In our current review you’ll find performance comparison of two robotic vacuum cleaners: Neato Botvac Connected and iRobot Roomba 980. It is quite difficult to choose between these two, since they are top best-selling models and they have very much alike features and abilities.
However, from this review you’ll know about their strong and weak points, what makes them different and in which case each of the devices performs better.
- 1 Here is some history
- 2 Package contents
- 3 The case
- 4 The dock station
- 5 The filter
- 6 Dust bin
- 7 Operation time
- 8 Operation modes
- 9 Control
- 10 Navigation
- 11 Users feedback and opinions
- 12 Conclusion
Here is some history
First, let’s say a few words about iRobot. This is an American company. It has been on the market since 90-s and it specializes on designing of various robots. In the past the company used to produce robots for the military only. However, in time they sold the company unit that specialized in this field. Therefore, now iRobot can totally focus on designing robots for household and office without being taken for some “evil Skynet” manufacturer.
What is more important, the company has an undeniable advantage when compared to other robot vacuum manufacturers, which is its experience in developing behavior algorithms of all above mentioned devices plus designing robots for swimming pools cleaning and even for personal presence simulation.
Neato Robotics was founded in Silicon Valley in 2004. Initially the company’s aim was to manufacture robots that are smart enough to perform housework as efficient as humans do.
Both companies are extremely successful on the market. They produce excellent robot vacuum models though they use different technologies for this. By the moment we are writing this review Botvac Connected by Neato and Roomba 980 by iRobot are the top robovac models on the market.
Let’s compare them!
Botvac Connected basic package contains the following components:
- High Performance Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum
- Integrated Charge Base
- Power Cord
- 2 Ultra Performance Filters
- Combo Brush
- Spiral Blade Brush
- Side Brush
- Boundary Markers
- Brush & Filter Cleaning Tool
As for the extra components and expendables there are two spare Ultra Performance folded filters in the set. Neato Botvac Connected has an alternative spiral blade brush and boundary markers (2m long) in its package contents. It also has user’s manual written in several languages. The device is packed into not very large box with eye-catching design and a handler.
You can stop the robovac from going into other rooms by means of the magnetic tape. You can just put it on the floor or hide under the carpet.
The tape is wide and relatively heavy, that’s why it actually doesn’t need any additional fixation on the floor. Its another merit is that it doesn’t require any power source. There is 2 meters of this tape in the device set and you can buy some extra 4 meter long boundary markers if necessary.
The robovac package also includes a special tool with a comb and a blade on it. With this accessory you can cut hair winded on the device brush, comb its brushes and take rubbish out from the filter folds. Another brush that comes in the set is probably better to use in places with a lot of fur on the floor.
This way you won’t have to spend time trying to get knotted hair out from the ordinary bristle brush. Besides, this bladed brush is more efficient when removing dust from carpets.
Roomba 980 basic package includes the following:
- Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum
- Home Base Charging Station
- 2 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers (4 AA Batteries Included)
- 1 Extra Filter
- 1 Extra Side Brush
- Manufacturer’s Warranty
- Owner’s Guide and Documentation Package
The wall can function in two modes. In the first one – a virtual boundary (3 meters long, as the manufacturer states) is created in the direction (indicated by a stripe on top) away from the magnetic tape. The robot vacuum doesn’t cross this line. By means of such boundary you can rail off the areas where it isn’t desirable to perform cleaning at the moment.
In the second mode, the virtual wall functions as circular boundary and it doesn’t let the robovac come to it closer than some certain distance (60 cm radius is indicated by the manufacturer). Actually, in the second case the mode of directed boundary is just not activated, only a circular radiator on top of the cupola is on.
A typical example of using rounded boundary is creation of protective barrier around bowls with food and water for pets. You turn the device on and off as well as select the operation mode by using the switch on its side.
As a rule, you don’t have to turn boundary marker on (apparently, it activates itself when the robovac approaches). At that the manufacturer says, that in this case the virtual wall can work using one set of batteries for about 8-10 month. Only in the event of planned long-term non-use of the virtual wall it’s desirable to turn it off to extend its working lifespan.
