In recent years, smart robot vacuums have grown from a novelty item to something you need for cleaning your floor.
More and more companies are providing options for robot vacuums as the demand for these devices continues to increase.
While Neato may not be the most recognizable name in the industry – that distinction still belongs to Roomba – it does provide high-quality robot vacuums. Neato’s devices give you options in the smart vacuum market, doing so without sacrificing technology or features.
The recently released D7 has new features and benefits that do not exist on the D5. That doesn’t mean the D5 isn’t a good robot vacuum option.
This article will review the D7 and D5 robot vacuums, pointing out differences and similarities between the two, as well as showing what is new on the D7. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Bottom Line up Front: The ability to map out boundaries on your app with the D7 is a MAJOR game-changer (for me). I am much more excited about the Botvac D7 available here, if the price point isn’t the primary issue.
Contents (Jump to)
First Up: Botvac D7
The majority of Neato’s robot vacuum line have used an intelligent method when mapping out rooms in a house and moving throughout in a determined path. The D7has taken this idea and gone on to the next step by granting you access to view the created maps. When you access these maps via the mobile application, you can then draw restricted lines that tell your D7 not to go to a particular area when cleaning.
Creating boundaries for your robot vacuum can be helpful if you want to avoid cleaning in areas where a child may be playing, or a pet may be relaxing. It would also relieve robot vacuum problems like getting stuck under furniture or attempting to suck up cables. You simply create a zone around the appropriate item or area, and the D7 robot vacuum won’t go anywhere near it.
Just like its predecessors, the D7 has the look of a capital letter ‘D,’ which departs from the more common circular design you’ll find with Roomba and other popular robot vacuums. This design allows for a rotating brush on the bottom of the vacuum which will enable it to behave just like an upright would.
Looking down on the robot from the top reveals a bumper made of solid plastic. This bumper allows the vacuum to gently bump into any obstructions or obstacles that may have gone unnoticed, allowing for a clearer and more complete picture of the area.
The primary section of the D7’s body is covered in a gorgeous brushed-metal. You can remove the large panels on the robot to locate the dustbin, which is see-through, so you have the ability to determine whether or not the bin needs to be emptied. The bin is comparable in size to other robot vacuums but not as large as the one you would find in a typical vacuum cleaner.
Adjacent to the primary brush, there is a smaller brush which helps loosen debris and dirt stuck in corners or hard to reach places. The brush rotates horizontally and is kept in place by the use of a magnet. This is an excellent feature to have since it makes changing the brush easy if it becomes warped or bent.
There are a few items to note that Neato could improve upon with its Botvac series. First is the size of the dustbin. It would be nice if the bin were bigger so that it didn’t require cleaning out as often. While we’re speaking of the bin, you won’t get an alert when it is full. While this isn’t a necessary item, receiving a notification when the bin needs emptying would provide a much better user experience than being forced to check it regularly.
The only other reason to reconsider the D7 is the turret that sits atop the robot. Many of the D7’s predecessors had the same design, which allows the robot vacuum to get an accurate measuring of an area or room. Unfortunately, the D7 often misreads its own height, which often results in the robot getting stuck under a piece of furniture it thought it fit under.
With the press of a single button, you get complete control over your D7 robot vacuum. The mobile application for the D7 can be downloaded from both the Android and iOS marketplaces, and offer you a quick guide that helps you connect your robot to your network. Once connected, you’ll have the ability to control your robot vacuum from anywhere.
If you want to have the full capabilities of the D7 mobile application, you’ll need to allow the robot vacuum to map the entire floor. This means that for its initial run, you’ll want to move cables and other obstacles out of its way.
Once the floor is completely mapped, you will have the ability to start a cleaning cycle from the mobile application, select the cleaning mode you want to use, and choose whether or not you need a spot clean. You’ll have the ability to choose between “House,” “Spot,” and “Manual” modes.
There is an icon on the left menu that grants you access to your robot’s schedule, settings, floor plan, and help. The schedule option allows you set and schedule your cleanings. You can select which days and times you want the robot to clean, along with the profile and mode you prefer.
Accessing the Floor Plan menu item lets you view the floor plan created by your robot vacuum. Once your D7 has made its initial run, it will have all the information it needs to understand areas you want to be excluded by using the No-Go Lines feature.
