Neato vs Roomba: Which Is the Best Robot Vacuum For Your Home?

Trying to choose between a Neato vs Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner for your home?

You’ve come to the right place.

In this in-depth comparison of the Neato Botvac D7 Connected vs. Roomba 980 will help you choose the best one for your home.

To be honest, both of these cleaners top-of-the-line WiFi-connected robotic vacuums with intelligent navigation and superb cleaning ability.

But there are many differences between them, too.

For an in-depth look at each robot vacuum, check out my recent review of the 980 and the Neato D7.

 

What’s In This Robot Vacuum Comparison


Summary

The Neato Botvac D7 is the best choice if raw suction power is the most important factor. For example, if you have a large carpeted floor area. But it can be frustrating to configure via the app and requires a bit more effort to maintain.

The Roomba 980 is the best choice if you want a robot vacuum that works straight out of the box with minimal configuration and less maintenance.

The Neato D7 and Roomba 980 are comparable in a lot of ways.

  • They are both high-end robots costing more than $500.
  • Both are WiFi-connected meaning they come with a bevy of smart features like Alexa compatibility and remote smartphone control.
  • They are equipped with intelligent navigation plus a host of sensors. They can easily navigate complicated room layouts and even clean multiple rooms on a single level.
  • They both have an auto-recharge and resume feature, which is especially handy in large homes. But Neato’s recharge & resume function is a bit more advanced.

When it comes to what matters most, cleaning ability, both perform extremely well. They are more powerful than most other robotic vacuum cleaners.

Their main differences lie in their ease of use, a few different features and the level of maintenance required.

Neato vs. Roomba Compared In Detail

Similarities

  • Higher price.
  • Powerful suction (Neato is slightly more powerful).
  • Good with pet hair.
  • Good on hard floors and carpets.
  • Intelligent navigation and floor mapping.
  • 2-hour battery life.
  • Auto-recharge and resume.

Main Differences

Neato Botvac D7 Roomba 980
Laser-based navigation system Visual-based navigation system
D-shape for better edge-cleaning Round shape
Spiral combo brush + side brush Dual rubber rollers + side brush
Virtual no-go lines Physical virtual wall barriers

Now let’s dig deeper…

Navigation

Neato Botvac D7 Navigation

Neato Botvac D7

Neato markets the D7 around its intelligent navigational capabilities. But it’s not all just marketing-speak. The robot really is smart.

The Neato D7 navigates around your home using a laser-based system called LIDAR. It is the same system used in some self-driving cars.

That’s how you know it’s good.

The robot maps out your home’s layout as it cleans and memorizes it to improve cleaning time and efficiency.

On the app, you can see the floor plan drawn up by the vacuum after it finishes its first run. You can then use it to create no-go zones where the robot won’t venture.

This is a much more convenient and effective than using virtual wall barriers or magnetic strips.

After the first cleaning, the Neato D7 works quickly and efficiently, intelligently navigating around obstacles and even avoiding any clutter you’d left on the floor.

It can also navigate from room to room without getting lost. This is handy if you need to clean an entire level.

When the D7 first came out, you could only create a map for one level. Many customers were frustrated that they couldn’t create a map for another level or area without the original one getting lost.

Well, now you can.

In a recent update, Neato now allows users to create multiple floor plans, each with its own no-go zones.


Roomba 980 Navigation

Roomba 980 carpet cleaning

The Roomba 980 uses sensors and a camera-based iAdapt 2.0 Navigation system to map out your home and avoid obstacles.

Like the Neato, it develops a map which you can view on the app after the robot has finished vacuuming.

But the map is only to show you where the robot cleaner. You cannot set no-go zones.

To keep Roomba from cleaning where you don’t want it to go, use the Dual Mode virtual wall barriers. There are a couple of them included along with the vac.

The Roomba 980 has an easy time navigating around obstacles and cleaning multiple rooms. So it’s good for cleaning an entire level.

The one major downside to Roomba’s visual-based navigation system is that it doesn’t work very well in the dark.

