It’s exciting times. Today, we’ll be comparing two of the latest robotic vacuums – the Neato D7 vs. the Roomba S9.
Both these products are flagship options from two of the top brands in the industry – Neato and iRobot.
First, let’s here’s a quick overview of the two.
* Deep cleaning test was done on 100 grams of sand on medium pile carpet.
** This test was done on 30 grams of sawdust on medium pile carpet
The Neato D7 and Roomba S9 are both similar and different in that each has strengths that the other does not.
Introduction to the Neato D7 vs. Roomba S9
To start, the Roomba S9 is a complete redesign from the I7 and 980 from the shape of the robot, brush roll design, software, and motor.
After using the round design since they started manufacturing robot vacuums in the early 90s, iRobot finally acquiesced and did the design change.
Doing so did the following. The first benefit of having a D-shape design is the option to put a wider brush.
Looking underneath the new S9 reveals a brush roll that occupies almost the whole width.
The wider brush improves efficiency as the robot needs fewer passes to complete the task.
It seems like Roomba prioritized carpet cleaning with the new design as the S9 does very well when it comes to deep cleaning (more on this later on).
The Roomba S9 has two options: the S9 and S9+.
Advantages of the Roomba S9
- A True Hands-Free Option: When you combine the “Smart Imprint Navigation” or persistent maps, long run time, and the automatic emptying bin, the S9 is one of the few autonomous robots that require little babysitting.
- Better Charging Base: The S9+ comes with the “Clean Base” charging station that will automatically empty the robot’s dust cup for you. It’s a feature that changes everything when it comes to convenience.
- Excellent Performance on Carpet: The design changes by iRobot’s engineers are geared towards better performance on carpet. In fact, this robot is one of the select few options capable of deep cleaning more than 90% of sand on carpet.
- Better Edge Cleaning: Another benefit of the iRobot’s design change would be edge cleaning. The wider brush roll and new side brush design translate to better cleaning on the edges and corners.
- Powerful Airflow: The Roomba S9+ has 22 cfm at high power, two more than the Neato D7. However, this figure is offset by the number at the default setting at just 8 cfm.
- Crazy Expensive: Expect to pay a lot of $$$ for the technology that product brings to the table. How expensive is it? This robotic vacuum will cost more than a German-made Sebo upright! The good news is the Roomba I7’s price has gone down because of this. It’s a great less costly alternative if this is too lavish.
- Not-so-good Performance at the Low Setting: Roomba has a low power setting to maximize the battery. However, using this setting drops the airflow down to just 8 cfm which isn’t enough. It’s best to leave it at the auto mode for the best results.
Neato has been chasing iRobot for years right now, and the D7 may be their best product to date.
One thing going for the D7 is the price. Even when you compare it to the Roomba S9 (without the “+”), it’s still the less costly option.
Unlike the Roomba S7 that has a camera, the D7 utilizes the LIDAR laser distance sensor that fires laser signals to detect obstacles and help it draw a map.
The Neato navigation is very efficient and thorough even without the dirt-detect system that Roomba has.
Like the Roomba S9, the D7 can deep cleaning carpet picking up 28 out of the 30 grams (or 93%) of sawdust in deep cleaning tests.
Advantages of the Neato D7
- Less Costly Alternative: Even against the entry-level S9 (minus the CleanBase), the D7 is still the less expensive option by a significant amount.
- No-Go Lines: This feature enables users to set multiple “no go” zones or lines that block areas you don’t want the robot to go thus increasing efficiency. It’s a feature that the Roomba currently does not have but will be soon rolled out.
- Excellent Surface Debris Pick Up: The single brush design of the D7 will do well at cleaning surface dirt regardless of size. It is capable of sweeping up dust, hair, sand and even cheerios without any issues.
- Massive Dust Bin: The 700 ml dust bin is one of the largest in the industry – almost as big as the dust cup of the Dyson V10!
- No Clean Base Station: The Neato lacks the Clean Base station that vacuums the robot’s dirt bin every time it docks. It means you’ll have to manually empty the dust cup after every run. The large capacity container somehow compensates for this flaw allowing it to clean larger areas.
- The Brush Requires More Maintenance: The roller brush of the D7 is a more traditional design unlike the S9 that does not have any bristles, so hair and dust bunnies will tangle up and will require more upkeep.
