I’m lazy. There, I said it. Although, I tend to prefer the term my mom uses instead: practical. I’m too practical to spend time on things I don’t enjoy or doesn’t make me money. This means that if I can, in any way, make my life a bit easier by automating these impractical parts of my life I’ll do it. One of those things is cleaning. And what better way to automate cleaning than by having a robot vacuum your floor? However, robot vacuums have built up quite a bad reputation over the years. Why? Because there are just so many and most of them are absolute garbage. So, to save you some time I’ve done some research and found what I believe is the best robot vacuum you can get right now. The Neato Robotics D7.
Specs & Features
For those of you who’ve never heard about or seen a robot vacuum in action let’s go over the basics. A robot vacuum is a vacuum and, unsurprisingly, it vacuums your floor. Tired of the word “vacuum” yet? I know I am. It does this by either randomly bouncing around the room or using a smart navigation system to create a path to follow. After it’s done cleaning it’ll either just die on the spot and you’ll have to put it back on it’s charging station, or it’ll return to it by itself. All you need to do is replace the dustbin once it’s full. Those are the basics.
Onto the Neato Robotics D7 then. Why do I consider this the best robot vacuum? For starters, unlike other robot vacuums on the market, the D7 is shaped like a capital “D” instead of the usual circular shape (hence the “D” in the name). This allows the vacuum to better fit in to corners, eliminating the need of a large side-brush. The rectangular front of the vacuum also allows for wider roller brushes. Needless to say, this improves efficiency by a lot.
The dustbin on the Neato Robotics D7 has a capacity of 700ml (roughly 3 cups) which is the largest dustbin capacity on any robot vacuum I’ve been able to find. This makes it a lot more convenient since you don’t have to empty the bin as often. Adding to the convenience factor, the dustbin is top loaded which makes it much easier to replace compared to the rear or bottom loaded bins on competing products.
Now we’re getting to the cool part. The Neato Robotics D7 is smart. It comes equipped with a LIDAR on top that it not only uses for navigation and obstacle avoidance, but it uses it to make a virtual map of your house. This virtual map is sent to an app that you can get on both Android and iOS devices. The app has a ton of features. Besides allowing you to define rooms (bathroom, living room, bedroom main, bedroom daughter, etc.) it also allows you to create virtual boundaries. Say you have a bunch of wires somewhere on the floor that you don’t want the vacuum to run over or perhaps you have something in a room that could potentially harm the device. With a lot of robot vacuums, you’d need to put up physical boundaries to prevent it from cleaning those areas. The virtual boundaries in the Neato app work exactly the same but is much easier and doesn’t take up any physical space.
Another great feature in the app is zone cleaning. This feature allows you to draw out a zone in the app and the Neato Robotics D7 will rush over to clean that zone up. So, if there’s just a small area that needs cleaning (say you spilled something) then you won’t have to wait for the vacuum to eventually get to it while going through the entire floor.
Using the app and data from previous cleaning sessions the Neato Robotics D7 can determine the most battery- and time efficient way to clean your house. It does this by determining how much time and energy it needs to clean the entire house, then it will only charge as much as is needed to finish cleaning the house. Unlike other robot vacuums on the market that will clean the house until the battery runs low and then fully recharge before continuing, this can add hours to the cleaning process. Some mid- to lower range devices won’t even remember where it has already cleaned after recharging so if it can’t get the entire house in one charge you’re out of luck. This feature is however only useful if you live in a larger house. The Neato Robotics D7 has a 120 minutes runtime before it needs to recharge. That’s quite enough for most apartments. My girlfriend and I live in a 30Sq m apartment so the Neato wouldn’t even need half it’s runtime to fully clean.
My favorite feature in the app is the ability to schedule cleaning. Say you’re at work between 9 AM and 5 PM, then you could just set up your Neato Robotics D7 to clean while you’re gone. Perhaps you only want it to clean certain rooms on certain days, then you can schedule the robot to clean this room on Mondays, that room on Tuesdays, and the entire house on Fridays.
Since the Neato Robotics D7 is compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa the options for you to automate the robot behavior is practically limitless. You could, for example, use one of those sensors that sense when you’ve been out of the house for more than 30 minutes, to tell the robot to turn on and start cleaning since you’re probably at work or school. The only feature that the Neato Robotics D7 is missing is wet mopping capabilities. I, however, don’t think this is a deal break. I’ll touch on why in the next part of this review.
Can a robot vacuum replace a traditional vacuum?
Yes and no. The sad truth is that robot vacuums are… well… robots. They’re little D- or O-shaped robots that lack any form actual thinking and dexterity. That means if your robot misses a spot or needs to clean an area an extra time because it was just that dirty, it won’t. Once it’s done with it’s cleaning program it’ll go back to sleep on its charger until you tell it go again. If there’s a spot that’s blocked off or for some reason unreachable for the robot then it’ll just ignore that spot. It won’t move the objects that are in the way or angle itself in weird ways to fit in like a human would with a normal vacuum. There are also some messes that are too big for a vacuum that you still have to take care of yourself. Some lower end vacuums can’t even deal with carpets (the Neato Robotics D7 handles carpets just fine).
So, robot vacuums are not fitted for deep cleaning your house. However, it will cut down on the amount of times you need to vacuum yourself. You should vacuum your house at least once a week, preferably more, to maintain a good living climate. But you’re not really deep cleaning when doing that, are you? So, instead of vacuuming your floors once or twice a week yourself just make your robot vacuum do it everyday when you’re not home. That way you can cut down on the amount of times that you need to vacuum to once a month or even less.
This is why I don’t think it’s a problem that the Neato Robotics D7 lacks a wet mopping feature; since you still need to tend your floors yourself you might as well mop the floors while you’re at it.
If you are looking to get the best robot vacuum on the market right now, the Neato Robotics D7 is your best bet. The “D”-shaped design gives it a leg up over the competition and it is slam packed with features that’ll make your life easier. It is one of the most expensive robot vacuums you will find but you get what you pay for. If you, like many others, have used a low-end robot vacuum that has a random cleaning pattern, no smart features like making a virtual map of your home, and can’t handle rugs, and have therefore considered robot vacuums useless, you owe it to yourself to give them another chance. Investing in a high-end robot vacuum like the Neato Robotics D7 will change your mind.