Table of Contents
- 1 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Design
- 2 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Usability
- 3 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Performance
- 4 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Conclusion
- 5 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Pros And Cons
- 6 Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Features
Features a combo brush that is uniquely designed to pick up pet hair—and is quieter, too, especially on hard floors like wood and tile. Patented laser-guided technology scans and maps the room, plans, and methodically cleans, automatically moving from room to room. 50% larger brush, bigger-is-better dirt bin, extra large filter, and precise edge cleaning brush pick up more dirt and debris. Schedule daily cleanings or push a button for instant multi-room or spot cleaning. Automatically goes back to charge base, then returns to where it left off.
Neato’s $599 BotVac 85 is one of four new robot vacuums for the brand. While it’s clear that Neato used its existing XV models as templates for the BotVac line, the company also made significant updates, even addressing some of the complaints we had with the XV models we’ve tested. The Botvac 85 is more than just a refurbished XV, though — Neato added a side brush to the design, a larger main brush and dustbin and, miraculously, made it less noisy.
It also aced its performance tests, doing better overall than any of the three previously-reviewed XV-line bots and about the same as iRobot’s Roomba 880/870. It’s a close call between the BotVac 85 and the identically-priced Roomba 870 (the remote-free version of the 880 model), but the BotVac offers three filters over the Roomba 870’s two, shorter run times, a longer brush, and extremely straightforward magnetic boundary markers compared to iRobot’s fussier battery-powered Virtual Wall barriers. The BotVac also did much better on the pet hair test, making it ultimately more recommendable that iRobot’s Roomba 870.
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Design
The Neato BotVac 85 doesn’t look all that different from the XV-line models we’ve reviewed. It has that traditional Neato rounded back and squared-off front, allowing the brush to tackle corners and edges with ease. Also like the XV bots, the included accessories are the only clear way to differentiate one BotVac model from another — that, and each model’s paint color. Still, there are both subtle and obvious differences that make BotVacs and XVs two clearly distinguishable robot vacuum lines.
While each XV model has a different color combination, all BotVac models are finished in white with a brightly colored accent on the top sensor. Neato currently offers four different models in the BotVac line, including this $599 BotVac 85 with blue accents, a combo brush, a blade brush, and three high-performance filters on down to the $479 BotVac 70e with orange accents, a blade brush, and one standard filter. The design of the sensor has also changed slightly too; it’s more rounded than XV model iterations.
The “Neato Robotics” name was moved to the left side of the bot, and the display located to the right of the sensor has flat touchpad-style buttons rather than the standard buttons you see on the XV line. Other than that, the options offered on the display screen itself are still essentially the same. You can schedule your bot to clean at a certain time, check the software version, and so on.
Instead of the XV’s start button, BotVac’s have separate home and spot cleaning buttons. The home button both wakes up the bot and initiates a regular cleaning cycle. The spot cleaning button will vacuum in a space 4 feet by 6 feet for a more targeted deep clean. I do wish BotVac models came with a remote — something that Roomba offers that we haven’t seen on a Neato model yet.
Neato also gave BotVac dust bins 2.96-cup capacities: the brand’s own XV line has smaller 2.54-cup bins. To account for the larger dust bins, BotVac models are also equipped with larger filters. The less expensive BotVac 70e comes with one standard filter, while this BotVac 85 model comes with three high-performance filters. They look the same as the XV filters, just larger.
Turn over the BotVac and you’ll see a couple of other differences between this line and the brand’s XV line. While the BotVac 85 comes with the same combo brush that specializes in pet hair and blade brush for regular cleaning, both brushes are larger than the XV line’s versions — 10.9 inches long compared to 9.8 inches long. That means that the BotVac brush is literally closer to the wall and better equipped to tackle those pesky edges.
Those are significant updates, but my favorite feature is the addition of a side brush, similar to what you see on Roomba robot vacuums. This lets the BotVac get even closer to edges than its already-larger main brush can. These changes do mean that this robot vacuum weighs more, though — 9 pounds compared to the XV line’s already-hefty 8.6 pounds. While the BotVac 85 retains a lot of classic elements from the XV line, the BotVac line is a full-fledged new product line for Neato. It’s not just another new unit with minor tweak like we saw with the Neato XV Essential.
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Usability
Using this robot vacuum is a lot like using an XV bot. It’s simple and straightforward. Press the home button once to wake up the BotVac and again to start a regular cleaning cycle. Then, the vacuum will scan the space and decide on its plan of attack. Since it scans the room and maps out a route, it should be easy to predict where it will go. However, as with some of the XV models we tested, we noticed some significant navigational anomalies with this BotVac.
