A smart and powerful vacuum cleaner that can learn the layout of your home for faster and more accurate cleaning, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is one of the best robot models you can buy.
- Excellent navigation and cleaning performance
- Low profile
- Brilliant connectivity
- Good battery life
- Programmable no-go areas
- No-go areas only active when the app is used
- Large footprint makes narrow gaps hard to navigate
- Default navigation mode can be rough
- Review Price: £799
- Amazon Echo compatibility
- Eco and Turbo modes
- Wi-Fi connectivity and app control
- Integrated filter
- 0.7-litre bin
- IFTTT support
What is the Neato Botvac D7 Connected?
Robot vacuum cleaners are generally considered a smarter way to keep your home dirt-free, but even the best models can find areas of your home tricky to navigate. The Neato Botvac D7 Connected aims to change that. Its smart mapping system will let you plot no-go areas for the cleaner, so it reaches the parts of your home you want clean, while avoiding problem areas.
A decent app, Alexa and Google Home integration round off the package – but note that the robot’s wide body might not make it suitable for all homes.
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Neato Botvac D7 Connected – Design
The Botvac D7 has Neato’s distinctive D-shaped body, which the company says enables the vacuum cleaner to get tighter into corners, unlike your more traditional round cleaners. This robot vacuum cleaner certainly looks like it means business.
It’s a wide cleaner but fairly short (319 x 336 x 100mm). As a result the cleaner will fit beneath some bits of furniture quite easily, but manoeuvring through narrower objects, such as dining chair legs, may prove tricky.
However, such trade-offs are common-place when it comes to robot cleaners. For example, the Dyson Eye 360 is far narrower, so can squeeze between tight gaps, but it’s tall, so won’t fit under a lot of furniture.
On the underside of the Botvac D7 Connected is a rotating combo brush bar, designed to loosen dirt so it can be sucked up and cleaned away. The brush bar has both stiff bristles for pet hair, and a rubber blade for hard floors. The bar runs to the left-hand edge (when looking down from above the cleaner) and sits next to a rotating sweeping brush, which is designed to push dirt into the path of the vacuum for edge cleaning.
On top, there’s a single button: tap it once to start the cleaner to tackle an entire room, or tap twice for a spot clean, where the Botvac D7 Connected will clean a 4 x 6-inch patch.
There’s a handy carry handle on top, but be careful when picking up the vacuum: pull up from the wrong side and you may just dislodge the 0.7-litre bin instead. A switch to keep the bin in place, or putting the carrying handle elsewhere would have been better.
Inside the bin is a Ultra Performance Filter, which captures particles less than 0.3 microns in size. Filters need to be regularly cleaned (a tap into the bin, or a vacuum will do the job), and will need to be replaced every one to two months, depending on usage. A dual pack of filters costs around £24.
Inside the box, you get the chunky charging stand, best placed against a wall, two spare filters and a magnetic strip, which you can use to mark physical no-go areas.
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Neato Botvac D7 Connected – Features
The ‘Connected’ part of the name tells you everything you need to know about this vacuum cleaner. And its best smart are accessed on hooking up the Botvac D7 Connected to your home Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz networks are supported) using the smartphone app (Android and iOS).
As well as being able to set your cleaner off, or configure a schedule, the app adds more advanced features into the mix. The remote control mode is good fun, letting you take control of the vacuum and run it around your home. For picking up a specific bit of dirt it could be handy, but I find it easier to reach for a cordless vacuum cleaner.
There’s also the spot cleaning mode, although from the app you can also pick an enlarged area: 4m x 4m. In a lot of UK houses, that ‘spot’ cleaning mode is likely to cover pretty much an entire room.
Amazon Alexa support is built in, so you can start your Botvac D7 cleaning just by speaking. It’s very handy, particularly if – like me – you choose to store your robot vacuum cleaner under a sofa, out of the way. Google Assistant support is available, too, although you have to add the ability through the Assistant app rather than the Google Home app. That’s a little different to other smart home products, but is more of annoyance in the way that Google works, spreading features out over several apps; Amazon is better, having a single place for Skills across all devices.
Once added, you can start a clean using your phone or Google Home device in much the same way that you can use an Echo. Again, it’s a neat way to start a clean without having to reach for the main Neato app or fumble around for the on-device controls.
It’s great to see IFTTT support, too. The Botvac D7 Connected has no Triggers, but Actions let you start, stop, pause and resume the vacuum cleaner. That means that you can start a clean when you go out (or stop when you get home), or automatically pause the cleaner when you receive an incoming call on your Android phone. This is super-smart and a league or two ahead of what Dyson offers.
But its the new FloorPlanner mapping mode that truly impresses. Once the first clean has been performed, you get a floorplan in your app. To make sure it’s as accurate as possible, I recommend moving furniture that the robot may struggle to navigate.
Mapping your home means that the Botvac D7 can more accurately plan its route, covering your home and picking up dirt faster than other cleaners – particularly against those that use random navigation.
With the floorplan, you can draw no-go areas. This can be useful if you have any delicate furniture you want to protect, or a small step on which the robot could become stuck.
The difficulty with the floorplan is that you can’t see exactly where objects are located, so placing no-go lines is simply a bit of guess work. It’s easy enough to block off a doorway or a rough area of a room, but exact positioning – say, to protect a rug – is a little too hard. Fortunately, some boundary tape is included in the box, allowing you to make finer adjustments.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected – Performance
Neato has some of the best navigation I’ve seen, using a laser to map out rooms even in complete darkness; Dyson’s 360 Eye needs light to see where it’s going. Once the Botvac D7 Connected has taken a few seconds to think, it sets off on its pattern, zooming up and down to cross the space carefully.
It does a great job, too, with its shape allowing it to get right into corners. Our test debris was picked up carefully, with the Botvac D7 making several passes of an area and removing all traces of our spilt flour.
Setting no-go areas worked well, with the vacuum ignoring the problematic location around our fireplace. But, there are some limitations here. First, the vacuum cleaner must start its clean from the charging station, which is understandable, since it needs to know where it is (if you move the base station, you need to re-do the floorplan). Second, the Botvac D7 will only avoid the no-go areas if you start the clean from the app; use the button or Alexa and the cleaner goes everywhere.
Edge performance depends on the space the Botvac D7 has to navigate. Where space is tight, it struggled to get right up to the wall. Given a bit more room, however, and the D7 made a straight run down the edges, sweeping up everything.
Its low profile meant that the D7 Connected could easily get under my sofas. But it did also manage to get itself jammed between a pair of dining room chair legs, in-elegantly ramming itself free.
Navigation through our home was excellent, with the Botvac D7 Connected working around steps without falling off, and moving from hard floor to short-pile carpet easily. The Dyson 360 Eye can power through thicker rugs and carpets, thanks to its tank tracks, however.
If there’s one criticism of the Botvac vacuum, it’s that the default navigation mode is a little aggressive – the Botvac D7 actually lifted itself off the ground as it made contact with furniture and the walls. Fortunately, there’s an Extra Care mode, which moves the robot at a slower speed – handy, if you have delicate furniture or objects that you don’t want knocked over.
There are two power modes on this cleaner: Eco and Turbo. Eco mode gives around 120 minutes of run-time and is suitable for light spillages, particularly on hard floors. If you have pets and a lot of carpets, the Turbo mode (around 90 minutes of run-time) is the best bet to pick up grime.
If the Botvac D7 Connected can’t finish the clean on a single charge, it makes its way back to its dock, tops up the battery and continues when it’s charged. The battery takes two to three hours to fully charge from flat.
I measured the Botvac D7’s noise levels at around 67dB for the Eco mode and 71dB for Turbo mode. In both cases, noise isn’t too intrusive or annoying.
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Why buy the Neato Botvac D7 Connected?
For keeping your house clean automatically, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is a top choice, doing a great job on my floors and picking up most dirt. The smart no-go areas could clinch it for some, while the intelligent mapping means the vacuum makes sensible and quick navigation choices to clean efficiently.
If the advanced mapping and no-go areas aren’t of interest, you can buy the similar Neato Botvac Connected for slightly less. The nearest rival is the Dyson 360 Eye, which is slightly more nimble and powerful on carpets, although it has fewer smart connection options and may not fit under all sofas.
For homes with predominantly short-pile carpet and hard floors, however, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is an excellent choice.
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