We tested the Neato XV-15 both in our office and at home and it performed quite flawlessly when it came to navigation. However, it wasn't without issue.
Due to its lack of a long brustled brush to get right into the corners it consistently left a gap of about an inch around an object. This is still sufficient to maintain a mostly-clean carpet throughout the week, allowing you to just have a whip round the corners at the weekend. However, it does highlight how such robot vacuum cleaners still aren't really a replacement for manual ones, a point we'll return to shortly.
Another problem is the rotor, which uses rubber strips rather than bristles. This is fine for most floor surfaces when it comes to picking up loose dirt but it doesn't really agitate the surface of carpet to prize out more stubborn dirt, though in fairness none of these robot vacs are really powerful enough to pick everything up. Our other concern about using rubber, though, is that it could get frayed and torn by rough floor surfaces, potentially shortening the life of the product.
The Neato XV-15 is also a surprisingly noisy machine. It really does sound quite jet engine like with the whooshing noise it creates. Though we don't test sound levels, we're quite sure this was considerably higher than other robot vacs we've tested.
Nonetheless, we're overall very impressed by the Neato XV-15, and it is by far the best robot vac we've yet tested. It picked up a decent amount of dirt and was a cinch to empty when full. In fact our only real concerns would be down to the whole idea of having such a device.
Not only will you also need a manual vacuum for other jobs round the house but you'll need to think of where you're going to be able to conveniently position the vac and its dock so that it's neither in the way all the time or so out the way that you need to reposition it every time you want to use it. Costing around £320, it’s a lot of money for a bit of convenience.
The Neato XV-15 is the best robot vacuum cleaner we've ever tested and is reasonably competitively priced. So if you have a sufficiently flat and open plan house, it's a great convenience tool. However, you will still need a manual vac to finish off the details, so its still an expensive luxury rather than a revolution in household maintenance.