Last year we took the Neato Botvac Connected for a spin. Since then Neato has released a few more in the range. The latest Botvac to join the family is the D7. However, we have been putting the D3 through its paces.
The Neato Botvac D3 Connected sports Wi-Fi connectivity, laser mapping and even links to your Amazon Echo.
I’ll start this review by recalling a conversation my wife and I had after writing my previous review for GadgetyNews, “why don’t you ever bring home something that’s useful?” she said. “Why is it always tech?” she asked. My internal response was “duh! It’s GadgetyNews! What do you expect, a mop?!” but obviously for a quiet life, I kept that to myself.
Weeks pass and every Saturday I get, “are you going to help with the house work?” and “hoovering, that’s a man’s job!”. Finally I was presented the opportunity to test a new bit of tech and answer some of those questions, so when I was asked to review the Neato Botvac D3 Connected , I jumped at the chance.
So, how does this domestic droid perform?
Botvac D3 Connected design
It’s not exactly happy and fluffy looking.
The D3 has a wide and flat design. It measures 32 x 34 x 10cm. It’s not tiny, but not massive, either.
The Botvac cleans using a mix of suction and brush power. There are two flavours of brush bar: a spiral rubbery blade and a ‘combo brush’ with tough bristles for tackling pet hair.
The bar is aided by a little spinning brush on one edge. This is to handle border cleaning and generally flick debris into the path of the big brush.
At the top of the device is a little screen for basic interactions. It has touch controls too, these can be used for tweaking settings and to schedule cleaning.
There are also two large physical buttons for rudimentary control: spot cleaning or full home cleaning.
The top is also where you’ll find the the 0.7-litre dust bin, which lifts out easily.
Unboxing and Set-up
Quick and easy! That’s it! You can’t ask for much more than that! Upon opening the box you are greeted with a set of instructions clearly marked Start Here and once you remove the instructions and the protective cardboard, you are at the vacuum. The robot itself does not require any additional set up. The brushes are attached, the filters are in place, everything is good to go. There’s even charge in the batteries.
In the compartment to the robot’s left there is the power cable for the dock and the dock itself. I plug it all in and after a little fiddling the magnets are aligned and Neato shakes it’s ass (I must admit, I love this!) and it’s charging. It was that easy.
Everything so far is easy for anyone, even those who are afraid of technology. I could have given this to my Mum and she would’ve been laughing. That is up until you have to download the app, register an account and sync it up with your WiFi. This was still a very easy process but I could see those who are less tech savvy finding this as a barrier. But hey! We live in a connected world. Get with the program!
I thought I’d start Neato off with an easy test in my kitchen. My kitchen is a relatively square, tiled room with little or no obstructions on the floor. I set Neato off and within 9minutes the cycle was complete. I’ll admit, although 9minutes the clean seemed pretty quick and I was impressed by the results. It got in to the corners and picked up the stubborn little bits that stick between the tiles.
This is where I discovered some limitations, not of Neato but more of my circumstances and how that affects Neato. I have a 13 month old who, as anyone with a 13month old who’s just figured out how to walk will testify, needs to be contained and controlled behind bars! Ok, baby gates. But this causes a problem. Neato can now only clean one room at a time.
This is not a criticism of Neato, more of a frustration on my part that I can’t fully unlock the benefits of robotic cleaning.
Following it’s probation, I decided to let Neato clean un-supervised. I used the app to set up a weekly schedule which was easy to do and quick. I went off to work with Neato scheduled to start his clean at 12:00. 12:09 I get this…
Neato was stranded. Did I rush through its probation? Was this all my fault? I’ve set him up to fail? It turned out that he had mounted my son’s playmat and decided to snack on a In The Night Garden puzzle piece. Or he did a wiggle over Iggle Piggle (if you know, you know!). This was my next learning curve.
After supervising Neato’s next run of the same area I noticed some things, it doesn’t like cluttered floors. Obvious right?! The biggest barrier I found was the dining room table, more specifically the chairs.
Neato spent 20mins alone trying to get out of the oak maze that the chairs had created. From now on I had to make sure the room was clear of any clutter, cables or chair legs. Not idead in a busy house with a kid but once down, it worked like a charm. Great suction and cleaning.
Over the two weeks
After figuring out the best way to utilise Neato, I used it exclusively for two weeks, refusing to get our other vacuum out at all. Yes, I had to move it around a bit due to having two floors and baby gates but I soon had a routine.
During the day I would alternate rooms downstairs to clean while I was at work and in the evening while we were downstairs, it would tackle the upstairs (the time it takes and the noise it makes means its probably best this way). Perfect right? Wrong. This is where my wife pointed out a very valid point…
“What about the stairs?”. True, what about the stairs. The house was spotless apart from the stairs. In addition to the stairs, the wife also started to make a few more observations, some positive, some negative and some in my view pointless.
Negative – Multiple issues with the app synching. Telling me Neato is offline while it’s cleaning, telling me it’s returning to base but never finding it’s way there. Not sure if this an isolated issues on my end but it was a frustration.
Pointless – it left tread marks on the carpet! But it also generated great entertainment for the boy who was either running away from it or storing his toys on it.
I synched the Alexa skill to Neato and although humorous felt pointless. I don’t think I will ever find the need to tell a vacuum to start vacuuming. What would be great here is if you could upload a detailed map of your rooms and tell it to go and clean a specific area following a spill etc. until then voice control is a bit of a gimmick.
Regarding other connected controls the app and the scheduling of the device are massive and integral parts of its functionality.
Neato Botvac D3 Connected review conclusion
In summary, if I had the spare cash burning a hole in my pocket, I probably would buy one but as I don’t I’d very much see this as a luxury item.
Also, as they don’t do stairs I’d probably need one upstairs and downstairs!
Regarding it as a vacuum, It’s not a gimmick as it cleans really well and does a boring chore when you don’t have to. Heck, you don’t even need to be in the house.
I enjoyed my time with Neato and felt that the house was cleaner for it. Which is saying something with a 13month old. We still had to get our vacuum out for a manual clean at the end of the week but it was only really for the stairs, and maybe to get rid of those tread marks my wife hated so much.
Botvac D3 Connected price and availability
You can buy the D3 Connected right now for £450 from Amazon.co.uk.