Roomba S9 Design
The Roomba S9 is the first iRobot product with the D-shape design similar to the Neato BotVac.
This was years after using the round, puck shape that many consumers grew fond of.
I’m not sure why iRobot made the change, it could perhaps be consumer feedback or competition but the change is a welcome one as it makes it more efficient.
Interface and Controls
The change in design also has a trickle effect on the interface.
In previous Roomba options, even the newer ones like the Roomba i7 and 980 the clean button sits right at the middle.
iRobot moved the S9’s clean button from the center down to the upper right portion of the robot.
There are three buttons – clean, home and spot.
The round gold disk at the middle is actually the slot for the dust cup.
A quick look under the Roomba S9 reveals a drastic change – the much wider cleaning path.
The extractors span almost the width of the robot but it does not quite reach the edges.
Unlike the older Roomba robots that have the brush roll at the middle, the S9 has it up front.
It still retains the rubber counter-rotating brushes that are excellent in both surface dirt and deep cleaning.
Other changes aren’t quite obvious at first glance. The clearance between the two extractors is narrower and the lower to the ground providing better agitation.
Another change is the design of the side brush. In previous models, Roomba used a three-pronged brush with long tentacles. The new design has five shorter arms, partly because of the position of the main brushes.
Neato D7 Design
The D7 retains the D-shaped design that we’ve grown accustomed to with Neato robots.
It has a two-tone color, dark gray, gray color scheme that’s resistant to stains.
The round cover at the back with the “Neato” logo is where the LDS sensor resides.
Interface and controls
Simplicity is the calling card for Neato products and the D7 is no exception.
There’s only a single button at the lower left side below the dust bin cover that activates the default cleaning mode.
All the functionality will be available in the Neato app (more in the latter section).
The Neato D7 has a similar design to the Roomba S9 when it comes to the layout.
Main Brush Roll
The main beater bar is slightly wider and is closer to the edges. It does not have the counter-rotating brushes in the S9, only a single brush.
This gives it more clearance to tackle large bits of debris without any issues.
There are some subtle differences. The first is the placement of the side brush. Both robots have the side brushes on the right side (it’s on the left when flipped over).
However, the Neato D7’s side brush is slightly behind the main roller brush. With the S9 it’s a touch in front of it.
Similarities of the Roomba S9 vs. Neato D7
Next, let’s look at the similarities between the Roomba S9 and Neato D7.
- Smart Navigation: While the how is different, both robots are similar in that it does it in an efficient back and forth pattern. These machines have the ability to navigate numerous rooms with proficiency not found in robots that use random navigation.
- Recharge and Resume: Cleaning a large home won’t be a problem because these robots will remember exactly where it is and return to the same spot it last cleaned after recharging.
- WiFi Connectivity: Most of the functionality will be accessible through the smartphone app that connects to the robot via WiFi. This feature gives users access to the robot even outside the home.
- Voice: Using voice is another alternative thanks to the compatibility with Alexa or Google Assistant whichever device is with you.
- Exclude Zones: Neato and Roomba have a feature that blocks it from going into zones it’s not supposed to go and it’s all done through a smartphone app. No longer do you need an external device such as a virtual wall or magnetic tape.
How does the Roomba S9 and Neato D7 Clean?
We’ll look closely at how each of these robotic vacuums clean inside your home.
While both products have similar efficiency, the way each goes about it differently.
Up until the I7, iRobot has not changed the design of the Roomba. Not so with the S9.
Instead of sticking with the status quo, it did something I thought they never would do – change the shape of their robotic cleaner.
The design change also brought significant improvements over the I7.
Having a wider brush (30% wider) improves coverage allowing it to pick up more debris on a single pass.
The new square front design allowed iRobot to put in a new 3D time-of-flight sensor in the front to help it navigate through tricky areas better than the I7 and past generation Roombas.
This upgrade means better performance at the edges and corners as the S9 will hug the walls – something that the I7 or the 980 can’t accomplish.
The Neato D7 is similar to the S9 in that it uses a matching shape and design.
Its main cleaning brush sits on front with the side brush slightly behind it.
