Neato Botvac D7 Connected Review
Pros: Fantastic at cleaning hard and soft floors, packed with smart features
Cons: Pricey, struggles at navigating in confined places, little rough on furniture
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The D7 Botvac Connected tied with two other vacuums, the Roborock S5 and its predecessor, the original Neato Botvac Connected. The pair of Neato robots navigate and clean almost identically, though the set of smart connected features on the D7 are much more comprehensive. However, the Connected does have a slight edge at cleaning up pet hair over the D7. The Roborock matches the performance of the D7 in terms of smart functions and navigates much better, but is far inferior in terms of actual cleaning power, leaving much more residual debris behind.
To determine which robot vacuums reigned supreme and are truly deserving of awards, we bought all of the top products on the market and tested them against each other in a series of side-by-side tests. We grouped these tests into six weighted rating metrics, with the results of the D7 outlined below.
Responsible for the largest part of the overall score for each product, our Navigation metric is responsible for 30% of the overall score for each robot. We tasked each robot with driving through a simulated furnished room, deducting points if they became trapped and required assistance to be freed, as well as scored how each one handled high contrast flooring and returning successfully to the dock to recharge. The D7 Botvac Connected did very well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its solid performance.
This model handles the majority of our fake furniture with ease, cleaning around every item except the dining room table and chairs without issue. This was the most confined area of our test and the D7 noticeably struggled in this area, slowing down and becoming stuck each time, but only requiring human assistance to be freed in one of our trials.
We also noticed that this robot can be a little rough around furniture, even pushing some of the lighter pieces around and rearranging our testing setup. The D7 also docks very well, heading straight for its charging station when commanded to, regardless if it was in the same room or in a different one.
This robot also has quite a low profile, allowing it to clean under most standard sofas without difficulty.
This robot also handles high contrast flooring without issue, without triggering a false-positive with its edge detection sensors when transitioning from light to dark flooring.
Compared to our previous metric, this set of tests scores how much of your home each robot can actually clean, compared to how well it can navigate autonomously. It accounts for 20% of the overall score, with the D7 again delivering one of the top performances and earning a 7 out of 10.
To score how much of a furnished room each robot can clean, we used the same setup as the previous test. As mentioned above, the D7 can get into some trouble when venturing into some of the more confined areas of our layout. The good news is that the D7 is unafraid of these areas, meaning that it will attempt to clean every possible nook and cranny of your home. The bad news is that the D7 can become inescapably trapped or waste a ton of time in these areas. We liked that it didn't just avoid cluttered areas like some other robots, but you may have to open up some of the more cluttered areas or cordon them off with virtual walls in the app to keep the robot from cleaning there.
Speaking of barriers, the Neato D7 had our favorite barrier system by far. You can either use a physical magnetic tape like the other Neato robots or you can draw the aforementioned virtual walls in the mobile app to keep a robot from cleaning an area you don't want to or to direct it away from problematic areas.
This is the most convenient method out of the entire group and is a relatively unique feature for these products.
We also liked the spot clean functions of this robot, doing a single pass over an area of about 49 sq. ft. with the standard setting. Additionally, you can adjust this to cover a much larger area of about 169 sq. ft. in the mobile app.
The D7 handles cleaning multiple rooms on the same level of your home with ease and can return back to its base to recharge if the battery becomes too depleted while cleaning. It will also automatically resume its cleaning cycle after charging.
Next, we tested and scored how well the D7 does at cleaning carpets. We did this by spreading a variety of different types of common household messes out on both low and medium-pile carpet, then seeing how much of the debris the robot collected. Additionally, we also tested how close the D7 could clean along walls and in corners. Together, these tests accounted for 15% of the overall score, with the D7 scoring very well, earning an 8 out of 10 — one of the best scores of the group — for its overall stellar performance.
Starting off, the D7 delivered an excellent performance in our edge cleaning test. This robot only leaves a strip of carpet about 1" in width uncleaned as it travels along a wall, but it does leave slightly more in the corners. This product leaves behind a wedge of debris in each corner, measuring about 1.5" at the widest point and gradually tapering back over the length of the robot.
This robot continued its awesome performance into our flour collection challenge, giving one of the best showings out of the entire group. This model collected almost all of the flour, leaving minuscule amounts behind.
It did even better in our rice and oat collection assessments, sucking up the vast majority of the debris. We initially thought that the D7 had done a perfect job for both of these tests on the low-pile and medium-pile carpet, but found a few remaining grains of rice or oats left behind, numbering in the single digits.
This robot finished with a solid score in our large debris collection challenge, getting most of the mini-wheats, but occasionally missing one by pushing them around or by having one jam up in the underside of the robot or by becoming tangled in the main brush.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Similar to the previous metric, the set of tests that make up our hard surface cleaning metric also are responsible for 15% of the overall score. We used the same types of debris as before, conducting the tests on a section of hardwood laminate floor instead of the flat and fluffy carpet. The D7 gave another excellent showing, earning another 8 out of 10.
This robot delivered another solid performance in our edge cleaning tests, doing one of the best jobs overall at cleaning in close to the edges of our testing pen. Again, it still left a bit more in the corners than along the edges, but it collected much more than other robots.
The performance of the D7 dropped a little in our flour collection evaluation, though it was still well above average compared to the rest of the group. It got most of the flour, though it did leave a residual film and didn't totally get all of the flour out of the cracks between boards.
The D7 did regain the top spot in our rice collection test, essentially collecting all of the rice we laid out or only flinging one or two grains off to the side. It was a similar story when it came to collecting oats, with only trace amounts of the original mess remaining.
This product finished out with an alright showing in our mini-wheat collection test, but missed quite a few of them — more than the other Neato robots did.
The Neato Botvac D7 again delivered another solid performance in our pet hair collection tests, but couldn't quite clinch the top spot in this metric, which accounts for 10% of the total score for each vacuum. The D7 earned a 6 out of 10 for its efforts, comparing quite favorably with the rest of the group.
We spread a measured amount of pet hair donated by a local groomer on a section of low-pile and medium-pile carpet, then awarded points to each product based on the percentage of pet hair it successfully collected. The D7 did about average on the fluffier carpet, getting about 29% of the hair and a little above on the flat carpet, getting about 33% of the hair — only slightly behind the 37% of the hair the top product got.
For the remaining 10% of the total score, we assessed the set of smart features on each robot. The D7 did extremely well, earning a 7 out of 10 as it absolutely jam-packed with all kinds of connected and smart features. This put it at the top of the group for this metric.
The D7 can integrate with larger smart home systems, working with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT, allowing you to control the robot by voice and connect it with any other compatible smart devices you may have. This robot also has an exceptionally full-featured companion app, allowing you to remote control the robot, adjust suction power, and set maintenance and accessory replacement reminders. In addition, you can also use it to locate the robot should it become stuck and view a cleaning map of your home.
You can also draw virtual "Do Not Enter" zones on the map to prevent the robot from cleaning those areas, as mentioned above, and set up a schedule of daily cleans for the D7.
Finally, you can also initiate a spot clean from either the app or on the robot itself, though you can only send the robot home from the mobile app.
While this robot does one of the best jobs overall, it is also one of the most expensive, so if you are shopping for a robot vacuum on a tight budget, then the D7 might not be for you.
All in all, the Neato D7 Botvac Connected is one of our all-time favorite robot vacuums and is an excellent choice if you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to these products and don't get sticker shock when it comes to its rather high price tag. You should especially consider the D7 if you have a relatively open furniture layout without a ton of confined space and have floors that have moderate to high amounts of mess to clean up.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer