Neato BotVac Comparison – Your Ultimate Guide
When Neato Robotics introduced their first product the XV series in 2010 it didn’t have any side brushes that their main competitor the Roomba had.
While it was more efficient in terms the time it takes to clean a room or area, the lack of a side brush made it subpar in cleaning the edges despite its more edge friendly D-shape.
All of that changed in 2014 when they introduced their line of robot vacuums called the BotVac.
This series is not just a facelift but a complete makeover. The most notable upgrade is the addition of a side brush. This is something that a lot of consumers have been clamoring for.
Kudos to Neato for listening to consumers and adding this feature but there are also other notable upgrades that they did in this series that the average consumer may not know about.
But first to give you a bird’s eye view on the different variants of the BotVac, have a look at this table.
|Self-charging, Auto Charge & Resume|
|SpinFlow Power Clean|
Eco / Turbo
|LaserSmart Mapping & Navigation|
|2x Spot Clean|
|Manual Drive (remote control)|
|Cleaning Summary with Coverage Map|
|Cleaning Summary with Coverage Map|
|Compatible with Alexa|
High Capacity Li-Ion
High Capacity Li-Ion
Eco: 120 mins.
Turbo: 90 mins.
Spiral brush + combo brush
Spiral blade brush + combo brush
Spiral blade brush + combo brush
You will notice that under the hood all BotVac series vacuums have the same motor and same dimension.
The difference will lie on the accessories that comes with each of the variant and don’t worry, I will go through them one by one to help you decide which BotVac is right for you.
All BotVac robots come equipped with a navigation system based on a proprietary S.L.A.M. (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) software that Google’s self-driving car uses.
Check out this infographic from Neato…
As you’ve seen in the infographic above, you can say that the BotVac can be comparable to a Google Driver-less car but at a much smaller scale.
Both of these machines use a combination of a laser-guided navigation plus the SLAM algorithm for navigation. It also has an on-board computer for mapping and determining where it is in relation to the map.
In the Neato’s case, it creates a map of the area it is cleaning inside your home.
It was the first to use the SLAM algorithm and currently one of the very few robotic vacuums that use a laser guided system (other being the Xiaomi).
The downside to using a camera system is that it relies on light and when you turn the lights off, it may not be able to “see” where it is going.
A laser wouldn’t have such problems even in pitch black conditions because it does not rely on light but a laser signal to print out a map that it saves in an onboard computer.
That means you can turn on this robot even at night with the lights off and not worry about it
One upgrade I like was the motorized brush that stretches towards the edge (at least on one side where the side brush is).
Brush roll placement is perhaps the biggest advantage that the Neato has over the Roomba.
Instead of placing between wheels, Neato engineers attached it up front where there is more room to attach a wider brush.
See the comparison below…
When you combine it with the shape of the vacuum, it improves the overall edge cleaning capabilities of the Neato perhaps more than the Roomba.
The overall length of the brush roll is almost 11 inches – almost as wide as some stick vacuums.
A wider cleaning path makes this robot much more efficient and will cover a larger area in a single pass.
All BotVac variants will include both or one of these brushes…
I’m pretty sure you’ve notice something with the photo I shared with you above.
The BotVac right now comes with a side brush! This is not misprint, after years of resisting to add this feature Neato finally caved it.
I think it’s the result of thousands of customers asking them to make this improvement in their robot. And this has improved edge cleaning.
All BotVac variants come with this feature with the exception of the BotVac D3.
One gripe that I have with Neato is the absence of a virtual lighthouse that is similar to the Roomba.
If you want to block its path, you will have to use boundary markers. These are strips of magnetic tape that you stick on the ground.
Basically if you use this once, you cannot reuse this on other areas of your home.
To block more areas, you’ll have to buy more of these markers. These will add to the costs.
Also this does not work really well on carpet.
This is something that Neato has not addressed just yet and consumers have complained about it not sticking well – especially on carpet.
The BotVac 75, 80 and 85 were the first BotVacs to roll out the Neato assembly line. All of these robot cleaners come in white finish. What differentiates these three are the color of the circular cover that protects the laser that sits on top of the navigation system.
If you look at Neato’s website they actually only have sell two of the variants – the BotVac 75 and 85 but if you look at Amazon they sell a much broader variety that includes the Botvacs 70e, 75, 80 and 85.
Update Feb. 8, 2017 – Neato has discontinued these white colored variants in favor of the newer versions the D3 and D5 that we’ll look into detail below.
Take note that all of these variants are actually the same product – the differences are the accessories that come along with it.
Looking at Neato’s site the BotVac 75 is great for homes without carpet as it only has the blade brush. It also comes with 2 high performance filters to keep dirt inside the bin. These aren’t HEPA filters by the way.
While the BotVac 85 targets a home with carpet floor and/or pets since along with three high performance filters, it also comes with the combo brush designed to pick up pet hair and agitate carpet.
The D80 is basically a cosmetic upgrade from the original BotVac series. Instead of an all-white finish, this variant comes in a black/white two-toned color.
Neato also added the a redesigned motorized brush that according to CNet’s Megan Wollerton is better at picking up pet hair but worst at picking up sand and rice grains.
Run time isn’t it’s strongest suite as it still uses a NiCad battery. This limits its run time to just 60 minutes.
Another concern for NiCad equipped robots is the longevity and the ability to hold charge.
One advantage the D80 has oer the D5 and D3 would be the spiral combo brush. This makes this a better option for homes that have carpet.
A majority of consumers in the United States have at least one smartphone so companies are finding ways to integrate their products with smartphones to make the lives of consumers easier.
Everything from booking tickets or buying flowers can be done using your smartphone so why not controlling a robot vacuum?
Some reviews have hailed this as the best robot vacuum that money can buy not just because you can use your smartphone to control this but it performed really well in head-to-head cleaning tests.
While having WiFi connectivity is the biggest addition to this Neato vacuum there are two other feature upgrades worth mentioning.
No longer does this vacuum use a nickel cadmium battery that is prone to fading.
These robots now have lithium ion batteries that provide better power and less prone to fading. Another benefit of a lithium ion battery would be the longer life cycle. You will not need to replace the battery as often.
The new BotVac Connected now has two cleaning modes an eco mode that extends the run time up to 120 minutes and turbo mode that increases the suction but decreases the runtime down to 90 minutes.
Compatible with Alexa
If you own Alexa or at least familiar with it, I have good news, the Neato BotVac Connected is compatible with this device.
Instead of using the app to turn on the robot, you can just say “Alexa, tell Neato to start cleaning…”.
Instead of using a remote control to schedule or turn on this cleaner, Neato opted to use a smartphone app and take advantage of the WiFi technology this robot has.
This app does a number of things including:
- Turn on the robot (even if you’re at work)
- Schedule (once a day up to 7 times a week)
- Control the robot (like an R.C.)
- Shows you a summary of the room(s) it has cleaned
- Logs previous cleaning sessions (up to 21)
Take note that the D3 and D5 only have the first two features.
Ever since Neato unveiled the BotVac Connected, it has also released two downgraded versions for this top spec robotic vacuum.
Both these are latter releases and cheaper options to the BotVac Connected.
All variants have the same laser guided / S.L.A.M. navigation that is one of the most efficient robotic cleaners available. Yes this is more efficient that a Roomba 980.
All three variants (D3, D5 and Connected) are capable of cleaning multiple rooms. And all have the auto charge and resume feature where it docks when battery is low and then return to the exact area it last cleaned once it has recharged without you having to intervene.
The only difference is the D3 does not have the “2x Spot Clean” feature. This tells the robot vacuum to spot clean an area twice.
Both the D3 and D5 use the a lithium ion battery. The difference would be the D5 having the larger capacity battery which runs around 30 minutes longer – 60 mins vs 90 mins.
The BotVac D3 comes with what Neato calls a high performance filter and the D5 comes with an ultra performance filter.
What’s the difference between these two types of filtration?
If you suffer from allergies Neato says to get the D5 because it has better filtration capable of keeping fine particulates inside the bin.
There are some nuances in the app.
For the BotVac Connected, you’ll get full feature list that includes the coverage map, cleaning history, scheduling and 2x spot cleaning.
The D5 and D3 app does not have the coverage map feature or cleaning history. But it still retains the scheduling and only the D5 retains the 2x spot cleaning while the D3 does not have that feature.
One feature that the D5 has not found in the BotVac Connected is the “Find Me” feature. With this feature on, the robot will flash its lights and play a voice prompt to help you find in just is case it did not go back to home base.
The D3 version of the app is compatible with the SmartWatch.
If you ask me which BotVac to buy a year ago, my answer would no doubt the BotVac 80 because it was cost-efficient and cheap.
So the better option would be going with the BotVac Connected.
Not because it’s top of the line. But because it is a cheaper and more efficient alternative to the Roomba 980 that costs around $900 in Amazon.
One thing I like about the BotVac’s navigation is it does not have any cameras. So you can use it even in low lighting conditions unlike the Roomba 980 that now relies on an onboard camera to detect its location.
While I’m not a big fan of the magnetic strips, overall the Neato BotVac Connected is still capable of multi-floor room cleaning.
Both the D3 and D5 are cheaper alternatives to the top of the line BotVac Connected. But you will have to know what both are downgrades.
It only comes with the combo brush tool that basically is a squeegee brush that works best on bare floor. Absent is the combination spiral brush that does its best work on carpet.
Another downgrade would be the smaller battery of the D3 and D5. This cuts down the run time to 60 and 90 minutes respectively.
I hope that Neato will develop their own version of the virtual lighthouse or wall that the Roomba has.