Neato Botvac Connected domestic droid review

botvac-connected-reviewI will never have the money, or the need, for a butler or a maid. However, like many of you, finding time to have a quick clean around the home isn’t always possible. Thankfully, the future is here. The arrival of domestic robots happened a few years ago and I have lived with the Neato Botvac Connected for the last week.

I’ve met the Neato Botvac Connected a couple of times and its apparent ease of use and clean app, mixed with what seemed to be great performance piqued my interest.

We all know that there are other robo cleaners out there – some are even ridden by cats in shark costumes. Where the likes of the Mi Robot Vacuum and such have gone for the UFO circular form-factor, Neato has gone for the D – so to speak.

The other difference is that the Neato Botvac Connected uses Wi-Fi.

Neato Botvac Connected design

The Neato Botvac Connected is all-black. My other-half was a tad disappointed that it didn’t look “more robot-like”. I think she was hoping for a robot butler who runs through the whole ‘I Want to Break Free’ routine.

The D-shaped domestic droid has a raised circular disc finished in silver on top, which is its ‘eye’. This houses the Botvac’s LaserSmart Mapping and Navigation technology which helps it figure out a methodical way of cleaning the home.

Also up top is a central rectangular lid that hides the 0.7-litre dirt bin. Beneath that is the power button.

The dirt bin is simply lifted up and out in order for it to be emptied and the filter cleaned.

neato-botvac-dirt-binThe Botvac even thanks you when you empty its bin.

The filter that’s also mentioned in the little message above is really easy to remove and there’s a mesh screen that keeps dirt from accumulating on the filter.

Beneath the screen that displays various messages there are navigation buttons around it. There are Up, Down and Back arrows and a long button.

neato-botvac-connected-rugThere’s another two buttons near the flat end. The button on the right with the house starts a full house clean, while the button featuring several small squares performs a spot clean.

botvac-connected-brushesNeato offers a 276mm brush, a spiral blade brush, combo brush, as well as a side brush. My review model has been well used looking at the side brush. Please ignore the hairs – both me and my girlfriend both have long hair and tend to moult.

On the front of the rounded edge of the Botvac Connected is where you’ll find a magnet.

neato-botvac-connected-dockedThis connects the bot to a relatively small docking station. This is the Neato’s home, where it retreats for some r ‘n’ r – that’s rest and recharge. I particularly like the way it wriggles and snuggles in to the docking station. It is a good idea to have the station against the wall as the Botvac likes to get right in there.

Botvac Connected performance

Set up

The Botvac Connected, as has already been mentioned, connects with your Wi-Fi network. It is really easy to set up from the Botvac’s on-board display and menu.

Once that has been done you can then control your trundling servant from the free app.

You will also get notifications from your dom droid via this app too.

Clean up

There are three main cleaning modes: house clean, spot clean and manual clean.

House clean and spot clean offer eco and turbo modes. As you might expect, turbo is a more thorough clean, while eco is quieter and will prolong the battery.

When performing a house clean, the Botvac Connected will scan and analyse the area surrounding it using that Botvision laser navigation technology. As it’s not actually looking, as such, you can run the vac in the dark.

neato-botvac-connected-dirt-box-openOnce the room is scanned and an efficient path planned, the Botvac Connected will clean in 15 x 15-inch square segments.

If the area is smaller than 15 x 15-inches, the Botvac Connected will complete the area in one go. Larger areas will be divided up and get cleaned one after the other. Each segment is cleaned in a straight-line back and forth pattern. Kinda like a good lawn.

If it sets off before a full recharge, or if it bites off more than it can chew, and runs out of juice mid way, the Botvac Connected uses what Neato calls SLAM technology. This enables it to work out where it has and hasn’t cleaned, and so will return to where it stopped cleaning once its had a quick nap.

For spot clean, the Botvac Connected comes off the docking base and turns right. It will perform a boundary clean of either a small spot size, which is the equivalent of 6.5- x 6.5-feet, or a large spot clean, which equals 13- x 13-feet.

botvac-spot-cleanThe large spot clean can only be set through the app rather than on the robot itself.

Following the boundary cleaning, the Botvac Connected will perform the inside of the target area in the same straight line pattern as the house clean.