The shape of its case was inherited from the previous model line, it is so called D-Shape design. The back of the device case is semi-circular, however in front the case becomes rectangular without changing its width.
Such a shape allows shifting the main brush forward at maximal distance and make it almost as wide as the device case. As a result the brush width is 276 mm long. At that the distance from the brush end to the right side of the device case is just about 10 mm. The task of gathering the dust where the large brush can’t reach is for a small side brush to do.
The case is made of black plastic with a bit rugged mat surface without coating. However, there is anecdotal evidence that the robovac has to be light-colored to be visible in the dark and on the dark floor.
The cap of the lidar cupola is made of anodized aluminum covered with light-gray polish that gets light bronzy sheen under inclined light. The cap has internal plastic ring with smooth chrome plated surface while the cupola body itself is made of black plastic with a smooth surface that can be easily scratched.
If you turn the robot vacuum cleaner upside down, you’ll see two IR altitude sensors, the brush unit closed with a cover (this way the brush doesn’t wind carpet edges on it) and additional elastic fixed scraper, small side brush, cover of the battery unit, two traction wheels on spring arms and four guiding wheels – two small ones are located at the front and two larger ones are at the rear of the device case.
This robovac appearance is very similar to 800 series robot vacuum cleaners. They all also have a lot of exchangeable components and modules. However, they have some essential distinctions as well.
Unlike Botvac Connected this robot vacuum has almost ideally round shape. The skew the device has from its edge to the bottom helps it to overcome obstacles and certain angulation of its top decreases chances of getting trapped under some hindrances located very close to the floor.
The device case is made of mainly black mat plastic without covering. Upper panel perimeter, bumper top and some section of a dust bin have plastic edging with dark-gray silvery covering. The upper panel is made of transparent plastic which is relatively resistible to damages.
Inside the panel has a dark pattern or just black coverage and only a small window above the upper camera is transparent.
If you turn the robovac with its bottom upwards you’ll see two connection points at the front, a caster on a rotating platform, a side brush, the battery unit cover, to the right of it there is a bottom camera nest, downwards there are two traction wheels on spring arms, the unit with the main bristle brushes and the bottom of detachable dust bin. There are six IR altitude sensors located on the edges of the device bottom.
The dock station
The charge station is relatively large and not really light-weighted. Its case is made of smooth black plastic without coating, therefore you can easily see scratches and finger prints on it. On the bottom side of the dock station there are two rubber anti-slip pads. The base area was expanded due to its protruding skirt. As a result, the dock station is quite well-balanced and can be put on the floor without any extra support.
On the front panel on the charging base there is a large window made of smoked semi-transparent plastic where passive parking beacons are located (these are stripes of light absorbing and reflecting material put alternately, they can be seen a little in the picture). Below these there are long spring-assisted connection points.
Such a construction ensures reliable contact between the robovac and its dock station even if it didn’t park perfectly. When pushing the connection points they not only sink, they shift aside as well, which helps contact surfaces cleaning. The power supply unit is embedded inside the dock station.
Power network cable is a detachable one (it uses three-pin plug with sleeves). If you don’t need the whole length of the cable, you can put the rest into a special opening, where it is fixed with small grips.
The dock station where the robot vacuum charges is exactly the same as the one that all 800 series robovacs have. It has integrated power unit and detachable network cable. This is quite good – no external power unit means no additional wires outside, which would meddle anyways.
This fact also increases the dock station balance, since it is quite heavy. The standard network cable is relatively short – 1 meter, but it won’t be difficult to replace it if necessary.
There is a small rubber mat on the dock station base and the larger composite base is made of foam. As a result, the charging station has a good ground contact with any kind of floor coating. However, should anything happen you can fix the base on the floor by means of double stick tape, for example.
Let’s mention, that the dock station is completely interchangeable with the power supply and charging base set from the previous Roomba 980 models.
