Should I get a Roomba or Botvac? A typical dilemma when you embark on your journey to buy a robot vacuum cleaner. iRobot’s Roomba and Neato’s Botvacs, are familiar household names and offer a very versatile range of robot vacuums catering right from the value-for-money economy consumer to mid-range and features loaded high-end consumer.
The article here draws a comparison between products on offer by iRobot and Neato across customer segments. In the economy segment, the models for comparison are Roomba 614, Roomba 690 and Botvac D80 and Botvac D3. The models competing for the mid-price range consumer segment are Neato Botvac D5 and Roomba 800 series. For comparison, we are taking Roomba 890. The high-end models under consideration are Neato Botvac D7 and Roomba 960 and Roomba 980.
We have tried to keep it simple and structured, capturing the elements that matter while making the purchase decision.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Differences between Neato and Roomba
- 2 Key points of Comparison for various models
- 3 Economic Segment
- 4 Mid-range Segment
- 5 High-end Segment
- 6 Conclusion – User buying guide
Key Differences between Neato and Roomba
D-shape vs Circular Design
Both Neato and Roomba offer modern sleek designs, however, the key difference comes when the shape is considered. Roomba has a circular design while Neato offers D-shape design with circular back and square front. The D-shape offers more cornering ability than Roomba, while Roomba benefits from ease of switching directions due to circular design.
Cleaning strength- Suction vs Persistent passing
Both Neato and Roomba offer excellent cleaning experience. While Neato relies on the high suction power offered, Roomba imitates the traditional vacuum cleaner by passing over sections repeatedly to ensure they are cleaned, the persistent passing technology. The higher suction brings more noise to Neato models.
The boundary markers: Go-No Go lines vs Virtual Walls
The Neato comes with magnetic marker strips to delineate “no-go” zones in your house. Roomba excels in this field with Virtual Wall offering. It emits an invisible beam that tells the Roomba not to clean certain areas. The beam can cover up to fourteen feet of open space
Roombas with rubber rollers (800 series and 900 series) are easy to maintain. Hair rarely gets tangled in the rollers, and when they do, it is a trivial task to pull out. Neato rotating brushes are a pain to clean hair out of.
Key points of Comparison for various models
In the Box
This section details on the item list from manufacturer, accessories and freebies like extra filter, virtual wall, cleaning tool. The catch here is the lesser the assembly requirement, easier it is to use. Additional filter, virtual wall and cleaning tools save some money.
While price plays the constraint, all we care about technical features is eventually performance that settles down to how efficient is the cleaning process, type of dirt and dust taken care of (fine particles, carpets, pet hair), time taken, bin capacity, battery life and response to obstacles.
|Cleaning Mechanism||It is the technology that robot vacuums employ while cleaning. The typical mechanisms are- random cleaning paths and purpose built linear cleaning paths with latter being more efficient. Cleaning results obtained are the same.|
|Connectivity||This feature is important for ease of usage and compatibility over different frequency wi-fi networks. Most robotic vacuums offer 2.5Ghz wi-fi connectivity, some offer 5Ghz also.|
|Fit for (Surfaces, type of dirt/dust)||Typical usage is dirt, dust, hair removal from flat surfaces, hard woods and carpets. The carpet may be detected as obstruction at times leaving inefficient cleaning.|
|Battery Life||The better the battery life, the more is ease of usage. There are auto-charging options when the robot vacuums plugs on its own when low battery and resumes.|
For same mAh levels, the battery life is lesser with carpets than with hardwood.
|Bin Size||With size of house, bin size becomes a key determinant.|
|Boundary Detection||This is helpful if you need to confine your robo vacuum to certain areas. There are virtual walls (Roomba) or boundary markers (Neato) available. BE CAREFUL, the models may be compatible, but accessory may not be available in box, needs to be bought separately, meaning additional dollars.|
|Scheduling||Scheduling option is a smart functionality that robot vacuums offer, where one can schedule for 7 days a week cleaning routine.|
Also, there are floor mapping facilities.
|Smart Connect & Analytics||This deal in connection through mobile application or voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google assist.|
Higher end versions store history of various cleaning sessions and give basic analytics.
|Noise||A noise level <70Db is good to go.|
Here, we have tried to draw from experiences of customers through retail, e-commerce feedback and video reviews. This section speaks for how the models perform against the technical claims.
Considering the above three criterion, we suggest the go-to model for the category. The requirement/use case takes a precedence and we focus on features required by the customer segment.
The segment offers most affordable automatic home cleaning solution in price range US$250-US$399. We have here Roomba 614 priced approximately US$250, Roomba 690 at ~US$300 , Botvac D80 ranging US$320-350 and Botvac D3 ~US$400.
In the Box
|Roomba 614||Roomba 690||Botvac D80||Botvac D3|
|Robot Vacuum||Robot Vacuum||Robot Vacuum Installed||Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum|
|Home Base® Charging Station||Home Base® Charging Station||Integrated Charge Base||Integrated Charge Base|
|Line cord||Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier with two AA batteries||Combo Brush, Side Brush||Combo Brush|
|1 Extra Filter||Line cord||Power Cord||Power Cord|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Extra AeroVac filter||High Performance Filter + 1 Extra||Standard Filter|
|User Guide||Flat cleaning tool||Cleaning Tool, and Boundary Markers||–|
|–||User Guide||Spiral Blade Brush||–|
From connectivity point of view Roomba 690 and Botvac D3 both support wi-fi and can be operated through their respective mobile apps iRobot HOME App and Neato Smartlife. Also, voice control options are available for all models except Roomba 614.
