Neato Botvac D4 Connected Review
Pros: Great value, excellent cleaning abilities
Cons: Good, not great at navigating
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
This robot vacuum finished in the upper portion of the group, right behind our trio of top scoring vacuums — the Roomba i7+, the Neato Botvac D7, and the Roborock S5 — and just ahead of the Roomba 960. The D4 has essentially the same navigational skills as the D7, but both of the Neato models are much more likely to get stuck or skip cleaning the more confined areas of your home than either the Roborock or the Roomba i7+. However, the Neato D4 is about the same at cleaning as the i7+ and a bit better than the Roborock, though it can't match the results of the D7, hence the increase in price. The D4 does exceed the performance of both the Roomba models and the Roborock when it comes to collecting pet hair and matched them when it comes to smart features. Finally, the D4 is the clear winner when it comes to price, costing much less than the i7+ with the Clean Base, less than the Roomba 960 or the D7, and a little less than the Roborock.
We have spent the past two and a half years testing the best robotic vacuums, continually refining our testing process and adding in any new and promising products as they have been released. We split our testing process into six weighted rating metrics — Smart Connect, Pet Hair, Hard Surface Cleaning, Carpet Cleaning, Home Coverage, and Navigation — with the results of the D4 compared against its competitors described below.
For our first group of tests, we looked at how well each of these robots can navigate through your house autonomously, as well as how it handled high-contrast transitions on your floor, and if the robot could easily find its dock when sent home. These three tests account for 30% of the overall score for each robot vacuum in our review, with the D4 delivering a fairly good performance, meriting a 6 out of 10.
For our first navigation test, we filled a room with a collection of wireframe furniture that we created and gave each robot three tries to clean it, noting where it got stuck or other areas where it struggled. The D4 did about average, covering most of the room without issue, but routinely getting hung up when trying to clean under the dining room table and chairs.
The D4 would begin to clean under the chairs, then seemingly panic and spin around a few times until it located a suitable exit route, omitting the confined areas around the chairs.
The Neato D4 did quite a bit better in our docking evaluations, heading straight for its base when it was in the same room and doing pretty much the same when it was in a different room, with only the occasional odd turn thrown in as it tried to find its way home.
For our final test of the D4 when it came to navigation, we looked at how the robot handled areas of your floor where the color abruptly transitioned from light to dark. In some robots, this can be an issue, as it can accidentally trigger the edge detection sensors and cause the robot to skip cleaning that area. Luckily, the D4 has no such issue, cleaning our dark area rug on light carpet without any issue whatsoever.
The next round of tests evaluated each vacuum on how much of your home it could effectively clean, not just how well it can navigate around, and constitutes 20% of the final score for each robot. We tested out the multi-room cleaning capabilities of each product, their spot cleaning abilities, the effectiveness of their barrier systems, and how much of a furnished room each one would reliably clean. The Neato D4 again did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10.
The D4 systematically maps your home as it cleans, cleaning multiple rooms with ease and even returning back to its home base to charge and automatically resume cleaning if the battery level becomes too depleted mid-cycle.
Next, we looked at the spot cleaning abilities of this Neato robot vacuum and found them to be quite good. On its default setting, it will clean an area of about 49 sq. ft. You can also set this area to be quite a bit larger — 169 sq. ft. — in the app. We did wish that the D4 would make multiple passes, but you can always initiate the spot cleaning mode twice in a row for heavy messes.
This robot also did very well in our furnished room test, though it was usually hit-or-miss if the robot would venture underneath the chairs to clean, as it will omit cleaning the most cluttered areas. However, you can always cordon off these areas using the D4's very effective barrier system.
You can use a roll of the magnetic tape or you can draw virtual no-go lines in the app after the D4 has mapped your house.
Moving on to how well the Neato D4 cleaned, we started off testing how it did at cleaning both low and medium-pile carpet using a variety of different types of common household messes. Additionally, we also put the D4 in our robot pen to test how well it cleaned along walls and in corners. Altogether, these evaluations account for 15% of the D4's final score. It continued its strong showing, earning another 7 out of 10 in this metric.
The D4 got off to a strong start in our edges and corners test, only leaving a tiny triangle of uncollected coffee grounds measuring about 1.5" at its widest point and a small strip of leftover mess about an inch wide along the walls of our testing pen.
This robot vacuum also delivered a strong showing in our flour collection test, getting up most of the debris, but still did leave a noticeable amount of residue.
It continued its trend in our rice collection challenge, doing exceptionally well on the low-pile carpet and leaving only trace amounts of rice behind. It also did well on the fluffier carpet, but did leave a bit more rice behind — about ⅛ teaspoon behind. It did about the same with the oats and finished out a solid job in our large particle pickup test — mini-wheats.
It only missed a single mini-wheat on the low-pile carpet, but missed two on the fluffier carpet. It seems essentially luck based if the mini-wheat will actually get sucked up or just get pushed around.
Hard Surface Cleaning
We repeated our carpet cleaning tests on a section of hardwood laminate floor for our next metric, which is also worth 15% of the overall score. The Neato D4's performance dropped a bit, earning a 6 out of 10 for its results.
This robot again delivered a great performance in the edges and corner test, only leaving a small strip of leftover debris, but it definitely didn't clean as closely as the other Neato models that have rotating side brush.
However, the D4's performance plummeted in our flour cleaning test, leaving a visible residue across the surface of the hardwood floor and failed to get any of the flour out of the cracks between the boards. Fortunately, it did much better at collecting oats and rice from the hard floors, only leaving some tiny fragments behind in both of these tests.
It also did quite well with our final hard floor cleaning test, collecting 4 out of 6 of the mini-wheats that we laid out.
For our final cleaning test, we tested out how well each robot did at picking up after our furry friends. We used hair donated from a local groomer, spreading a measured amount out on both flat and fluffier carpets, then scored each robot on how much was collected. The D4 delivered a respectable showing, earning a 6 out of 10 in this metric, which is worth 10% of its final score.
This vacuum collected almost 2 of the 5 grams of hair that we spread out on the fluffier carpet, with almost all of it successfully ending up in the collection bin, rather than tangled up around its brush. It did struggle a bit more with the flat carpet, only getting 0.83 grams out of 3.
For the final group of evaluations, we ranked and scored the different smart features and remote access functions of each robot vacuum. This group of tests accounts for the final tenth of the overall score, with the Neato D4 finishing with a strong performance, earning a 7 out of 10.
This robot maintained a reliable network connection throughout the course of our testing, unlike some of the other robots that required frequent resets and forgetting and reconnecting to the network. The D4 can pair with existing smart home setups, like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or IFTTT and has a whole host of remote functions that you can control through its mobile app. You can view the cleaning map of the last time the D4 cleaned, locate the robot, track maintenance tasks, and set up no-go areas for the robot to omit cleaning. This is also how you set up a cleaning schedule for the D4.
In addition to setting your cleaning profile to Eco or Turbo and gentle navigation, you can also start the robot cleaning, start a spot clean, or send it home to charge using the buttons on the robot itself.
The D4 is a fantastic value, earning it the Best Buy Award. While it doesn't have the lowest price of the group, it holds its own against the best of the best and is the least expensive model that doesn't exhibit some serious deficiencies.
If you are shopping on a budget for a new robot vacuum but don't want to make too many concessions in terms of performance, then the Neato D4 should be the first product you consider. It scored above average across the board and only is slightly worse than the top model, but sells for hundreds of dollars less.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer