This Neato XV-21 review is intended to familiarize you with the leading features of this robotic vacuum. The Neato XV-21 is the latest robotic vacuum cleaner offering from Neato Robotics, based out of Newark, California. Neato is probably the second best known home robotics company after iRobot.
It is no wonder that the XV-21 is competing directly with the Roomba series of robots from iRobot. While my wife and I have tested the XV-11 from Neato in the past, we have usually opted for the Roomba in years past. With the latest Neato model coming at a cheaper price, I couldn’t resist the urge to test it out myself.
The following is my review of the best selling XV-21 from my experience with it thus far…
What We Liked About the Neato XV-21
- Great for Pet Owners: We do own a cat that does shed a bit so we are always eager to see if the “pet allergen reduction” claims actually hold water. The XV-21 is part of a growing trend in the robotic vacuum market that specifically markets to pet owners and/or people with allergies. The cleaner boasts unique technology that targets pet hair with special brush bristles and a high suction allergy filter. In my testing the XV-21 worked as good – if not better – than the latest Roomba models. For some reason the newer Roomba’s are not as adept at picking up pet dander.
- Excellent Customer Service: In the cutthroat market of robotic vacuums, good customer service goes a long way. Fortunately, Neato has a really good system in place. When I called for information about various features, the staff was more than willing to explain and walk me through the issues I was having.
- Methodical: This particular model seems even better at covering every last square inch of carpet. Fortunately, this Neato has enough patience to get every last spot (and this is coming from a guy who has a “neat freak” for a wife).
- Full 90 Minute Battery Life: 90 minutes is the industry leading standard. Many robotic vacuums boast of being able to work for up to 90 minutes, but what I have noticed is that they rarely reach 90 minutes. The XV-21 lasts pretty dang close to the full 90 minutes, something I rarely see from these types of vacuums.
- Works Well on Hard Floors AND Carpets: Usually we notice that a particular model cleans better on certain surfaces. We have both carpets and hard wood floors in our house we didn’t see a noticeable difference in effectiveness on either. However, we have yet to test it on long hair carpets (we don’t have any).
- Sensible Cleaning Pattern: One of the things that kind of drove me crazy about my Roomba’s was the haphazard pattern and routes they took to clean my rooms. What I like about the XV-21 is that it cleans in an orderly fashion. For people who are a bit OCD (like my wife), this is a comforting feature.
- Excellent Price: The Neato XV-21 is probably the best vacuum you will find for the money you’ll spend on it. Looking at the high end options in this market, the Roomba 880 retails higher than the mid-tier Roomba 770. You can find the XV-21 for a much more affordable price here.
- Wireless Battery Charging: While a really nice feature, we noticed that *sometimes* this vacuum had trouble picking up the wireless docking power station. While the problems were infrequent enough to still opt to use this function most of the time, it just goes to show that Neato is not done perfecting the system yet.
- Noise: The XV-21 was louder than what I was used to. The best way to describe it is like a muffled hair dryer. It’s not bad as a background noise and you will barely notice it if you are in adjacent rooms, but conversations on the phone will be difficult in the if you are in the same room when it is cleaning.
- Cleaning Near Baseboards: We noted, as have some customers, that the XV-21 cannot effectively clean right up to the baseboards of rooms. There is about less than an inch that is problematic as the vacuum can’t collect flush with the wall. This is a problem with many robotic vacuums. Even traditional vacuums are not optimal for getting right up against the wall. Either way, the trade-off is worth it. I can always go back with a handheld vacuumed if there are corners that can’t be reached.
- Extra Features: The Neato XV-21 does not have extensive features (like remotes and fancy barriers). It just has a solid core platform that works. For some people the latest frills are necessary, but most folks won’t notice a difference.
Video Review: Hands On Demonstration
The following video review breaks down the Neato XV-21 in action. This is just an example of it navigating around edges and common household obstacles. Seeing it live gives you a better feel for it:
What it Comes With (Inside the Box)
The following is a list of what you get straight out of the box:
- Neato XV-21 Robot Vacuum
- 6′ Boundary Market
- Charging Station
- Charging Cable
- 1 Filter
- 2 Brushes
- User Guide
- Quick Start Guide
Dimensions: 13 × 12.5 × 4 in
Weight: 8.6 lbs.
Reading over the Amazon reviews, there were a number of things other users like myself tended to highlight frequently.
Pet owners definitely agreed that the XV 21 was great for picking up pet hairs and was even better than the competition at this specific function.
For users of past Neato robotic vacuum models, the XV-21 was a significant upgrade from its predecessors. It was almost unanimously noted that control and room mapping was vastly improved, rivaling or exceeding the standards of the Roomba line by iRobot.
Another small aspect that people liked was that the Neato cleans in straight lines (see demonstration video above), rather than the chaotic back and forth which other robotic vacuums are known for.
In total, the XV-21 received very positive reviews across the board. The major complaints from other customers were generally individualized cases.
Thankfully, the Neato Robotics team has excellent customer service. One customer said that they received a replacement model on two occasions within days of contacting them with a complaint.
Where to Get this Model
There are a number of places to pick up the XV-21, but it is highly recommended that you do it online. Retail prices are generally higher than you will find at places like Amazon. Over at Amazon you can get free shipping as well, which is a nice bonus.
They offer a significant discount, as of the writing of this review. (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). We do get a small commission if you purchase through our link below which helps with the upkeep of the site (and the money we spend on robots every few months).
UPDATE 9/16: As a reader reminded me recently, it’s been a while since I originally wrote this review. Do I still recommend the XV-21? In short, yes. It’s available for an attractive price relative to the competition.
I’d recommend it over the cheap copy-cats coming out from Asia and flooding the market (at similar price points). In terms of comparability to the Roomba’s, it’s roughly equivalent to the Roomba 650 in terms of features.
I prefer the 650 slightly, do to better reliability and construction over time. You can read my full review of the 650 for more details.
Angela Eveningred says
I have a question???? When it needs to recharge during cleaning. Does it pick up where it left off cleaning????
Patrick Sinclair says
Angela – not the XV-21. The new Botvac Connected does have this ability (but a lot more expensive).
Great review, Patrick. But it’s 4 years old. Do you still recommend the XV-21 or have the newer versions improved (Roomba included) on it?
To add to my question above… I just read your Roomba 770 vs 980 review and was convinced to go for the 770 until I read the last line recommending the 980 for carpeted homes. my home is about 3/4 carpet. Does that make the Botvac the better value?
Patrick Sinclair says
Jessie – Sorry for the delay. I just added an update at the end of this review to answer your question. Yes, I still recommend the XV-21, especially over the cheap Asian look-alikes flooding the market right now. It’s roughly comparable to the Roomba 650 (but cheaper).
To answer your additional question: For carpets I’d recommend either the 980 OR the new Botvac Connected OR the Samsung Powerbot. They are both much more expensive than the 770, but they are getting really close to mimicking a traditional upright vacuum on carpets.
It’s not that the 770 would be terrible on carpets, but it would be more of a maintenance clean instead of a thorough clean. Each generation the suction/technology improves. Sometimes ever so slightly, but it’s these slight edges that make the difference. For hardwoods, it’s pretty easy for almost any robot vacuum to do a decent job, due to the lower suction/power requirements.