The manufacturer indicates that Ultra Performance filters capture allergens and particles up to 0.3 micron large. Filters that come in Botvac В80/D85 package contents differ from High-Performance filters by the grid they have. This grid prevents rubbish from clogging deep in the filter folders. The Botvac filter also has a clamper that simplifies detachment of the filter from the dust bin.
We should mention that dust bins of all Neato Botvac robot vacuums are the same and they are compatible both with Ultra Performance and High-Performance filters as well as Standard ones.
This model uses a classical high efficient HEPA-filter. Such a filter captures up to 99% of dust and allergens.
Neato D5 dust bin has a quite impressive size – 0,7 liters. It is equipped with a reusable filter capturing the smallest particles (up to 0.3 micron large). The bin is easily cleaned. You just have to take it out from the robovac and shake out the dust from it.
The dust bin case is made of transparent plastic (ABS). However, its lid isn’t transparent, therefore without taking the bin out from the device you can’t see how full is it. At least, there is no problem to empty it.
Yet, the device has a disableable function of sending warning in case of dust bin overflow, that’s why there is actually no need to control this aspect. After end of the dust bin is blanked off with an air filter, that is being taken off while cleaning the bin.
To exclude parasitic air entrainment the hose and dust bin joints as well as those of the filter and suction grill are equipped with tough sealers.
The dust bin shape is quite simple that’s why it’s easy to empty it and the rubbish doesn’t get stuck inside. In general, the dust bin unit is easy-to-use. The robot vacuum controls if the bin is present (there is a mechanical button sensor in the dust bin unit), so if the user takes the bin away after the cleaning cycle and quickly puts it back, the device shows a Thank you message on the screen.
If in the robovac’s opinion the dust bin has been absent for too long, this smart device starts emitting sounds to attract user’s attention and displays a message asking to put back the missing component.
The dust bin capacity is 0.5 liters. Its bottom is made of transparent plastic tinted with red, though there is just a narrow zone left transparent, the rest of the dust bin surface is mat, that’s why visually only after examining the robovac it’s hard to say about how filled its bin is.
It’s relatively easy to clean it: you tilt the shutter and empty the bin. After this you take off the HEPA-filter and clean it.
Keep in mind, that this robot vacuum cleaner shouldn’t be used in damp premises or on surfaces having some spilled liquids on them. After the device contacts with liquids you’ll have to clean it for a long time from a stuck dust layer at best, at the worst the robovac may break.
None of its parts can be washed under the running water – neither its brushes, nor the filter or dust bin. Just one droplet ingress inside the device may lead to the main circuit board breakdown.
Both robots use the most modern Li-Ion batteries. This type of batteries is the most efficient one and they serve quite long. Therefore, they have the same operation time – 120 minutes. At one battery charge both devices can clean up to 150 square meter and with three automatic recharges – up to 450 square meters. Full charge of the battery requires 2.5 hours.
This model has three main cleaning modes:
- single cleaning of all accessible area
- manual control
- cleaning of some specific area — you take the device or direct it there manually
Automatic start of the cleaning process is ensured by the scheduled cleaning mode – you can set the day/days of the week and time for each day when the device has to start cleaning.
According to the manufacturer announcement the robovac started from the dock station in the manual mode will continue cleaning either till it cleans all accessible area or till its battery gets low.
In the second case, the device will get back to its dock station, charge the battery and continue cleaning from the place where it stopped. Just with two recharges in the middle of the process the device will perform maximum three cleaning cycles. The number will be same if the device doesn’t start from the base, however, you’ll have to carry the robovac to its dock station and after it gets charged you’ll have to put it back to the place where the cleaning started initially.
When the device starts form the base according to the scheduled cleaning mode, the number of cleaning cycles will still be the same – maximum three (with two recharging cycles in the middle).
Robot Roomba 980 has two main cleaning modes:
- Automatic cleaning of all area it can access to. After the device finishes cleaning it gets back to its dock station.
- Local cleaning mode (Spot mode) — is when intensive cleaning of some specific area is performed. User should take the device to the required area.