Like the earlier generation BotVac robots, the D7 uses the same combo brush that has the rubber blade and bristle arrangement that’s excellent on various types of dirt.
The larger clearance allows the D7 to gobble up larger pieces of rubbish like cheerios without any issues whatsoever.
One downside to the more traditional brush design is the propensity for hair and dust bunnies to wrap around it.
It requires more frequent cleaning versus the rubber extractors of the S9 that does not have any bristles.
How do the Roomba S9 and Neato D7 navigate?
One of the most critical components to a good robot vacuum is that way it traverses around the home.
The Roomba S9 and Neato D7 represent two of the best navigating robots available right now.
Both are efficient in going about their business but do so using different navigational aids.
The S9 retains most of the sensors utilized in the I7 such as the top-mounted camera, acoustic sensors and vSLAM software to save maps.
But there are some key upgrades that further improve how this robot cleans, particularly the edges.
One such upgrade is the 3D time-of-flight sensor that according to iRobot is “a new advanced 3D sensor that constantly scans what’s immediately ahead of the Roomba S9+ at a rate of 25 times per second to help the robot get deep into corners, along edges and clean large areas efficiently.”
iRobot calls this the “PerfectEdge Technology engineering.”
One difference between this Roomba and the D7 is the Clean Base station that automatically empties dirt of the dust cup.
Between the two, the S9 provides better autonomy but at a price.
The acoustic sensors tell the robot areas that require more cleaning and automatically adjust the power for the task.
To help it navigate in low light conditions, the S9 has an optical sensor underneath that helps track the robot’s movement accurately.
This robot is usable even in multi-level homes because it can save up to 10 layouts – more than enough for most households.
Furthermore, there is an explore feature where the robot goes around the house to gather information and save data on the layout.
The Neato D7 relies on less navigational aids than the S9.
Instead of using a camera, Neato stuck with the LIDAR Laser Distance Sensor (or LDS) and it’s a robust technology that’s simple and yet effective.
The laser sensor continuously scans the perimeter to detect potential obstacles, and also to create a map.
Once the map is created, the robot can then clean specific rooms labeled on the app.
Watch this short clip to see how the Neato D7 navigates.
It starts out by going around the walls of the room then gradually starts cleaning the central portions.
Neato will cycle through this sequence twice before it goes back to recharge.
If the area is vast, it recharges when the battery is low and then goes back to the area it last cleaned to finish the task.
One thing lacking with the D7 is the clean base station. It only has the standard charging station, so you’ll have to empty the dustbin manually.
The 0.7-liter dustbin capacity somewhat offsets the lack of autonomy.
How much suction do these robots have?
Neato or iRobot don’t have power figures so to get an accurate read, you’ll have to use an anemometer to measure airflow.
Vacuum Wars measured the airflow of both the Neato D7 and Roomba S9 and the figures are close at the high power setting.
While the Roomba S9 measured higher at 22 cfm on high, it plummeted to just 8 cfm at the low setting.
The Neato D7 was slightly lower at 20 cfm at the max but was better at the low setting at 17 cfm.
What this means is the D7 will vacuum much better at the low setting and clean a larger area.
For the S9, just leave it at the automatic setting for the best results in battery time and performance.
Next up, let’s have a close look at how well these robots clean.
Based on airflow figures, both the D7 and S9 are quite impressive with the latter having the most power of any robot vacuum to date.
Let’s see if this translates to better vacuuming performance.
The Roomba S9 with its new square-shape front, wider brush roll, better edge cleaning, an uptick in power checks nearly all the boxes for independent home cleaning.
Let’s look at how the robot performs on a variety of surfaces.
Hard floor cleaning
One issue with the previous Roomba products is the side brush that rotates too fast. It tends to create more messes than it cleans.
iRobot solves this issue with the redesigned side brush that spins with lesser force.
The result is a robot that does excellent work at vacuuming hard surfaces like hardwood or tile.
However, in the low setting, it will struggle because of the inadequate suction.
You can leave it at the high power setting or better yet use the auto mode for the best results with run time and debris pick up.
Another area of improvement will be edge and corner cleaning thanks to the wider brush (30% wider than the I7 and 980).
Check the clip below to see what I mean.
The difference between the S9 and I7 is considerable with the S9 picking more in a single pass than the I7.
