Neato Botvac robotic vacuum cleaners: What the critics think

neato-botvac

It’s uncanny how a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners either wittingly or unwittingly gave a new verb to the English speaking world to describe the chore of vacuuming. “Hoover up” became the chosen verb, rather than “Dyson up” or “Numatic the carpets”. Could it be that a brand new verb lies just beyond the horizon to replace our now rather antiquated associations of using a vacuum?

Thanks to the arrival of a family of Neato Botvac Robotic Vacuum Cleaners, the arduous chore of doing the vacuuming is made easier. But exactly how much easier?

It’s true; the Botvac range can swiftly clean your floors whilst you are out at work or play. The family of robotic vacuum cleaners include the Botvac 70e, the Botvac 75 and the Botvac 85. You can programme the robotic cleaners to set themselves to work at whatever time you want. The most sophisticated of the range is the Botvac 85, which has laser vision that maps out the furniture and the most logical way, in order to clean the floor as quickly as possible. The mechanical aspect of the Botvac 85 is impressive as well, with a large brush that has already received the top vote from the likes of CNET for its ability to pick up pet hairs.

In a hands-on review CNET’s editor rated the Botvac 85 an impressive four out of five stars.

“The $600 Botvac 85 outperformed the other Neato models we’ve tested and offers more robust accessories and features,” writes CNET.

CNET’s only quip of the Botvac 85 is its price tag, which it deems as definitely verging on the high-end and that’s without a remote control.

A closer look
A closer look

In the ‘Battle of the Robot Vacuums’ the Wall Street Journal tested the limitations of the Roomba 880, the Botvac 85 and the Rydis H68 Pro. It has to be said that despite citing the Botvac’s strong suction power and the fact it has the largest bin out of the three bots tested, WSJ weren’t too impressed.

“Even medium-pile carpet caused it to slip” grumbled WSJ, which also claims the Neoto Botvac 85 has difficulty docking on the charger.

Though it seems the Wall Street Journal is a tad pessimistic of bot vacuums in general, concluding:

“No robot is good enough to replace a manual vacuum.”

Lauren Goode of the review site ReCode also recently had the pleasure of comparing the new Botvac 85 with her tried and tested Roomba Robotic Vacuum Cleaner. The ReCode reviewer was impressed by the Neato Botvac 85’s laser sensors, which by surveying its surroundings the smart way, doesn’t “bump into things like a drunken sailor the way the Roomba does”. Despite its advanced surveying capabilities and large dustbin, Goode concludes her report by saying she would personally still go with a Roomba.

The Neato Botvac range of vacuum cleaners varies from price, beginning at £380 and rising to £450. Despite fairly mixed reviews we cannot help but feel that the Neato Botvac 85 with its combo brush that removes pet hairs with gallant and vigour and patented laser guided technology, may prove to be a winner.

 

Neato XV-25 robotic vacuum cleaner review

Sweep away hair and allergens without lifting a finger

This is like a dream come true – as I write this, a small robotic vacuum is navigating its way around the ground floor of my house doing the vacuuming.

I will do anything to get out of housework, so when the ed suggested I try out a robotic vacuum cleaner, designed especially to pick up allergens and pet hairs, how could I refuse? The house is generally covered in cat hairs from dawn to dust, so I figured it would certainly get a good workout.

Neato-XV-25

The Neato XV-25 might sound like something from a 1960s sci-fi cartoon, but looks like a chunky set of bathroom scales in shape. It comes with a charging unit that plugs into the wall, and the vacuuming unit itself is low, so could sit beneath a chair or table if you wanted to keep it out of the way.

It’s incredibly simple to set up – a few buttons are all that stands between you and getting it to do a spot clean – and programming it to clean the whole house at a certain time on any day of the week is as simple as setting a digital alarm clock or setting the time on the central heating.