Automatic cleaning can be launched at some certain time at any day of the week, at that different start time is set (or not, if you don’t need it) separately for each of the seven days. If the cleaning schedule is created, then when the pre-set time comes the robovac leaves its dock station, preforms cleaning and returns to the base. Here is a reminder for you, that now after you’ve created the schedule it can be edited only by means of the mobile application.
This robot vacuum is controlled via its application for smart phones – you can program time intervals, when the device should start its work automatically as well as you can now change suction power (standard, eco- and turbo- modes).
What is especially usable: via your smart phone you can manually control the robovac and quickly change its location. If for some reason you don’t have a smart phone around, you can adjust the device using its touch buttons placed around its small display – it will take a bit more time though.
When running the app for the first time, you should create a connection with the device, that has to be within the range of your Wi-Fi (and it should be only 2,4 GHz and Internet-enabled one), since to control the robot vacuum you’ll need to use global cloud service.
From one hand, it is good, because you can manage the device from any point that has Internet connection. From the other hand, it is bad, since if you don’t have an Internet access you can’t access the robovac either, even if the device and a smartphone are connected within the same local net.
Unfortunately, you won’t do without registration in the service, that requires your current e-mail address. To connect the robovac to the net you should include its Wi-Fi-adapter into the settings menu (if earlier the device used to connect to some other network, so you’ll also have to reset its settings from the menu and sometimes you do it by means of a button and bumper pushing combination – at this moment the robovac creates its own local network.
Then the app connects to the device network, sends the name and the password of the network (given by the user) and if there is no problem with the connection, then the user is asked to input the robovac name (by default it is My Neato).
With this device you are offered to use a special application iRobot designed for mobile devices with iOS and Android operation systems. By means of this app you can manage the cleaning schedule and launch the cleaning process as well as adjusting the device operation mode. Another advantage is that from the app you can access some indicators – if the dust bin is full, for example.
Where is the robot vacuum now – is it being recharged or performs cleaning?
Of course, you can just push one button and let the device do its job. However, due to its mobile app you it can provide you with lots of merits.
After you add iRobot Roomba 980 into your local Wi-Fi network, you’ll have the ability not just to program the robovac and launch it remotely wherever you are, but you’ll get an access to various additional functions.
These are the ability to select one of four cleaning modes, accumulating and reviewing statistics as well as checking the device components status.
In particular, through the app notifications you’ll know that it’s time to empty the dust bin or to perform maintenance service for the device engine. Here you’ll also find all required instructions and manuals for iRobot Roomba 980. The application has the most complete set of functions if compared to those offered on the marked. At that the software still remains user-friendly.
Robot vacuum cleaners made by Neato Robotics are equipped with a unique navigation system based on using a lidar (an IR scanning laser ranging device). The lidar is mounted inside a cupola on the device upper panel. Through the horizontal “loopholes” of this cupola you can see lenses of radiating laser diode and optoelectronic sensor.
The operating wave length is 785 nm, which can be characterized as a near infrared region. Peak capacity of laser radiation is 2,1 mW, pulse duration is 200 microsecond, pulse frequency is 1,8 kHz, beam diameter is 2,3 mm.
If required, it’s possible to calculate output performance of this radiation, but it’s likely that it (even discounting the radiator rotation) will be lower than the maximum permissible level of laser radiation. Which means that the lidar the device uses doesn’t carry any harm or danger to its user or to any pets you may have at home.
As for the rotation – the laser diode and optoelectronic sensor are placed on a rotor that rotates in a horizontal plane. This is exactly what allows the robovac to obtain the data about distance to obstacles with 360 degree coverage in horizontal direction. I.e. the robot vacuum doesn’t have to come close to the obstacle to detect its presence. Besides, remote detection of obstacles and their shape helps the device to create a room map and define its own location.
The robovac “knows” where it is, where its dock station is (when it is being launched from it or when it “sees” it). The device has the information where it has already cleaned, where it has to perform cleaning and where are the areas it hasn’t been yet within the accessible room space.
