8.3 Our Score
What Is the Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected?
The series Robot Wars became incredibly popular back in 1998 when it first aired, and while it showed a glimpse into the potential uses of robotics, few of us ever thought we’d be having one of these combatants blazing a trail through our living rooms. It wasn’t long after this that the first robot vacuum cleaners started appearing on store shelves, but for a long time they were nothing more than novelties.
However, thanks to pioneering companies like California based Neato Robotics, over the years they’ve gradually become far more effective at home cleaning. Neato Robotics was actually recently acquired by Vorwerk in 2017, but they still operate independently and continue to release very popular robotic vacuum cleaners. Their latest release that has piqued our interest is the Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected.
The Botvac D7 sits comfortably at the top of their line-up of robotic vacuum cleaners which also includes the cheaper D3, D5, and standard “Connected” models. Each is available at different price points which range from “reasonably affordable” to “I may need to use my overdraft this month”. The main differences between them are the cleaning abilities and the battery runtime, but all have the ability to connect to your smartphone or tablet and can be controlled using Amazon Alexa, Google Home or using a messenger service through Neato Chatbot. It’s worth noting that Neato also has a standard roaming robot without connectivity called the D85 if you prefer to keep things simple.
Read our Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Connected review to find out if we thought this was nothing more than an overpriced conversation piece, or a purchase that could significantly improve your life.
- Run Time – The D7 can run for up to 120 minutes which means more cleaning can be done in a single setting.
- No-go Areas – Unlike some other robots that are prone to hitting dog bowls or knocking over ornaments, the D7 has programmable no-go areas.
- Laser Guided – because it uses lasers rather than camera vision to navigate, it’s possible to use this at night time or when you’re away from home and the house is still dark.
- Low Profile – The D7’s ultra-low profile means that it gets beneath most furniture with ease, helping to ensure your home is completely dust free.
- Non-Washable Filter – You will need to replace the filter every one or two months.
- Expensive – The price might put some people off, but when it comes to robot vacuum cleaners you often get what you pay for.
Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Key Features
D-Shape Design – The deliberate D-shaped design allows the Botvac D7 to have a large front brush, and gives it the ability to easily clean within 14mm of walls and corners – especially as it uses small side brushes in addition to the main roller brush.
Spiral Combo Brush – The Neato Spiral Combo Brush uses stiff bristles and rubber blades and is specifically designed to pick up pet hair, dirt and debris from all flooring types.
Ultra Performance Filter – The D7 Connected uses an Ultra Performance Filter which is capable of capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns (smaller than Dyson’s 360 Eye). This filtration makes this robot vacuum especially popular for those who suffer from allergies. The filter does need to be replaced every month or two though rather than cleaned, though you get two spare filters inside the box.
Neato SmartLife – We are in the dawn of artificial intelligence, and Neato has taken advantage of this. With SmartLife you can control the robot vacuum using voice command via Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, via messenger using Chatbot, and IFTTT.
Battery and Charging
Neato Robotics uses a 14.4 lithium-ion battery which can operate the powerful robotic vacuum cleaner for up to 120 minutes in eco mode, and a little less using the turbo mode which is the default setting. However, as it’s capable of cleaning up to 460m2 in one cycle, most owners won’t require the D7 to continually recharge to clean the whole home as can be the case with many other robots. It takes around 2 hours to recharge, which isn’t bad at all – though before you first use it, it’s recommended to charge the D7 for at least 24 hours to get the most out of the battery life. This is particularly important as the battery warranty only lasts 6 months, and they state you’ll need to replace it after 12-18 months.
The charging dock is black but quite unobtrusive and doesn’t require the D7 to mount it as it uses two metal charging contacts. This means the D7 simply needs to park against it. Even so, it’s recommended to place the dock in an open area, one meter away from furniture or other objects to make it easy to find and to wrap the power cord around the dock so it’s not in the way. The robot has no problems finding its way back, which often has people thinking of it more like an obedient pet than an actual machine.
It has a single battery indicator light which can change colour or pulse to let you know the charging and battery status at all times. If it’s solid green then it’s ready to go if it pulses green it’s still charging but can be used, and if it pulses yellow or red then it must still charge before it can clean. While in use, the indicator light also shows a solid green, yellow or red light to let you know how much juice is left.
The Botvac D7 robot vacuum cleaner isn’t just low profile in stature (10cm), but also in design which belittles the sheer amount of technological innovation that has gone into the development. The styling is of a simple metallic light and dark grey, and given its “D” shape, it has a wide front to pick up as much dirt and possible in one pass with its spiral combo brush. First impressions are good regarding build quality, and there have been no user complaints to repudiate this.
The onboard controls are quite easy to use and understand, as it only has one button. You can use this button to select a whole house clean (1 press), or a spot clean (2 presses for a 7’ x 7’ area), pause and resume cleaning, and to cancel cleaning. It also features several LED indicators so you know what mode you’ve selected, the Wi-Fi status, and battery status. The rotating laser is also located on top of the robot which allows it to easily navigate around your home. Aside from the LaserSmart system, it uses side cleaning sensors to help it clean edges, and drop sensors at the front to prevent it falling down stairs.
If you want to move the D7, there is a handle on top but this also allows you to lift a flap and access the 0.7-litre dirt receptacle and filter. The filter and dirt receptacle are part of one unit which almost resembles a cassette, but you can remove the filter by pinching the handle and pulling it from the dirt receptacle. This makes it easy clean the filter with the provided maintenance comb, and of course, empty the dirt and debris from the bin. Unfortunately, there isn’t an indicator to let you know when the bin is full so you’ll need to get into the habit of emptying it frequently.
