We have looked at 7 factors that will likely influence which robot vacuum you decide to invest in. These areas were Cleaning Ability, Objective Avoidance, Features, Charging/Battery Life, Aesthetics and Price. Each category is scored individually, with the final score reflecting the average of each of the 7 categories.
The Neato Botvac Connected excels at cleaning. The only problem: If you’re buying it specifically for its cleaning ability, you’re going to spend too much money. The Botvac Connected does not upgrade the cleaning ability over the other Botvac D80/85 models. Instead, it does allow for more brush options and increases the suction strength. However, more brush options and the option for a more powerful suction do not necessarily equate to better cleaning ability over the D80/85 models.
The Botvac Connected, much like the other Botvac models, specialize in getting close to walls and into corners. The base design on the front allows this, as its main brush and suction area can get under an inch up to the wall. The side brush helps move any material on the baseboards out into the open for easy cleaning. Alongside this, the device does not bump into walls or furniture to navigate its way around the room. It will not leave heavy bump marks on your walls, even over the long term.
The bot is loaded with sensors which not only help it navigate the area successfully, but help it clean efficiently. It will give extra special attention to areas that need it, while still cleaning in a very methodic pattern. The ability to control the bot’s movements has been incorporated into the app, giving you a lot more control over where it’s going. You can schedule its cleaning, as well as keep it from sucking up things you don’t want in areas you don’t want it to go to, thanks to the boundary strips.
The biggest problem in its cleaning ability may be the fact that this robot vacuum is a painfully slow cleaner. In one sense this is good, as it helps the Botvac react faster when it’s about to run into an object. However, it takes its sweet time getting the job done. Thankfully, its suction power is strong with Turbo mode, or lighter with Eco mode, so you can either have a trade off of much better battery life (therefore longer cleaning time) or more powerful suction (great for carpets or rugs). As with most robot vacuums, you will need to be concerned with cords, small objects and hair. The .7 liter dustbin will not fill up too fast, but copious amounts of material can get wrapped up in the brush, which does need to be cleaned periodically.
The Neato Botvac Connected has all of the object avoidance capabilities of every other Neato Botvac version. The device is fully-loaded with with various sensors. The most important of these is Neato’s laser detection system. Operating similarly to radar, this helps the Botvac Connected identify objects around it and helps it map out the room. The Botvac is capable of determining its location in relation to objects in the room, and what areas need a bit of additional attention. However, it still struggles with the same problems as most robot vacuums.
It can (and sometimes will) suck in any loose cords or smaller objects that can tie up the brushes. It’s not particularly good at avoiding these. The inclusion of the boundary strips helps keep it away from areas where it’s more likely going to have issues. The boxy design, which makes it great at getting into corners, also gives it some occasional issues when it comes to chair legs or table legs. While it will generally maneuver around these areas thanks to the laser technology, getting stuck is more a factor of its shape than anything else.
Although it’s good at fitting under any furniture that has a high clearance, it will often find itself stuck under furniture and in gaps that appeared big enough at first. It seems to have a hard time judging heights, and will either bump into things when it thought it could go under them, or get stuck when the front part was able to fit but the backend could not.
On the positive end, the Botvac Connected does have self-correction built into its design. If it gets stuck it will attempt to free itself. Because it moves somewhat slowly, it never really runs into anything at breakneck speed, and more often than not, if it does run into something, it’s more of a soft nudge than a hard bump. Overall, you can get a nice, long cleaning run without much difficulty.
The most obvious feature to point out on the Botvac Connected is the wireless connectivity. This is the only Botvac that can be connected via a mobile application. It has a built-in wi-fi adapter so that it can send and receive information. The Botvac connected can be scheduled, started and paused remotely. The app even includes some nice, although not necessarily useful, data on how the robot is cleaning. It will also send push notifications to update you if anything is going wrong, such as a dead battery or if it gets stuck.
Outside of this, the Botvac Connected’ has other features that are not too unique. The large capacity bin (.7 liters) and filters can already be found on most of the other models. The Eco/Turbo modes are certainly unique, but the fact that the Botvac Connected does not switch between the two automatically is disappointing. The boundary markers are still a useful feature, but again, are not unique to the Botvac Connected.
