Robot vacuums, there are many in the marketplace and they used to be an expensive luxury. Bissell saw that as an opportunity and released the very affordable $299 SmartClean. Does the SmartClean make a strong push for you to automate your cleaning, lets find out.
HOW DOES IT LOOK?:
Stylish and high-tech are two thoughts that come to mind with the SmartClean. Good used of colors in black, grey and blue that really accent the round shape. The top is donned with an LCD display with a range of buttons for setting up and changing the settings. Underneath is a small 5-inch gap for dust to be vacuumed up plus the main brush and the spinners.
At about 13-inches in diameter and just 3.5 inches tall, it will make its way under some furniture, which is a plus over some of the other models we have tried. The kit comes with a docking station, charger, invisible wall detector, one filter and a set of spare brushes.
HOW DOES IT WORK?:
Bissell has many years in the suction business and they used that knowledge to make a small pizza sized disc that glides around your floors cleaning up after you. Running on a lithium ion battery the SmartClean gives you over an hour of cleaning on multiple surfaces, using a mix of brushes and pretty powerful suction for the price. It also offers advanced features like auto docking for recharge and hazard avoidance.
The Bissell is very fast. It can avoid obstacles at those high speeds and maneuver fairly quickly. The biggest issue we had with the SmartClean is that it is not very efficient in its movements. The SmartClean has the ability to change its motion path from “Z” shaped, spiral and around the edges but it doesn’t do it intelligently.
This creates lots of missed paths of carpet and floor and for the lack of a better term, it ping pongs around which wastes time and battery. Unlike other robot vacuums (granted at a higher price range), the SmartClean doesn’t seem to map out the room by going around the edges, something that would make it more efficient.
Secondly, the user interface is clunky. Granted it is hard to include all of the options on the top with few buttons and without an app, but if you don’t hit the button at the right pace it will either not register your presses or the SmartClean will take off before you finish what you were trying to do. It also doesn’t do well with steps. It does have a drop detection while moving forward but backwards is not safe. Use the battery operated barrier to keep the SmartClean away from stairs.
It is smart enough to return to the docking station when it needs some juice and charges pretty quickly before getting back out there. You can use the dock to schedule cleanings which might be the best move for the SmartClean.
Cleaning wise it does a decent job. Lots of suction but a small 5 inch gap for everything to go into is kinda small. The spinners have to do a lot of work pulling everything into the mouth. This actually is a good thing for edges and harder to reach places, which there are many based on the circular shape. Lots of pet hair will get caught up in the small mouth so keep track of that to make sure the SmartClean is it tip top shape. The dirt bin is small and fills up quick.
Adding some features to make the issues above go away will drive the price up and it seems that Bissell has been successful at this price point. With the Bissell name and a very approachable entry-level price, the SmartClean is a good start for people interested in having a robot clean the house. It will not totally replace a good ole human run vacuum but it will provide a clean house so you use that stand up vac less.
*Originally posted on http://www.gameandgadgetgrader.com*