I completed several runs on the each flooring surface, and the BotVac didn’t always follow the same route, even when it was leaving from the exact same docked location and cleaning in the exact same space. It also periodically maneuvered around a perceived obstacle along the perimeter that wasn’t there. Since the robot would still vacuum the majority of the floor, none of this seemed to significantly influence usability or performance.
About halfway through testing, though, I noticed some significant operational problems that would severely impact this bot’s overall usability. At one point, it completely stopped returning to its dock. Instead, it would go through a cleaning cycle and stop just shy of the dock and sort of shift around confused for several seconds and then chime triumphantly, as if it had successfully returned to its dock.
So, I rebooted the system, checked to make sure its software was up-to-date, and cleaned off the sensors but that didn’t solve the issue. It continued to go through an entire cleaning cycle and stop short. When I manually returned the vacuum to the dock, it would respond in various, unpredictable ways.
After describing this to Neato, I learned I had a defective unit and Neato promptly sent another BotVac 85 for comparison. The new BotVac consistently returned to the dock after several repeated tests in various room settings. Still, make sure you’re careful with your BotVac — Neato told me that an accidental drop or other incident could cause significant damage to the laser’s accuracy (making locating the dock a potentially lasting issue, requiring you to send the faulty unit back to Neato for repair).
Neato suggests fully charging and discharging the vacuum two or three times before its first use for it to work as effectively as possible. After that, the BotVac can clean for over an hour on a single charge. It takes up to two times longer than its run time for it to charge. So if you let the vacuum clean for 30 minutes, expect to wait about an hour for it to return to a full charge.
One clear usability improvement is that the BotVac is noticeably quieter than the XV models we’ve reviewed. It would be much easier to carry on a conversation or watch TV with a BotVac in your home rather than an XV Signature Pro or other XV model. Also, the larger dust bin means that you won’t have to empty it quite as often.
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Performance
Since there are plenty of feature and accessory updates with the BotVac 85, I was interested to see how it stacks up against the $450 XV Signature Pro, the $430 XV-21, and the $380 XV Essential. In addition to the Neato robot vacuums we’ve reviewed, I also compare this BotVac’s test results to the $800 LG Hom-Bot Square, the $700 iRobot Roomba 880, the $700 iRobot Roomba 790, the $300 Infinuvo CleanMate QQ5, and the $240 Infinuvo Hovo 510. While the BotVac 85 placed in the top tier of each performance run, it didn’t do significantly better than the other Neato bots or the Roomba 880 on most of the tests.
The BotVac 85 picked up 2.45 ounces of rice on mid-pile carpet and hardwood, and 2.38 ounces on low-pile carpet, stealing first place from the reigning rice champion, Infinuvo’s Hovo 510. iRobot’s Roomba 880 placed third, and Neato’s own XV-21 came in fourth. I was particularly impressed with the BotVac’s rice results, since this was the only case where the brand didn’t already have a bot in first or second place.
Historically, Neato-brand robot vacuums have been particularly good at tackling pet hair — and the BotVac 85 was no exception. The brand’s XV-21 holds in the lead with 0.18 ounces of pet hair collected on both carpeted surfaces and 0.19 ounces of pet hair on the hardwood floor. The BotVac came in a close second with 0.17 ounces on both mid and low-pile carpets and 0.20 ounces on the hardwood floor. The XV Signature Pro and the XV Essential finished in third and fourth, rounding out the top rankings. This is truly a Neato-dominant category, making Neato’s — either the XV or the BotVac line — fantastic pet hair cleaners among their robot vacuum counterparts.
I also wanted to know how the BotVac 85 would react to smaller debris. SI scattered 1.25 ounces of sand on mid-pile carpet, low-pile carpet, and hardwood and compared the BotVac’s results to the Neato XV Signature Pro and the iRobot Roomba 880 (no more sand and sawdust mix test, hence the smaller list of comparison units). The Roomba 880 did the best overall, picking up 0.35 ounces of sand on mid-pile carpet, 0.58 ounces of sand on low-pile carpet, and 1.25 ounces of sand on hardwood. The BotVac came in second, picking up 0.43 ounces on mid-pile, 0.45 ounces on low-pile, and 1.22 ounces on hardwood, and the XV Signature Pro finished in third. These scores indicate that even a top-performing bot struggles with small, heavy particles on carpet, but does a fantastic job on hardwood (especially the Roomba 880 and the BotVac 85).
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Conclusion
The $600 BotVac 85 is a fantastic robot vacuum, rivaling the brand’s $450 XV Signature Pro. While the performance between the two wasn’t hugely different, the BotVac does have a slight edge. In addition, it comes with a larger brush, a larger dust bin, larger filters, and less noise. Neato also added a side brush to the BotVac’s design and gave it a more modern display with touchpad-style buttons. So, is it worth the extra $150? Sure, if your budget can stretch. But, it’s really more interesting to compare the BotVac 85 to the Roomba 870 — they cost the same, but you get more filters, shorter run times, and an easier setup with Neato’s magnetic room barriers than the Roomba’s battery-powered Virtual Walls.
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Pros And Cons
Pros of the Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
One of the most important features of any robotic vacuum is its ability to scan and map out the path needed to clean each room in your home. This vacuum does that with the best of them on the market from any of the big name manufacturers. Some of those other vacuums on the market today don’t take methodical routes throughout your home and often find their way by hitting into things. Anyone that has owned another robotic vacuum before can attest to the comical routes and movements these vacuums will often make. Other products don’t take precise and direct paths to areas that need to be cleaned, the Neato Botvac 85 plans out the most efficient way through your home, which in turn, helps keep your battery from wearing down over time. With some other models, you need to clear the path of all toys, furniture, and more. This product will actually detect these obstacles and will efficiently move around them without missing a beat.
The suction power on the Neato Botvac 85 is extremely powerful, which when combined with a blade brush, precision edge cleaning side brush, extra-large filter, and bag-less bin, give you the ultimate power and comfort. This vacuum is powerful enough to suck up any dirt and debris found on your floors and won’t stir up any dangerous or hazardous particles in the air because of its high performance filter.
When you get your Neato Botvac 85 and get it programmed to your home, it automatically goes from room to room during its cleaning process. Some other vacuums on the market don’t have this capability, which means you need to be around at all times while it is in use. One positive aspect about this vacuum when it comes to this ability is that if the amount of floor that needs to be vacuumed is too large for the Neato Botvac 85 to complete in one battery cycle, it will return to the docking station and once charged, will return to the same room in which it last appeared, and continue the process from there. For those that have slight differences in height from room to room, this product will bump into these areas and continue to push itself over them.
With just a touch of a button, you can tell your vacuum to clean multiple rooms or just a freshly created mess from your kids or pets. You can also schedule this unit to run daily at any time of day and while in operation, runs quietly so you can schedule it for the middle of the night when everyone is asleep.
Homes that have man’s best friend or other pets are often filled with pet hair throughout. With this vacuum and the easy to swap-out brushes that come with purchase, you will be able get maximum cleaning ability at all times. The unit’s precise edge cleaning side brush is extremely powerful and will easily suck up all pet hair in its way on all types of flooring. The side brush is meant to pick up any and all dust particles in its way, which is especially beneficial for those with severe allergies.
The battery life is quite remarkable on the Neato Botvac 85. Many other vacuums in its class struggle to complete an entire floor plan of a 750 square foot home in a single charge. This vacuum is the complete opposite and will be able to clean that entire home in a single charge.
Cons of the Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
As we covered already, the Neato Botvac 85 does a solid job of moving around obstacles in your home. This is especially the case for a few obstacles here and there. When there is a clutter of obstacles (shoes, toys, etc.), it will have a problem sensing where it should go next. The easy solution to this would be to just clear out as much of the obstacles in its way before use. Another possible issue that may come along from the sensor struggling to find its way is low-lying coffee tables, especially those made of glass. The sensor won’t always read these pieces of furniture and can often become stuck underneath.
The Neato Botvac 85 is advertised to work on any type of surfaces, but those with deep pile carpets will find that it slows down on this surface and could become stuck. When the vacuum is done on the carpet, its tracks will be seen, but those can easily be removed by brushing them out.
When the Neato Botvac 85 was first released, there were several instances when hair would become clumped up behind the bearings of the brush. Over time, this hair was known to cause some melting of the plastic and could often make the vacuum send out a “My Bumper is Stuck,” message. While this could have been a serious issue for the product and the company, Neato has stayed ahead of the game in terms of updates and fixes for known problems and have now sent out an update to update its issues.
Neato Botvac 85 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Features
- Equipped with High Performance Filter, Combo Brush, and Side Brush
- Integrated Charging Base
- 2 Additional High Performance Filters
- Boundary Marker
- Single Touch Operation or Scheduling
- Quiet and Smooth Operation