Setup Process, App Functionality and Cleaning Pattern
The Botvac D7 Connected is perhaps one of the easiest robot vacuum cleaners to setup which is only partly why it’s rated so highly among owners. After unboxing, removing the protective film and finding a suitable place for the charging dock, simply place the rounded side of the D7 against the metal charging contacts. As mentioned, it’s best to wait 24 hours for it to charge the battery completely before using it, but you can use this time to set up the Neato app and get the most out of this remarkable machine.
The app is available on both the App Store and Google Play, and once installed you’ll need to create an account and follow the prompts. If you aren’t able to pair the D7, you’ll need to hold down the start button for 15 seconds until the Wi-Fi light glows blue which means it’s in pairing mode. When it blinks quickly it means it’s pairing to your Neato account, and when the light stays solid pairing has been successful. Keep in mind you will need your Wi-Fi code during this process (the D7 can use both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi).
With the app installed and connected to your D7, you have full control of scheduling and a wide range of features. First and foremost you can select the cleaning modes which are house, spot and manual. If you choose manual this allows you to move the vacuum to another floor where it will clean the area and then return to the original spot once it’s finished or low on battery. For spot cleaning, you can specify the area you’d like cleaned using the app, and with home cleaning, it will systematically clean your main floor. When using the ‘My Floor Plan’ it will map out your home as it cleans.
‘My Floor Plan’ provides you with the option to view the past 20 cleaning cycles and assess any areas the D7 has had difficulty cleaning. Most importantly you can set ‘no-go’ lines which can be used if you don’t want it to clean certain rooms or near and around obstacles. This feature works very well, but can only be used with the app. Neato has included magnetic strips if you want to place no-go areas around the home when you use the robot without the app.
Other features include the ability to choose eco or turbo mode and even set an ‘extra care’ mode which will make it more tentative around obstacles. From the app, you can also monitor the battery status, receive maintenance alerts, get push notifications and much more. For those who enjoy teasing their animals, you can also control it yourself, which is actually pretty handy if you want to quickly use it to clean a small spill without getting your main vacuum cleaner out. Unlike many other robotic vacuum cleaners, the Botvac D7 uses a systematic and efficient back/forth cleaning pattern.
Although it only produces 61 watts, the D7 is an incredibly impressive robot and in our opinion well worth the price tag. It has no problem traversing hard floors, carpets and rugs and can hoover up both larger and smaller/denser dirt and debris. This is made possible by the clever Spiral Combo Brush which features stiff bristles for carpets and rubber blades for hard flooring. It also has larger wheels than certain rivals such as the Roomba 980 so it can easily clean rugs without moving them or flipping up the edges.
Those with pets are particularly disappointed with robot vacuum cleaners if they don’t perform their due diligence, but this is not a hurdle the D7 has an issue overcoming. However, you will need to periodically clean the rotating brush using the provided cleaning comb which also has a blade for cutting hair and fibre that gets wrapped around the brush. However, the brush is easily accessible by flipping over the robot, removing the side brushes and removing the brush guard.
When in operation the turbo mode is a little louder than you’d expect for such a small machine which is why it’s best to use this default setting when you aren’t home. You can use the quieter eco mode which is actually more than adequate for hard flooring, but those with carpets will want to use the turbo mode. The good news is that because the D7 uses a laser for navigation you don’t need to leave lights on for it to function when you’re not home (certain other robots use a camera to navigate and need adequate light to do so).
Lastly, the fact that it’s only 10cm tall means that the dirt bunnies under your furniture will have to find a new home. The D7 is pretty good at getting around furniture and obstacles, though because it’s wider than some other robots if you have a lot of tight gaps it can’t squeeze into they won’t be cleaned.
The Neato Robotics Botvac D7 is an expensive home cleaning tool and one that many people will consider long and hard about before buying. However, when you do make the decision to purchase a robot vacuum, it makes sense to get one that will do the job well – and this does. The only issue with the value is that for the price we thought the one year warranty was a bit short. However, if you purchase from Amazon you can extend this and get better coverage.
Many people who have purchased other robot vacuum cleaners often lament the fact that they didn’t purchase a Neato. This is evident in the countless reviews online, and especially for those who decided to purchase two different robots (for multiple floor mapping) and realized their Neato was superior. It’s an impressive machine by all means and one that will help to keep your home cleaner than if you just use your main vacuum cleaner periodically. The app is intuitive, and it has a wide range of features to make it practical. While we don’t always keep the vacuum cleaners we buy to review, this one might be a keeper.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the filter machine washable?
The Ultra Performance Filter is not machine washable and needs to be replaced every one or two months. You can buy these in packs of two from Amazon.
How much does the Botvac D7 Connected weight?
What is the dirt capacity?
The D7 can pick up 0.7 litres of dirt and debris before it needs to be emptied.
Is this good for houses with carpets?
Yes, the D7 is designed to be used on all floor types.
What are the D7 dimensions?
31.9cm x 33.6cm x 10cm
Will the no-go lines be active when starting the D7 manually?
No, you will need to operate the D7 with the app if you want it to adhere to your no-go lines, or use magnetic strips. However, if you have set the D7 to clean on schedule with ‘My Floor Plan’ active then it will avoid the no-go areas.
Is it really necessary to place the dock a meter from anything?
It’s recommended for the dock to have adequate space around it for the D7 to find its way back, but many owners have managed to use it in smaller spaces without any issues.