It does not like cleaning the large stuff like Cheerios because of the reconfigured brush that sits lower.
You’ll hear a crunching sound as it picks it up. However, the S9 will eventually clean these messes up as it goes through its cleaning cycle.
The significant increase in power will be most felt on carpet. It does very well at cleaning surface dirt regardless of size.
Possibly the biggest benefit of the uptick in power and the wider brush is its ability to deep clean carpet.
It’s one of a handful of robot vacuums capable of deep cleaning carpet.
In a deep cleaning test done, it was able to pick up an average of 94.5% of sand on thick pile carpet.
The results are impressive considering that this level of performance isn’t possible with a robot before the I7 and S9 came out.
The Neato D7 is one of the more efficient cleaning robots thanks to the 12” roller brush that nearly spans the width of the body.
Combine this with the side brush that spins at just the right speed results to robotic cleaner very capable on hard floors and carpet.
Hard floor cleaning
The D7 benefits greatly from its above-average suction even on low power picking up more debris on hard floor in a single pass than the Roomba S9.
People who live in a home with mostly bare floor can just leave it at low to maximize battery life.
It is capable of cleaning dust, hair, fruit loops, cheerios, cereal, oatmeal, all sorts of debris without any issues.
The slow methodical cleaning pattern is both efficient and thorough, going over the space as much as three times.
Not only is the D7 dependable on hard floor, but it will also do well cleaning carpet.
The strong suction and agitation from the combo brush are good enough even to deep clean carpet.
In a deep cleaning test done by Vacuum Wars on sawdust, the D7 was able to pick up 28 out of the 30 grams or 93% – not very far off from the 94.5% of the Roomba S9.
Surface debris pickup is another strong suit of the D7 as it picks up nearly everything in its path.
How long do the Roomba S9 and Neato D7 run?
Both the S9 and D7 will run for up to 120 minutes on its lowest power setting.
The difference would be in the high setting where the D7 will run for 75 minutes at 20 cfm and the S9 for only 50 minutes at 22 cfm so the D7 provides better power to run time ratio.
However, the deficiency of run time from the S9+ won’t be an issue with the clean base since it can just dock, empty the bin, recharge and go back to the area it last cleaned.
Notable app features
Both these robots are compatible with the modern household that support WiFi, Alexa, and Google Assistant so most of the functionality is accessible through the app.
I’ll be focusing on the notable features that are most helpful to consumers.
Neato D7 notable app features:
- No-Go Zones: It defines areas that are off limits. Using this feature is as simple as drawing lines on the app. It works very well with the scheduling feature because you won’t have to worry about the robot getting lost.
- Zone Cleaning: Tells the robot to clean certain rooms and it works well with the scheduling part of the app. For example, on Mondays, you can tell the robot to clean the living room and on Wednesdays, the master’s bedroom.
- Remember Floor Plans: The D7 can save up to three different floor plans in your home, so it is usable in multi-level homes.
Roomba S9 notable app features:
iRobot is currently working on a similar feature as the No-Go zones that will soon be slowly rolled out.
Roomba I7 owners will also benefit from this rollout so take note.
- Keep Out Zones: It operates on the same principles as the D7’s version.
- Zone Cleaning: Works well with the scheduling part of the app that tells the robot to clean individual rooms.
- Imprint Smart Mapping: Remembers up to ten different floor plans so users can move the robot on different levels and still identify its location.
Maintenance and Running Costs
To keep these robots running in peak condition, you need to do due diligence and do maintenance procedures.
I’ll be going through the different parts of the robots and the maintenance intervals.
- High-Efficiency Filter: Neato recommends replacing every 1 to 2 months depending on the conditions inside the house. After every few cleaning cycles, use a hand vacuum to remove dirt on the filter. Replacement filters are available in Amazon or direct from the Neato website.
- Main Brush: Clean the main brush, axles and brush bearings after every use.
- Laser Sensor: Make sure that nothing is blocking the laser distance sensor up top. Use a cotton swab to gently spin the laser platform 5 to 6 times. Another option is to use a can of compressed air and spray in short bursts to dislodge any stuck debris.
- Sensors: Periodically dust the robot’s wall and drop sensors using a cotton swab.
Visit this page to see all the information you need for proper maintenance.
