Neato Botvac D7 Connected Review: Fast, Thorough, and Expensive

This app-connected robot vacuum makes a lot of promises, but it delivers inconsistent results based on our testing.

Our Verdict

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected has potential, but there are better robot vacuums available for less money.

For

  • Easily accessible dustbin
  • Cleans well
  • Fast cleaner

Against

  • Expensive
  • Loud indicator sounds
  • First review unit got stuck a lot

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected ups the cleaning ante with the ability to create "no-go lines" and room-specific cleaning from your smartphone. But for $800, we expect a less frustrating user experience. We recommend that you buy the Roomba i7+ if you're looking for a similarly fast vacuum or the Shark Ion R85 if you want to save some money.

Design

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected eschews the common round robot-vacuum design for a "D" shape that reminded us of a bathroom scale. At 3.9 inches high, the Botvac D7 is the tallest vacuum we've tested so far, 0.2 inches taller than the iRobot Roomba i7+. Adding to the D7's height is a raised disc on the top emblazoned with "Neato" that serves as the cover for the vac's laser. This raised section caused the vacuum to get caught multiple times under living room chairs where there was a small rip in the the fabric.

Measuring 13.2 inches across at its widest point, the D7 is a tenth of an inch smaller than the Roomba i7+; the D7's D-shaped body allowed it to clean more efficiently along walls and cabinets.

The topside of the Botvac D7 features one understated black button on the lower left side and four lights indicating house clean, spot clean, battery and Wi-Fi. That single unlabeled button controls everything: power, changing cleaning mode and restarting the vac if it gets stuck.

The dustbin lifts out of the top center of the machine and is easily the most accessible dustbin of the vacuums we've tested.

Flip over the Botvac D7, and you'll find a rubber-and-bristle roller brush that runs the width of the bot, along with two rubber wheels and two smaller roller-ball wheels bringing up the rear. A five-spoke side brush sits between the main brush and left wheel and is comically small compared to the brushes on the Roomba i7+ and the Shark Ion Robot R85. The little brush must be removed when cleaning the main brush; we were surprised by how easily it popped off and flew across the room. Once, it even fell off while the vacuum was cleaning.

The D7's unique shape resulted in some interesting cleaning moves. For the most part, it maneuvered easily around dining room chairs, but when it found itself in a tight spot, the bot would lift itself up on one wheel and dance around until it found a clear exit path. Usually, it was successful, but more than once it became stuck between two legs of a kitchen chair.

The little brush must be removed when cleaning the main brush; we were surprised how easily it popped off and flew across the room. Once, it even fell off while the vacuum was cleaning.

Setup

The "Connected" in Neato Botvac D7 Connected means the bot works with the Neato app (Android or iOS). Connecting the vacuum to the app and to our home network required us to push the selector button and the right bumper simultaneously, hold for 10 seconds, then power the vacuum back on to enter pairing mode. It took us two tries to enter pairing mode, but that was partly because we were pressing the right front bumper as opposed to the right side bumper.

The app has options for starting or stopping the cleaning of an entire floor, plus spot or manual cleaning. Once the vacuum has completed a special cleaning run and mapped its surroundings, you can create specific cleaning areas and no-go zones on the app.

If you need assistance, good luck. Pressing Help in the app sends you to Neato's general support page, meaning you have to search for the specific model and issue to get assistance.

Performance

While the Botvac D7 did an excellent job of picking up dust, bread crumbs and dismembered dog-toy fuzz, the first unit we received never completed a full, error-free cleaning of our home, a necessary step for the creation of a map for zone cleaning. After multiple special mapping runs, the D7 developed an approximate map of the first floor; while this was nowhere near as complete as the Roomba i7+ map, we were able to create cleaning and no-go zones.