Each of the models claims to clean dirt, dust, carpet. Neato Botvacs are more efficient when it comes to cleaning the carpets as Roomba at times considers dark coloured carpets as obstructions.
From battery life perspective, Roomba 690 does a good job with 3000mAh Li-Ni battery, taking lesser charging time and 60 mins run cycle.
Roomba 614 is very basic with no full bin detection facility, rest of the models do offer this feature. Neato offers larger bin capacity making it a better option when it’s too dirty.
Virtual wall is offered only with Roomba 690. Botvac D3 is compatible with boundary markers, however, it is a separate investment.
Scheduling option is available with all the models except for Roomba 614.
From noise point of view, Botvac D3 is the quietest, however all the models lie within acceptable residential noise levels.
Roomba 614 is a good the entry level model offering the automation, removing the bells and whistles. What goes against it is the wi-fi connectivity which somehow affects the ease of usage and is not a great option if you have certain allergies. The filter is a standard Aerovac filter.
Roomba 690 has been appreciated for the features available at entry level robot vacuum and has had very low return rate over e-commerce.
Botvacs get appreciation for the embedded software, D-shape leading to effective cleaning and laser guided cleaning mechanism. However, there have been issues with laser guided systems getting stuck or trying to climb up a recliner, also the “Brush is stuck” seems to be a common error with D80.
The balance seems very much in favour of Roomba 690 considering the price point, cleaning efficiency, connectivity, voice control, scheduling and add ons such as virtual wall and customer response. Roomba 614 can be safely avoided, for an investment of $50-$100 brings much more home. The next best choice would be Botvac D3.
The two models here Roomba 890 for ~ US$450 and Botvac D5 for ~US$ 500 are competing for the mid-range customers.
In the Box
|Roomba 890||Botvac D5|
|Robot Vacuum||Robot Vacuum Installed|
|Home Base® Charging Station||Integrated Charge Base|
|Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier with two AA batteries||Combo Brush, Side Brush|
|Line cord||Power Cord|
|Ultra-performance (HEPA) filters||High Performance Filter + 1 Extra|
|Flat cleaning tool||Cleaning Tool, and Boundary Markers (separate)|
Roomba 890 scores 3.9/5.0 on customer satisfaction and Botvac D5 scores slightly higher on customer reviews with 4.0/5.0 score. Most praises come from the D-shape, spotless cleaning and cleaning the black coloured carpets where Roomba seemed to struggle. It also remains Amazon’s choice product.
Botvac D5 wins the category by a thin margin.
The models competing for high-end consumer segment are Neato Botvac D7 and Roomba 900 series. For comparison, we are taking Roomba 960 and Roomba 980. The prices range from US$600-800.
In the Box
|Roomba 960||Roomba 980||Botvac D7|
|Robot Vacuum||Robot Vacuum||Robot Vacuum Installed|
|Home Base® Charging Station||Home Base® Charging Station||Integrated Charge Base|
|Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier with two AA batteries||Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier with two AA batteries||Combo Brush, Side Brush|
|Line cord||Line cord||Power Cord|
|Ultra-performance (HEPA) filters||Ultra-performance (HEPA) filters||High Performance Filter + 1 Extra|
|Extra side brush||Flat cleaning tool||Cleaning Tool, and Boundary Markers|
|User Guide||User Guide||Spiral Blade Brush|
Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 rank high on customer satisfaction. The technical features such as carpet boost and learning system have been applauded most, battery life seems to have taken some criticism. Botvac D7 recently made entry in Mar’18. There seem to be some teething issues with Go-No Go lines operations and one floor plan mapping at a time might not be in best interest of multi-storeyed houses.
The competition here is getting tough and Roomba 980 as well as Botvac D7 connected seem proxies very much for each other. Considering all features alike, Roomba 900 series has been in market for a while and might be the product of choice.
Conclusion – User buying guide
Both the brands have their own merits and de-merits. While Neato benefits from a guided cleaning mechanism even in lower end botvacs, higher suction power; Roomba have good battery life, are easy to use and maintain.
As a buyer keeping your budgetary constraints in mind, below are point you need to assess:
How big is your house?
The bigger the house, the bin capacity and battery life need to be higher.
The Surface variations
If you move from hardwood to carpet, high end Botvacs and Roomba do those adjustmen
ts faster than an entry level. If you have only flat surface with no carpets, you might be happy with an entry level robot vacuum.
Do you have allergies?
This decides your filter quality, no less than a HEPA filter would serve your needs, entry level goes out of question.
How tech savvy you are?
How much does wi-fi connectivity matter to you? Does a cleaning help you optimize some variable or it’s just a good to have feature?
One needs to carefully examine the smart features and the cost-benefit involved.