- Filter: Clean the filter after every use and replace it in 1 to 2 month intervals. Use a hand vacuum to remove finer debris like dust particles to improve efficiency.
- Rubber Extractors: Clean the extractors once a week (for homes without pets) and twice a week (for homes with pets). Don’t forget to check the axles for any hair or dust. iRobot recommends replacing it every 6 to 12 months.
- Front Castor Wheel: Clean once a month and replacing it every 12 months.
- Full Bin Sensors: Clean this part once every 2 weeks.
- Side Brush: Clean it once a month. Check for hair that can wrap around the base.
- Sensors: The S9 has a bevy on sensors that you need to keep clean. These include the camera, drop sensors, charging sensors, floor tracking sensors, and cliff sensors.
Visit this page to see all the information you need to properly maintain a Roomba robot.
Other Roomba and Neato Comparisons
Roomba and Neato has a bunch of models in their product line. Find out how each one contrasts with the other plus also comparisons with other brands like the Neato.
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|Run time (Turbo mode)|
|Power (Turbo mode)|
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Which of the two offer better value?
There’s no doubt that both these robotic cleaners are doing the task with efficiency and thoroughness that most other brands cannot match.
Each will offer advantages that the other does not have so choosing one will be a matter of setting priorities.
To summarize, here are the differences between the Roomba S9 and Neato D7
- Clean Base Dock: The biggest difference between the two would be the Clean Base dock that the S9 has. This feature gives the S9 the biggest advantage in terms of autonomy because there’s no need to empty the bin for days or weeks.
- Price: The cost difference between the top-of-the-line S9+ and Neato D7 is significant enough to purchase a high-end upright vacuum.
- Navigational Aids: The Roomba S9 primarily relies on a camera to track its location while the D7 uses a laser sensor. This means that the S9 may not work as well in low-light conditions whereas it won’t be an issue for the D7.
Should you buy the Roomba S9?
iRobot pushed the boundary with the new S9. The upgrades that they make it the best option Roomba has to offer. Most of the issues that plague the I7 are non-existent with this new release.
The wider extractors and new shape give it better performance on edges and corners. It’s one of a handful of robot vacuums that can deep clean carpet – something I thought impossible a few years back.
I’d recommend the Roomba S9+ to people who want the following:
- A true autonomous robot: The Roomba S9 and the I7 are the only two robotic vacuums that have a self-emptying feature. It’s the one feature that sets it apart from the D7 in that you don’t have to manually extract the bin and empty it after every use.
- Excellent at cleaning carpet: One of the biggest improvements done by iRobot with the S9 is the placement of the extractors and increasing the width. These upgrades help it to clean carpet better than the I7.
- Smart Navigation: iRobot added a few more wrinkles to the already smart navigating S9. The new 3D sensor in front helps it navigate through the narrowest paths, corners and edges better and allow it to go very close to the wall.
- Don’t mind spending for convenience: Yes, the S9 will cost a fortune, but the technology that it offers will bring lots of convenience to someone who doesn’t have time to manually vacuum.
To learn more about the latest price of the Roomba S9 and read the latest reviews, please click on the link.
I’d recommend the Neato D7 to people who want the following:
- Want something cheaper: The Neato D7 is an excellent option for folks who want something more cost-effective without sacrificing cleaning performance.
- Works well even in pitch black surroundings: One big advantage the laser sensor has is its ability to work even in conditions with zero visibility. The laser does not require light to work unlike a camera, so if you need something that will work at such, the D7 is the better option.
- Efficient and thorough: The D7 is one of the more efficient navigating robots available. It goes about cleaning in a methodical and efficient back and forth pattern and goes through an area as much as three times.
To learn more about the latest price of the Neato D7 and read the latest reviews, please click on the link.
The Verdict: Roomba S9 Wins
Looking at the overall picture, the Roomba S9 is the better product. It provides better usability thanks to the Clean Base dock, and better performance at cleaning carpet. So the question is “are you willing to spend for these conveniences?” If the answer is yes then the S9 is the obvious choice. The Neato D7 isn’t a slouch. It performs almost as well at surface debris pickup and is almost as good at deep cleaning carpet. However, it does not have the self-emptying feature that the S9 has so it lags behind when it comes to being a truly independent robot.