Neato Botvac Connected Review
Pros: Great at collecting pet hair, excellent cleaning power
Cons: Pricey, less refined smart functions
Our Analysis and Test Results
This model tied with the Neato Botvac D7 and the Xiaomi Roborock for one of the highest scores that we have seen from these products. The Connected and the Botvac D7 both clean and navigate your home very similarly, though the Connected does a much better job at picking up pet hair. However, the D7 does have a slightly more sophisticated set of smart functions. The Xiaomi does a much better job at navigating your home than either of the Neato robots, but doesn't quite match their cleaning prowess.
To figure out which robot vacuum is really the best of the best, we bought all of the best products on the market today to test side-by-side and compare their performance, rating and scoring how well each one cleaned your home and how much of it each robot covered. We tested each robot in a handful of side-by-side challenges, grouped into six weighted rating metrics, with the results of the Connected described below.
Accounting for the largest portion of the overall score, our Navigation metric is responsible for 30% of the total score. We based the bulk of the score for each robot on how well it handled navigating its way around a furnished room. Additionally, we also took the Connected's docking abilities and how well it handled higher contrast flooring and low furniture into account. Overall, the Connected did reasonably well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its efforts.
The Neato Connected did about average wending its way through our furnished room, handling most of the area without issues. However, it did get a little bogged down in the more confined areas of the room, particularly struggling with the simulated dining room table and chairs. It would get stuck for a bit, but eventually get out. However, it is also a little rough on furniture as it figures out its exit, tending to bump into the chairs quite aggressively.
However, this robot did much better in the other tests in this metric. It headed straight for its dock when sent home regardless if it was in the same room as its charging station, or in a different one.
The Connected easily drove under the lowest furniture in our test, though the sensor was quite close to hitting.
It also handled high contrast flooring with ease, without any false positives from its edge detection sensors.
Following our Navigation metric, our Home Coverage set of tests ranked next in terms of importance, accounting for 20% of the total score. Differing from our Navigation metric, we ranked and scored each robot on how much of your home it actually cleaned, compared to if it successfully avoided becoming stuck. The Botvac Connected does a decent job at cleans most of your home, earning it a 7 out of 10.
We ran each robot in our furnished room again, though this time we noted how much of the floor each product actually cleaned, rather than if it got stuck and how long it took to finish cleaning. The Connected covered most of the room, though it again struggled in the more confined areas, avoiding the tightest areas entirely and doing a relatively poor job of cleaning the other confined areas.
However, the Connected does handle multiple rooms with ease, systematically cleaning room by room. It will also stop and recharge if its battery becomes too depleted while cleaning and will automatically resume cleaning when the battery is sufficiently charged.
This robot also has a decent spot clean function, covering about 56 sq. ft. in the standard setting and 169 sq. ft. in the expanded mode, which can be enabled through the app.
The barrier system to designate no-go zones isn't our favorite, as it relies on a physical strip of magnetic tape, but it is effective.
It is just a little more difficult to set up than the virtual methods, as you actually have to cut and mount it to your floor.
Next, we moved on to ranking and scoring how well the Connected actually cleans, starting with soft flooring. We used a variety of different types of debris to simulate a wide range of typical household messes, as well as scoring how closely each robot cleans along walls and corners. The Connected again gave us another great showing, earning an 8 out of 10 for this metric — one of the top results for the group in this metric, which accounts for 15% of the overall score.
This robot got off to an excellent start in our corners and edges test, leaving a strip only about 1" across around the edges of our testing pen and a small wedge that measured about 1.5" across in the corners.
This robot continued its dominance into our fine particle collection test, cleaning up practically all of the flour that we left out and successfully getting it into the collection bin, rather than tracking it around.
The Connected continued to deliver a top-notch performance in our medium particle collection assessments, leaving only a minuscule amount of oats and rice behind on the flat carpet. It also collected all of the oats from the fluffier, medium-pile carpet, but it did leave a few residual grains of rice behind in the fluffier carpet — about 5.
The performance dropped a little in our final test — mini-wheat collection, but still did above average overall. It missed a single mini-wheat on the flat carpet and two on the fluffier carpet, mainly based if the mini-wheat bounced off the bar in the front of the robot, rather than passing underneath.
Hard Surface Cleaning
The set of tests that comprise our Hard Surface Cleaning metric also are responsible for 15% of the overall score for the final score. The Botvac Connected again did an exceptional job, earning another 8 out of 10 for its performance. We repeated all of our carpet cleaning tests for this metric, but used a section of hardwood floor for these tests, rather than the carpet.
The Botvac Connected performed about the same in the edges and corners test, again leaving a residual strip of debris about 1" across along the edges of the testing enclosure and wedges that measured 1.5" at their widest in the corners.
This robot didn't do quite as well at cleaning up flour on the hard floor as it did on the carpet, but still did a reasonably acceptable job, even though it did leave a noticeable amount of residual flour and squeegeed it around a bit.
The performance rebounded in our rice and oats collection tests, delivering an essentially flawless performance, easily collecting all of the oats and only missing a grain or two of rice that were flung away by the rotating brush.
The Connected finished out with a strong performance in the last test, only missing a single mini-wheat, which it chose to push around rather than actually pick up.
For our next test — pet hair collections — the Botvac Connected absolutely floored us, delivering one of the best overall performances of the entire group. This robot earned an exceptional 7 out of 10 for its performance in this metric, worth 10% of its overall score, getting much more hair out of the carpet than many of the other robots.
We spread some pet hair donated by our local groomer on a section of flat and fluffy carpet, then scored each robot on the percentage of hair that it picked up. This is a difficult test for these products, with no model doing incredibly well, but the Connected still got about 39% on the fluffy carpet and 37% on the flat carpet.
For the last 10% of the score for the Connected, we looked at the different smart features available on each robot. The Connected was one of the first robot vacuums to offer network connectivity, but it has since become a little outdated compared to newer models. However, it still earned a 6 out of 10 for its solid performance in this metric.
This model was quite reliable at staying connected to wifi throughout our testing period and can integrate with smart home systems, such as Alexa, Google Home, or IFTTT.
The companion app is reasonably featured, allowing you to adjust the suction, remotely pilot the connected, and view a cleaning map of your home, as well as a few other things. However, you can't draw virtual barriers, like you can with the Neato D7. You can set a schedule for the Connected in the mobile app as well. Additionally, there are also some basic controls on the robot itself, allowing you to set a schedule there as well, initiate a spot clean, or direct the robot home.
While the Connected is a solid robot, it is quite pricey. However, the price may drop in the future as we do expect the Connected to be phased out at some point with the advent of the D7.
While the Connected has been replaced by the D7 as the flagship of the Neato line, it still holds its own and is a solid robot vacuum across the board and is definitely worth considering, especially if you have pet hair to clean up.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer