Review: Neato Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

 This was first seen by the Digital Lifestyle team at CES in January and we have been eagerly awaiting its arrival in the UK.

It is different from other Robotic Vacuum Cleaners tested so far as it does not seem to bump into furniture as it cleans its way round.

The Neato can be set up on a schedule or you can spot clean or just send it off to clean.

It does seem to have better sensors than some devices tested so far and has a better way of getting itself out of tight spaces by using its wheels to lift itself.

When you first start it off it has to be said it sounds like a plane about to take off as it ramps up its suction. So I won’t say it is quiet.

The shape is not the conventional round shape but more like a U shape. The interesting thing is that it does not dock with the flat end to the dock but using the round end which means it does take more floor space. The docking is using a flat dock unlike the other Vacuum Cleaners and it simply has to make contact with the two metal stripes. In a way I suspect that may make it easier to dock.

It is fussy about docking though and wants a clear 3 feet in front of the dock and this may be difficult in smaller rooms or ones cluttered with furniture.

It is interesting to watch the way that it “nibbles” its way around obstacles rather than bashing into them.

It seems to start at the edge of a room and work its way in. However I do think that it would benefit from an adjustment to actually get all the dirt from the edges. I watched it go along the plinth in the kitchen floor and the crumbs by the plinth were still there after it had gone along.

That said I have to say that it is better at negotiating electric storage heaters that other Vacuum Cleaners have been known to damage their top on or damage the sensor. Instead of going under and damaging itself it went carefully along the edge.

The Neato does not come with the virtual walls that many come with but a like bendy portable wall. So it is good that it does not need power but you may have to move if you have obstacles.

Always a good test for these Vacuum Cleaners  is modern living with wires and chargers all over the place so it of course had to be tested but I’m afraid like all the others it will eat cables so put the wall down.

The spot clean while a good idea I found a bit frustrating as I put the machine exactly where I wanted it to clean but off it went and cleaned about a metre away from where I started it and it did not return to the spot I put it on. I tried it three times so it might be a case of putting it to the left of where you actually want it to clean. I think the spot cleaning feature would benefit from a tightening of the zone that it spot cleans in.

It is however better at handling spots where the other would declare they are stuck. It simply lifts the wheels and manages to manoeuvre out of those spaces. Even a chair with a raised base did not trap it unlike the other robotic Vacuums that tend to get stuck. It could clearly be hears that it was lifting on its wheels to escape but that said it did.

The Neato does not come with a remote control but you can schedule it to clean and once you have set the date and time you go and set up your schedule. This is pretty simple with a menu just consisting of the following buttons

  • Select
  • Up
  • Down
  • Back

I had no trouble doing this and no degree in computer science needed.

All in all an excellent device with a few minor foibles and the first major competitor we have seen for the iRobot.

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