Robotic Vacuums

Neato Botvac 85 Review – Is the Botvac 85 the Best Neato Yet?

(Last Updated On: September 14, 2016)

Originally founded in 2005, Neato Robotics is a company that has burst onto the scene of robotic vacuums. In 2010, the company released their first product, the Neato XV-Series and with each product designed in their worldwide headquarters of Newark, Calif., consumers can be assured that everything is completed up to the standards the company sets for themselves. With the release of each new product, Neato touches on new technology that is meant to make their new product better than the previous model. That is exactly the case with the Neato Botvac 85.

Consumers looking to add this new vacuum to their closet will notice that it doesn’t have the conventional look that some are used to from other companies. The unique shape of the Neato Botvac 85 is just one of the many features that make this a great buy for your home. The suction power and its ability to pick up most debris even after another vacuum was used previously is another positive feature that make it one of the top products available today.

What are some of the pros and cons of the Neato Botvac 85? We get into the details below:

Pros of the Botvac 85

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.

The first thing you will notice about this product that make it different than models manufactured by other well-known companies is the shape. Whereas other products available are round and seem as though they would have problems getting close to baseboards or in corners, the Neato Botvac 85 has a square shape that allow it to reach all those hard to reach places. This makes this vacuum one of the best for consumers looking for a quality product, as does the ability to download updates that will make it run better over time. If the company notices there are serious or even minor problems with the device, they will send out an easy-to-download update.

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.

Robot vacuums were designed to make the entire cleaning process simpler. That is something that the Neato Botvac 85 excels at. Even when it comes to cleaning out the dust box, the process is quick, easy, and mess-free. In the grand scheme of things, this vacuum, like many other of the robotic variety, will not completely replace the need to have a powerful upright vacuum, but it will allow you to use that upright unit once or twice a month.

Cons of the Botvac 85

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” or “My Brush is Stuck” message. See below for how to fix this yourself.

Neato Botvac Ball Bearing Fix

So, a number of readers have reached out and asked me about the “ball bearing” issue. There is a simple solution that requires a bit of work on your part, but is far more efficient than working through the customer service at Neato.

The issue is that the ball bearing on the Neato Botvac  series is “non-sealed” which causes the hair and debris to build up. Simple solution? Buy a pack of sealed ball bearings (see this listing) and replace it yourself. NOTE: a bit of elbow grease and basic tools may be required.

The other solution? Buy a new Botvac D80. The ball bearing has been replaced with an effective sealed one in the latest release.

Video Review of the Botvac 85

Main 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

Owning a robotic vacuum is mean to relieve stress and allow you more time to do the little things that are often neglected during the time in which you would vacuum with a upright unit. The ult at times and will require you to be around while in operation, but with a little work ahead of time, you should be able to negate most of these issues. While it has its problems, the Neato Botvac 85 has more pros than cons and could be the perfect starter vacuum for a new family that just bought their first home. Those that haven’t been in the robot vacuum market before will be pleased with the performance that this vacuum.

UPDATE: Neato has released an updated version of the Botvac 85. They are calling it the Botvac D85. The key differences are a change in styling and some enhanced reliability (including the ball bearing fix) and minor improvements to performance. You check out the latest Botvac D85 here.

Where to Buy the Botvac 85

It’s not very easy to get a hold of the new Botvac 85. After only having it available sporadically, it is now available on some common shopping platforms like Amazon (see here for listing). You can also see below for the latest details on pricing and availability.

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn't have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

2 Comments

  • 06-06-2016
    Patrick, et.al.:

    According to all the reviews I am seeing, the Neato D-series vacs are the greatest thing since dirt was invented. Mostly the reviews say that the ‘downside’ is the high cost. I agree; the high cost is a big problem for me, considering that it purchases a device which DOES NOT WORK !

    My daughter bought one for my wife for Mother’s Day, and after a couple of times trying to use it, my wife went back to vacuuming with the old vacuum. The only thing that I could see, was that it DID pick up enough dirt to need the basket cleaned out, after two uses. But it also left dirt on the floor in the patterns where it did NOT clean. Also it was notable that it ran into, pushed hard against, and OVER some of the toys, etc. that were on the floor, and also pushed very hard against some of the lamp table legs, in a couple of instances backing up hard enough to climb upward on these metal legs.

    This morning I decided (no one else is here) to try to get it to work “efficiently” so I moved, picked up, put onto the sofa, etc. the grandson’s toy basket, the folding TV tray table, the various chairs, etc. and pushed the “house” button.
    Mind you, I am talking about a hardwood / ceramic tile floor area of about 800 sq ft, Entryway, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, and 4’x15′ hallway, with no small doorways or “steps” between the areas, and with all other doors to carpeted areas closed. This Neato (model = ? , on the bottom it says “D-Series” and “905-0285”) has never successfully cleaned all this contiguous floor area without needing to Go Home and recharge, after about an hour and a half of randomly wandering between areas, repeatedly leaving and then going back to areas which were not completed.

    I am not sure what the reviews mean by “efficient” mapping and cleaning patterns, but what this machine does is in no way “efficient”. It wanders all over, starts down the hallway, goes halfway
    and then turns around and goes to some other area (kitchen or dining, or maybe all the way to the living room) and starts another pattern there. It has never completed the hallway ! And it spends an enormous part of its runtime just going into rooms, bumping around a couple of walls, and then going off into another room that it may have already been in.

    This morning’s adventure had “Neato” running around the living room with the small furniture and items picked up. It finally exhibited some form of a linear, back and forth pattern, but ONLY away from the sofa, loveseat, fireplace, entertainment center, leaving a few inches clearance along each “wall”, and then left for the kitchen, where it ran under the dishwasher and stopped. Strange, since there was clearance and it was not physically “stuck”, and since it had previously run along those cabinets edges without getting ‘stuck’.

    At this point, in bright light, I could see small grey arrows beside the topside “touch screen” which it turns out is not a “touch screen” at all. Since there are two large buttons at the bottom front, you might expect reasonable buttons or controls elsewhere, but this thing has one of the most hard to manipulate, incomprehensible menu panels / “buttons” combination that could be dreamed up. Where is the “OFF” or STOP or “Reset” button ? “Resume” just sends it into another room ! So I pushed the “House” button again, and it went into the hallway and then after a couple of minutes of bumping along the wall, it went across and ran straight into the other wall, and CONTINUED to run into that wall, back up and turn L slightly, run into that wall, back up and turn R slightly, run into that wall, back up and turn L slightly, run into that wall, back up and turn R slightly, run into that wall, back up and turn L slightly, run into that wall, back up and turn R slightly, for over 45 seconds. At this point I had left the computer keyboard and emails in the dining room and I was just wasting my time watching this idiot machine wander around. I finally picked it up and put it back onto its charging station, where it sits occasionally beeping. Where is the “OFF” button? Where is the “reset” button? Why is it claimed that this thing will “learn” the house floor patterns, when it does not? Totally bogus, and totally stupid. And pretty much a total waste of time and money.

    Since I already have everything picked up, I am going to go get the Eureka out of the garage, and vacuum the floors, which usually takes me about 20 minutes on this area, with a “cleared” path.
    I don’t want to waste any more of my time diddling and fiddling with the “comical routes and movements” of this Neato vacuum !

    Richard Lumpkin, Houston Texas

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