If you have an extra $499.99 laying around, and might be in the market for a robotic vacuum that you can get to do your chores for you, the Neato Botvac Connected is the top tier option for you!
Neato sent us over a unit to use, and it’s been my personal maid ever since. Neato Robotics has become one of the leaders in the competition to out duel iRobot’s Roomba when it comes to robotic vacuums, and they have me hooked with their Botvac Connected.
Prior to receiving the Botvac, I suffered the first world problems of having to physically plug my standard vacuum into a wall, and having to physically labor cleaning from room to room. In the past month, I am happy to say that I can sit on my couch and literally watch as the Botvac navigates itself throughout my home, going from room to room, even picking up things that I wonder to myself how did it get there? Here are a few specs on the NeatoBotvac Connected.
All of Neato’s products include a LIDAR sensor internally which allow it to navigate throughout your home. The difference between the Botvac Connected and the others, however is all about the Wi-Fi connection and the companion iOS app. With the Neato’s LIDAR sensor, they’ve one-upped the Roomba by actually giving your vacuum the vision that resembles self-driving cars. While in motion, prior to getting to a wall in your home, or as it approaches an interference, the LIDAR sensor will look in every direction in order to map out and remember where it’s going, and where it’s been. With up to 4,000 infrared pulses per second and a range of 5 meters, the Botvac Connected can actually navigate your home pretty accurately.
What makes the Botvac Connected special is not the fact that it has these fancy sensors, but more so the shape of the unit itself. When I first saw the Roomba, the first thing I thought was “how is a round vacuum going to get into my cornered rooms?”. Well since the Botvac Connected is D-Shaped, and the back of the Botvac is rounded, this helps the Botvac Connected actually maneuver around your rooms to get into each crack and crevice a bit easier. This being the case when it came to the bar stools on the island in my kitchen, but we’ll get into that later. <<<<<<
The Neato features two buttons on the top of the unit, one with an icon of squares which allows you to spot clean a particular part of your home, while the right button is essentially a “home” key that allows you to clean your home in its entirety. Above that is a screen on the upper right side that shows off the menu, which also feature buttons on the side with corresponding scrolling up and down for the menu. The button underneath is essentially a “select” key to complete the action once selected.
My Neato Botvac Connected sits in the master bedroom in its own corner. I sat it here honestly because my coat closet has no outlets, and it’s recommended to place the Neato in a space where it has a couple of centimeters to its left and right. Plus, my bedroom is where I would ideally want the Botvac Connected to start up at. Once powered on, the Botvac plays a cute little jingle before setting itself off on the course to clean. Running edge to center, the Neato Botvac ends up going over itself the first few time in order to figure out obstacles and sensing it’s environment.
Since the Botvac Connected is actually bag-less, all you get here is the filter and the area where the dust, dirt, and dander will go that the Botvac Connected picks up. Neato included a second filter for changing, but you can also purchase more directly from Neato in the event you need more.
Underneath the Botvac Connected is where you’ll see the wheels, the main brush, and the brush on the side which sweeps up harder to get corner items into the main housing. This is one thing that the Roomba doesn’t have. One thing to mention though is that since it is held on by a magnet, occasionally it may fall off, as it did when it rubbed against my doorstop once, but it’s easy to quickly reattach.
In the month that I’ve had the Neato Botvac I haven’t had to remove the main brush to clean it, although it did ask me to twice. I went the old fashioned route and hand picked out the clumped up hair and debris and just trashed it instead. If you do choose to remove the main brush, there are tutorials online which I suggest watching.
There are two settings to the Botvac Connected, Turbo and Eco, both doing exactly what you would think. Turbo is more of a deep cleaning of your home, going over each area meticulously until it deems the area to be clean, or of course, the battery gets too low and it has to return to the base (the Botvac figures this out on its own, and once fully charged will actually continue where it left off). The Eco option is a bit quieter, and while it goes for a bit longer in its cleaning, it doesn’t double check its surroundings for things that it may have missed.
The app for iOS is very simple. After connecting the Neato to my home Wi-Fi, it only took three minutes to get it to set up before finally connecting to my “BoopVac”. The app makes it easier to be lazy as I could be sitting in the living room, while the base and Botvac could be in the bedroom and all it takes is a few clicks to get it started. You have the same options and settings that the Botvac Connected have on it, physically making the process seamless. So if you’re at work and decide you want a clean bedroom carpet before you get home, it’s cool to know you can actually do it through the app.
One suggestion I have is before setting the Botvac on a cleaning journey, to make sure you pick up all cords laying around.
While the sensors do very well with stationary items like chair legs and oscillating fans, cables are one thing that they cannot detect. I learned this the first time I turned the Botvac on as the vacuum actually pulled my 6-foot iPhone cable completely out of the brick. This in turned jammed the Botvac, and I received a notification on my phone requesting that I remove the jam. This feature is nice to have.
There is a manual clean mode where you can physically maneuver the Botvac Connected through the app, but personally, without the ability to see a room unless you’re in it isn’t ideal for me, but may be for you. I just rather have my personal maid do the cleaning for me. The Botvac Connected actually does a great job alternating from carpet to hardwood to tile without your help courtesy of the navigating sensors inside of the system. The first few days of vacuuming, it did have quite a bit of trouble understanding my bar stools due to the fact that they are rounded and have a slightly elevated base, which the Botvac considered to be a ramp or space that it could go up.
After realizing that it actually had nowhere to go, the Botvac Connected sent another alert for me to realign it to my phone which then only makes you remove it from the stool, and “clear its path”.
I did notice that even though the Botvac Connected did well transitioning from room to room, one thing it didn’t do so well with was my rug. Since it’s a bit “shaggy” and elevated the Botvac would not go over it at all. The Botvac would actually get to the edge of the carpet, attempt to go over the hurdle before failing and sending a notification to clear it’s path again. Once it got to the three tries however, it recognized that it was a feat it could not accomplish and simply moved to another portion of the apartment.
In terms of overall cleaning, the Botvac Connected gets it done. Having a girlfriend with a lot of hair that mysteriously ends up in places that it shouldn’t (why is there hair in the kitchen?), and an overzealous short haired puppy, the Botvac easily handles hair and dander. Also being asthmatic, I find myself needing to clean up a bit more, especially with wood floors, and the Neato Botvac Connected cleans up more in its combs than my $5 broom ever did. And when it comes to bedrooms? Yes. My bedroom carpets look like the formal living room that your parents told you to never step foot into. The attention to detail is evident as you can see the effort put in by the Botvac, even after wondering to yourself why the vacuum took 15 minutes to do each room.
Since having the Botvac now, I have it on a strict routine of scheduled cleanings every Saturday morning at 9am, which gives me the ability to do more chores. There’s nothing like it! Overall the Botvac Connected is flawless, and leaps and bounds better than the Roomba. You won’t ever have to worry about it scraping up your walls and doors, and the durability of the vacuum itself is sure to make your Neato Botvac will last for years. Want to stop moving your furniture in order to clean? Stop doing all of the manual labor yourself and have a robot do it!
Source: Manufacturer Supplied Review Unit
What I Like: Wi-Fi connection makes accessing much easier; the self-awareness of battery, plus ability to continue while charging? Excellent.
What Needs Improvement: I’d personally like to see a camera included for the manual clean so you can see and guide accordingly wherever you are.