I have used and reviewed a diverse range of vacuum cleaners – corded, cordless and robotic. I’ve found most of it to be a bit disappointing and definitely not worth the price tag. The only consistent exception has been Neato.
Over the years I have tested vacuum cleaners from Rydis, Roomba, Dyson, Neato, Samsung, bObsweep, Deebot and more. Some pulled double-duty as both vacuum cleaners and mops, and one had a pop-out handheld vacuum cleaner. Most did well in terms of basic functionality out of the box, but couldn’t handle my “extreme environment” effectively. There were six people and a veritable zoo of pets to contend with (we currently have four dogs, seven cats, a pig, two ferrets, and a sulcate tortoise).
Frankly, I feel that the formidable conditions make me uniquely qualified to truly test a vacuum. Forget vendor demonstrations or test functions in a controlled environment. I put vacuum cleaners to the test under real-world conditions that challenge even the best vacuum technology.
I’ve used a few different models from Neato, but for almost 3 years, the Neato Botvac Connected D7 has been the workhorse that keeps the floors clean. The Neato D7 is a robot vacuum cleaner designed for both pet owners and allergy sufferers. It is equipped with a number of features that make it an effective cleaning solution for households with a lot of foot traffic, as well as pet hair and allergens.
One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about Neato robot vacuums in general is that they have a large bin, which means they can hold more dirt and debris before needing to be emptied. This is especially useful for households with pets, as pet hair can quickly fill up a smaller litter box. The bin is also easy to empty, making maintenance a breeze. There are units that are self-emptying – which suck the contents of the dustbin in the robot vacuum cleaner into a larger storage unit in the charging base. It’s a really cool concept, but with the amount of pet fur we have in our house, it’s not a substitute for having a high-capacity litter box on the unit itself.
The Neato laser-based map and navigation system is better than many of the devices I’ve used. This allows the vacuum cleaner to map the layout of your home and create a cleaning plan tailored to your specific needs. It uses a laser sensor to scan the room, which allows it to avoid obstacles and navigate around furniture. This makes it very efficient, and it can cover large parts of the home in a short time.
Neato comes with a number of smart features that can be controlled via the Neato app. You can schedule cleaning sessions, set no-go zones and even track the robot’s progress in real time. You can also use voice commands to control the robot with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the same functionality with Apple Siri because we replaced our Amazon Echo devices with Apple HomePods.
It seems that most competing robot vacuum cleaners are round. The Neato range of vacuum cleaners is built around a D-shaped design that allows it to reach tight corners and edges, ensuring no dirt gets left behind. It is relatively quiet, making it easier than others to use while at home.
Cost is obviously a factor, but the most important calculation is total cost of ownership. At the very least, you need to factor the cost into the lifetime of the device. My dad bought a very expensive Kirby upright vacuum and I thought it was crazy to spend that kind of money on a vacuum at the time. But that was 30 years ago and he still has a perfectly functional Kirby vacuum cleaner. Meanwhile, I’ve gone through thousands of dollars of every shape and style of vacuum at the same time.
For what these vacuums cost, three years’ worth of product should be expected rather than remarkable. However, my experience has been that most vacuum cleaners suffer some kind of catastrophic failure long before the three-year mark – but coincidentally after the warranty coverage has expired. That being the case, it’s impressive that the Neato D7 is still going strong.
That brings me to another thing I really like about the Neato brand. They had units before D7 and they have introduced vacuum after D7. While they continue to innovate and introduce new features and capabilities, they’ve essentially kept the same form factor throughout. The advantage for consumers is that the parts and accessories are interchangeable between practically all models.
This is not a “review” per se. The D7 isn’t even available from Neato at the moment. On the other hand, this is a much better review than most in my opinion. Most reviews are written after running through a battery of staged scenarios in an afternoon – or perhaps over the course of a week. It’s not a real-world test, and it’s not a long enough test for many problems to emerge. I’ve been using the Neato D7 in harsh conditions for three years and it’s still going strong. That kind of durability and longevity is not easy to find these days.
It’s notable to me that Neato isn’t featured on PC Magazine’s “The Best Robot Vacuums for 2023.” I don’t know for sure if any Neato units were reviewed, nor do I have first-hand knowledge of the vacuums that made the list, so it’s possible Neato didn’t make the cut. All I’m saying is Neato has consistently been the best brand I’ve used and the D7 continues to do a great job even after almost three years.