screws but they are just screws that go straight into the plastic housing. Based on the packaging of the battery cells, I think I can replace the cells with lithium later on.

There are 3 modes: Go, Juice and Waffle. The way they name the function is “unique” and somehow confusing, I guess that makes the owners to spend some time understanding the device. Throughout the user guide, I find it cute that the company calls bObi a “her” and makes her human-like. The 3 modes means: Clean, Charge, Spot Clean and I will cover the 3 modes later on.

Since the bObi is a bump-and-run device, it has a semi-random pattern where it is best not to disturb her. It may be awkward at first, but if I let her just go on its own, she will clean properly.

“Go” is the default clean mode, just press the button and off she goes
“Juice” will tell bObi to go back to the charging dock
“Waffle” is a spot cleaning mode, it will run a zigzag pattern to round up stuff

Although the manual doesn’t specifically mention what kind of radio bObi is using to communicate with the remote and the dock, I suspect it is on 2.4GHz. bObi will automatically travel back to the docking station when the battery is down to 15%. In my experience, if I start bObi at the dock, she has no issues traveling back on her own. However, if I move bObi away and move her somewhere else, she cannot travel back on her own; she will try to bump into the closest walls endlessly and drains her battery and stops. I wish she could have a mapping feature that she could travel back to her dock without bumping into walls.

One of the downside of bot vacuum is weak suction, the main brushes will be the primary method where she will pick up the dirt. bObi comes with a blue soft brush and a black firm brush. I am using her on laminate flooring and the blue brush is sufficient to pick up everything that she runs over. She will not pick up anything that is even a few centimeters next to her. Dirt must be in her path to be picked up.

During the few uses, she get tangled up with various common household items such as loose charging cords, curtain chains and loose rugs. Bobsweep claims bObi has multiple sensors on the front, I find those sensor works well with solid items, she won’t bump into things like my old Roomba does, but she will bump into skinny items like folding tables, furniture legs, wheels and will attempt to push them out. My kitchen cabinets is about 1.5″ above the floor (just about as tall as bObi), and she could attempt to push forward even when she can’t. However, bObi will reverse after a few seconds of wheel spins and move away. Don’t be surprise to come home seeing all the chairs, tables, rugs are not in their usual places.

Let’s look at it bumping and pushing and dragging the chairs.

When bObi get stuck or tangled with stuff, she will stop and beep. The remote will display the error code so someone can run to rescue her. So far, as long as I clear loose items off the floor, she will not get stuck.

The dust bin is huge, but it’s for large debris. Small dusts and hair goes between the filter and the semi-transparent cover. In my case with cat hair and household dust, it doesn’t have a lot of room for that. My dust bin also have one end falling out when opened, which I will contact Bobsweep about that. I blame the use of plastic. There is also an accumulation of fine dusts near the rear, including the power switch, I have to wipe bObi clean on every clean up.

The remote is cute, it’s round (like bObi) and allows me to preset her cleaning schedules. I can also use the remote to control her movement. The screen has poor viewing angle but nonetheless usable. It runs on 2x AAA batteries.

Overall, I am glad to see huge leap in robot vacuum. Newer bots have built in sensors to avoid physical bumping into things and could navigate themselves out of troubles. bObi Classic is a good alternative to the mid-range Roomba 600 bump-and-run series for less money. It has a bigger battery, dust bin, relatively quieter. I think bObi white glossy outlook is also quite attractive too.

If you have a large area with many obstacles, bObi Classic may not be the best. It is simply not smart enough to remember her routes. I can overcome this problem by doing one room a day.

Things I like:
– Large dust bin
– Does a great job moving around
– Large battery
– Remote control included
– Canadian company that supports the device

Things I hope to improve:
– Inability to map out the room
– Front sensors have issues with higher items
– Inability to change the pattern to a more logical linear pattern
– Often get tangle up with loose items
– Not multi-room friendly
– Lack of auto charge and resume
– Fine dusts collects on the rear exterior
– Box has poor English