When it starts up, it does sound alarmingly like a plane getting ready to take off, but as it’s actually vacuuming it’s not too bad. I often can’t hoover because my other half works shifts and is asleep when I might do housework (another great excuse for not doing it!), but I could happily let the Neato do its job without disturbing him (not in the same room though!).

Watching the XV-25 navigate its way around the rooms (it has sensors in the front that can detect objects such as chairs and tables), the Neato looks pretty haphazard in where it goes, but it does manage to get pretty much everywhere. Being slim, it fits under chairs that my usual upright vacuum can’t. My only bugbear is that it doesn’t go close enough to the edges, and after a few days of vacuuming, I’ve noticed that there’s a building edge of dust along the sides of the couches that it just can’t reach.

It also does a far better job on carpet than it does on hard floors. Mind you, because I don’t have to do the vacuuming, I can happily set it off a couple of times a day to vacuum while I get on with other things.

Time-wise, I’m quicker – it takes about 30 minutes to do what would take me about 15 – but then I can get on with something more interesting – liker writing reviews for this website.

There’s a lot I like about the Neato – we’ve had a few visitors this week and everyone has been fascinated to watch it go around the room, avoiding chairs, tables and other obstacles (although it doesn’t seem to think anything of running over feet!) I like that it is simple to use, and that you can time it to vacuum when you want – great if you set it to have a vacuum round while you’re putting the kids to bed, or once you’ve gone to bed yourself.

And I love the way it posted a message on its screen saying ‘please put me on the floor’ when I picked it up. It’s got quite a character. It also tells you when it’s finished and is heading back to its charging station.

It has also proved itself pretty efficient at picking up cat hairs (never an easy task) – although I have to say the cats were pretty alarmed by it at first, although they’re getting used to it now. And as we’re in the middle of some decorating work, it has managed to keep the dust at bay far better than I and my usual vacuum cleaner would have done.

Despite that, I think it is far more suited to some homes than others. If you have a minimal house, with very little on the floor, it will work far better than it does in our, admittedly cluttered, home. In fact, it is far more suited to a flat, as it can’t do stairs – we’d love to see it sprout little legs and go up each stair, vacuuming as it goes! If you need to keep it away from certain areas (an area full of wires for instance), special barrier tape is included, which the Neato will detect and keep away from.

The other thing I’m not so keen on (but then regular readers of Latest Gadgets will know I am a skinflint!) is the price – £429 is quite a lot to pay when you’ve still go to go round and dust the edges!

The Neato XV-25 is available from www.amazon.co.uk now

Neato Robotics XV-15: Robotic vacuum cleaner

Robotic vacuum cleaners are great. They combine robotics (cool) with not having to do chores (awesome!) The Neato Robotics XV-15 is the latest addition to the robotic vacuum family, bringing with it a unique, square-tail design.

Neato

Technology-wise, the XV-15 uses 360-degree laser-mapping to survey a room’s size, notice obstacles and get to work. Like a cat, it’ll glide into a room, walk the perimeter before moving inwards. Unlike a cat, however, after the XV-15 has finished, there will be less hair on the floor.

By intelligently surveying the room, the XV-15 uses less energy moving about and on wasted sucking than previous models. This power has been redirected into the motor, increasing the suction to new heights (for robotic vacuums, anyway).

At the vacuum’s core is a centrifugal compression impeller that follows jet engine airflow principles, which Neato claim offers “unprecedented cleaning performance”.
It’s laser-mapping ensures that any object over four-inches in height is avoided, while it’s low profile (under four inches) means it can clean under a tables, beds, sofas etc.

It has other useful features, like a scheduler to ensure constant cleaning, and the ability to find its way back to the dock when in need of a charge. We’re more taken in by the look, however – it’s like an Atari Jaguar console. The square end is actually there to allow for a larger dirt bin (.65 litres), as well as better corner-cleaning – a big problem for robotic vacuums (no eyes for detail).

The Neato Robotics XV-15 is available for pre-order today from Neato Robotics for £379.99.