Vacuum cleaner robot May 14, 2014 3:03 pm

Review of the vacuum cleaner robot Neato Botvac


Since 2011, Neato Robotics have made themselves known with their first robotic vacuum cleaner, the Neato XV-15. It has revolutionized the world of domestic robots ! This is achieved thanks to their ultra precise laser navigation system, which allows each robot to map its environment.

It has been almost a 3 year wait to finally meet the new Neato Botvac.  The wait was long but it was worth it. Even if the Botvac doesnt provide any real innovation compared to the Neato XV. Neato Robotics has intelligently optimized this robot allowing it to now take the 1st place in ranking with Kelrobot.

The Neato series Botvac is composed of 4 models, the Botvac 70e, the Botvac 75, the Botvac 80 and finally the Botvac 85 (the one used in this test).

Contents of the box

The model Botvac 85 is sold with:

  • A charging station
  • Magnetic tape strips which allows you to create a barrier that the robot cannot breach
  • Plastic brush strips
  • A brush that combines lamella and hair  (mounted on top of the robot)
  • 3 Filters

(No remote control with the Neato models).

contenu boite neato botvac

The width of the charging station has decreased slightly compared to previous models, though this model is thicker.

base chargement neato botvac

You are able to adjust the length of the cord by wrapping it around the rear of the robots base. There is no longer a hood to remove, which is easier than the previous models.

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Upper Part

The Neato still retains its ‘U’ shape, which allows for a better cleaning of hard angles. On the front turret the laser is housed to guide environment mapping. With the Botvac there is a real feeling you have your hands on a new model.

This design appears more elegant than older generation. The sleek Grey and Black design allows the machine to remain looking clean over a longer time, unlike the previous models all being in white. The materials appear solid and the plastic is more scratch resistant than that of Neato XV. Essentially it has the ability to remain looking newer for longer.

aspirateur robot neato botvac 85

This new Neato is slightly larger in width and depth. It measures approximately 33.7 cm in width (1cm more than the Neato Signature), 32.3 cm in depth (also 1 cm more than the Neato Signature).  It is therefore a small regression (even if it remains in the good average) because size is important for movement in narrow areas of a household.

On the other hand the height appears identical, officially 10.16 cm.

The start button now takes the appearance of a house, not necessarily very intuitive on my 1st use.

The novelty is the appearance of a button (to the left) that allows you to quickly launch a cleaning target on an area of 1.2 m x 1.8 m. This function previously existed but it was only accessible from the menu of previous models.

We found the carrying handle quite cleverly designed with the Neato models, ideal for moving the vacuum from one room to another.

poignee botvac neato

The LCD screen of the command center is the interface to interact with the vacuum cleaner. It is the only robot (along with the Kobold) to propose this type of command design. The menu is very intuitive, it is not necessary to read through the ‘mode’ of boring functions. The size of the screen has been decreased significantly. As you can see below, it is not well adjusted on my model, it leans to the left!

menu neato botvac

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The menu allows you to:

  •  Schedule cleaning
  • Choose a language (there are a lot more languages available)
  •  Set the clock
  • Obtain information on the status of the robot and on its possible errors (brush blocked etc. )
  • Put the vacuum cleaner in pause or cancel the cleaning
  • Return the vacuum cleaner to its charging station

The manual buttons leave place to touch buttons, more design is obvious but it is a little less convenient to use.

The dust trap

bac poussiere neato botvac-85

It is slightly larger from 0.66 L to 0.7 L.

filtre neateo botvac

The filter is almost two times larger. Previous models measured 12 cm, with the Botvac coming in at 20cm! A new record!

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On the other hand, it does capture more dust, so requires cleaning more regulary. The easiest and fastest way to clean the vacuum is by handheld vacuum cleaner. Other models have chosen to add a sheet of tissue paper over the filter so that you no longer have to wash the filter.
The brand recommended to replace every 1 to 2 months to maintain its effectiveness. The budget filters will quickly climb if you follow their recommendation!

The filter isn’t that easy to remove, it does require a little force which may allow residual dust to escape.

Watch this video on how to remove the tray and the filter:

The On/Off switch: this is Neatos response to complaints from battery defects from machines that remained in packaging too long.

port usb neato botvac

You will notice to the left of the switch, a USB port that allows to owner to update the navigation software. The port was previously on the outside of the robot to the rear. This is one of the more advanced vacuum cleaner robots from the Neato range. Neato Robotics offer regular updates of firmware to improve the navigation of the robot or fix bugs.

Lower part

At a first glance the robot looks identical to the Neato XV-15 or Signature. But if we look closer there are many developments have been made. It appears the aim with this new model is improved cleaning performance and an extension to the life of the robot.

aspirateur robot botvac neato

Let’s start with the most important feature, ‘The Central Brush’. The brush is the robots ultimate weapon to clean floors. It allows the dirt from floors and carpets to be sucked into the dust tray of the robot.

The Botvac 85 is sold with 2 types of brushes, a slatted plastic brush perfectly suited for the hard floors and a brush that combines lamella and hair.

The enormous advantage of the brush in slats is that no hair can get caught around it  which is an important feature when considering the maintenance of the robot.

brosse lamelle botvac

The novelty here, is its size. It measures from 24 to 28 inches. To my knowledge, that is a record! But what is even more interesting is that the brush extends to one of the two boundaries of the robot. This is so effective that the central brush only has to clean less than a centimeter of the borders. The torque of the small side brush means the robot should perform well during the sugar test. This is a first for a vacuum cleaner robot as most have their brush between the wheels!

The other benefit that this gigantic brush brings is that the robot cans more important surfaces more thoroughly and quickly. We will talk about this later.

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The vacuum sensors that are usually located on the sides have been moved above the brushes for this model:

capteur vide neato

Another difference, the blades are slightly thinner on the new Neato.

Behold the bristle and slats brush:

brosse poils aspirateur robot neato botvac

This brush is supposed to be more effective on carpets, we will find out later, when sugar testing. The problem that arises is that hair can get caught the around bristles requiring regular maintenance. Note: finally that this brush is far less noisy than the plastic strips.

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The bearings are well protected and will require very little maintenance. The drive belt is now closed and the gears are quieter while the machine is moving.

The disassembly and reassembly of the brushes is even simpler than before as you can see in this video:

Finally… The sidebursh of the Neato

Another novelty of its size is the emergence of a magnetized side brush, which comes as a default to the Neato models (identical to that of the Kobold VR100).  It allows you to clean the edges and along the walls.

brosse laterale neato botvac

For some it may appear a little short. In reality, it seems to me that it is the ideal length. Considering the main brush cleans within 1cm of the walls and borders, the side brush has been designed to be shorter. The side brush has also been made with shorter hairs to stop dust flying off into the air and making it inaccessible to clean in the future. It is also necessary to emphasis the engineering work to protect the bearings of the wheels. They therefore require less maintenance will improve the life of the robot:

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In addition the housing of the wheels is much better insulated. With my Neato XV-15 I sensed the motherboard behind the wheel. This is no longer the case with the Botvac. Therefore less dust or hairs can accumulate on the inside of the robot.


The robot’s navigation is guided by an infrared laser which scans its environment in real time and creates a virtual map for the robot to clean as well as adapt to changes. The Neato is thus able to locate itself in any space and only needs to clean each part of its environment once. Other functions also include its ability to return to its base by the shortest available path when low of battery as well as for it to resume work where it last stopped after it has finished recharging.
The laser is categorised in ‘cClass 1’, and is therefore no danger to humans. Here are its characteristics:

  • Wavelength 785 nm
  • Pulse repetition frequency 1.8 kHz
  • Duration of the pulse 200 µsec
  • Peak power of 2.1 mW
  • Beam diameter 2.3 mm
  • Beam Divergence -1.5 mrad

In contrast, Neato Robotics have decided to change the operating system by opting for QNX®Neutrino® instead of Linux. QNX is a commercial operating system in real-time and comes very reputable. Designed primarily for the market of embedded systems. After evaluating several softwares, they have chosen QNX for its response time and its capacity to manage new developments.

Demo in normal mode on a surface areao of 35m²

What do we learn from this video?

It is found that its methodical cleaning process starts to delimited several areas then cleans the edges.

