I had a Roomba for a while but it stopped working properly, now preferring to jitter around in circles than clean an entire room. I took it apart several times, tried clearing sensors, reseating components, and blowing out all the dust that a vacuum encounters. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to repair it. Shortly after getting the Roomba, I read about the Neato. It was described as having two key differences separating it from the Roomba. Primarily, the Neato is a vacuum and not just a sweeper, allowing it to pick up more dust and dirt. Secondly, the Neato is to be intelligent. It uses a laser system, the little command center on top, that looks around a room and efficiently guides the Neato back and forth across a room.
There were also other features the Neato held over the Roomba like having the scheduler built-in and downloadable updates to improve the Neato. I bought the Neato XV-11 from Amazon. Since my purchase, they have also released the Super Nintendo-looking Neato XV-21 for pet & allergy enhancements.
The Neato has about the same dimensions of the Roomba with a noticeable difference of the Neato’s ‘D’-shape versus the round Roomba. Its height is just short enought to clean under one of my couches but just too tall to fit under a different couch. The Neato, sporting a vacuum, is noisier than the Roomba – it sounds like a jet engine when starting up but you just typically don’t run the vacuum when you’re in the same room or even at home thanks to the scheduler. The scheduler is easy enough to program; you just set which days of the week you would like the Neato to run and what time for each day. It’s pretty decent for a fixed schedule but I think it would become tedious if you were updating Neato’s schedule every week to match your changing work schedule.
Of course, you don’t have to use the scheduler. You can just tap the orange button once to wake it up and a second time to tell it to clean the house. You can also choose other settings like a spot clean through the menu system. The LED display on the Neato takes all the guesswork out of its status where it can display specific error messages or the task it is currently working on.
The laser system is nice for a few features. It makes the Neato more time effective by going back and forth across a room rather than bouncing around and assuming every spot has been cleaned. It also keeps the Neato in the one room until it is cleaned if it perceives a doorway. The laser sight isn’t perfect though. The raised sight has gotten some light scratches on it, evidence of going under things that are just a bit too low for it to fit under. The laser sight should also prevent the Neato from bumping into things like a Roomba but that isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, the Neato is too aggressive. It will plow through some things in what seems like an attempt to move the objects out of its way. It also climbs up on various things like stands and other low objects on the ground and it may drag cables (phone chargers, power cables) with it. You can use a roll of magnetic strip that comes with the Neato to block it from locations but it is not always practical.
The Neato has moved items all around as a result of its aggressive attempts and also manages to get itself stuck. It climbs up onto the tracks of my elliptical, where it gets stuck repeatedly. It also has a tendency to wedge itself into a place when it does get stuck. I have a night stand that is a few inches wider than the Neato. It drives straight in, attempts to turn, and then backs up. After hitting the legs, it raises its wheels and moves back and forth, just making its position worse. It will do the same thing occasionally with chair legs as well. With the scheduler set to run while I am at work, I often come home to find it not at its base and I have to try to track it down where it might have gotten stuck. Fortunately, it turns on the display and beeps every so often to make it easier to locate.
Fortunately, the Neato has the ability to be updated and its logic has been updated before to smooth out some issues. Unfortunately, updates are a pain. It requires running within the browser and connecting the vacuum via USB, hoping that everything works correctly.
- Built-in display and scheduler
- Actual sucking vacuum, not just a sweeper
- Dustbin holds a good amount and a lot is picked up each vacuuming
- Efficient pathing across a room
- Returns to charger when battery is depleted – will charge and resume cleaning where it left off
- Stops at stairs
- Still bumps into things
- Optional updates are a pain
The benefit of having a frequently vacuumed home outweighs the cons, many of which can be reduced by moving things around or having it run while you’re not at home.
If this sounds like a smarter device for your home than a Roomba or other robot vacuums, check out the Neato XV-11 or XV-21.