The Neato, with its lasers, does not need light to sense the wall or a piece of furniture. The Roomba does since it uses a camera.

They have recently made software improvements to try and make the robot better at cleaning in the dark. But it still cleans more slowly and covers a smaller area compared to cleaning during the day.

Cleaning Performance

Neato Botvac D7 Cleaning Performance

On hard floors, the Neato D7 does a great job picking up every bit of debris.

It is the more powerful vacuum so don’t be surprised if you find large clumps of debris or even pennies (as one user did) in the bin.

The spiral combo roller brush which extends almost the full width of the robot’s unique D-shape picks up dust and other debris and forces them up into the suction port.

There is also a side brush which sweeps dirt along the wall edges into the path of the vacuum.

The Neato D7’s shape allows it to get really close to the wall for a more thorough cleaning. This is one of its main advantages over typically rounded cleaning robots.

On carpeted floors, the Neato D7 is just as good. It can clean low and medium-pile carpets without getting stuck or losing suction power.

If you need to deep-clean your carpet, turn on Turbo Mode which kicks the robot into high gear. It’s a bit noisy, but it’s a small sacrifice to keep your home dirt and allergen-free.

The robot increases suction power and spins the roller brush underneath faster to reach dirt hiding deep in the rug.

Other modes include spot cleaning, house cleaning, and Eco mode.

Neato is also introducing a new mode they call Zone Cleaning. 

This allows you to designate specific zones for the robot to clean using the app. For example, around the dinner table, along with the entryway, around the kitchen work area and so on.


Roomba 980 Cleaning Performance

Best floor robots Model by iRobot

On hard floors, the Roomba has more than enough suction power to pick up pet hair, dirt, food crumbs and all other sorts of debris.

There’s a side brush which sweeps in dirt from the sides and along wall edges.

There are also two roller brushes that work together to agitate and break up debris and lift it into the vacuum.

One of the advantages the Roomba has over Neato is the lower profile. It measures 3.6” thick (compared to Neato’s 3.9”), giving it better able to clean under furniture.

Roomba also has something else Neato doesn’t have – a Dirt Detect sensor. The Roomba 980 can detect areas with concentrated dirt and focus more on them.

On carpet, the Roomba doesn’t have as much suction power as Neato but makes up for it with its dual roller brush system.

As the counter-rotating rubber brushes spin, they agitate dirt and lift it up from deep inside the rug. They then force it inside the vacuum.

The robot increases suction power when it detects it’s on a carpet though this makes it slightly noisier, though it’s still the quieter of the two robot vacuums even at max power.

Battery Life

Neato Botvac D7 Battery Life

Neato Botvac D7

The D7 can clean for up to 120 minutes before the battery runs low (may run for less time when you use Turbo Mode). This is long enough to clean several rooms or even an entire level.

Like most other robot vacuums these days, the D7 has an auto-recharge capability. Once the battery gets low, it will automatically go back to the charging dock.

It also auto-resumes cleaning after it charges up.

Neato’s auto-recharge and resume feature are a bit different and smarter than in other robot vacs.

In their recent software update, Neato added a Quick Boost feature to the Botvac D7.

Here’s how Neato describes the new feature.

“With the ability to clean different floors across the home, also comes the possibility that the robot may need to recharge to finish the job and to reduce overall cleaning time. Neato is introducing Neato Quick Boost charging to allow the Neato Botvac D7 Connected to calculate how much power it needs to finish its cleaning run and top up accordingly. Your robot will return to its base automatically, get a quick boost, and resume cleaning the rest of your floorplan, meaning your robot is working smarter and your floors get cleaned faster.”

So instead of waiting 3 hours or more to recharge fully, it recharges just enough to finish cleaning. Now that’s smart…and efficient.

Note: If your home has multiple levels and you’ve created multiple floor plans, you can now buy the charging base as a standalone accessory. So you can have a charging base for every floor, ensuring the vacuum is able to recharge automatically and resume cleaning no matter where it’s cleaning.


Roomba 980 Battery Life

Sensors of Roomba 980

Roomba’s battery life is also 120 minutes, long enough to cover multiple rooms.