It is able to identify a new room as you can see in the video. It does not begin its work in the kitchen until the salon is finished.

Thanks to the laser this vacuum, the robot tries to avoid contact with furniture and other objects, but past close enough of the latter to ensure a spotless clean. The drawback of this is behind curtains and duvets, the robot can slow down to avoid contact with obstacles and miss out cleaning important areas where dust is likely to gather. The Neato still requires very little adaptation; it is very rare that it gets stuck. It can effortlessly cross threshold bars around 2 cm (see same 2.5 cm according to its shape). On this criterion, it therefore obtains an excellent evaluation.

The Neato Botvac has travelled the area in 27 minutes. It is much faster than the Kobold VR100 (34 minutes).

Several possible explanations:

The 1st is to the credit of the new brush. More broadly, the robot is thus able to cover a greater surface area in a single pass.

The 2nd reason is that it is slightly more responsive, I have noticed that since the start, but I have not been able yet to the check in its ability to manage the obstacles. We note well in this video that the Neato is slightly faster at startup:

Another reason could be linked to the management of the surface are intended for cleaning. Neato Robotics assured its customers of having improved the navigation and the processing power of the information algorithm. But again it is difficult to analyze this point in an objective manner. In this video we see that the Neato and the Kobold do not begin the cleaning of the room the same way:

All this is relative as these robots, from one cycle to the other, may have different cleaning patterns for the same surface.

Last but not least, the precision on its operation for people new to Neato Robotics: In the case where the vacuum cleaner has been started manually and not from its base, it will return to its starting point and will ask to be reloaded. Very convenient for those living in homes with multiple levels, and not having a base loading on each floor. You’ll know exactly where is the robot once his work is completed.


The 2 elements of NiMH battery of the series XV have been replaced by a single battery composed of 10 cells. In addition, the new software improves management of the battery.

neato batterie botvac

The maximum autonomy announced by Neato Robotics is of 1h30 on hard floors, it is 30 min longer than the previous Neato.

On my side I have stopwatch 1h15 of autonomy on a hard surface with a carpet and parts moderately congested.

I therefore believe that it may cover a surface area of approximately 97m2 (in my setup). Knowing that this surface may be doubled or even tripled since the Neato can resume its work where it left off if it was short on battery.

For a full charge, it takes 3 hours.

Test os sugar: 94% sucked on hard floor!

The power of the engine ensures the suction is identical to that of the Neato XV, but it does improve the results for the sugar test.

On hard ground, it was exceptional with 47 grams syphoned, against approximately 38 grams for the preceding Neato models. Only 3 small grams left on the ground, it is very little. This improvement is, of course by the wider central brush which is able to reach nearer to the edges of walls as well as by the side brush which allows the sugar to be retrieved along the wall.

The previous record was held by the Kobold VR100 with 44 grams. The Botvac obtained a score of 47 grams with its flap brush !

Here is the test of the Neato XV-Signature (thus without side brush).  You will notice the quantity of sugar left along the wall:

Again we found that this new Neato is faster. The test has been performed in 5 ’37 against 7 ’08 for the Kobold VR100 and 7 ’35 for the Neato Signature.

On carpet the result is also improved with 37 grams recovered (vs 31 gr for the Neato XV-25 and 32 gr for the Kobold VR100).  It is a very good performance. But this result was achieved thanks to the plastic brush strips and not the bristle brush, the latter should be more efficient for carpets and rugs. I had actually found this with the previous Neato and the Kobold but with the Neato Botvac this is no longer the case and I must confess I do not understand the reason at the moment.

With the bristle brush it sucked 34 grams, also a very good result. Note; The bristle brush will allow you to retrieve more hair housed in the carpet, especially if you have pets.

Attention, some users in the U.S. have reported that the Botvac crashed on carpets with hairs of 2cm or more. It must be stressed that all of the brands do not recommended operating their robots on these types of carpet at the risk of damaging the robot or household.


More efficient cleaning along the walls, a grander dust tray, better autonomy … those are some of the developments that allow the Neato to take the 1st place in the ranking with a score of 17.5/20.

Neato Robotics has not neglected quality. The manufacturers appear to have paid particular attention to the quality of materials and finishes.