The side effect of remote obstacles detection is that, actually, the device can treat anything that reflects the laser radiation as an obstacle. Any, even the lightest curtain or a blanket that overhangs from a bed are all obstacles in the robovac’s POV.
In theory, when changing room environment – moving some furniture peaces or when people or pets are walking around – all these may interfere the robovac navigation process. However, in the real life it is quite ok to walk around the device while it works, it looks like it has some kind of algorithm that doesn’t take into account some obstacles that are inconstant over the time.
Also you should consider that the lidar operates in a plane at some distance from the floor and it means that everything located below or above this level the device just can’t see.
Yet, in case of something located below the level the robovac has a mechanical bumper with IR sensor on it for detecting obstacles. The bumper is helpful as well in case of very dark obstacles that don’t reflect in IR-range.
As for the obstacles that are below the lidar detection plane, theoretically they might cause some problems, since the device cupola is obviously above this plane. Let’s mention, that the robovac is rather high, which sufficiently decreases the area that can be cleaned.
Vacuum robot cleaner iRobot Roomba 980 moves around the rooms completely safely. It avoids all the obstacles and even remembers the places where it has already performed cleaning.
This became possible because Roomba 980 has a doubled navigation system.
This is vSLAM and iAdapt 2.0. The first one works basing on detection of large objects in the room at the account of photofixation. As for the second one, it has several sensors that monitor the surrounding area.
Users feedback and opinions
Botvac Connected user review
I have been thinking about getting a robot vacuum for quite a long time, since I don’t have time to clean the house as often as I’d like to. I’ve considered cheaper models and came to conclusion that I’d rather buy an expensive, but high-quality device.
So, I received it as a present for my birthday. From the very first day of usage I was surprised. The robot vacuum has collected a lot of rubbish and dust without leaving any spots missed. I love its function algorithm, it avoids obstacles and cleans room corners, it only leaves out the floor under the objects he can’t reach.
Sometimes, when I come home the robovac starts cleaning and I can’t see it, but I know that it is still working somewhere. After this you can even walk barefoot around the house.
It seldom gets stuck, almost always the device finds its way from hard to reach places and it can overcome some inclines. The robovac has been working in my house each work day for 10 month already using scheduled cleaning mode. I’m very happy with it. Every day it manages to find some rubbish or dust.
I’ve completely forgotten about my old vacuum cleaner. I’ve replaced the filter 3 times already. For the first 6 month the device used its branded filter, then I got a HEPA one – though, it performs worse and it should be replaced more often.
A month ago I bought a branded filter and I hope it’ll serve longer, for 5 month at least. The magnetic brush is still fine, although some hairs are missing already. As for the main brush I clean it from winded hair and other objects from time to time.
In general, I recommend buying this robot vacuum, you definitely won’t regret it.
Roomba 980 user review
When I had my baby born I started thinking seriously about how important high-quality cleaning of the room is for him. This is why I decided to get a robot vacuum cleaner that was supposed to do this instead of me.
This is how a new resident has appeared in our house – IRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum we had very high hopes for.
What can I say now? Well, I’ve never regretted buying it!
When we are going for a walk, we just take the toys away from the floor. By the time we come back, all we have to do is to enjoy clean rooms and floors. My baby can play safely!
Absolutely the device has a lot of advantages. Even if there are some demerits, I can’t think of any at the moment. The only thing I should mention is:
– the noise, but it doesn’t disturb me in any way, because the device works while we are away
– it cleans corners almost excellently. Some spots are skipped only where the device couldn’t reach them.
– taking into account the robovac height, it can’t clean under some furniture pieces.
– when the device faces an obstacle, it stops and displays error status, therefore we should take away everything from the floor – toys, puzzles etc.
There is another thing that can be considered as a disadvantage. When cleaning the dust bin it is also important to clean the connection points. Several times we had situations when the device couldn’t find its dock station, but after we cleaned the connection points the issue was resolved. If we had read the manual before, we could have avoided this matter. Also don’t forget to clean brushes, wheels and other device components.
