So what are the caveats? Well for all the sophistication of SLAM the downside is it means the Neato XV-25 doesn't always get into hard to reach nooks and crannies instead preferring to trace an elegant route around them. The 1-inch 'strip' issue we found the Neato XV-15 left around borders is gone, but there are a number of occasions where we feel the XV-25 could do with being more aggressive.
By definition this is a hard line to walk of course, but it is one where the more inelegant approach of deliberately bumping into surfaces as iRobot's iAdapt technology does can have better results. That said SLAM is infinitely easier to live with day-to-day.
Other grumbles? The Neato XV-25 is definitely one of the louder robot vacuums we've used, but the noise is predominantly airflow so it isn't too bad to live with – besides, as we already pointed out, it can be left on its own with confidence. Lastly the magnetic strip used as a barrier to stop the Neato XV-25 from passing through a certain door or beyond a certain section of a room is a bit limited. It's a decent 3m in length, and can be cut to size, but isn't as easy to lay as some rivals which use laser towers to mark out restricted areas. Then again Neato's solution doesn't require batteries.
Neato XV-25 Value
As the little guy operates with smaller volumes Neato does well to stay competitive in terms of pricing. Naturally enough the £429 RRP means the Neato XV-25 is far from an impulse buy, but it is £20 less than the iRobot Roomba 780 which has been our performance benchmark in recent months. Comparing the two we find the 780 to be the more aggressive cleaner, but it does bump into everything all the time. By contrast SLAM makes the Neato XV-25 a better behaved house mate and cleaning performance is still strong. Given neither will completely replace your full size vacuum we are therefore tempted to come down on the side of the newcomer.
Neato XV-25 Verdict
Watching the Neato XV-25 in action is a revelation. It calmly maps out a room, cleans around the borders then vacuums in long, overlapping strips. Very little gets bumped and it can always find its base if in need of a top-up charge before heading out to pick up exactly from where it stopped. The credit for this goes to Neato's SLAM technology. It isn't perfect yet, and can sacrifice thorough cleaning of corners and tight spaces in favour of elegantly gliding past them, but it represents the future of robot vacuums and rivals should be scared. Build materials could be better and pricing remains high (if in line with the competition), but should you have the means we thoroughly recommend picking one up.