The No-Go Lines are saved by the D7 and remembered for all future cleanings. Of course, if you need to edit the lines and restrictions you can, which makes this an excellent feature for anyone that needs to create boundaries within their home.
The beauty behind the D7 is that it uses the camera mounted on its top to get a complete three hundred sixty degree view of your home. Since it doesn’t rely on infrared, the robot can scan while cleaning whether in the dark or broad daylight. The technology the D7 uses allows the robot to create a shorter cleaning route which means it’s taking up less battery each time it vacuums.
You can also access the robot’s cleaning history through the “My Robot” icon. This section gives you a graphical representation of which areas were cleaned each day and time. There are additional bars and charts to view if you need detailed data.
One last feature the D7 offers is its ability to integrate with smart home assistants. You can connect your robot vacuum to both the Amazon Alexa or Google Home which provides voice-controlled commands. Now, if your hands are full, all you have to do is tell your smart assistant to start your vacuum, and it will get to cleaning performance
You’ll find both “eco” and “turbo” modes available on your Neato Botvac D7. In eco mode, your vacuum will be quieter, and you’ll notice the battery last longer as well. While your clean won’t be as thorough, you’ll at least be able to hear yourself think.
Turbo mode is much louder but provides a much deeper cleaning. You may want to run this mode on a schedule, since having a conversation during the vacuuming is very difficult. Run this mode when you have to leave the house to get groceries or while you’re at work. Speaking of, this is one of the nice features about the Botvacs. You can run them through the mobile application when you’re away.
Additionally, using the mobile application allows you to access the My Floor Plan and No-Go Lines capabilities of the D7. Using these features lets you see precisely where the D7 cleaned, how long the cleaning took, and lets you create areas and zones you may not want the robot vacuum to clean.
Having these features puts you back in control of your cleaning schedule. Vacuuming by hand requires you to take time out of your day, but at least you have control over which areas you clean. With the D7, you can set up temporary boundaries, so you don’t have to worry about an area that needs to be left alone.
Several smart vacuum manufacturers deal with this problem by providing a physical barrier that you have to put down. The ability to just pull up the map on your smartphone and draw a line makes things that much easier.
An additional feature you’ll want to use is “Manual” mode. Being in this mode on the mobile application gives you the ability to control the D7 robot vacuum, similar to the way you would control a remote control car. This comes in especially handy for times when you want to clean a specific spot or area.
You also have a “Spot Clean” mode, which will clean a seven-foot square area from the point where you set it on the floor. If you want a detailed map of your cleaning area, you’ll want to make sure your D7 is in its charging dock and fully charged. Of course, just like the other Botvacs, if the D7 determines its battery is getting low, it will head back to its dock and charge back up.
The D7 boasts the ability to vacuum up to five thousand square feet before needing to recharge, with its battery lasting up to nearly two hours. It’s probably safe to say that you live in a home that the D7 can clean in one charge.
Summary of the D7
It’s fair to say that the Neato Botvac D7 is a great robot vacuum. It falls in the premium tier of smart home vacuums for good reason. The D7 has a bevy of features and benefits that will have anyone who has one the envy of the neighborhood.
It would be nice if its bin were bigger or it provided an indicator to let you know when the bin needs emptying, but outside of those few things, the D7 ranks favorably against its competitors. It’s an aesthetically pleasing robot vacuum with plenty to offer. If you choose to go with the D7, you won’t regret it.
Next Up: Botvac D5
The D5 may not have the flash and features that the D7 has available, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a reliable value. If you’re in the market for a robot vacuum, you could do a lot worse than Neato’s Botvac D5, which offers a positive cleaning experience and a battery that lasts longer than many of its competitors.
Just like the D7, the Botvac D5 has the same “D” shape as other Neato devices. It does differ in that it is entirely black, and has a simple, minimalistic design. There are two LED indicators situated atop the robot, which are controlled with one button.
The battery and info LEDs can be found at the bottom left, and you’ll know the battery is charging because the light will flash. When the indicator is solid green, the D5 is fully charged and ready to go. You’ll also see the indicator turn white if it is in Spot Cleaning mode, blue for Auto mode, and red if the D5 is having issues.
You’ll find the Start button on the left side of the indicators. To have the vacuum start a regular cleaning cycle, press it once. If you need it to perform a Spot Clean, then you’ll push it twice.
