I’ve only recently considered reviewing robot vacuums, but times are changing and many studies show the consumer market will explode for these devices after 2018. Having launched its popular Botvac series of robot vacuum cleaners a little over a year ago, Neato has decided to both upgrade and expand its product category. The result is launch of 3 new products under the D series, namely, D85, D80, and D75. In particular, the dual toned D85 is now the flagship brand for the company, taking the mantle from still existing 2014 Botvac 85 model. Now, the products are new and will be launched in July, but I still managed to get a good grip on what’s going on.
In the beginning, I was not sure I’ll have what to talk about with you guys. However, not only I’ve found a decent price for this product, but I’ve also discovered the following:
Beyond the cosmetic, albeit attractive, change in appearance, the new D series sticks to the previous iteration when it comes to its touch sensitive controls. The LCD panel may appear a little on the small side but the intuitive menu and interface makes changing settings or cleaning schedule a breeze. Disappointingly, however, Neato did not deem it fit to pack a remote control with its new models. The dust collector, at 0.7 liters (~ 24 oz), has not witnessed any increase in its capacity.
One of the main criticism of the previous Botvac models was the noise they generated during cleaning operations. It was distinctly loud, compared to the competition, with noise levels recorded as high as 66 dB. Thankfully, the new iteration promises a significant noise reduction owing to its brand new brush system. This should come as a relief to users as they probably wouldn’t have to leave the room while the robot is at work. Servicing and cleaning the vacuum is fairly easy, even for a novice. The multiple brushes and bristles come off with ease and are easy to put back together again.
2. Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance
Neato’s QNX Neutrino operating system along with its patented laser guiding system had already made its mark in previous iterations when it came to precise movements around a room. Although there is no perceptible change or noticeable improvement in the new D series, it is fair to say the performance of these machines is fairly impeccable. The vacuum cleaner is responsive to the environment in real time, efficiently maps the room, and impresses with its proficiency in avoiding obstacles. I’m pretty sure the Botvac offers one of the best implementations of SLAM I’ve ever seen in a robot.
The robot comes with a boundary marker ensuring that you get to control its movements. All you have to do is to drop the marker at the place beyond which you do not want the robot to go. One of the more impressive navigational feature of this robot is its ability to find its way back to the base charger once it is done with its tasks.
3. Suction Power and Filtration
The new D series comes fitted with a host of improvements over the previous iterations. To begin with, it incorporates a new SpinFlow power clean system, allowing it to suck up dirt, crumbs and hair more efficiently. The brushes are now 50% bigger, enabling better cleaning near walls. The D series also features a new side spinning brush to ensure better cleaning near the edges.
Given that the 2014 Botvac 85 was noted for its ability to suck up dirt on a variety of surfaces, the new improvements should only make the D series pull further ahead of the competition.
Similarly, the new D series features larger filters compared to previous models, thereby enabling you to capture more dirt and debris. Ideally, these filters should be changed once or twice every couple of years, depending on your usage. For people who are sensitive to allergens, or homes with pets shedding hair, Neato Botvac D series comes with a high performance filter, capable of capturing extra fine dust particles.
4. Power Usage, Dimensions, and Warranty
The D series robots come with nickle metal hydride batteries in two different voltages, 110V and 220V. These robots are fairly efficient when it comes to power consumption, rated at 2W during charging and 1W on standby.
While its distinctive D shape has been widely praised for its ability to clean near edges and corners, the new model is also noticeable for its overall compactness. They measure 12.7 inches by 13.2 inches by 3.9 inches in terms of dimension and weigh a solid 9 lbs.
As one may expect from such units, the machine comes with a limited 1 year warranty while the battery has a 6 month limited warranty.
5. Accessories and Special Features
The new D series provides users with extra options if they want to augment the capabilities of this already impressive machine. In particular, the following are well worth a look.
- Boundary Markers: If you are fussy about spaces where you do not want the robot vacuums to enter, then you’d love the magnetic boundary markers. Measuring almost 13 feet in length, you can easily cut this strip and place them near doorways or around your pet’s bowl to keep the robot away from the forbidden area.
- Specialized Brushes: The combo brush for D series model is especially useful for people who own pets or live in a home with multiple types of flooring. The combo brush offers a superior suction of pet hair, effective noise suppression, and works on several distinct floors including carpets. The Botvac D Series side brush offers you the ability to clean corners and edges in a more effective manner while the spiral blade brush is a versatile option that suppresses noise on hardwood floors.
Which model is right for me?
Here’s a comparison chart to chew on:
|Botvac D85||Botvac D80||Botvac D75|
|Combo brush for pet hair||Yes||Yes||No|
|No. of high performance filters||3||1||0 - standard filter|
As mentioned above, the D series comes in three models, namely, D85, D80, and D75. If you are someone who lives in a small apartment, and do not own furry pet, then D75 should be adequate for your purposes. While this model is advertised to work on every floor type, they are especially efficient on hardwood floors.
If you have a larger carpet area to clean, and own furry pets, then you should opt for either D85 or D80 robots. They can tackle a larger surface area in quicker time, are versatile in terms of their operation on different floor types, and are adept at sucking up hair.
Update: Neato announced on the 1st of September, 2015, that it will release yet another version called the Neato Connected. The only difference between the D85 and the Connected version is the color on top of the laser component, and the fact that it will be able to be commanded wireless via a smartphone (or a home controller, for that matter). The Neato Connected is not yet for sale, but I’d expect it to appear before this year’s Black Friday.
Here’s where you can get the D75 for a good market price, an absolute steal if you ask me. If you’re interested in the higher end model, the D80, then check out this link for a good deal and other reviews. The D85 is at the moment unavailable, but I’ll update this post as soon as I find it.
Pros and Cons
The D series marks a small improvement on an already well reputed Botvac line of cleaners. Their cleaning capability, ease of use, elegant design, superior navigation and obstacle avoidance technology puts them well ahead of the competition (which is at the moment represented mainly by iRobot’s Roomba). The incorporation of noise suppression mechanism and side spinning brushes further refines an already established brand.
In terms of drawbacks, the lack of a remote control is a real disappointment. This is especially true since a remote is offered by all other competing brands, and, even some lower-end models.
Lack of a remote notwithstanding, the D series robots mark another incremental improvement over the previous models. The Botvac brand from Neato has created a distinct niche for itself owing to its strong fundamentals, and we can expect the D series to be a powerful presence in the market. Here’s the VGMrv:
What do you think of the D series? Would you buy one? Have some additional questions? Use the comment box bellow.
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