The Neato BotVac ($479-599) isn’t just an incredible robotic vacuum, it’s an incredible vacuum—period.
I have so many great things to say about this vacuum I hardly know where to start. That being the case I might as well start with the obvious: how well it cleans. If a vacuum can’t clean, it doesn’t matter much what other features it boasts. The BotVac not only has a lot of interesting features, it also cleans really well. Like, really, really well.
To illustrate just how could of a job Neato’s BotVac did I have to tell the story of the first day I used it. I knew I’d be getting the BotVac on a particular day (which happened to be a day I was cleaning up around the house, coincidentally) and I had purposefully left one room in the house un-vacuumed as a test area for the new robot. The rest of the house, however, I fully vacuumed using our regular vacuum which was only about a year old.
Here’s the funny thing: once BotVac arrived I was so taken with it I couldn’t just limit it to that one test room. I basically let it clean the entire house that night. And the kicker is, it got a TON of extra dirt, dust and pet hair that the other (relatively new and expensive) vacuum had missed just a few hours earlier. Needless to say, I wasn’t just impressed, I was fully blown away at just how well this vacuum cleaned and the extent to which it out-performed my regular vacuum (an Electrolux).
Compared to other company’s robot cleaners, the BotVac seems to be a bit smarter. Rather than bumping around in an apparently random fashion, the BotVac methodically purrs back and forth across the floor creating a satisfying line pattern on carpeted floors. For BotVac, bumping into objects is the exception, rather than the norm, and even when it does so it’s quite gentle compared to other robotic vacuums.
When the Neato vacuums a room it seems to cover about 99% of it. It goes under couches, cruises under kitchen cabinets and circles around potted plants. There are just a few spots where it doesn’t reach consistently. One seems to the area around curtains that touch or come near to the floor. I actually appreciate this. The included instructions ask you to tie curtains up, but of course I wanted to see what would happen when they were left down. It comes right up next to the curtains without really disturbing them.
The borders (or accessible borders, such as the edges of couches it can’t fit beneath) are cleaned with astonishing precision. The robots “eyes” are good enough to know when it gets close enough to a wall to stop and turn so that the front edge of the robot fits precisely against the wall it is going to clean next. Every time I see it I think it’s quite remarkable.
Let me tell you a story of two chairs to illustrate how thorough the BotVac is when cleaning a room. I’ve got an Ikea Poang chair in one of the rooms in my house which is situated near the corner. As a fairly lazy vacuumer (you know you are too) I rarely moved that chair to vacuum behind it. BotVac, on the other hand, lifted itself right up and over the wooden chair legs, vacuumed the usually neglected piece of carpet and popped back out to finish the room. It’s almost as if nothing will stand in it’s way.
As a second example of house thorough the BotVac is, let me tell you how it navigated around my office chair. Most office chairs, as you know, have a number of legs sticking out, usually on rollers. My office chair happens to have 5 such legs. As I watched the Neato clean the office for the first time, I was impressed to say the least as I watched it go in-between each of the office legs with it’s front right corner. Of course it couldn’t clean directly under the office chair since it couldn’t move the chair, but it came darn close by getting what it could reach.
When I say nothing seems to stand in it’s way, I mean it. It easily cruises over rugs (even relatively thick ones) and barely breaks a sweat when switching between carpeted and hard floors.
I love the ability to schedule cleanings on the BotVac. After setting a time using the on-screen menu (which itself is located on the robot), you can select the days and times you would like it to clean. It’s a relief to see the vacuum wakeup at the designated time and start cleaning your house.
When it’s done cleaning, the BotVac turns off it’s suction and lets you know it’s headed back to it’s charger. When it finds it’s charger it turns around and backs into it until the metal on it’s backside touches the metal charging port on the charging station. It won’t start charging until you empty the dustbin and clean the filter, but this is good to do anyways. In fact, since it is smaller than a normal vacuums, you pretty much need to empty the dustbin after every cleaning. If you take the dustbin out and forget to put it back right away, the BotVac lets out a friendly chirp to remind you to bring it back.
There are a couple different cleaning modes you can use with the BotVac. You can either tell it to clean the house, which will tell the robot to clean every area it can reach (without you needing to move it up a set of stairs, for instance) or you can tell it to perform a spot clean. Spot cleaning will make the robot clean a 4 by 6 area in front of it.
I’ve found that the battery life is pretty great. BotVac can easily clean most of my two story house without recharging. If it’s on the same level as it’s charger, BotVac can return to it’s charging station automatically to recharge before finishing a job it started if it happens to run out of juice before it’s completely done.
The BotVac is a pet hair eating machine (as hilariously illustrated in the products demo video where it munches a clump of hair and says, “Mmm.”). People with pets will absolutely love this vacuum—I certainly do.
I hesitate to use this word because it’s so strong, but this vacuum is very close to perfect. It does exactly what you’d want and expect it to do.
I’ve always thought Dyson seemed to represent the top-of-the-line in the real of vacuum cleaners. Their pricing makes them seem premium. True, I’ve never used or owned a Dyson at this point in my life, but the notion of top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner has changed in my mind to the Neato BotVac. I just can’t imagine anything working better.
If you’re looking for a robotic vacuum that you can depend on to work really well, that can handle pet hair with ease, that can reach those hard to reach and neglected areas of your floors and leaves a satisfying trail of clean behind it (rather than a random intersecting pattern), you can’t go wrong with the Neato BotVac. It’s the best vacuum I’ve ever owned, robotic or otherwise.