Beneath the controls is the bumper, which allows the D5 to navigate tight corners. This is one benefit to owning a Neato robot vacuum since many round vacuums have trouble with cleaning corners.
The dustbin is above the controls, and like its counterpart could stand to be bigger. Although the robot is small enough to fit under most furniture, like the D7 there are instances when it could become stuck under a low-sitting couch or bed.
Lastly, you’ll get a dock, combo brush, power cord, and a roll of black magnetic tape with your D5. The magnetic tape is used to mark off boundaries since the D5 doesn’t have all the same mobile application capabilities as the D7. You can, however, control your robot vacuum via the mobile application, just like you can with its counterpart.
Setup for the D5 is simple. Basically, all you have to do is set it on its dock and let it charge. You’ll know it’s charging when the battery indicator starts flashing.
While you’re waiting for the battery to charge, you can download the Neato mobile application from the Android and iOS marketplaces. The application will guide you through connecting your D5 to your wifi network and getting it set up.
The mobile application is straightforward and easy to use. From the application, you can name your robot, view its battery levels, and status. Additional settings allow you to see more settings and information about your robot, along with its cleaning history and schedule.
You can start a cleaning cycle from the main screen of the application; all you have to do is press the large “Start” button. On the same screen, you’ll see a battery indicator, along with commands that tell your robot to “Stop” it’s current cleaning cycle or “Dock.”
On the Cleaning History tab, you’ll be able to view the amount of time it took the D5 to clean during each session, as well as see which areas are clean.
Unfortunately, you are unable to see the shapes of the rooms, but you are able to open up a bar graph that shows you the total space vacuumed in square feet.
Scheduling for the D5 is similar to its counterpart in that it allows you set which days of the week and what time of day you want your robot to vacuum. This is perfect for people with a somewhat rigid schedule and need to have the vacuuming done at certain times.
Along with the scheduling, you also have the ability to control your robot vacuum from anywhere. Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for work, you can initiate a cleaning session through the mobile application. The only caveat is that your robot has to be online, so if your wifi is out for some reason, you won’t be able to communicate with your D5.
Although the Botvac D5 may not have all of the features the D7 boasts, it is still a solid, reliable robot vacuum, able to navigate across hardwood, tile, and carpet.
It is capable of maneuvering around obstacles and obstructions and has no problems moving from one-floor surface to another.
From a suction and power perspective, the D5 is able to grab nearly anything in its path. Really the only complaint about performance is the size of the dustbin, which isn’t quite as big as some other smart robot vacuums on the market.
You may find yourself a little irritated by the fact that the D5 has a great battery life since it’s possible you may have to empty the bin in the middle of a cleaning.
Really the D5 has more than enough battery to get it through multiple cleaning in even a good-sized home; it’s just the emptying of the dustbin that’s a pain. The good thing is that even if it does begin to run low on juice, it will amble back to its dock and start charging.
Summary of the D5
Overall, the Botvac D5 is a solid robot vacuum that performs well but doesn’t have the bells and whistles that some of the newer models have. T
he navigation on the D5 is above par, and the mobile application provides a clean, simple interface that doesn’t confuse users. You’ll enjoy the long-lasting battery, but remember that the drawback of a smaller dustbin offsets this benefit.
While the Neato Botvac D5 isn’t going to wow you, it is an affordable, reliable, dependable choice if you’re in the market for a robot vacuum.
Comparison: Botvac D7 vs D5
Now that we’ve reviewed both the Botvac D7 and D5 models, let’s take a look at how they stack up against one another.
Final Sweep: D7 or D5?
While you are getting additional features and functionality with the D7, you’re going to pay for them. So if cost is not something you’re concerned with, you are probably better off choosing the D7. Not only is it the newest version in the Botvac line of robot vacuums, but it’s pleasing to the eye as well.
The D5, on the other hand, is going to offer you a stable, reliable robot vacuum experience and let you keep a few dollars in your checking account to boot. It doesn’t have the appeal or class that the D7 offers, but it is dependable and more than capable of handling even the most demanding cleaning challenges.
Bottom Line: The ability to map out boundaries on your app with the D7 is a MAJOR game-changer (for me). I am much more excited about the Botvac D7 available here, if the price point isn’t the primary issue.
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!