Neato D7 vs Roomba S9+ Comparison: Which Smart Navigating Robot Vacuum is Better?

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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.

The D7 and S9 may look similar when it comes to shape, but both robots different when it comes to its inner architecture.

We’ll look closely at these differences as well as similarities and find out which option better.

First, here’s a quick overview of the Neato D7 vs. Roomba S9

Roomba S9+
Power: 22 cfm
Run Time: 120 mins.
Deep Cleaning: 94.5% *
Recharge & Resume: Yes
Auto-Empty Bin: Yes
Smart Maps: Yes

Neato D7
Power: 20 cfm
Run Time: 120 mins.
Deep Cleaning: 93% **
Recharge & Resume: Yes
Auto-Empty Bin: No
Smart Maps: Yes

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* Deep cleaning test was done on 100 grams of sand on medium-pile carpets.

** 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

Roomba S9 vs Neato D7

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.

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July 4, 2020 9:46 pm UTC

Doing so did the following. The first benefit of having a D-shape design is the option to put a broader brush.

Looking underneath the new S9 reveals a brush roll that occupies almost the whole width of the robot.

The wider brush improves the 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+. These models are the same robots, but the difference is that the S9+ comes with the clean base station that will automatically dispose of dirt every time the robot recharges.

While the S9 (without the plus) does not have the clean base station, so it functions like a regular robot vacuum where you need to empty the bin manually.

But the S9+ will cost several hundred dollars more than the S9. Both robots will have the same navigational and brush upgrades over the I7 that make it better overall when it comes to traversing around furniture and cleaning floors.

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 empty feature, 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 lean towards better performance on carpet. This robot is one of the select few options capable of deep cleaning more than 90% of sand on carpets.
  • 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 that produces only 8 cfm.

Some Flaws

  • Crazy Expensive: Expect to pay a premium for the technology that the 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 battery life. However, using this setting drops the airflow down to just 8 cfm, which isn’t enough. It’s best to leave it in the auto mode for the best results.

Neato D7

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.

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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.

However, Neato does not have the auto-empty system that the S9+ has, so it’s not entirely hands-free. But the LIDAR sensor enables it to work even in areas where it is entirely dark.

So the D7 can clean even with the lights turned off.

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, which, in my opinion, is a feature that all robots must-have.
  • 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!

Some Flaws

  • No Clean Base Station: Neato lacks the Clean Base station that vacuums the robot’s dirt bin every time it docks. It means you’ll have to empty the dust cup after every run manually. 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 like.

I’m not sure why iRobot made the change, perhaps it could be consumer feedback or competition, but the change is a welcome sight as it makes it more efficient.

Interface and Controls

The change in design also has a trickle-down effect on the interface.

In previous Roomba options, even the newer ones like the Roomba I7 and 980, the clean button sits right in the middle.

iRobot moved the S9’s clean button from the center to the upper right portion of the robot but still retains the three-button design.

These three buttons include – clean, home, and spot. The other features are accessible through the iRobot home app.

The round gold disk in the middle is the slot for the dust cup.

Design Underneath

You can see the difference between the S9 and I7 in this side-by-side photo.

A quick look under the Roomba S9 reveals a drastic change that starts with the broader extractors.

The change in shape makes it possible for iRobot engineers to place the main brush in front of the robot.

This design is a departure from that of the I7, where the extractors sit right between the two rubber wheels.

It enables the S9 to pick up for more on a single pass versus the I7. The castor wheel that steers the robot is now at the back.

Wider Extractors

The extractors span almost the width of the robot, but it does not quite reach the edges.

There are gaps on both sides, but the side brush and the new bumper sensor make up for this.

The side brush picks up dirt on the edges and throws it towards the main brush while the 3D-time-of-flight sensor in the bumper allows the robot to huge the edges really close.

Unlike the older Roomba robots that have the brush roll in the middle, the S9 has it upfront.

It still retains the rubber counter-rotating brushes that excel in cleaning surface and embedded dirt.

Other changes aren’t entirely apparent at first glance. The clearance between the two extractors is narrower and the lower to the ground, providing better agitation.

Side brush

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.

The S9 side brush rotates slower, so it scatters less dirt around and does a better job of funneling dirt towards the main extractors.

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 other features of the robot can be accessed via the Neato app (more on that below).

Design Underneath

The Neato D7 has a similar design to the Roomba S9 when it comes to the layout. It has a D-shape design with the main brush sitting at the front and the side brush slightly behind it.

This design is a little different from the S9, where the side brush is further ahead of the primary brush roll.

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 with a blade and bristle combo that you’ll see in most Neato Botvac products.

This design gives it more clearance to tackle significant bits of debris without any issues.

Side Brush

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.

  1. Smart Navigation: While the how is different, both robots are similar in that it traverses in an efficient back and forth pattern. These machines can navigate numerous rooms with proficiency not found in robots that use standard navigation.
  2. Recharge and Resume: Cleaning a large home won’t be a problem because these robots will remember precisely where it is and return to the same spot it last cleaned after recharging.
  3. 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.
  4. Voice: Using voice is another alternative thanks to the compatibility with Alexa or Google Assistant, whichever device is with you.
  5. Exclude Zones: Neato and Roomba have a feature that blocks it from going into areas it’s not supposed to go, and it’s all done through a smartphone app. There’s no need for an external device such as a virtual wall or magnetic tape to block the robot’s path.

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, each robot is unique with how it goes about it.

Roomba S9

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 bumper 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.

Neato D7

The Neato D7 is similar to the S9 in that it uses a matching shape and design.

Its main cleaning brush sits on the 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 higher 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 of 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.

Roomba S9

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 some key upgrades 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 the contents of the dust cup.

Between the two, the S9 provides better autonomy but at a premium 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 it’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.

Neato D7

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 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 in its carpet boost mode, it plummeted to just 8 cfm at the lowest setting. The Neato D7 was slightly lower at 20 cfm at the max but was better at the lowest setting with 17 cfm.

What this means is that the D7 will vacuum much better at the low setting and enable it to pick up more dirt even at the default mode.

For the S9, just leave it at the automatic setting for the best results in battery time and performance.

Cleaning 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.

Roomba S9

The Roomba S9 checks all the boxes, thanks to its new shape, wide brush roll, and increase in power.

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 extractors (30% wider than the I7 and 980) and the enhancements with the side brush design.

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 big 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.

Carpet cleaning

The significant increase in power will be most felt on carpets. It does very well at cleaning surface dirt regardless of size.

Possibly the most significant 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 mid pile carpets.

The results are impressive, considering that this level of performance isn’t possible with a robot before the I7 and S9 came out.

Neato D7

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 capable on hard floors and carpet.

Hard floor cleaning

The D7 benefits significantly from its above-average suction even on low power picking up more debris on hard floors 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 an area as much as three times, depending on the settings.

Carpet cleaning

Not only is the D7 dependable on hard floors, but it also does an excellent job at cleaning carpets.

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 a 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 supports WiFi, Alexa, and Google Assistant. 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:

  1. No-Go Zones: It defines off-limits areas. 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 or stuck.
  2. Zone Cleaning: Tells the robot to clean specific 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.
  3. 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.

  1. Keep Out Zones: It operates on the same principles as the D7’s version. You can draw multiple lines that work similarly to a virtual wall in that it blocks the robot’s path from specific areas.
  2. Zone Cleaning: Works well with the scheduling part of the app that tells the robot to clean specific areas.
  3. 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

Some upkeep is needed to keep these robots running in peak condition.

I’ll be going through the different parts of the robots and the maintenance intervals.

Neato D7

  1. High-Efficiency Filter: Neato recommends replacing it every 1 to 2 months, depending on the conditions inside the house. After every few cleaning cycles, use a hand vacuum with a brush or crevice tool to remove dirt on the filter. Replacement filters are available in Amazon or direct from the Neato website.
  2. Main Brush: Clean the main brush, axles, and brush bearings after every use.
  3. Laser Sensor: Make sure that nothing is blocking the laser distance sensor on top of the robot.  If anything gets caught up, use a cotton swab to spin the laser platform 5 to 6 times gently. Another option is to use a can of compressed air and spray in short bursts to dislodge any stuck debris.
  4. 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.

Roomba S9

  1. Filter: Clean the filter after every use and replace it in one to two-month intervals. Use a hand vacuum to remove smaller debris like dust particles to improve efficiency.
  2. 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.
  3. Front Castor Wheel: Clean once a month and replace it every 12 months.
  4. Full Bin Sensors: Clean this part once every two weeks.
  5. Side Brush: Clean it once a month. Check for hair that can wrap around the base.
  6. Sensors: The S9 has a bevy of 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 maintain a Roomba robot properly.

Other Roomba and Neato Comparisons

Roomba and Neato have 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.

Spec Comparison

Model
Roomba S9
Roomba S9+
Neato D7
Roomba S9
Roomba S9+
Neato D7
Width
12.25"
12.25"
13.2"
Height
3.5"
3.5"
3.9"
Self-Emptying Base
No
Yes
No
Recharge & Resume
Yes
Yes
Yes
Smart Mapping
Yes
Yes
Yes
Run time (Turbo mode)
120 mins.
120 mins.
120 mins.
Power (Turbo mode)
22 cfm
22 cfm
20 cfm
Power (Eco mode)
8 cfm
8 cfm
17cfm
Warranty
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
Price

Which of the two offer better value?

There’s no doubt that both these robotic cleaners are capable of cleaning your home 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 most significant difference between the two would be the Clean Base dock that the S9 has. This feature gives the S9 the most significant 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 Roomba S9. The upgrades make it the best option Roomba has to offer if you’re willing to pay the premium. 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 capable of deep cleaning 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 two of a handful of robot vacuums with the auto-empty system. It’s the one feature that sets it apart from the D7 in that you don’t have to extract the bin and empty it after every use manually.
  • Excellent at cleaning carpet: One of the most significant improvements done by iRobot with the S9 is the placement of the extractors and increasing the width. These upgrades help it to clean the carpet better than the I7.
  • Smart Navigation: iRobot added a few more wrinkles to the already intelligent navigating I7. The new 3D sensor in front helps it navigate through the narrowest paths, corners, and edges better and allows 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 vacuum manually.

The Roomba S9 is available in online stores like Amazon and Walmart.

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 significant 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 systematic and efficient back and forth pattern and goes through an area as much as three times.

The Neato D7 is available in online stores like Amazon and Walmart.

Take note that if you purchase with any of the links above, I’ll earn a commission, but at no additional cost to you, so that’s a win-win.

The Verdict: Roomba S9 Wins

Looking at the overall picture, the Roomba S9 is a 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 nearly 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 genuinely independent robot.