Set controls to manual or schedule

If you want to guide the Botvac like a radio-controlled car, then Manual Clean is what you need.

This allows you to control the cleaning path of the robot using the app.

botvac-controlThrough this you can make the robot go forwards, backwards, or turn in an anti-clockwise or clockwise circle.

Scheduled cleaning is another feature. As you’ve already guessed, this has you setting times and days for the Botvac Connected to perform a cleaning routine.

Botvac Connected in use

I have a trusty Dyson that I bought reconditioned and it has been excellent. That vacuum owes me nothing after at least 10 year’s service. I gave my home a tidy only a couple of days before the Botvac arrived.

I set my domestic help off and it came back smugly carrying bits in its dirt tray.

neato-botvac-connected-between-two-rugsNot only is it powerful and thorough, it handles my mixture of laminate flooring and different rugs. I even left the kitchen door open and it handled the anti-slip finish in there without issue.

I did test it upstairs, keeping an eye on it, and it recognised the top of the stairs so I didn’t have to catch it. But, I would not recommend this.

It is much safer to use the boundary markers. These black markers are about an inch wide and can be placed around anything you want the Botvac Connected to avoid – an expensive vase or the top of stairs.

There was one morning where it was asking for help. I heard its pitiful pinging from downstairs when I got out of the shower. Looking at the app it was asking for its brushes to be cleaned. I went downstairs to find it entangled with a lacy scarf. Bless it.

botvac-put-downOh, it doesn’t like being picked up, even though it has an integral handle at the back.

All the nooks and crannies

Neato says the Botvac Connected can get within 14mm of the wall thanks to the CornerClever technology too. I am inclined to believe them.

True, I lift my dining chairs and footstools out of the way the night before the morning clean but, apart from that, it does a great job. It manages to get in all the places it can, floorstanding speakers and other bits aside.

I will say that it did find and deal with the majority of corner fluff without a problem.

It is almost hypnotic to watch, especially when it rears up to get out of tight situations. Botvac will ask for help by pinging you a “Help, I’m stuck” message. It can motor over the thresholds between rooms no problem.

I was kind of hoping to be able to control it manually from the office using the app and my security camera. Unfortunately, the manual mode only works when you’re at home on the same Wi-Fi.

Oh, and it has to be the same connection. If you are running a multi-band network you have to be on the same. I have the Botvac on the 2.4GHz band but my phone goes for the 5GHz first so I have to switch it to the 2.4 band to control the Connected.

Eco mode

The Eco mode is a little quieter and the clean is still pretty good. It did last longer before recharges but, as I usually had the Botvac Connected working when I was in the shower or scheduled to clean before I got home, the noise wasn’t really an issue.

On the subject of volume, you couldn’t really have it in Turbo mode and watch the telly or have music on at a moderate level. But it does clean darn good.

Botvac Connected review conclusion

OK, so it can’t do the stairs or move furniture out of the way. But neither can Daleks and they’re the most feared of all the robots!

The Neato Botvac Connected is an impressive bit of kit. The downstairs of my home has never looked so immaculate thanks to my automated home help having a whiz around every other morning.

I will still have to bring out the big guns to get behind my speakers and the sofa, but anyone dropping by unannounced will just see a well kept floor.

The Botvac only got caught up once and since then I’ve made sure there’s nothing left out to choke on.

The app is great and really intuitive to use. The ability to control the Botvac manually from the office if it got stuck would be nice, but that’s not a deal breaker.

The Botvac Connected is great addition to the home. Yes, I have started talking to it. I see it as more a part of the family rather than a live-in servant.

Oh, I think there could be a market for Botvac stickers – eyes, a smile, perhaps a BB8-style kit. Just an idea.

Botvac Connected price and availability

You can get your own domestic droid like this right now. The RRP is £679.99 on the Neato website.

It is available for £520 on Amazon at the moment. Neato does have other Botvacs, including two new ones at a more pocket-friendly price.

I hope to be reviewing one or both very soon, so stay tuned!

gb-sponsor

Damson S-Series soundbar preview
Tech Addicts Podcast #10: Note 7 is hotter than iPhone 7