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Neato D3 Connected Review

The Neato Botvac D3 Connected.
Price:   $400 List | $297.49 at Amazon
Pros:  Good at collecting pet hair and on hard floors
Cons:  Not as good at corners and edges
Bottom line:  A good value pick if you value connectivity over cleaning
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Neato

Our Verdict

One of newer robot vacuums from Neato, the D3 Connected is a budget model for those that want all the benefits of having a WiFi connected vacuum without breaking the bank. This model did a little better than the comparably priced Neato D75 at picking up pet hair, but fell a little short on cleaning the tight corners and getting close to edges.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Friday
February 10, 2017

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While this model does perform well, it wasn't quite enough to net an award — but does come at an affordable price, comparable to our Best Buy award winner. However, some sacrifices appear to have been made to save on costs, noticeably the removal of a rotating side brush and screen on the robot. This didn't appear to greatly impact the cleaning and navigation performance, but the overall score still dropped a few points from other comparable robots.

Performance Comparison


This robot scored about in the middle of the pack, but lagged behind its cousin and our Best Buy award winner, the Neato D75. Below you can see how the rest of the competition stacked up to the D3.


This robot has a lot more connectivity than some of its peers, which can be a double-edged sword. While it can be easier to adjust setting through your mobile device, it can be equally infuriating if you are having difficulty establishing a connection with the robot, or if you are not constantly carrying a mobile device with you.

The Neato D3.
The Neato D3.

room Navigation


The D3 scored slightly above average in this metric, earning a 6 out of 10 — identical to all of the other robots from Neato. This test consisted of how well it could navigate a room at large, as well as how it handled specific types of obstacles.

The Neato D3 didn't do the best with the obstacles, as it is prone to displaying an error, rather than trying to power through — similar to the other Neato brand vacuums. This model successfully cleared a typical threshold between room, as well as a thicker, laptop power cord without a struggle.

However, the D3 became tangled up on smaller strings, such as shoelaces, blind cords, or the tassels on a rug. The robot would only attempt to free itself for a few seconds, then display an error message and cease cleaning.

The D3 does much better at navigating around the house, possessing a sophisticated mapping program that will scout the edges of a room, then fill in the remainder with a back and forth, lawnmower-style pattern, avoiding any obstacles that it encounters and cleaning around them. It will then move on to the next room, stopping to recharge if necessary.

The systematic cleaning method of the Neato vacuums quickly and efficiently cleaned the room.
The systematic cleaning method of the Neato vacuums quickly and efficiently cleaned the room.

This robot does an acceptable job of navigating out of tight spaces, but it may take a little bit of time, and it can be a little rough on furniture as it maneuvers around. A robot vacuum might not be the best choice for cleaning around your priceless antique dresser, if you are trying to keep it scratch or scuff free.



Carpet Cleaning


The D3 had about an average performance at cleaning carpets, meriting a 5 out of 10. To challenge this robot, we spread a variety of different debris — flour, rice, cereal, oatmeal — on both shallow and fluffy carpets.

The D3 collected all of the medium sized particle, oatmeal and rice, on the shallow carpet, but left a few grains of rice in the fluffier, medium-pile carpet. It noticeably struggled with the large particles, Mini-Wheats, struggling to pick any of them up and effectively gather them in its collection bin. It did eventually pick one up that got stuck in the main extractor, but this felt more like a fluke than related to the robot's cleaning ability.

Will the Mini-Wheats defeat the D3?
Yes  yes they did.
 

This model did about average at picking up the flour from the surface of the shallow and the fluffier carpet, comparable to the Neato D75, but it did a poor job at extracting flour from deep in the piles of the carpet, barely making a dent.

The Neato D5 ready to attempt the flour torture test on shallow carpet.
Meh. It didn't do much.
 

Hard Surface Cleaning


In addition to carpet, many homes have a mix of hard surfaces that also need to be cleaned, and the best robot vacuum will handle both competently. We performed a similar series of cleaning tests on hard floor types, and found the Neato D3 did slightly better than on carpet, earning a 6 out of 10. This robot did a great job once again on the medium particles, successfully vacuuming up all of the Cheerios and Oatmeal that we spread out. However, this model only did about average at collecting flour, and struggled at picking up Mini-Wheats, doing slightly worse than the D5 at picking up flour and the Connected at collecting Mini-Wheats.

Corners and Edges


The D3 performed slightly better than average at getting in close to the edges of a room while cleaning, but the lack of a rotating side brush proved to be a severe detriment to its performance, especially when compared against the other Neato models.

The rotating side brush of the D5 helped immensely in this metric.
The lack of a rotating side brush severely handicapped this 'bot from the get go.
 

The performance drop was small on hard surfaces, where it only left a little flour and rice behind, but definitely lagged on the carpet.

The D3 progressing through our corners and edges test.
It left a lot more behind than the other Neato models.
 

The D3 picked up about 50% of the rice that we put out on the carpet, leaving a consistent 1.5" border uncleaned around the edge, with more in the corners.

Pet Hair


While Fido and Fluffy make great companions, they may have the undesirable effect of filling your house with hair, necessitating constant cleaning to keep it under control. The Neato D3 did better than average at getting pet hair up, but not a spectacular job, earning a 6 out of 10. The D3 did well at picking up pet hair on the hard floors, but didn't do quite as well as getting the hair off the carpet.

More hair became entangled in the extractor than the amount in the collection bin.
More hair became entangled in the extractor than the amount in the collection bin.

This model also collected a decent amount of hair in the brush, rather than in the collection bin — even accumulating enough at one point to trigger a brush error. We found that this model had the most brush errors out of all the Neato vacuums in our testing process, leading us to believe that it was more prone to tangling or was a slightly weaker vacuum.

Ease of Use


Our ease of use test consisted of how easy it was to set up the robot out of the box, initiate room cleaning and set a schedule, as well as the amount of regular maintenance required to keep your robotic friend happy and healthy. The D3 scored about average in this metric, earning a 5 out of 10, mainly due to to much on the control being shifted to the mobile app, instead of on the device itself.

This robot is exceptionally difficult to use without the mobile app.
This robot is exceptionally difficult to use without the mobile app.

Initial setup was straightforward, with directions stating to download the app and connect the robot to it. The schedule can only be set on the app, and while cleaning modes and other settings can be adjusted on the robot, it was much easier to do this through the app, then through the single button interface on the device. We found it quite irritating to remember the necessary combinations with the single button to input commands to the robot. Maintenance is identical to the other Neato models, with regular emptying of the collection bin and filter replacement every 1-2 months.

Value


This robot offer a lot of performance at a great price, almost as high of a value as out Best Buy award winner, the Neato D75.

Conclusion


This is a great little robot vacuum at an affordable price. However, we felt that Neato sacrificed a little cleaning performance for the addition of network connectivity. While it is quite awesome to be able to remotely initiate your robotic minion to start cleaning, you may place a higher value on slightly better cleaning performance and elect to pick a different model.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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