roomba vs neato

Neato vs Roomba: Which is Better?

The Neato vs Roomba debate has heated up with the popularity of robotic vacuums increasing rapidly. Arguably the two best brands on the market, I will review them head to head.

I’ve been around robotic vacuums from almost the beginning (starting with my Roomba 400 series). I’ve owned both Roomba’s and Neato’s and have loved some of their models and struggled with others.

First a little bit about the two companies…

Roomba: The company behind the Roomba – iRobot – originally had its start creating robotic solutions to bomb disposal in the early 1990s. Since then, the company has expanded to included a wide range of both defense industry and domestic product offerings. Their robots range from rugged military devices to automatic pool cleaners as well as vacuums. Here at All Home Robotics we track the domestic offerings from the company.

Neato: Neato Robotics is a much smaller company than iRobot, but draws from the Silicon Valley expertise of technologists and engineers specifically dedicated to robotic vacuums. Founded in 2010, Neato Robotics has released a number of generations of their best selling Neato vacuum already. What Neato Robotics lacks in size, it makes up for in focus and technology implementation.

For the purposes of this comparison we will be using the latest models of each line. While Neato Robotics has since released a “signature series” and “botvac series” the last best selling version is still XV-21 and we will compare that to the 700 series vacuums, still the best selling series from iRobot.

Neato XV-21 vs Roomba 700 Series

To compare these two brands side by side, we will break it down by the following categories: Design, Cleaning Technology, Charging, Maintenance, Accessories, and Price. 

Design

Both the Neato and the Roomba pride themselves on a sleek modern design. It kind of goes with the territory when you are a robotic vacuum cleaner. What really matters is the functionality of the design. Here is where the two vacuums contrast.

Both robots are about the same size, a sensitive touch bumper around the front and two steering wheels on the underbelly. However, there are some important distinctions between the two devices.

Neato: The Neato XV-21 has a square front with a rounded back (see pictures above). This helps it round corners more effectively and sets this little machine apart from its competitors. In terms of the “curb appeal” the Neato appears to be constructed with some cheaper plastic; whereas the Roomba is a more industrial finish.

The XV-21 model comes standard with a large dust bin, larger than the Roomba 700 and even slightly larger than the 800 series cleaners. In fact, the Neato has the industry leading largest dust compartment for robotic vacuums.

The Neato is about 4 inches tall which can get stuck under some low hanging furniture.

Roomba: One of the complaints about the Roomba is that the circular design provides less cornering ability than the Neato. Still, the Roomba has a sleek modern design with a relatively small footprint. The outer finish comes in two shades of gray that mitigate any visible scratching to device.

One of the biggest draws for the Roomba 700 and 800 series is the significantly quieter motor and relatively advanced touch screen controls. This is where the Roomba stands out as a more “polished” machine.

One of the advantages of the circular design of the Roomba is that it can switch directions on a dime while the Neato has to turn itself to face front (a slight time waster).

Another small bonus is that with a height of 3 only 3 inches, the Roomba can get under more varieties of furniture than the Neato.

Winner? It is pretty close. But, in this category, the Neato features a more functional design. While the quick direction changes with the circular Roomba design  and the low clearance are nice, the lack of dusty corners from the Neato’s horizontal back is more useful. If you have to go back with the dust buster to get the corners, that takes time and effort. Similarly, a larger dust bin simply means less work for you. One point Neato.

Cleaning Technology

This is the most important test of a robotic vacuum. How well does the technology work? Behind all the frills, this is the ultimate test of a good device. Thankfully, both the Neato and the Roomba are market leaders when it comes to the latest technology. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult to compare them.

Neato: The Neato has the best suction of any robotic vacuum on the market. Including the Roomba. This powerful suction easily sets the Neato a part as the industry leader. The rotating silicone brush also means less cleaning for the user. Because of the set-up, pet har, dander, and dust does not clog up the cleaning mechanism easily.

Perhaps the only downside to the Neato cleaning technology is the noise it makes. It is significantly louder than the Roomba and similar machines.

Roomba: While the Roomba may not have the suction of the Neato, it does try to make up for it in different ways. If the Neato has the best suction, the Roomba is a close second. The Persistent Passing technology makes up for the less powerful suction, imitating the method traditional vacuums (and vacuumers) employ by passing over sections repeatedly to ensure they are cleaned. Update: The new Roomba 800 series makes some good strides with the new AeroForce patented cleaning system. It’s about 50% better at picking up debris than the 700 series models. Although we haven’t had a way to definitively prove this, we have seen a noticeable improvement.

While the Roomba makes up for the Neato’s power suction advantage in many ways, the Neato still wins this category, especially with the unveiling of the newer models. Of course, this is a hotly debated subject and it could easily change with the upcoming models. For now, suction is what counts. One point Neato.

Scheduling

This might not be the first feature that springs to mind when considering a robotic vacuum. From the perspective of a long time user (Yours Truly) it has become one of the most important specs I look at. Not all home robots have auto-scheduling. Thankfully, both the Neato and the Roomba have the ability to do automatic scheduling, but they are by no means equal to the task.

Neato: The Neato offers a paltry 15 minute interval presets. Meaning you can set it to 12:00, 12:15, 12:30, 12:45, 1:00. This is probably sufficient for most users; however, when compared with the Roomba it seems like an unnecessary limitation.

Roomba: The Roomba allows complete freedom to schedule any times that you like. Because of this, Roomba sweeps this category. One point Roomba.

Charging/Battery Life

Just like with any other remote appliance, battery life can make or break an otherwise good systems. Similarly, robot vacuums with longer battery life are obviously more desirable assuming all other things are equal.

Neato: The Neato is able to find its power “dock” automatically which in theory means owners do not need to worry about recharging their device. However, navigating to the dock is a skill in and of itself. The Neato can get stuck when it attempts to navigate to the dock which can be a huge inconvenience. When it does find the dock, the process is actually quicker than the Roomba (but this can be small comfort if your Neato gets stuck frequently). In my testing, I got my Neato up to close to 70 minutes on one charge.

Roomba: While the Roomba takes longer to dock itself, it has much better path finding ability. The Roomba will always find he dock because it uses a “virtual lighthouse” that constantly communicates with the Roomba to help it problem-solve and find the best path. This provides peace of mind, which is a nice bonus. Finally, I’ve been about to get close to 4 hours on one charge. Clearly the Roomba has the edge here. One point Roomba.

Maintenance

Maintaining a robotic vacuum ideally should not be difficult. A device smart enough to clean your house should be smart enough to take of itself, right?

Neato: The larger dust bin on the Neato immediately gives it a headstart in the Roomba vs Neato head-to-head test. However, the Neato is especially problematic if the bin starts to reach capacity. It will proceed to spread dark streaks around your carpet. This is counter-productive to say the least. Strangely enough, the larger bin does not mean you have to empty it less frequently. In my experience, you still have to empty it about once per week (on average).

Another problem with the Neato is that you will probably end up having to clean the sensors every 8-10 uses because they can become blocked by dust particles.

Roomba: The new AreoVac dust bin on the 700 series is actually not too shabby. With steady daily use, you probably won’t have to clean out the bin more than once per week…even with the smaller bin. This is probably due to superior technology; however, the explanation is far from clear.

With the Virtual Lighthouse, you will never need to touch your Roomba (except to change the bin). Both the Lighthouse and the Roomba turn on automatically per the schedule you set.

For whatever reason – probably better engineering and quality control – the Roomba is generally more reliable than the Neato. The Neato is no chump, but it just can’t quite keep up with the Roomba in this area.

UPDATE: Another aspect that I didn’t consider when I first wrote this article is the marketplace for replacement parts. This obviously isn’t something a new customer might think of, but I’ve found it to be incredibly important (many battery packs and filters later)! Thankfully, both the Neato and Roomba do have a fair selection of replacement brushes, batteries, and filters (and more) to choose from. Whether its due to market share or some other reason, iRobot has the most abundant market for replacement parts. There are quite literally dozens of replacement batteries to choose from, for example. You can even find selections that are better than the default batteries that ship with a new Roomba.

One point Roomba. 

Accessories

Both the Neato and the Roomba come standard with a few similar accessories. Namely, they both come with a home dock and and the assorted user guides needed to get you familiarized with your device.

Neato: The Neato comes with magnetic marker strips to delineate “no-go” zones in your house. The neato also comes standard with two replacment brushes.

Roomba: The Roomba comes standard with one Virtual Wall (Lighthouse). It emits an invisible beam that tells the Roomba not to clean certain areas (you can order additional Virtual Wall’s if you need them).  The beam can cover up to fourteen feet of open space. Thankfully, the can be autoset to start up automatically when the Roomba starts so you can keep them in place. The Roomba also comes standard with three replacement filters. The Virtual Wall alone makes the Roomba the clear favorite. One point Roomba.

Price

Let’s not beat around the bush; price is frequently the determining factor.

Neato: The latest Neato XV-21 retails for $499. However, on you can get a savings of  over %160 by ordering through this listing on Amazon. That brings the tag price down to roughly $335 with FREE shipping included.

Roomba: The Roomba 760, 770, 780, and 790 are progressively scaled up with slightly better features. The latest 790 can retail for up to $650, which is a hefty price tag for most. The 780 usually goes for about $570-600, however you can find it for $570 on Amazon. The lower base model 760 can he had for roughly $435 on Amazon. More recently, Roomba has introduced the 800 series which makes a number of improvements, including a noticeably more powerful cleaning suction technology. You can now find the Roomba 880 on Amazon, as it has previously proven hard to find.

On price alone, the Neato is the clear winner. If you are on a budget but desperate for a good robotic vacuum, it’s a safe bet. One point Neato.

Conclusion

Put simply, the Roomba is a better device when compared head to head. It is a close one, but the Roomba wins the head-to-head comparison 4-3.

UPDATE: Roomba 800 Series vs Botvac

With the release of the next generation of robot vacuums from both companies, I wanted to update this page with my evaluation.

Both the Roomba 880 and 870 have some nice improvements over the 700 series. While none of the improvements are ground-breaking or game-changing, they certainly were enough to make me upgrade to the Roomba 880. For starters, it is up to 5x more effective at picking up debris than the 700 series vacuums and has a 60% larger dust bin to go along with it.

The Neato Botvac series also has some improvements. Namely, a 50 percent bigger brush, a larger dust bin, and an enhanced filter. Overall – however – the improvements are not as impressive as the Roomba 800 series. I think the release of the Botvac series had more to do with a “rebranding” effort. Still, the improvements are nice and the core technology is still very comparable to the Roomba. If you can save a few hundred dollars on a Botvac vs Roomba, it’s probably worth it.

Bottom line: the improvements in both new generations do not fundamentally change my evaluation. I still give Roomba the slight edge.

You can read our head to head comparison of the Botvac 80 vs Roomba 880 here.

Interactive Poll – User Votes

Where to Buy

It can be incredibly difficult to find the Neato or Roomba models in retail stores.  Whether you go with the Neato or Roomba, you will find the best prices online. I have purchased both my Neato XV-21 and my Roomba 770 and 880 online. You can find almost all of the latest Roomba versions (and a number of the 600 and 500 series) over at Amazon for a good price.. Similarly, you can find the Neato Signature Pro for about $390. Thankfully, both can qualify for free shipping.

46 Comments

  • Liked the article, clear and simple very informative. I am desperate to buy a robotic vac, but because of the cost I’m doing my research. I’m wondering as a consumer, what product do you like and why?

    • To be honest, both companies have great track records. iRobot is the more established company with more models to choose from, but Neato has a strong track record. To help narrow your choice, try and determine what price range you are comfortable with. At this point it is a lot easier to compare the pros and cons. Check out this page for a good comparison chart.

  • “Strangely enough, the larger bin does not mean you have to empty it less frequently. In my experience, you still have to empty it about once per week (on average).”

    What?! That’s not strange, if anything it points out the fact that the Neato with it’s bigger bin is doing a better job than the roomba. It is picking up more, thus causing you to empty the bin more frequently.

    Neat won on the following
    Design
    Cleaning Technology
    Price

    Roomba won on the following
    scheduling
    battery life/charging (arguable, my neato has no problem finding the doc and has good battery life)
    Maintenance (Have had no problems with anything mentioned, easy to clean as well especially with pet hair)
    Accessories

    So the Neato has a great price, is good at cleaning and a better design. Where as the roomba can schedule well, and come with sweet accessories… Which is more important?

    • The reality is, both brands are very close. The differences I have found are not dramatic ones at all. About the larger bin: you could be right, but I think a split test is in order to find out! *added to my to-do list*

      • Absolutely agree with Kevin regarding the different weights of your 1 point. I have both Neato and Roomba, and I can say for sure lower maintenance of Neato. I can confirm Kevin’s point that Neato picks up much more, which led to it filling up its larger bin more quickly. What’s annoying about Roomba is that you often not only need to clean the bin, but also need to take out the brush and rollers to untangle the hairs etc. So the maintenance experience is much less pleasant and takes longer.

      • The reality is, you gave the Roomba points for such useless abilities. The ability to schedule your Roomba to start at 1:07 is not equal to the Neato’s stronger cleaning abilities, yet you gave “one point” to each. I was halfway expecting you to give Roomba another point for having more letters in its name. I genuinely believe you were trying your best to make Roomba the winner.

        • That is an entirely fair point, but users have different needs. For some, the ability to schedule is more important than the suction ability. Readers can “weight” there scores however they like; however, I’m not going to make assumptions about what feature is “more important” to users. It’s like debating the finer points between a BMW and Mercedes… You really can’t go wrong with either, but if you are struggling to make a decision, here is some criteria to judge.

    • This is a tough one because both companies have excellent service. I have not experienced – or heard of anyone experiencing – any problems with the customer service. They are both very reputable companies. Perhaps iRobot has a more sensitive public image as a public company and might work harder to please the customer, but that is just speculation.

  • After 2.5 years my Neato still amazes me. Roomba amazes me too, but only that its has survived as a bump and spin sweeper for so long without any real navigation or mapping skills. If I was to choose between housemaids, I’d not pick the blindfolded one. OK, given long enough, the pantry floor would be well swept, but there’s a whole house to do!

    Points I’d debate –

    Design: the Neato is a ‘timewaster’ because it has to turn and face forward before heading in another direction? A Roomba typically takes anywhere between 5 – 10 times as long to sweep just one room, compared to a Neato, so I’m not sure a second or two in a turn really matters.

    Scheduling: We’re not recording a TV show or reheating leftovers, so why fiddle about with minutes? Does anyone really need their Roomba to set off at 11:17AM? A point to Neato for having scheduling, but keeping it simple.

    Charging/Battery Life: my Neato rarely fails to dock, even when returning from under a bed at the other end of the house, and with the dock in a cluttered study without the prescribed clearances. Better still, after recharging, it heads off again to resume vacuuming at the very point in the house that it left off. While the Roomba gets better runtimes, it needs to because of its random cleaning strategy, and a weak suction motor helps too. Roomba’s lighthouses requires frequent battery replacements while Neato uses passive magnetic strips with no cost to run – they can even be hidden under carpet or mat. Since a Neato can be left alone to vacuum a large house unattended it surely wins over a Roomba which typically needs assistance to get between multiple rooms. For efficient and hassle-free full house vacuuming with mid-task recharge/resume, a point to Neato.

    Maintenance: I rarely clean out the beater/brush of my Neato despite having a hairy pet, however it’s an iRobot recommended Roomba practice to clean out tangles after every run! Also I rarely clean the sensors – maybe once every 6 – 8 weeks – yet I vacuum 2 – 3 times a week. And my bin fills up on every run – it’s a real vacuum, not a sweeper. I certainly couldn’t let it run a week without emptying it! However, when full it usually beeps and I’ve never seen any streaks from a full bin. By not requiring a clean and untangle after every run – one point Neato.

    Accessories: To block off a room, I prefer to close a door. However, if it’s a choice between a battery powered obstacle I could trip over or bump, or a passive, even hidden, strip, then the strip wins. I’ve snipped my strip into 2 short lengths for doorways (when I want them left open) and a long one for across hallways or rooms. I’ve effectively made two more ‘lighthoses’ for nothing – try that with a Roomba! And I believe I could buy 4 long strips for the price of an extra Roomba lighthouse. Keep it simple – one point for Neato.

    I should add that I have 3 or 4 friends who have or have had Roombas – I’ve played with them all. One aquaintence has a Roomba and a Neato, so can offer a single site comparison. He prefers his Neato. The Roomba lies in a cupboard, now unused. One point Neato.

  • I liked the article as well and have been a little suspicious of any review site that compares these two machines with one machine coming out as the constant winner on every level. I’ve bought both machines in the last six months; bought one and returned it for the other.

    For many aspects I preferred the Neato which I bought originally. It maneuvers well, does not bump hard into furniture, is amusing how it navigates, cleans wonderfully. Problem was it could only find it’s way to base about fifty percent of the time and it’s base, according to instructions had to have a major clearance in front and to the sides. I followed instructions and did have to put it in a spot that I was not crazy over plus had to move furniture to accommodate. I live in a condo and having this type of space for the docking mechanism is not that easy. Additionally without exception the Neato got caught up under a sofa or was stuck trying to climb the bases of four of my pedestal type chairs.

    The reason why I bought a robotic vacuum was not only to clean but to set it and forget it; sadly in my experience the Neato did not fill the second requirement. It took me about four more months to consider either trying another Neato (maybe mine was a lemon, but that is bad enough in itself) or trying the Roomba.

    I have the Roomba now. It is a set it and forget it type of vacuum. It cleans well, does bump and go willy nilly to clean a room but it does hit every spot easily on a single charge and finds it’s way home without exception. It doesn’t get caught up in cords or stuck anywhere….ever.

    I think of Neato as a princess and the Roomba as a hard working drunken sailor. The princess may be more refined and sophisticated, but you have to send her a cab to get her home and do extras for her, the hardworking drunken sailor gets the job done, may but into furniture a bit but will get itself home.

    I see the demos online even from reviewers. I don’t want to see a course such as a lab or just plain carpet. I want something like my place that has computer cords, awkward furniture and tight spaces. Yes, I want a real life simulation for these two contenders. If I lived in an empty room with plush carpet I’d choose the Neato, but I don’t.

