In this Neato Botvac 80 review, we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of this model relative to other Botvacs as well as its main competitors.
- Neato has been improving the Neato Botvac with each generation. One of the improvements in the current generation, including the Neato Botvac 80, is the ability to update the firmware. In short, this means the robotic vacuum’s software can be upgraded. While no one thinks that your robot vacuum is going to need security updates installed, you will be able to enjoy improved software programs as they are released. For example, you would be able to install software updates that improve its navigation, spot cleaning, drop-off recognition or support features. The Neato Botvac 80 is just the latest in the Neato’s line of updatable, upgradable robot vacuums – something Roomba has yet to perfect.
- The Neato Botvac retains the upward exhaust vents of the XV models, so that dust on un-vacuumed area is not disturbed or blown onto newly cleaned areas.
- The Neato’s batteries last around two hours, approximately twice as long as the Roomba vacuums.
- The Neato uses laser guidance to travel around a room. Some people mistake the initial delay before the robot starts vacuuming to be a malfunction. This is actually when the robot maps the room before it starts work. This step reduces the odds that the Neato will run into furniture or get trapped.
- The Neato Botvac sports a flat front and sides. This is not done simply to distinguish it from the Roomba, recognized by its distinctive hockey puck look. The corners allow the Botvac to clean up against walls and even in corners.
- The Neato builds a map of the room in its memory before starting its rounds. If the Neato has to return to the charger before it finishes a room, it remembers where it stopped. More importantly, it can usually navigate back to that location and resume cleaning on its own. If it is blocked by furniture, the Botvac is able to navigate around the furniture in most cases and clean that part of the room.
- The Neato Botvac has blade brushes along the wall to clean side boards and remove dust bunnies you haven’t vacuumed in years.
- The Neato Botvac 80 costs about $500. Its sibling, the Neato Botvac 70e, is around $430. The Neato Botvac 75 costs around $450, with shipping and taxes on top of that. If the price of the Neato Botvac is a concern, refurbished models are available at a discount.
- The robot can tell you when the dust bin is getting full. And the Neato Botvac 80 has a larger dust bin than the Roomba.
- The Neato Botvac uses Ni-MH batteries. If you need replacement batteries, you’ll be out $70 to $80. You can improve the life of the batteries by fully charging them prior to the first use and ensuring that the vacuum fully charges between cycles. However, the batteries regularly need to be replaced after a full year of use. On the upside, Neato service is more than willing to replace batteries that die within six months of service.
- The Botvac’s error messages can be useful, such as clearly informing you that it needs to be re-docked or freed. However, the errors can be downright confusing, such as the “press OK to continue” on a robot that doesn’t have an OK button. Neato’s getting started guide falls short of a formal user guide. Going to the website isn’t much better, since they focus on selling the latest models instead of advice for troubleshooting existing units with problems.
- Technical support for the Botvac 80 is weak, even when you call the company’s helpline. Their default advice is to turn off the battery, wait, and turn it back on. This is akin to using control-alt-delete to reboot a Windows PC in the hope that it solves the problem.
There were several things we observed that should be included in a Neato Botvac 80 review. These are not pros or cons for the Botvac 80 per se, but information that consumers should know before they buy this vacuum.
You can upgrade the Botvac to the equivalent of the “pro pet and allergy” version via a conversion kit. The conversion kit comes with a curved roller brush better at picking up pet hair and improved air filters. The conversion kit is around $40 plus tax. The formal pet vacuums are fifty to a hundred and fifty dollars more.
The Neato Botvac has high grade filters for removing dust from the air as it cleans. Cleaning the filters themselves is challenging to do by hand. You would be better off replacing them, though this is around thirty dollars for a standard filter four pack and ninety for the high performance filter two pack.
The Neato Botvac 80 uses magnetic strips to mark areas the robot should not go, which is cheaper in the long run than the iRobot lighthouses. However, moving and altering the pattern of magnetic strips can be frustrating, in contrast to the ease of picking up and moving a light house beacon one foot to the left. Then again, the magnetic tape doesn’t need batteries.