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The Neato Botvac D3 is perfect for those who are looking for a budget-friendly WiFi robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans about as well as a pricier equivalent Roomba.
For about $300 – less than half the cost of Neato’s flagship Botvac D7 and 1/3 the price of Roomba’s top-of-the-line 980– the D3 comes with a solid list of features including WiFi connectivity, smart home integration, cleaning reports, recharge and resume, smart navigation and surprisingly powerful suction.
On the downside, you’ll have to do without virtual barriers, multiple cleaning modes, and a corner-cleaning brush.
The D3 can also struggle with pet hair, and the included filters are not that great. You’ll want to replace them.
Our Impression – Neato Botvac D3 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The Neato D3 is the most affordable robot vacuum cleaners with WiFi, intelligent room mapping and smart home integration.
• Low-pile carpets
You want a robotic vacuum that can handle thick carpets and pet hair without a problem. Or, if you have irregular wall surfaces and floor trim – this unit lacks a side brush.
Aquality WiFi robotic vacuum cleaner will set you back a big chunk of cash. And that’s not just Roomba models.
Neato’s own Botvac D7 costs about $800.
The Botvac D3 provides excellent cleaning ability for far less money, making it one of the best robot vacuum cleaners you can buy today.
Yes, the list of features is not as long or as impressive as a Roomba 980, but some of these features are only found on far more expensive models.
For example, the D3 connects to WiFi, has an app to view cleaning reports, and comes with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT compatibility. It can also automatically recharge itself when battery power gets low and resume right where it left off.
This Neato robot vacuum doesn’t, however, come with virtual barriers, and the filters are not the best quality. But you can buy magnetic strips to guide this unit, and filters are easy & cheap to upgrade.
Overall, the Neato Botvac D3 provides a lot of value for your money than perhaps any other robot vacuum.
It’s an excellent buy for those who want to try out a smart robot vacuum without spending too much money.
The D-shaped design of the Neato robotic vacuums gives them a significant cleaning performance advantage over other rounded brands.
Because of the flat leading edge, the Neato D3 is able to clean right up against a flat wall surface and into deep into L-shaped corners.
Perhaps that’s why Neato didn’t see a need to include a side brush (although I think having one would have made the D3 even better at edge and corner cleaning in rooms with irregular wall trim, columns and such).
It’s not just the unique design that makes the Botvac D3 great on the floor. The vacuum also deploys some smarts to figure out how best to clean.
Neato calls it the LaserSmart navigation system.
Yes, the D3 has lasers.
When you switch on the D3, it first scans the room using lasers to determine the best cleaning path. Instead of wandering around the room in random movements, it methodically moves about without missing any spots or going over the same areas.
While a side brush would have been nice the main brush does a great job picking up dust and pet hair from the floor. The brush is more extensive than in most other robot vacuums, which allows the vacuum to cover a larger area and clean faster.
The powerful suction system vacuums up the debris into the oversized dirt bin. The suction power is comparable to that of the Roomba 690. It’s good enough for hard flooring and low-pile carpeting.
The D3’s main issue when it comes to cleaning is the standard filters it comes with. They are, well, crap.
Vacuumed dirt and pet hair stick to these filters rather than getting into the bin. Removing this debris is difficult and takes time.
Even worse, cleaning performance lags as more dirt accumulates on the filters. You’ll notice less suction after just 15 minutes of cleaning.
Our advice: When you buy the Botvac D3, order their high-performance filters used in the Botvac D80 and Botvac D5. Check the manual for instructions on how to replace the standard filters (it’s really easy).
Another issue is that the D3 has to recharge often because it has a small battery capacity. It typically takes one or two recharges to clean a large room or small apartment.
Thankfully, the recharge and resume feature works really well, better than most Roombas.
The D3 rarely gets lost when going back to base and it’s able to go back exactly where it left off.
The Botvac D3 is pretty smart for a $300 robot.
Many robot vacuums in the same price range move in random patterns, hoping to cover as much floor as possible before the battery runs out.
But the D3 comes with Neato’s LaserSmart navigation system.
Before it starts cleaning, it does a 360-degree sweep on the room to determine how big it is and what obstacles are around.
