Our family lives a dirty, messy life. We travel a ton, bringing all sorts of sand and grime home. Our suitcases usually land on a dusty floor in the bedroom before we run around dealing with chickens, sheep, goats, dogs and cats. This particular Neato Botvac review is definitely putting the vacuum through its paces. Grime is next-level around here, along with Cheerios, LEGOs and a whole manner of other random trinkets that wind up under our feet. If anything were to break this piece of glorious technology, it would be us.
We've experienced a couple different robot vacuums before this: an old Neato that I bought refurbished, and a newer competitor that runs circles around Oma and Opa's house.
Sometimes, the competitor runs TOO many circles. Its high-tech controls are finicky, and that vacuum has taken to weirdly chasing the cats around the house.
When our Neato bit the dust after several years of diligent service, we knew without a doubt that we wanted to stick with the Neato brand instead of the other, due to its straightforward handling and rugged functionality. When we reached out and the brand offered to send us the latest-and-greatest Neato Botvac D7 Connected with fancy-schmancy WiFi control, I was actually afraid that they may have screwed up a great thing by adding too many bells and whistles.
And then we got the Neato Botvac in our home, and it fit right in. Like a trusty, familiar friend. Here are the latest-and-greatest controls that make the Neato Botvac the best choice for a busy family.
The Front Lines of our Neato Botvac Review
We plugged our little vacuum friend in and promptly named him Ned. I have no idea why, that's just what happened. The charging station is supposed to have roughly three feet of clear space in front of it and on either side. We tried plugging it in right next to the trash can and found that it did, in fact, have trouble locating the base after cleaning. Word to the wise: manufacturer's instructions are there for a reason.
I overcame my initial skepticism and pulled up the Neato app on my phone. It prompted me to run a special initial cleaning to create a floorplan that could be used to map out future cleaning schedules.
That meant I had to go around and pick up the whole house.
I just wanted to vacuum the dang kitchen and take a nap. But I sucked it up (hahaha) and collected all my kids' tidbits. An hour later, my phone was displaying a nifty digital layout of my house.
Okay, that's pretty dang cool. I also found a ton of options for setting up cleaning timers and preferences. I scheduled a daily cleaning on Eco mode at 5:45am.
I'm a fairly light sleeper, and I found that Turbo mode was loud enough to jolt me out of a dream state, whereas Eco was a soft droning sound that I could sleep through if I was really out. When I'm not really out, it's actually a gentle way to wake up.
With my initial skepticism about the app quickly resolved, I took some time to play around with its features. It let me draw lines to assign “Zones” to various spaces around my house so I can clean any given space on demand.
Even better still, I can assign No-Go Lines so the Neato Botvac will avoid specific areas altogether. Like the fireplace, which has legs that get hot enough to totally melt a robot vacuum that inadvertently runs into it.
Not that this has ever happened in our house.
Okay, fine, that's what caused our last one to die.
Other robot vacuums have magnetic strips that can be put down to keep the unit from navigating into any given space. This one comes with that, too, but parents obviously know that those strips will get immediately hijacked by rogue preschoolers.
Any Neato Botvac review would be incomplete without a discussion on navigation. This thing cleans in an orderly, sane manner that makes my Type A spirit happy. I've watched competitor robot vacuums hop, skip and spazz their way through a room at a dizzying, confusing pace. Not the Neato Botvac. This hyper-organized little machine makes a digital grid of each room and zooms back-and-forth in wonderful, straight lines that leave the perfect “just vacuumed” look on carpet instead of a “technology went haywire here” pattern. I love it.
It handles all the debris that my family leave out, cautiously steering clear of things like the Bounce Bands on their play chairs. One of the kids accidentally broke a glass right in front of the Neato Botvac and it actually swept up the little shards without batting an eye.
The two places where the Neato Botvac has gotten tripped up is on extension cords that we've left out, and on the wooden chair to the left here. It can handle the angled chair legs to the right, but the straight up-and-down legs with exactly 14″ between them is the exact perfect amount of space for Neato to get in, get confused, and get trapped. Neato communicates the issue by beeping and sending an, “I'm having trouble” SOS message in the app. I fix both issues by turning on Gentle Navigation, providing a bigger buffer around furniture. Problem solved.
Mechanics and Care
Back to what initially drew me to Neato in the first place: the rugged technology that just doesn't quit. I'm not super-technical, but when my previous refurbished model needed a battery replacement, a customer service rep talked me through unscrewing a couple things and getting that taken care of. Not all gadgets – or companies – are so accommodating.
The nuts and bolts of the Neato Botvac are easy to navigate, leaving me feeling super-capable of caring for my own robovacuum needs. It automatically cleans my house and I'm left to simply open a little trap door and ditch the dirt.
Inside the Neato Botvac, a simple sticker explains replacement timelines for filters and brushes.
Excuse the dust, we've been clearly using the heck out of this thing!
On the underside, another sticker explains how to remove and clean the brushes.
It's an easy couple of clicks, just in case the vacuum gets stuck on some big chunk of…something.
Because when you live on a farm, life gets messy.
And you need technology that can keep up.
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