    Btw, that 4 cm less height for the Roomba made a major difference in my experience. I would suggest before deciding which product to buy, take out a tape measure and measure the clearance for your sofas etc. If it can’t get under your sofa, it won’t be cleaning there.

    Felt the need to comment on this site because I did choose the Neato first because of reviews. Some sites suggest Neato is the clear winner but there are elements that some testers have not taken into consideration. Was happy that this reviewer mentioned that the height of the product is something to consider. For me that element was crucial.

    Glad I gave the robotic vacuum idea a try after being disappointed with the Neato. May be better for other types of places. My place has hardwood floors, a rug that has a low pile, a complicated floor plan, and many cords.

    Hope this helps anyone reading.

  • I also had issues with the Neato getting caught up with wires and cords, but i still loved it and the main reason i am back here considering the Roomba now is because the sensor cleaning issue ended up causing me to return the Neato, it went blind after a month. Not sure if this was a rare occurrence, but sensitive sensors in a basement apartment is a big setback. If the vacuum is sensitive to dust then your asking for trouble, it cleaned everyday and i had to empty daily as i have a big lab that sheds a lot (one of the main reasons i bought this). Brushes will get stuck occasionally when running over something stringy but i have to say the suction was amazing and it cleaned my ceramic tiles wonderfully. So now after seeing the price differences i’m still wondering if i should shell out the extra cash on the Roomba, or are those sensors better on certain models.

    • Sensor issues are common on some of the older models. What model Neato do you have that was having the issues?

      With each iteration, both the Neato and Roomba improve their sensors, battery life, etc… The top line Neato’s tend to be less expensive than the Roomba’s (in general.

    • Hey Soner,

      I’ve had the Roomba for 3 months now with no issues whatsoever. I’ve added an update review. Can understand why it’s hard to leave the Neato, the suction probably is better but have a feeling that the brushes are better with the Roomba, and just perhaps allows both to clean well. That little side brush thing on the Roomba does make a difference as well. If the Neato keeps handling cords the way it did I could never have one. I got my version the 780 because it specifically mentioned that it’s improvement was the cord issue. I was so sad to return the Neato and it took a couple of months, maybe three, to try a robot vacuum again. If anyone finds that the Neato fixes it’s issues with cords I would like to be the first to know. I like these things so much, yeah…I’d buy a second for a different floor.

  • I had the Neato Robotics XV Signature Robotic Vacuum, i purchased it just before x-mas and had to return it sometime early Jan.

    • Soner, have you checked out the new Neato Botvac 80 (or 75, etc…)? I’m not saying that’s the solution, but I have not heard any complaints about their sensors. See my review here. It’s pretty new, so not a whole lot of track record to go off of. It’s understandable if you’d switch to Roomba. The 880 is outstanding, but it’s a steep price to pay.

      • I have heard no mention yet of how either of these units deal with area rugs. Do they jump upon fearlessly or shy away. We have terrible dog hair issues throughout the house of hardwood floors, thought there are wool area rugs in all the rooms. Any experience with this?

        • Hi Robbi, Good question! For most area rugs there will not be a problem for either the Neato or Roomba. I’ve seen my Neato XV-21 sometimes struggle with area rugs that have long tendrils. On some of the older Roomba models, they also struggled with tendrils, but I’ve noticed an almost complete improvement with the 800 series. There is always the potential for “unique” area rugs – particularly with “tendrils” – to trip up either of these machines. At best, they may slow down as they detect he area rug and adapt to the new surface. In your situation, I wouldn’t worry about a standard wool rug. Either the Roomba or Neato should handle it well, especially the most recent models.

        • I had the Roomba and the Neato for a complicated area with hardwood floors and a low pile area rug; both didn’t skip a beat between surfaces, Neither are shy!

  • Hey all,

    Writing again with an update.

    Seems the topic of price has come up and realized I didn’t mention the model I had. I have the 780 Roomba.

    Noticed that Roomba has come up with newer versions which will bring the cost of buying my version down.

    How is it doing? Quite terrific I’m happy to report. It always picks up something and I clean the bin when I remember. It does my kitchen area as well and I am a messy cook and not only does it pick up small things but bigger things without missing a beat! It still doesn’t get caught up in cords, finds it’s way back to base 98 percent of the time and never needs to recharge during cleaning. (The Neato did).

    I’ve had no problems with the brushes.

    It took a lot for me to try another robot vacuum after buying the Neato and my strongest suggestion to anyone considering either product for the store’s return policy to be one of the best and save your receipt and box for awhile. I really loved how the Neato worked and was thinking of buying a robot vacuum as a housewarming gift. Even if personally I would give the Neato another chance, buying it for someone else I would have to be absolutely sure it was dependable. Have to go with the Roomba.

