The Neato Botvac Connected behaved like a mini tank as it conquered almost every obstacle to keep vacuuming during our testing, and it moved quickly. It was like watching an Olympic athlete perform after amateur hour. We had seen so many vacuums get stuck and shut themselves off or fail to pick up much of anything, even when they were in motion. The Botvac Connected picked up a lot from our test floors. There were a few that picked up a little more this round but it is still competitive for suction and basically unbeatable for movement. It's even pretty easy to use. Really the only obstacle it could not overcome is price. Not everyone wants to pay $500 for a vacuum cleaner.
The Botvac Connected was good at getting around obstacles and great for overall suction. It did well on our hard floor tests. It was fast to scoop up the Cheerios, kitty litter and pet hair that we sprinkled in its path in our laboratory. In our home tests, its bin was absolutely full at the end of its run. We did not see that with all other vacuums.
There was only one competitor better at getting around obstacles than this unit. The Botvac Connected was almost unstoppable. It conquered over an inch-high transition from tile to wood floors in my house gracefully. Most of the competing units did not conquer that threshold at all, let alone gracefully. A few got over it after multiple attempts. This one was also more graceful when nearing obstacles. Other vacuums would run into them at full speed and then correct, but the Neato would sense something in its way and glide around it. Its height is one of its only flaws. The shorter machines could get under a low-slung wooden chest in my house that the Botvac was too tall for.
The Botvac Connected struggled some on carpeting, though, and at one point got stuck by a pair of sneakers in its path, stuck enough that it never found an alternate route and shut itself off. That was a little disappointing, especially since other vacuums seemed unfazed by that obstacle. It was mostly amazing in how it maneuvered around my house, though. It was way better than most of the other units in our robot vacuum comparison, which were constantly getting stuck and requiring human help to get started again.
This machine was easy to use in all of the important ways. A little digital screen on the top lets you read all of the information easily, and it makes sounds to indicate when it needs attention – emptying or charging. You can control this robot vacuum from an app on your phone if you prefer, but you can also use it offline with just the buttons on top.
This robot vacuum was pretty loud. There was only one louder. However, there are ways to get around the noise if it bothers you. There is a quieter, eco-friendly mode that applies a little less suction and moves a little more slowly. Also, this one is self-sufficient enough to run unattended in most environments, so you may not even be around to notice it noisily cleaning up. If you have a little clutter you may want to stick around as it works, and it’s best to set it to the eco-friendly mode so you can hear yourself think but still help it if it gets stuck.
It has a carry handle, which mattered often during testing as we carried vacuums back to their charging bases. Surprisingly few had an integrated handle. This robot vacuum was great at running itself and avoiding obstacles for the most part, but the handle was still nice for the few times it was needed for repositioning, or if you need to take it up and down stairs.
This unit is relatively large and heavy compared to the rest of our most recently-tested vacuums. It packs a lot of cleaning power, though. It was also one of the easiest ones for all the maintenance tasks. It took very little time to empty the bin and clean the filter and brushes.
A good robotic vacuum is one you do not have to babysit constantly, and the Neato Botvac Connected was impressively self-sufficient in our tests. It is also expensive, heavy and noisy, by comparison. But the Neato Botvac Connected has all the best qualities and capabilities, including the two most important – great suction and self-sufficiency. You buy a robot vacuum so that some cleaning tasks can be taken off your to-do list. This one is up to that challenge.