Everywhere you look in the tech sector right now complaints are building that we are in a period of evolution not revolution, nothing really excites us anymore. Arguably the same can be said of the new Neato 'XV-25' robot vacuum, a follow up to the Neato XV-15, but - much as the iPhone 3G was to the original iPhone - it feels like the mass market realisation of a revolutionary initial breakthrough.
Neato XV-25 Design
None of which you'll expect when you take the Neato XV-25 (called the XV-21 in the US) out the box. The Neato XV-25 is the spitting image of the XV-15. It retains the ingenious arch shape (the corners are for corners, the curves allow it to turn anywhere) and the build materials are still a little cheap looking with a fetish for plastics and two tone colour finishes. It looks like a Super Nintendo was squashed under the heel of a giant horse.
This is a problem. Compared to the slick lines and finish of the iRobot Roomba 780, for example, the Neato XV-25 looks like the brandless knock-off you'd find in an unwanted catalogue dropped through your mailbox. When you get to the technology inside, however, this is a huge disservice. The same can be said of the charger which, while conveniently flat for positioning against a wall, is essentially a hollow plastic shell which houses a power brick.
There are things to like, however: the inclusion of an LCD display makes programming daily and weekly cleaning schedules a doddle – especially compared to the Roomba range which mysteriously continues to ignore them – and removing dirt is simple: just pull out the collection box (indicated by the red handle). At 33 x 32.7 x 10.1cm the Neato XV-25 is also fairly compact, though it is heavy at 5.9Kg – something you'll notice when it runs over hard floors.
Neato XV-25 Features
Love or hate the look of the Neato XV-25, however, what has come to define Neato's robot vacuums (and redefine them in the sector) is how they go about their business. Neato was only formed back in 2009 and didn't release its first product until 2010, but what got investors hot under the collar was the SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology at their heart. Unlike so-called 'bump bots' which seem to take an almost random approach to cleaning, SLAM robot vacuums calculate their every move.
What SLAM does is build maps of an environment while simultaneously keeping track of its location within them. The theory is it almost never needs to bump into any surface and it will clean logically: first by tracing the corners, then cleaning the rest of the room in long strips. The whole approach is somewhat akin to how a farmer ploughs a field.