I can see that Neato Robotics have learned from their mistakes of the 1st Neato. Errors of wheel type, inability to see objects, poor battery life and quality were a big part of the reason  so many of their products are returned. Only time will tell, but I remain confident in this brand. Neato has made a point to honor a customer’s satisfaction with their products also having excellent troubleshooting and returns with factory faults.

On this type of product I can only advise you to take the extended warranty.

Stong points

  •  Navigation ultra-precise, its laser technology is remarkable
  • Powerful suction
  • Crossing the threshold bars of 2cm
  • USB Connection allows updating the navigation software
  • The side brush (to share the size of its hairs)
  • The maintenance of the brushes and bearings (very rare)
  • The size of the brush central and its position under the robot
  • The filter size
  • The finishes

Weak points

  • Dust Tray not easy  to empty
  • The filter becomes dirty quickly
  • No remote control

Whichrobot rating : 17.5/20 (how we rate)

The Botvac 70e will be sold 479.99 euros, the 75,499.99 euros and the 85 will be marketed to 549.99 euros.

My choice would be on the model Botvac 75 which has 2 filters.

Now you know a little more on the Neato Botvac. Other tests are in preparation: lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners robots, robots raccoons, drones, connected objects… Stay Connected!

In fact, you should be aware that the best way to be kept informed of the new tests is to follow on Facebook.

35 Commentaires

  • What is the Best Vacuum for Stairs?

  • Michael Madsen

    Great review!
    It would be nice if your test results were summed up in a table-like grid:

    Test/Make – Neato Botvac – Neato XV15 – Kobold VR100
    Test sugar on hard floor – 47 g. – 38 g. – 44 g.
    Battery time – 1h30 – 1h00 – 1h00

    It seems you have this data and some of it is in the review. You just have to grab it while reading. It would be an easier compare if the data was in a table.

  • Reto Höliner

    Interesting test! However I`m really surprised that you don`t critizise the inaccepable noise of this devise. I had one here and on hard floor it sounds almost like a drilling machine. Simply inaacceptable for me ..

  • Reto // i bought my xv-15 one and a half year ago and it sounded terrible. I was so dissapointed and thought my underliving neighbours would kill me. But, i decided to cut like 1mm on the brush and voila the sound is acceptable. Just a tip.

  • Nice review. I would like to point out, that “filter becomes dirty quickly” is a “strong point”. That means it is removing dust from your home and not blowing it back into the air.

  • Works great so far, second time I have used it but seems to do a lot of back tracking and not sure it cleans the whole room. Run time is much longer than the other 2 I had. Last one went over magnetic strip and tumbled down steps, navigation system was off after that. Purchased the Botvac 70e and it pays no attention to magnetic strips. I had one placed before getting to steps and one at about inches from top of steps and it pushed it out of the way. Had I not been watching it, this would have taken a tumble. Any suggestions on what to do about this?

    • Curious. When I tried to post comments that were contrary to Gol3;e&#g9os preferred view, they vanished. I guess you can post comments only if you agree with Google. You are morphing into another Microsoft — and that's not meant as a compliment.

  • I do like the way you have presented this situation and it really does provide us a lot of fodder for thought. However, coming from what I have witnessed, I simply just hope when other responses pack on that people keep on issue and in no way embark on a soap box of some other news du jour. Yet, thank you for this superb piece and even though I can not necessarily concur with this in totality, I value the viewpoint.

  • Great Review Cedric, impressed that the Vacuum unit can return to base when the battery is flat and resume where it left of. I wish my wife was as efficient as this little gadget.

