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 Botvac D80 has an excellent level of cleaning power, most of the time. The key difference between the Botvac D80 and most of its competitors is the width and placement of its cleaning mechanism. The Botvac D80 places the cleaning brush in the very front of the machine. This helps avoid the problem other robot vacuums have where a lot of dirt and dust gets attached to the bottom before it hits the brushes. The brushes are also much wider than what can be found on most other robot vacuums. At 14mm, these brushes go right up to the edge.
Combine this with the squared shape on the Botvac, and you get a machine that’s perfectly designed to hit corners and near walls with ease. The Botvac D80 is louder than most other robot vacuums (to its detriment), but this is a result of having a stronger suction power. The vacuum can switch surfaces easily, although it performs noticeably better on hard surfaces than on carpets or rugs.
You will have to be concerned with area rugs that have tassels. These will get sucked into the brush and stop the vacuum in its tracks. Additionally, because the bearings are unsealed, hairs get stuck in them quite easily (despite what Neato would have us believe), also leading to more instances where the vacuum may be running, but not properly cleaning due to the brushes not moving at all.
The sensors under the brush area are prone to getting dirty. Combine this with the unsealed bearings, and you’re looking at a lot more regular maintenance for your Botvac than you might experience with many other robot vacuums. That said, the .7 liter dustbin, strong suction, tight cornering and powerful brushes make this Botvac a good option.
Object avoidance is both the Botvac D80’s strength and its weakness. The design helps the vacuum reach corners much better than any of the round robot vacuums on the market, hands down. The placement of the brush and its width add to the effectiveness. But the Botvac suffers from a few object avoidance issues. It uses a 360 degree laser sight that helps it decide on an effective path and detect objects to avoid. Yet it will still suck up objects that one would think its object avoidance should have ruled out.
Sure, the included magnetic boundary strips help (Neato does not actually include enough of them to be entirely useful), but they’re mostly mitigating an obvious problem. The Botvac does very well with larger objects such as tables, couches, desks, beds, etc. However, it has a
Sure, the included magnetic boundary strips help (Neato does not actually include enough of them to be entirely useful), but they’re mostly mitigating an obvious problem. The Botvac does very well with larger objects such as tables, couches, desks, beds, etc. However, it has a bit of a problem with chair legs. For reasons we’re not entirely sure of, it will often get stuck on these if you do not remove get them out of the way. When it gets stuck, it may sit there for a time, crying out for help. Part of this is because of the design. Since it does not use obstacle detection bumpers, it makes getting stuck on things like chair legs more of a problem. This is also compounded by the square top.
with chair legs. For reasons we’re not entirely sure of, it will often get stuck on these if you do not remove get them out of the way. When it gets stuck, it may sit there for a time, crying out for help. Part of this is because of the design. Since it does not use obstacle detection bumpers, it makes getting stuck on things like chair legs more of a problem. This is also compounded by the square top.
The Botvac D80 is feature-rich for a lower-end robot vacuum. The dust bin is easy to remove and holds a rather large .7 liters of dirt. The ability to navigate back to the charging station on its own is extremely useful, even if it’s almost a required feature among robot vacuums at this point. Nevertheless, the Botvac D80 does have a core set of features, with little to complain about on that end.
The Neato Botvac utilizes a rechargeable NiMH battery. This helps give the Botvac its somewhat long 2 hours of battery life, but also adds to the device’s overall weight. Like most robot vacuums, the Botvac D80 will only run until its battery starts getting low, at which point it will return itself to the charging station. Charging takes half an hour longer than the battery runs, however, so if you do intend to use the Botvac to actually clean more than one room, you’re looking at hours and hours of cleaning time. This is perfectly fine if you’re out of the house all day or if you have a smaller space. However, the Botvac D80 has been known to get stuck, cry out for help and die, leaving its activities undone. Nevertheless, for a cheaper Botvac, the battery life is fantastic for the amount of power it has to put out.
It may seem a bit unfair to rate the Botvac D80 on its aesthetic appeal. However, one has to acknowledge that form factor is always a consideration when it comes to new technology. Anyone buying a robot vacuum is buying it as much for what it looks like as what it can do. This tends to work negatively for devices that are built more for function than form. Neato even explains as much. Getting rid of the clean circular shape of most other robot vacuums was their way of doing just that. Unfortunately, it gives the device a less clean, futuristic look. It’s certainly no knock against the device’s functionality, but the Botvac D80 does look a bit less interesting than its competitors as it looks more like a regular vacuum that’s missing a handle and body.
You probably won’t be looking to add flowers and a bough onto your Botvac. More likely than not, you’ll be hoping to upgrade or replace a few of the parts. Neato sells all of the necessary accessories to help make your Botvac useful in the long run. None of them are particularly stunning, but they are useful. This includes spare NiMH battery packs, upgrades to your brush and more magnetic boundary strips. We can’t fault Neato much on their accessories. They don’t deliver any that are extraneous, while also offering all of the ones you might be considering as essential items.
Price is always a touchy subject for new technology. Although robot vacuums have been on the market for some time, they are still relatively new. Few people have them, and most companies currently producing these products only hopped into the market within the last decade. Neato is one of those rather new companies, and the Botvac D80 is their lowest-end model. Most buyers might see the $499 price tag and decide this is really not the object for them.
There are certainly much cheaper robot vacuums available on Amazon, and many are under $100. However, keep in mind that you do get what you pay for. The Botvac D80 is pricey. However, it is equivalent to its nearest competitor, the iRobot Roomba 680, which is also $499. For the price, you’re getting some of the best customer service around should anything go wrong, and a device that is jam packed with modern technology, great engineering and design.
Still, these devices are a tough sell, and their limited capabilities and usefulness put them in a niche market. The nearly $500 price tag further limits the pool of potential buyers. If Neato and other similar companies could find a way to bring that price down without harming quality, the score would go up dramatically.
Although their line of robot vacuums may be on the small side, Neato Robotics enters the market with a few powerful contenders. This includes their lower-end model, the Neato Botvac D80. Neato takes several takes several unique design and engineering directions with all of their Botvacs, the D80 included. Users will find the D80 a competitive and desirable Botvac, but must be warned: It is not for every home. While the Botvac D80 has excellent suction power, interesting features and an undoubtedly useful shape, many of the same features that make it unique and useful also create a few challenges that might not exist otherwise. The squared off front edge makes it good for corners, but actually causes more difficulty for getting around objects such as chairs and table legs. Meanwhile, the laser navigation system is useful, but seems to result in the Botvac missing items on the floor and accidentally trying to suck up things it shouldn’t.
On the positive end, the vacuum holds a lot more than many other robovacs, is much faster due to its cleaning pattern and has an exceptionally long battery life. Finally, should your Botvac go haywire or stop working (as the Botvac seems to be somewhat prone to do on occasion), Neato’s customer care is extremely responsive, and will often deliver new bots to you in exchange for your current one. The 1-year warranty on the bot and the 6 month warrant on the battery are both honored rather quickly, adding a lot of peace of mind given the general beta-testing feel of robot technology.