Neato’s battery life effectively runs at the top of the market for robot vacuums. Notably, this is the first of Neato’s robot vacuums to use a Li-ion battery over a NiMH battery. The Eco and Turbo modes have noticeably different battery lives. However, the Eco mode is a bit of a godsend for those that have larger rooms and areas to clean. Eco mode will net you up to 5,000 square feet of cleaning area to a charge. Needless to say, that’s about top-of-the-line as it gets for robot vacuums. Even the Turbo mode, which will take up more power and lead to less area cleaned, can hit around 4,000. Unfortunately, all of that battery power does mean a longer charge time. 3 hours, to be exact. All Botvacs are very good at getting back to their charging bases. Neato changed very few of the main functions when they upgraded to their higher-end robot vacuum, so you can expect the Botvac Connected to perform equally well on this end.
Neato is very consistent with the aesthetic design of their robot vacuums. The Botvac Connected looks just like every other Botvac. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing either. The Botvac’s design is functional and unique, but not entirely giving any “wow” factors. The size is good however, and the low profile makes it very useful for getting under some furniture. Neato’s eye for design is respectable, but not exactly stunning. It’s hard to argue with practicality over looks, but a wider color palette might be nice. Until robot vacuums become more of a norm, they’re still going to be conversation pieces, and aesthetics are all part of helping a product sell.
Neato continues to impress with the wide amount of accessories that they offer their users. There is nothing on this end for their Botvac Connected that you can’t find for their other devices, which is a good thing. Neato sells the most important replaceable parts right on their website, including brushes and filters. However, it’s the fact that they also sell a battery replacement that really makes them exceptional among robot vacuum makers. Do note that the battery has a shorter warranty on it than the rest of the Botvac (6 months as opposed to 1 year). This is a bit troubling, but thankfully, the battery can be replaced if it dies on you. You are also able to acquire more of the boundary strips, a helpful addition.
The best way to value the Botvac Connected is by comparing it to Neato’s next, most powerful robot vacuum, and its direct competitors. As far as other robot vacuums from Neato, the next best thing is the Botvac D80/85. The D series has almost all of the features you will find on the Botvac Connected, except for a few goodies. Specifically, the enabled app features add a bit more flexibility, the filter is higher quality and easier to remove and the ability to change cleaning power for either longer battery life or more suction. Of these, the biggest, and most important, and perhaps most valuable upgrade is the Eco/Turbo mode switch.
This puts the Botvac more in line with Samsung’s PowerBot VR9000 robot vacuum, for a slightly lower price. Nevertheless, when even expensive Dyson manual vacuums are under $300, it’s hard to justify buying a Botvac Connected at that price, even when you consider the convenience. That said, if you manage to find this Botvac at a discounted price, it’s a good buy.
The Botvac Connected is all about the the technology upgrades. Neato adds in some rather neat-o wi-fi capabilities, including a fun and useful app that not only lets you schedule the vacuum’s run time and switch cleaning modes, but also lets you take direct control of the robot’s movements. It’s clear that Neato caught on to this particular trend of direct control by including it in their most recent robot upgrade.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to call the Neato Botvac Connected much of an upgrade. While the device is capable of cleaning well, its cleaning ability is not much upgraded from the most recent model. Couple this with the fact that the only difference in design is the color scheme, and it might actually be difficult to tell the Botvac D80/85 from the Connected. That Neato is asking for over $100 more for these new wi-fi and app features seems more than a little silly.
The device as a whole is an excellent piece of robot vacuuming machinery. It cleans well, gets close to baseboards, and does not get stuck on objects too improperly. It does have the ability to self correct when it does get stuck, although it’s not always fully successful in that effort. The battery life is also good, and the ability to switch it between a lighter, and quieter, Eco mode and a tough-cleaning Turbo mode give is some appeal over the previous models. Still, the higher price tag is hard to justify.
The Botvac Connected is perhaps one of the best robot vacuums on the market. That is, if you can manage to get it for a slightly better price.