Most frustratingly, when this unit got stuck, it gave up. Each time it cried out for help, we moved it no more than 2 feet, as instructed by the app. We pressed the selector button on the bot to set it back in motion. The D7 would power back up, adjust to its surroundings and then bounce around on its way back to the base, not vacuuming anything. It would then send a notification that it had finished cleaning. The non-app-connected Eufy RoboVac 11s also had a propensity for getting stuck, but it was smart enough to continue vacuuming once it was freed.

We reached out to Neato regarding the multiple issues we had with the Botvac D7, and the company said the problems were nonstandard behavior. They sent us a second review unit that worked impressively well;it never got stuck, completed multiple error-free cleanings and was able to map our first floor without issue. The new unit wisely avoided our shag carpet entirely. However, a quick perusal of the more than 470 Amazon reviews of the Botvac D7 revealed that many customers had issues similar to those that we experienced with our first unit.

We sent our original D7 back to Neato to diagnose any issues it may have, and we will update this review with the responses.

MORE: Best Robot Vacuums Available Right Now

The D7 Neato is a very chatty vacuum, too. Anytime you remove the dustbin, the vac emits sad, intermittent robot tones until you reinsert the dustbin. The D7 complains with the same tone when it gets stuck and sends you a phone notification; the sound repeats for several minutes until the vacuum gives up or is rescued. The unit also periodically made mysterious noises while cleaning that we didn't understand; it wasn't stuck and the dustbin wasn't full. Maybe it was just happy.

Test Results

In the controlled environment of our test lab, the Botvac D7 fared much better than in a regular residence; its overall cleaning score of 91.3 was second only to the showing by our favorite robot vacuum, the Shark Ion R85 (94 percent), and edged out the result from the iRobot Roomba i7+ (90.3 percent).

NameSmartphone controlOverall Cleaning ScoreAvg. Cleaning time (Hrs:Min:Sec)Cheerios cleaning scoreKitty Litter Cleaning ScoreDog Hair Cleaning Score
iRobot Roomba i7+Yes90.400:18:0993.187.690.5
Samsung PowerBot R7070Yes87.900:27:3094.687.781.5
iRobot Roomba 690Yes89.21:12:2799.594.973.3
Shark Ion Robot R85Yes941:01:571009488
Neato Botvac D7Yes91.300:10:2299.88589.3

If you're looking for speed, the Botvac D7 has you covered; it's the fastest vacuum we've seen.

On carpet and hardwood, the D7 picked up an average of 99.8 percent of Cheerios scattered on the floor, on a par with the result from our favorite vacuum, the Shark Ion R85 (100 percent), and better than the Samsung PowerBot R7070's 94.6 percent and the Roomba i7+'s 93.1 percent average for the same task.

The Botvac D7 wasn't as good the other vacs at cleaning up kitty litter. On both surfaces, it cleaned up 85 percent of the litter, falling well below the Shark's 94 percent and the Roomba i7+'s 87.6 percent averages. The D7 performed better on dog hair, picking up 89.3 percent of it, beating the Shark by about 1 percent, but still landing slightly lower than the pickup rate of the i7+.

If you're looking for speed, the Botvac D7 has you covered; it's the fastest vacuum we've seen, completing each test in an average of 10 minutes and 22 seconds. The Roomba i7+ took slightly more than 18 minutes, the PowerBot R7070 finished in an average of 27 minutes and 30 seconds, and the Shark Ion R85 took about an hour on average.

When vacuuming in our test lab, the Botvac D7 roared in with 66.3 decibels on our sound test. That's slightly louder than the less expensive Roomba 690 (66 dB) and noticeably louder than the 62.6 decibels generated by the Roomba i7+.

Bottom Line

While the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is fast and cleaned well, the performance of our first test unit and online customer complaints raise concerns about this vacuum's reliability. For $800, you can do better. Either treat yourself to the feature-packed iRobot Roomba i7+ ($800 without its special dock) or save a bundle by investing in the $279 Shark Ion Robot R85 (providing you're willing to sacrifice on speed and some features).

Credit: Tom's Guide