As you can see yourself, these are quite minor demerits. Provided with proper device usage, they won’t give you any trouble.
As for the advantages – there are lots of them. The robovac cleans everything perfectly, even the places where it was impossible to get a good result using an ordinary vacuum cleaner. Despite the fact that the house looks clean and tidy, there is so much dirt in the dust bin. I still wonder how it is possible that so much dust and rubbish appear in the house just in one day.
In conclusion, I’d like to mention the mobile phone application that comes with the device.
Just some time ago, I treated it as something unnecessary, now I see how convenient it is to use it. By means of the app you can monitor the robovac state, study the manual while using the device, get the meaning of the error occurred and fix it.
In a word, I highly recommend this robot vacuum! You house will always be clean and cozy after getting this robot vacuum cleaner as well as it’ll definitely save your time.
As we said in the beginning – these models are equal in quality. Frankly speaking, if I had to choose between them I’d consider three things – price, user reviews (which of them has less faults) and my personal preferences.
The advantage of Botvac Connected is that it has a low noise operation mode. Even if it leads to some decrease of cleaning quality I don’t think it’ll be a sufficient one. Another thing is its package filters with a protective grid – they are easily cleaned. The robovac also has a convenient shape and a wide brush, which can also be considered as a merit.
- Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately).
- Wi-Fi connected for ultimate control - use the Neato app to clean your floors from wherever you are and receive notifications on the go.
- D-Shape design with CornerClever technology cleans close to walls and into corners. Long lasting Li-Ion battery.
- LaserSmart mapping and navigation with real-time object detection scans and maps the room, plans, and methodically cleans-instead of just bumping around.
- Eco & Turbo mode - you choose. Eco gives a longer, quieter energy-saving clean. Turbo provides a super-powered cleaning-with maximum hair pickup.
- High cleaning efficiency
- Improved navigation system and creation of rational cleaning route
- Very large maximal cleaning area
- It is convenient to take the dust bin away and empty it
- There is an alternative easy to clean spiral blade brush
- Dock station has a clever design
- A magnetic tape to restrict the robovac motion around the house
- Scheduled cleaning
- Rich package contents
- Ability to control the robot vacuum by means its mobile application
iRobot has surpassed its fans expectations by designing the first in its history robot vacuum cleaner with improved navigation system. But this was just the beginning of a new things to come. The new Roomba 980 has a high capacity Li-ion battery, four times more powerful fan and remote control supported by means of the mobile application.
In case when there are one-two rooms in a house the improved navigation system of the device doesn’t demonstrate any advantages, since just like all previous Roomba 980 models it deals good with this type of cleaning. However, if there are more rooms in the premises the device that understands where it is and where it has already been can obtain better results. Because it has higher chances to clean everywhere it can reach.
- IAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization helps Roomba navigate and clean an entire level of your home
- Automatically recharges and resumes cleaning to complete the entire job
- IRobot HOME App lets you clean, schedule & set custom cleaning preferences from your smartphone or tablet
- Aero Force Cleaning System with Carpet Boost automatically provides up to 10x the air power on carpets and rugs
- Tangle-free extractors prevent hair and debris clogs
- Good quality of cleaning along the walls, around the obstacles and in the open space
- Improved navigation system
- A functional mobile application to control and manage the device
- Main brushes are easy to clean
- High suction power
- It starts cleaning at least once after the battery is recharged
- Works with virtual walls and circular boarders
- Sensors to indicate the dust bin overflow and contamination level
- It is tender to your furniture – the device slows down in front of the obstacle, also it has a soft cover on its bumper
- Scheduled cleaning mode
- Rich package contents – it has a spare filter and a side brush, two virtual walls and a set of batteries for the walls
- A small-sized integrated dock station
- Voice announcement
- You can’t turn off the sound notification
- High noise level at maximum power of the fan
- All important options are accessible only from the mobile app when you have active internet connection
Last update on 2018-06-23 at 22:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API