When the battery runs low it auto-recharges and resumes cleaning where it left off.

But unlike the Neato D7 which charges just enough to cover the remaining area, you’ll have to wait until the battery is completely full which takes about 3 hours.

Sound

The Neato Botvac D7 is as loud as a small upright vacuum cleaner. You can still watch TV when it’s working, but you’ll have to crank up the volume.

It gets even louder if you put it in Turbo Mode. If you want less noise, then use Eco mode – though this lowers suction power.

The Roomba 980 is quieter, but it can get as noisy as the Neato when it is running over carpet, where it increases suction power. But on hard floors, the 980 is pretty quiet. You can comfortably carry on with a conversation or watch TV.

Efficiency

OK, so this is basically a draw between these two robots.  They both use intelligent navigation and smart mapping to minimize the amount of energy and time spent cleaning.

Neither one misses any important areas, nor do they keep cleaning the same areas over and over.

This shortens cleaning time (they can cover about 1,000 square feet in an hour) and reduces energy usage.

Maintenance

Neato Botvac D7 Maintenance

Neato Botvac D7

If you have pets that shed a lot of hair, the D7 can be a bit frustrating to use especially if you have carpeted floors.

The spiral combo brush gets tangled easily on long pet hair. You’ll likely have to untangle it a couple or so times during cleaning.

Hair can also get tangled on the side brushes.

But this is mostly an issue if you have a long-haired pet. For most pet owners, the Botvac D7 is great.

It has a large 700ml bin meaning you can even go a couple of cleaning sessions before you empty it. The bin is easy to remove and put back.

No other major maintenance is needed other than cleaning the wheels and sensors every week or so.


Roomba 980 Maintenance

Review of Roomba 980

The Roomba 980 performs much better on longer pet hair. Instead of the traditional roller brushes used in the Neato and other robot vacuums, Roomba uses rubber brushes/treads that won’t stop for anything, not even long pet (or human) hair. Only the side brush gets tangled now and then, but it’s easy to get it going again.

The 980’s bin is a bit smaller at 600 ml, but it’s big enough for most people’s needs. It can run a full cleaning session without having to be emptied midway.

Most maintenance tasks are easier than the Neato D7 – wiping the sensors, cleaning the brushes and cleaning the filter.

Price

Both the Neato D7 and Roomba 980 are high-end models.

These are the kind of robotic vacuums you go for if you are looking for power, intelligent navigation and all sorts of smart bells and whistles.

Both models cost north of $700.

Homes with Pets

Battling Stairs

The Neato D7 and Roomba 980 two of the best robot vacuums for pet hair although there are some performance differences.

Neato picks up more pet hair in a single run, thanks to its stronger suction and a bigger bin. So it’s the better choice for homes with multiple pets.

The only issue occurs if your dog sheds long hair, which can get the Neato’s combo roller brush tangled.

There’s also the Neato’s issue with noise. It will take a few days for your pet to get used to it.

In contrast, the Roomba 980 doesn’t pick up as much hair as Neato, but it is less likely to get tangled. So if your pet has long hair, I recommend the Roomba 980 over the Neato.

The Roomba 980 is also quieter – better for easily-spooked pets.

Homes With Kids

Neato Botvac D7

Both the Roomba 980 and Neato D7 are great choices for homes with kids. Their powerful suction and high-performance brushes allow them to clean up any mess in multiple roooms, in no time.

That said, watch out for small toys left on the floor. Both Neato and Roomba will try to suck up anything small in their way from Legos to USB cables and dolls.

Just make sure the floor is picked up before these vacuums start cleaning.

Also, watch out for the noise if you have a small baby who is easily woken up by loud noises. This is more of an issue with the Neato.

I recommend scheduling vacuuming during the day and not vacuuming too close to the nursery when they are asleep.

Turning on Eco mode can also help reduce noise levels when the baby is asleep.