    Three months in and absolutely no problems with the Roomba; works like it did day one.

  • Great and extremely helpful information! I guess if I had the money, I’d go with the Roomba, but really can’t afford it. I am considering purchasing the Neato made specifically to pick up animal hair and dander. I’m not very clear about the differences in all the series, although I am guessing that the higher the price, the stronger the suction(?) and quality of vacuum??????????? We don’t wear shoes in the house and carpet isn’t high, so, basically I just need a vacuum that can pick up the animal hair. Again, great website.

    • Hi Jeanne, Yes generally the more expensive the more advanced the system. BUT, some of the new features are not always worth the money. Sometimes you can find good VALUE for the money by going with one of the better older models. For example, if I had a limited budget, I would check out the Roomba 700 series or look into buying a refurbished model on Amazon. In short, the new features are nice but not always necessary depending on your needs.

  • Thank you. Good advice. I don’t need more features. I liked the fact that the Roomba is not as high as the Neato, which I don’t think would go under my couch. I didn’t know Amazon sold refurbished models, & I will check it out, esp. if it has Amazon guarantee. Thanks again!

  • Well, I can give you a year-long report on the Neato vacs…..

    First of all the setting: Built in 2006, 2000 square foot ranch home. Kids grown and gone. Myself, my wife and 1 Black Lab/Golden Retriever (Flatcoat) are the only residents. Both my wife and I work out of the home and (since I own a business) the dog more often than not goes with me. Also the dog is professionally groomed once a month so while there’s some dog hair it’s not piles.

    The machine was set to sweep the carpeting in the 22’x16′ living room and the 4’x25′ hallway daily at 10am while we were gone. Very rarely (once a month MAX) did we leave out master bedroom door open to allow it to clean there and even more rarely was it allowed to run on the tile kitchen and dining area. Dust bin is emptied almost always daily and the brush/bushings/sensors cleaned weekly.

    May 2013 purchased XV14 with all the extras for pet hair.

    1st machine lasted about a month and a half. During this time it would only make it back to the base 50% of the time (when it did work it did a very nice cleaning job) and then began loosing time on it’s clock (several hours a day) and we began to find it simply stopped in the middle of the room dead. Contacted Neato and went through diags…. end result was a replacement unit sent out.

    2nd unit (a refurbished unit) was received around mid-July and operated well with only occasional “hangups” for about 2 months. We began to get a “vision blocked” fault displayed. We cleaned machine thoroughly (including the upper range finder lenses) but it began happening more frequently and was accompanied by a strange whirring noise. CS was again contacted and finally another unit was sent out.

    3rd unit (another refurb) was received in November and immediately out of the box would not see the base nor charge. I finally found the power cord connection inside the base was not plugged in! I plugged it in and charged the unit. It worked for 2 days and then we found it sitting in front of the base (within 2 ft) dead. When placed against the base it wouldn’t charge. Wiggled and shook it around a bit (rubbing against the contacts) and it began charging. As this issue got worse we would find it backed up to the base as it normally would but not charging and dead. By the time CS was contacted again and another machine was sent out it was late DEC.

    4th machine was received in December and we were surprised to find that it had been upgraded to a Signature Pro. Hoping the ills were solved we enjoyed nearly 4 months of WONDERFUL operation. Yes, there were the rare hangups but that’s expected. Then in April we found a “vision blocked” fault. We thoroughly cleaned and reset it and it worked for a couple of days then the same thing. It began to do it daily and even after resetting it many times it would fail immediately again. I contacted CS again and this time got MANY run-arounds, promises for call backs that never happened and finally rather than replace it again they simply said there’s nothing else they could do and would refund my purchase price and sent me a return shipping label.

    As we speak the last unit is on it’s way back to California and I am awaiting the refund.

    What would you do???? They tell you that the BotVac is essentially the same hardware/software in a larger case with a bigger dust bin and brush. I wonder if the Roomba would be a better choice???