  • Thank you Cedric, enjoyed your very detailed review.
    I purchased a BV85 and love it, but had a few questions.
    Note: I did try to get an answer from Neato on-line chat, but was left with frustration.
    I like your picture showing the on/off switch next to the jack you are calling a USB jack. Looks that way to me also, but have not been able to get a plug to go in to it. Noticed that the plastic around the jack is shaped like a LAN RJ45… Have you been able to plug in to this jack and connect up to a PC??? If so, that would prove that I may have a bad jack. Note: Mine does look like it was made by a diferent maker. Mine does not define the normal tapper of the micro USB. I have tried a lot of plugs that look like they should work, but at best only just start to plug in a tad.(not right)
    Neato told me she just used a phone cord and it just pluged right in, but when asked about the taper direction, she said no it was just a strieght plug. I told her, that sounded like the older series and she then agreed, but continued to go around in circles.
    I also asked if I could buy an extended warenty. She said NO.
    For the person with the mag strip issue, after I taped mine down, It works as it should.(3 tapes one one each end and one in the middle)
    I sure hope you can clarify the jack thing for me, as I can still return my BV85 if I had to. It works so well, but I don’t want to wait till I need to update it, only to find out it has a problem.
    Thanks again for a job well done, hope you can help, Dan F

  • hi i was wondering which has more suction and air flow between the two the nearo botvac 85 or the kobold vr100 and which one would you better on all floor types without having to change the brush roll.

  • Great review. The air noise of these appliances says nothing but the real hard work they do. They are more vaccuum cleaners then electric wipers. And more, they are intellectual laser guided cleaners which really helps keep home clean. Just program them to clean when you are not at home, and they ask no assistance from you :)

  • I do have my fair share of problems with the Botvac85; and one main problem that was never highlighted to any of us consumers is the height of the kerbs/stairs that the robot is able to sense (Neato has yet to come back to me on the flaw). Nonetheless, once the limitations/flaws are identified, the robot is actually pretty good. My problems are as posted:

    • Delicious looking Mac n Cheese! My sons would deitlifeny love this dish! They love anything with cream and cheese come to think of it! Beautiful photos too! Brightens up my pc screen:D

    • 109Howdy. Very nice web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also…I’m satisfied to locate numerous helpful information here in the article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sodele, Hamburg hat gewählt. Die Grünen, die das ganze initiiert haben, haben die Wahl verloren, natürlich auch die CDU. Recht so. Beide haben auf ihre Art Fehler gemacht. Für Hamburg kann das nur gut sein. Jetzt können Entscheidungen getroffen werden, die Hamburg helfen oder der SPD schaden werden. Auf jeden Fall herrscht Klarheit. Bald wissen wir Bescheid.

    • It’s always a pleasure to hear from someone with expertise.

    • Please do another one with you trying to set the “minutes” of an alarm, you hit “minutes” with frenesy, and then you miss by one and you have all the way over again….

    • EJSantos disse: ”…na Holanda não se ouviu nenhum muçulmano dito moderado a protestar…?Os muçulmanos moderados só protestam contra os seus dissidentes, mas sobretudo contra o Wilders.É que este comportamento só tem vantagens: muito menos perigoso, não perdem o contacto com a comunidade e ainda por cima têm o apoio de uma grande parte da esquerda…. sr.anónimo disse: ”… com as mesmas insignificâncias…”Realmente sempre as mesmas insignificâncias, comentário após comentário, após comentário! Uma crítica (positiva ou negativa), uma ideia, nada, só o insulto gratuito e anónimo…

  • One thing i wish is better price for all robots. For me it’s a bit too much to pay 700 or so. You should do video one brand vs another like in this video:

  • Great post

  • It’s amazing. But the price is much for cleaning the house. Maybe I still have to co-work with my hoover. Thank you for the review Cedric.

  • Sofia's Mum

    Very detailed review, thank you.

  • Good detail review. Autonomy 10 cells are so impressed. Thank you. Neato Botvac look cute.

  • Awesome writing. You present it as a best vacuum cleaner. The neato botavac vacuum is capable to clean a house and make more comfortable overall home.

  • this reminds me of some other product. Thanks

  • Very detailed review, thanks

  • Thanks for this amazing post.

  • Eu sou extremamente impressionado com suas habilidades de
    escrita como com o layout de seu weblog. Este é um tema pago
    ou você personalizar é você mesmo? Enfim acompanhar o bom escrevendo com qualidade,
    é raro ver um bom blog como este hoje.

  • Obrigado por compartilhar seu pensamentos.
    Eu realmente apreciar seus esforços e eu sou
    esperando por seu mais post Obrigado mais uma vez.

  • Thank you very much for this amazing post.

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