Neato Botvac D7 Connected review (early verdict): the next generation of robot vacuum cleaners?

It's not quite time to hang up your handheld vac yet, but the new Neato Botvac D7 Connected has the smartest software out there

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T3 Verdict

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected comes with a host of impressive software features. It's fast and efficient. And hey, it does a respectable job of cleaning as well!

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Software

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    Improved connectivity

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    Slim design

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    Methodical navigation

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Large footprint

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    Large ugly base station

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is the smart home company's new flagship robot vacuum, sitting above the Botvac Connected (which currently holds the number one position in T3's best robot vacuum cleaner buying guide).

Neato certainly wasn't the first brand to release a robot vac, but it's constantly innovated with clever software, hoping to fix our main frustrations with other, less intelligent, home robots.

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected represents a significant step forward for the segment, with the Neato FloorPlanner and ‘No-Go’ Lines, which stop the vac wandering into areas that you don't want cleaned.

The Botvac D7 Connected is also the most expensive robot vacuum Neato has released, matching the Dyson 360 Eye's £799 RRP. Is the D7 Connected worth the high asking price? We've been spending some time with it to find out.

Neato Botvac D7 Connected: what's new?

I've only had this for 24 hours so I'm not going to deliver a final verdict on the Neato Batvac D7 Connected just yet, but I'll share my experiences so far.

The most notable changes are improvements that we've wanted to see for a long time, mainly to do with the software side of things.

The Botvac D7 Connected is the first to ship with the 'Neato FloorPlanner'. This feature enables you to set virtual ‘No-Go’ Lines to tell the robot where not to go.  

We think that's really smart, it means you don't have to tidy all of your kids toys before robot starts cleaning, you can just tell it to avoid the children’s play area. This means you can set if off without needing to run around picking up your child's toys beforehand.  

Like-wise, it's useful for telling it to avoid temporary holiday decorations, pet areas, shoes, or other locations where the robot should not clean.

Our main issue with the older Botvac Connected was the poor connectivity which lead to frequent loses of connection to your router. This rendered the 'Connected' functions useless. Neato has address with with improved Wi-Fi antennas, now compatible with 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.

We haven't had any issues so far (it it early days), but the setting up process was remarkably slick and problem free.

The cheap and easily scratched plastic of the older model as been replaced, making way for more premium plastic and brushed metal. It's a marked improvement, but the design isn't quite as premium as the Dyson, still.

Neato has carried over the "LaserSmart" navigation technology, which allows the D7 Connected to crawl through your house in all lighting conditioned (even in the dark). It's a pretty impressive system, but it still bumps into the odd obstacle for no apparent reason.

Neato Botvac D7 Connected: How well does it clean?

When you first use the D7 Connected it'll create a map of your floor on the app, that looks something like this:

With this map you'll be able to draw 'No-go' lines to cordon off areas you don't want the robot to clean. It's a really simple system but could be very useful.

I also really like the Neato's fast and efficient navigation, which cleans around the outside of the room, then fills in the space in between. It was 5 minutes faster than the Dyson 360 Eye when covering 12-metres squared, which is pretty significant.

It does a respectable job of sucking up dust from the carpet and hard floors as well, although, it's still no match for traditional or handheld vacuum cleaner.

Having only used it for a short amount of time, it's difficult to judge whether it's any better or worse than its competitors.

The dust bin is a decent size, but it does fill up quickly. It is, however very easy to remove and empty.

There's an eco mode, which is quieter and offers improved battery life, or a turbo mode, which cleans better. These can be selected in the app.

The app also offers spot clean and manual modes, which are really useful for quickly cleaning up small spillages (although, still not as quick as a handheld vac).

When the No-Go zones were not setup, I had the problem of it getting stuck on rug tassels and phone chargers left on the floor. This problem isn't exclusive to Neato, but it's be nice to see a brand design a bot that could somehow untangle itself when this does happen.

Early Verdict

As previously mentioned, I’ve only spent a short amount of time with the Neato Botvac D7 Connected, so these are more like initial impressions than a full review (which will follow).

The software features Neato have included here are very impressive. They're neat touches that go towards perfecting the robot vacuum experience, but they don't exactly usher in a new generation of connected vacuum cleaners.

It's more premium than Neato's previous offerings (with a price tag to match), and it does a great job of actually cleaning the floor.

What's most impressive is that you can now start a clean, or setup and automatic schedule without needing to worry about it going somewhere it shouldn't, or not completing its clean because it's stuck somewhere.