    • John, thank you for sharing your story! Hopefully others will find it helpful. I would definitely try out a Roomba after your disappointing experience with Neato. You are right that the new Botvacs are essentially more of a rebranding of the signature pro system. At this point I would try out a Roomba 700 series model. It’s a similar price point to the new Botvacs. The Roomba 880 is great, but it’s a steep price right now. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • I’ve written here before and want to say very few people actually have tried both Neatos and
    Roombas; obviously both John and I have. I want to buy a few for christmas gifts for close family members and even though I thought the Neato seemed stronger the Roomba was by far the more durable. I have the 780 Roomba and it doesn’t get caught up in cords, finds it’s way home and is working for the greater part of the year now. I had the Neato for a couple of weeks, it was my first try at robotic vacuums. I hated to have to return it; I had such hopes of an easier cleaning life. It was so unreliable I am surprised that I actually went for the Roomba. My strongest advice? Whatever anyone buys, buy from a store with the easiest return policy. Not sure if I am allowed to say a store but Costco accepted the return no questions asked. Bed and Bath says it has a good return policy, haven’t tried them but….if you sign up for their newsletter you will get 20 percent off a one time purchase on a single item. I used that to buy my Roomba. I was so freaked out by the Neato not working, I kept the box for my Roomba for awhile in case it broke down. It hasn’t. It works great and has a longer lasting battery life. Roomba is more of a trial and error mapping thing, it eventually gets to the kitchen. Neato was more methodical but who cares if it won’t dock or continually gets stuck on cords and on furniture. Plus the Roomba is just a tad shorter and that does make a difference for my furniture. It doesn’t get stuck.

    • Thanks for the opinion, Mickey. I think the Neato has a lot of promise but isn’t quite ready for prime time. I know there are a lot of people who swear by their Neato and have nothing good to say about Roomba, but I still think Roomba is the “safer” purchase for the reasons you stated. I like Amazon as well because they have the A-Z guarantee. Sometimes the iRobot store also has some great promotions. I’m counting on some good Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals this year…

  • I am now on my second Roomba. My first, a 530 lasted for just over 4 years, just requiring a couple of new batteries in that time and the odd brush. It eventually was retired as the brushed would stop spinning. I could probably have had it repaired but I thought it best to retire it.

    That was replaced with the 760 and I could not be happier. It always finds its way back and does an excellent job. As a previous commentator stated, it really is a leave and forget machine. Yes it does wander around randomly and bump into things but it gets under all the furniture and has never got stuck or tangled. Maintainance is low and you really notice the improvements on the later models. Brushes now come with shields to stop fluff and dirt getting to the bearings. The dustbin is bigger and easier to empty. Gone is the weird filter from the 530 to be replaced with two sturdy HEPA clip in filters. I have had this one just over a year and all I have had to buy is new filters. Battery is still going strong and brushes are in perfect condition. I should add we only have tiled floors but it does have to cope with a cat.

    The scheduling function is great and very easy to use. The remote I have hardly used and I cannot see much use, except from time to time annoy the aforementioned cat.

    I have no experience of the Neato but was curious to see what the competition is like. From what I see the Roomba is still no. 1 and highly recommend it.

    • Hey John,

      Thanks for sharing! I think your assessment is fair enough. Obviously there is tons of disagreement and rabid fans on both sides, but I think there is a strong case to be made for the Roomba 800 series at least being a half-step ahead of the new Neato Botvac’s. I’m most excited to see what Dyson has up their sleeves with their recent announcement of a robot vacuum in development… I’ll be monitoring that closely here…

  • I had the Neato for the last 2 years and finally got too frustrated with it. So, just got the Roomba pet series model from Costco to try something new. Time will tell if any better.

    With the Neato, it did a good job when it worked, but it broke down many times. First time it broke within a few months, and had to get entire new unit from Neato. But then after 1.5 years, the batteries failed and now out of warranty. I figured maybe this was just the life of the batteries. I had two new battery packs made at BatteryPlus which were stock to the originals. Unit ran for another 2 months, and then it burned those batteries out. So I think the charging unit had some issues in the whole battery problem. Finally just returned to Costco and I am starting over with the Roomba

    Other things I noticed with the Neato is that it had a higher height than the Roomba so it would get stuck under more furniture. Second, it had a harder time navigating under chairs. Not seeing the same issue with the Roomba on the same chairs or coffee table.

    I liked how Neato would work an entire room before moving on compared to the random action of the Roomba. But my Roomba unit came with the electronic sensor that you can place on the ground to keep it contained to a certain area. I have also not tried spot clean mode yet.

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for commenting! I actually recommend most Roomba’s over the Neato if you are specifically looking for something that will effectively pick up pet hair and dander. Even some of the 700 or even 600 series Roomba’s do a better job of picking up pet hair than the latest Neato’s. Because of the way the brushes work, my Roomba’s always seem to do a better job with hair. If the Roomba is a bit too expensive and you are set on a Neato, I would go with at least the XV-21 or Signature Pro (nothing earlier). Hope this helps!

