By Brent Dirks
Robot vacuums come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and price points. While the technology has sometimes gotten a bad rap, it can truly make a big difference in making your house cleaner — without you needing to raise a finger.
Instead of having to lug a standard vacuum all around the house and spend time and energy sucking up dust, debris, pet hair, and who knows what lurking on the ground, a robot vacuum can get the job done with minimal fuss.
Let’s examine the technology and highlight one great all-around option: the Neato Botvac Connected.
What Exactly Is a Robot Vacuum?
While it’s not exactly as fun as having R2-D2 or WALL-E living at your home, robot vacuums accomplish a single purpose: to keep your floors clean. Since you don’t have to worry about pushing them around, the vacuums are low to the ground and can fit under many obstacles like tables and chairs.
Unlike the usual vacuum, robot models use a battery and don’t require a power cord. Instead, most models automatically return to a corded charging dock.
The built-in wheels help the unit navigate around your home and also automatically move the vacuum up or down depending on floor type: carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate, and others.
Unfortunately, no robot vacuum on the market can be used on stairs, but most models have special sensors that will prevent them from running off the edge of a tall surface. As well, the dirt doesn’t just disappear — any debris picked up by a vacuum is stored in a small bin that you’ll need to empty.
Who Needs One?
Does everyone need a robot vacuum? Absolutely not. If you’re living in a small home with just a few other relatively tidy adults, don’t mind doing the chore often, or have some type of maid service, you’ll be just fine without one.
But in my house, I have a trio of issues that most of us are probably familiar with: two young children, a dirty dog, and a wide variety of different allergies that affect everyone in my family.
As anyone with kids or animals knows, they’re not exactly known for being neat and tidy. Throw in allergies to pollen, grasses, dust mites, and more, and a robot vacuum helps keep my house clean and my family more healthy.If you’re ready to take the plunge, one of the best choices is Neato’s Botvac Connected.
The Neato Botvac Connected
Currently available for $649 (£679/C$915), the Connected is the top-of-the-line vacuum from Neato, and it offers a host of unique features not found anywhere else.
The standout feature is the small circle on top of the unit that houses the LaserSmart mapping and navigation technology. Using special technology called LIDAR, the vacuum takes time before it starts to scan and map the room, planning the exact route it will take while cleaning.
Unlike some other models, this approach means the vacuum has already mapped out a plan of attack while avoiding other obstacles in the room. That saves time and is definitely more efficient on the battery. On the turbo mode, it can clean for up to 90 minutes.
Another great plus is the vacuum’s “D” shape. Unlike circular vacuums, the flat edge allows the Connected to fully back into corners and crevices where dirt and dust like to pile up.
Perfect for a Connected Home
Beyond being a great way to clean floors, Neato’s vacuum lives up to its name in a number of ways. The built-in Wi-Fi opens the door for a number of great features.
There are even more advanced features exclusive to the Connected available on the app. A coverage map shows where exactly the vacuum has cleaned. And the cleaning history is akin to a fitness tracker, showing cleaning stats from the last 21 runs.
I’ve been using my Neato Botvac Connected for more than six months and have come away very happy. While a robot vacuum is something that is never on the top of anyone’s must-purchase list, after using one for a few months, it’s something I couldn’t live without. I schedule mine to run seven days a week. And it’s able to complete my entire house mixed with hardwood, tile, and carpet, in a little less than 90 minutes.
Even though it runs daily, the amount of dirt and dog hair the vacuum sucks up is staggering. I’ve thrown a number of tasks at it, and it always seems to come out just fine.
My one and only issue with the Neato Botvac Connected is its glossy black finish. While it looks great out of the box, after a few months it’s taken its fair share of scrapes. That doesn’t bother me, but just a word of warning.
While the device will take care of vacuuming, it still needs a bit of help from us lowly humans.
The dust bin needs emptying after pretty much every cleaning. You will have to change parts like the brushes and filters after a couple months for the best results. All of those parts of widely available to purchase online, and replaceable in just a few minutes.
All told, my house is much cleaner. And my big, heavy, full-sized vacuum is gathering dust in a closet.
Some Strong Alternatives
If the Botvac Connected isn’t up your alley, there are two other (cheaper) options to consider.
The Neato Botvac D3 Connected ($399/£449/C$599) comes in at around $300 less than the Botvac Connected.
This model offers Wi-Fi and uses the same laser mapping technology as the more expensive model. You will lose a few features like the built-in LCD screen, eco/turbo mode, a side brush, included boundary markers, and a higher-capacity battery.
But if you live in a smaller home or apartment and can do without those features, it’s another good choice.
You may also want to take a look at the iRobot Roomba 680 ($325/£312). The Roomba brand has been synonymous with robot vacuums since the original version hit the market in 2002.
There are a few notable differences compared to the Neato Connected line, though. While you can schedule cleaning on the vacuum itself, there is no built-in wireless connectivity.
Also, the Roomba 680 doesn’t offer any of the same laser-guided navigation. It depends on a bumper to detect and steer away from obstacles. My Roomba is able to clean floors, but not to the same level nor as quickly as the Neato. But it’s something to consider with a smaller and uncluttered home.
Will You Be Getting a Robot Vacuum?
Even though robot vacuums aren’t perfect and still require some human assistance, the technology is improving with each new product cycle. And the technology can go a long way to making any living space cleaner and free of dust, dirt, pet hair, and other allergens without you needing to do a thing.
Have you ever thought about purchasing a robot vacuum? What questions do you have about the technology? Let us know in the comments.