It then crunches the numbers and comes up with the most effective, energy-saving and quickest cleaning path. It cleans fast and efficiently without missing any spots or wasting time cleaning the same areas twice.
Thanks to the laser navigation system it can easily spot obstacles like chair legs and toys and avoid them. But it’s still a good idea to clear the floor before cleaning. The robot can get stuck on smaller obstacles like cords and clothing.
The D3 has a low profile design which allows it to go under furniture without getting stuck.
If it does get stuck, which is rare, you’ll get a notification on your phone so that you can rescue it.
The robot moves easily on all types of floors. It can mount most thresholds and get onto the carpet without any problem.
When it gets to the stairs drop sensors at the bottom of the unit immediately tell the robot to stop and turn. So you don’t have to worry about the D3 tumbling down the staircase.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with virtual barriers like those used by Roombas or the no-go lines in the Botvac D7.
The only option is to use a physical barrier or close the door if you don’t want it to get out of the room.
Alternatively, buy a roll of magnetic boundary markers which costs about $25 for 13ft of tape. The tape doesn’t work as well as Roomba’s virtual walls, but they’ll do for most of your needs.
Automation and Scheduling
Most robot vacuums costing $300 or less have a barebones list of features; no WiFi, no Alexa, no smart navigation and no app control.
The Botvac D3 has all those.
When setting it up, you’ll need to connect it to your router (2.4GHz only) and download the companion app.
This allows you to control the robot from anywhere. You can start, pause or stop cleaning. After every cleaning the D3 send you a cleaning report showing you a map of exactly where it cleaned.
You can also receive notifications on the app (e.g., when the robot is stuck), view the battery level of the D3 from your phone and set an auto-cleaning schedule.
The app is clean and comfortable to use. It has minimal functions, so you’ll have an easy time using it from the start.
If you have a Google Home or Amazon Echo speaker at home, you can also use either of them to control the Botvac D3 using just your voice.
But voice commands are limited. You can just ask Alexa or Google Assistant to start, pause, resume or stop the robot. You can also check battery level. You can’t do more complex things like set schedule.
If you don’t have Google Home or Amazon, Echo; you can also control the D3 with IFTTT or via the Neato Chatbot for Facebook.
What It Misses
The D3 is in most areas a great robot vacuum. But there are a couple of things that could be improved.
The most frustrating issue is the filters. I’ve already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. Don’t bother using the standard filters it comes with. They are terrible. Everything sticks on them, and it’s difficult to brush it out.
Order the high-performance replacements when you buy the D3.
Another issue that has irked many users is the lack of a brush-cleaning tool. The manual says you should use the brush-cleaning tool to get hair and any dirt out of the brush after every cleaning. But Neato opted not to include it with the D3.
So in addition to the replacement filters, you also have to buy the cleaning tool. It costs $19.
When it comes to cleaning, the D3 is mostly great. But it struggles a bit with pet hair. If your pets shed a lot, consider a more powerful robot such as the Botvac D5 or D7.
It also won’t vacuum a thick or shaggy carpet; only low-pile ones.
A side brush would have been great, but the D3 still does a fairly good job of cleaning the wall edges and corners. It also means you have one less part to replace when it wears out.
Another feature I would have liked to see is multiple cleaning modes. Right now you can only start, pause and stop cleaning. There are no specialized modes such as spot, wall or room cleaning.
Maintenance is super easy.
Empty the bin, dust the filters and clean the brushes after every clean. Wipe down the sensors once a week or so. Remember to constantly check the different parts and openings for any large debris that might have gotten stuck.
Refer to the manual for instructions on how often to change the filters and brush.
- Great value for your money.
- Powerful suction that can pick up all types of debris.
- D-shaped design that is great for edge and corner cleaning.
- Auto-recharge and resume.
- Smart home compatibility.
- Excellent cleaning performance.
- Easy to operate and maintain.
- No side brush, brush cleaning tool and boundary markers.
- Terrible filters.
- Low-capacity battery – requires frequent recharging.
Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.9 x 13.2 inches
Running time: 60 minutes
Remote control: no
Multi-room navigation: yes
Entire level cleaning: yes
Smart home integration: yes