  • I’ve had a Neato XV-11 for a few years. It runs daily, automatically charging twice during three forays out into my house. The rubber beater blades are essentially uncloggable with the dog hair and long human hair it encounters. I empty it’s collection bin daily, and the bin is about 75% full each time (lots of dog hair). I’ve never owned a bounce-around type of vacuum like a Roomba, but figured I’d chime in with my high impression of the Neato. I doubt a Roomba would be able to clean the multiple rooms the Neato reaches each day. I’ve got a very good upright vacuum, and have used it to test how well the Neato is actually cleaning. I’m quite happy with the Neato.

    • Thanks for sharing Steve! No doubt, there are a lot of happy Neato owners out there. I’m fairly confident 90% of folks would be happy with either.

  • I had a neato xv signature. Had problems with the battery life. If it vacuumed my short pile carpet it would drain quickly. I returned it to best buy and upgraded to the neato botvac 80. I am amazed at the improvement in the battery life. My botvac 80 is vacuuming my living room, kitchen, bathrooms, office with carpet, bedroom with carpet on the first charge! It is also quieter. The bin is bigger and has been full. I just got this vacuum 2 weeks ago. I also like the boundary markers. I had considered a roomba, but the thought of having to have lighthouse towers to either keep a roomba out or help it go to another room seemsed like a lot of trouble. Not set and forget. My botvac 80 has gone over cords and not got stuck on any of them. I also love how it goes under dressers and comes back out. It also finds its way back to the home base when full. If the roomba’s weren’t so expensive I would buy one to test it out. I think it would be more fun to watch. But the neato cleans so good. I hope it will last.

  • I want to make an update. In my last post, I had bought the neato botvac 80 and was so impressesd with how much dirt it picked up and how much longer the battery lasted compared to the neato xv signature I had before. Unfortunately, at 30 days, I heard a cry for help in the bedroom and my neato was stuck against the fake ficus tree. I moved it and it started banging against the wall repeatedly. I picked it up and moved it and it was erratic. It took it back to the charger and it placed it on the charger and it gave a message that said my battery is low, please charge me. I’ve been through this song and dance before. This is my 3rd Neato in less than 2 years. When they work they are awesome! They just have real quality control issues. I will also say that I tried to register my new botvac 80 and I had forgotten my password. I tried to reset it. The site kept telling me it had sent me an email to reset my password, it never did. I tried this over and over. Finally I called neato customer service. I waited on hold for 40 minutes to talk to someone. All I wanted to to was register my botvac. When I did get a person, she said I had to do that online. I did not let her hang up. Told her I had already tried that. She put me on hold and finally came back and said she had sent a message to some corporate people or something and she would get back to me personally. Never happended. With the bad customer service and website not working, plus defective unit again. I boxed up the Neato and took it back to best buy (their extended warranty is awesome!). I told them I wanted to try a Roomba. I got the Roomba 870. So far I like it. It does not bang into furniture hard, it slows down before, my floors look really clean, well, the hardwood and tile floors do. It goes over my carpet but when it is finished, there is not near as much in the bin as the neato would have. The Neato just really picks up more dirt, at least on the carpet. If the Neato was more reliable I would stick with it. But I do like the Roomba 870. I like that it has the rubber extractors instead of the brushes.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Charles. As a much larger publicly traded company, iRobot definitely has more resources for QA and testing.

  • I agree with your review and personally I would take the Neato over the Roomba in a second
    “IF” it performed as a capable robotic. It doesn’t.

  • Weird how we get attached to our robot vacuums. I feel like a traitor having a Roomba. Hopefully the Roomba 870 will be a durable Robot and give me many years of service.

  • Just getting ready to purchase a robot vac. Reading all the opinions does make it confusing . Currently between Neato xv21 & Roomba 530. Any last suggestions, or do I cross my fingers and go ?

    • Paul, if you’ve narrowed it down to those two it looks like you targeted a certain price range. I generally prefer the new Roombas over the new Neato Botvacs, but in this case the XV-21 is a bit ahead of the 500 series Roombas in terms of features. It’s really a coin toss. Roombas are generally more reliable and have a better market for replacement parts and accessories, if that’s a concern.

  • Has the newer roombas improved? I had at one time a 560 and had to shelve that thing because it would turn around by sensors and run into furniture with full force causing scratches on some antique furniture I had in my living room. This was just not acceptable to me at the time.

    • Absolutely! I’d say the difference is night and day. The 800 series in particular is much more consistent, effective and durable than the old 500 series.

    • Shea, You really can’t go wrong with either. Sometimes it varies with carpeting, but both main offerings from Neato and Roomba are excellent on hard floors. If you primarily have hardwood flooring and are trying to decide between the two, I’d go with the best price right now. They are both having deals this time of year, it’s just about finding the right one at the right time. I’m assuming you just need the vacuum feature and not mopping (see the Scooba and Braava for that).

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