Large Homes

Both models are great for vacuuming large homes. Here’s why:

  • Multi-room cleaning
  • Long battery life – they can clean a large area without requiring a recharge
  • Intelligent navigation – they can map an entire level
  • Auto-recharge & resume – which allows them to cover an even bigger area

That said, the Neato Botvac D7 has s bit of an edge over the Roomba 980. Here’s why:

  • You can create multiple floor plans and indicate no-go zones for each floor. This is handy if you have two or more levels.
  • It has a smarter auto-recharge and resumes feature. Instead of charging the battery to 100%, it calculates how much power it’ll need to finish cleaning and then charges up to just the right level necessary. This makes for quicker cleaning in large homes.
  • The no-go zones which you mark out in the app are much easier and more convenient to use compared to Roomba’s Virtual Wall Barriers which you have to keep moving around.

Carpeted Floors

Both models easily handle low and medium-pile carpets.

The Roomba 980 will increase suction power to deal with various thicknesses of carpet, automatically.

If you are using the Neato D7, however, you’ll have to select Turbo Boost to deep clean a thick carpet.

Overall, the Roomba 980 has better carpet cleaning ability thanks to its rubber rollers which beat up dirt hiding deep in the carpet.

The Neato can sometimes get stuck on long fibers and struggles to pick long pet hair on the carpet. But it makes up for it with stronger suction that picks up deep-down dust and debris.

Hard Floors with Area Rugs

These Roomba and Neato vacuums have no problem transitioning from the hard floor to an area rug.

But watch out for rugs with long fringes or tassels. They can tangle up around the brushes or wheels.

If you notice the robot gets stuck there often, fold the fringe under the rug when the vacuum is cleaning.

About iRobot and Neato Robotics

iRobot has been making robots for almost three decades now. They started in 1990 and later worked with the Military and NASA to develop specialized robots.

Their Roomba lineup was launched in 2002, and in 2016 they ditched their military robotics business to focus on the more lucrative consumer robotics.

In addition to Roomba, they also have a Braava lineup of robotic mops as well as a robotic pool cleaner called Mirra.

Neato Robotics began making Botvac home robots in 2010 and has since expanded their Botvac lineup with several new models.

Their robots are best known for their unique D shape.

Conclusion

The two robots are fairly evenly matched in most areas.

They are both great choices if you are looking for high-performance robot vacuums that can handle hard floors, thick carpets and pet hair without a problem.

They are also two of the best smart robot vacuums that you can control away from home and link to Alexa or Google Assistant.

However, if you are looking for a robot that’s easier to maintain and configure, go with Roomba.

If on the other hand, you have an extra-large home or multiple floors, the Neato provides better and more intelligent coverage.


Buy The Neato Botvac D7 Connected If You…

  • Want a powerful robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans all types of carpet and hard floors.
  • Own multiple pets – esp. pets with short hair.

Neato Botvac D7

The Neato D7 is loaded with smart features, too – including laser floor mapping, digital no-go zones, multiple level maps, remote app control, and Google Assistant/Alexa compatibility.

Latest Amazon Price

READ OUR REVIEW


Buy The iRobot Roomba 980 If You…

  • Care about noise. The 980 has more options to control noise as it runs.
  • Own one pet – or own pets with long hair.
  • Want the excellent cleaning performance and the smartphone app control/scheduling features that Roombas are known for.

Sensors of Roomba 980

The Roomba 980 also handles all types of floors with ease, automatically increasing suction power on carpets and rugs.

The bin is smaller than the Neato, however, so it fills fairly quickly. This makes it better for folks with just one pet.

The Roomba 980 comes with lots of smart features, too – including the best smartphone app control, smart speaker voice control and cleaning reports.

Latest Amazon Price

READ OUR REVIEW


Our Top Pick

When it comes to cleaning ability, both models are great. No major complaints about either.

But in terms of features and overall value for money, I have to go with the Neato Botvac D7 robot vacuum cleaner.

It provides more – and smarter – features such as virtual no-go lines, intelligent auto-recharge & resume and multiple floor plans.

It is a bit of a hassle to set it up and maintain it, but it’s worth it in our opinion.

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