OK Google, Tell Neato to go forth and suck! The Neato D7 is one of the best robot vacuums we have tested addressing many of the other robovac design flaws.
It is not that is Neato D7 is unique in the robovac world. Like many others, it has an app, side-whiskers, rotating brush, smart laser navigation, coverage mapping and so on. But what is unique is that it has been the least trouble of all robovacs we have tested.
Mr Neato came out of the box, we charged, connected to Wi-Fi, and let him loose. An hour later, he had finished and had a laser map (one of the more accurate I have seen) to prove it. No getting stuck corners, hiding under beds, stuck on high door sills, getting confused under coffee tables. Mr Neato has an OCD condition when it comes to cleaning.
Comparison with other Neato Robovac models here (the lower-cost D5 is pretty good too)
Elevator Pitch: Mr Neato can robovac your home better and faster than most
From: Authorised retailers here. Australia Robotics offers a 30-day trial or refund.
Warranty: 12-months ACL
Country of manufacture: China
Neato Robotics (Est 2005) is in Newark, California. Design work is from California.
Dodgy opportunistic resellers
Like most premium products, Neato attracts its share of dodgy grey market and parallel importers. They operate as merchants via Amazon, eBay and Kogan/DickSmith.
These items vacuums are invariably ‘refurbs’. They do not carry Australian Consumer Law warranty from Neato Australia. Spare parts are usually counterfeit – even if marked ‘genuine’. We note that in most cases grey marketers do not offer ACL warranties and you have to pay return freight, often to Hong Kong or China.
Testing methodology – Robovacs and Neato D7
We have tested robovacs from LG, Ecovacs Deebot, iRobot, Samsung, Roomba and more. One thing is clear – the technology has improved over the past few years. It is getting harder to stand out from the pack. Throughout the test, we use the terms FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against the various paradigms, and you start to see why we grew to love Mr Neato.
The standard test is a three carpeted bedrooms, large open-plan timber floor living space, two tiled bathrooms, tiled entry foyer and stairs, and a sizeable shaggy feature rug. We cannot vouch for all surfaces or styles of homes.
Unpack – in the box
Neato D7 botvac connected 33.64 x 10cm x 3.5kg
Charge Base (requires 240V power) with AU power Cord
Spiral Combo Brush
Dust filter x 2
Filter/Brush Cleaning Tool
2m Boundary Marker
Preparation for cleaning – generic robovac advice
You cannot expect any robot cleaner to just to work! As a guide
Lift all dining chairs, stools and side tables off the ground (if you want it to clean under tables)
Lift floor rugs with tassels that could tangle in the brush
Tie up loose electrical cables from the floor
Remove clothes/shoes/bags on the floor
Build lower gradient ramps if it has issues with door sill heights
Use no-go lines on mapped areas or close doors to areas you don’t want it to clean
First impression – EXCEED
The Neato D7 is a ‘D’ shaped robovac compared to a round or square one. As such it has a flat front and a wider cleaning roller than most. It is particularly suited for corner and edge cleaning. Its competitors in this space are Samsung and LG.
It uses a 360° LDS (laser distance sensor) radar scanner. LIDAR is a 2D laser that collects SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) data. It does not rely on ceiling or floor mapping as some robovacs do.
LIDAR is extremely accurate – it rotates about 300 times a minute for +/-15mm accuracy and can map from 120mm out to 3.5-metres.
Add front and side bumpers to help avoid newly placed furniture.
I particularly like the integrated carry handle and the large drive wheels – let’s see how they perform on door sills and rugs. It shows quality design and workmanship.
Setup – EXCEED
Download the Neato app for Android or iOS. Create an account/profile with your email and link it to your router via the app. You can install the app on multiple smartphones if you use the same email and password. However, you do not need the app to do a clean.
You have a choice of 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz Wi-Fi. It is best to select 2.4Ghz as that signal can reach up to 30-meters diameter from your router – less distance if going through walls, cupboards, windows, doors or floors.
5Ghz signal covers a 10-metre diameter. If you experience Wi-Fi dropouts, it is due to poor router signal strength – not Neato. If you use a Wi-Fi extender to cover Wi-Fi blackspots make sure it has seamless roaming (single SSID) or the robovac will lose the signal.
Voice assistant – EXCEED
During setup, you can link to Google Assistant (tested) and give it a name. “OK, Google, Ask Mr Neato to clean the house” (or room, etc.) or go home.
It also has an Alexa skill and a Siri shortcut. It can integrate with an Apple Watch or Google Wear OS watch. Not tested but it also integrates with IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings and Facebook chatbot.
Base Station placement – Important
You need to understand that Neato thinks in 5x5m squares and it tries to clean that before moving onto the next ‘square’.
So, if you place the base station in an out-of-the-way or tightly confined area, it may not work as well.
Our best advice is to place it somewhere near the corner (minimum 1 metre from any obstruction) of a wall facing a 5x5m area. It will find everything from there.
Power levels/profiles – PASS
It has Turbo and Eco modes. Turbo is the fastest but uses more battery life (see battery test later). We conducted most tests on Eco and do not see the need for Turbo unless you have a lot of long pile carpet. BUT as it does not automatically adjust suction to suit the floor surface it only earns a pass here.
It also has an Extra Care navigation mode. In essence, it moves more carefully around objects and obstacles. It leaves a wider buffer around items like chair legs. We found that this was not necessary for our test, but it is nice to know its available if you have fragile furniture.
Brush types – EXCEED
Two types. The Spiral combo (supplied) is its highest-performing brush that is ideal for homeowners with pets and allergies. It is a compromise hard/soft brush for all floor surfaces. It did a perfect job on bamboo floors, ceramic tiles and sisal carpets.
The Spiral Blade Brush (not tested) is a hard brush option for deeper cleaning of pile carpet.
It has one of the widest 270mm rotating brushes. It is easy to remove and clean, especially if you get long strands of hair or pet hair. Neato also has a right-side rotation magnetic connected whisker bush to help edge clean.
Both are replaceable items, and you should expect to do so annually. The main brush is $97.95, and a pair of whiskers is $24.95.
Being a wider brush (we can’t find a wider robovac) mean it cleans more area per run, so it is faster.
Cleaning pattern – Two ways to clean
Just do it
You don’t need the app to clean. Press the clean button, and away it goes using laser guidance and bumpers to get the job done—neat and orderly moving in nice straight lines.
Neato supply a 2-metre magnetic strip that you can use as a no-go line. But until you set up the no-go lines (and 2 metres is not enough), you can’t run Neato without being at home, or it may get stuck and not complete the process.
Or create a floor-plan
It is worth investing the time to create a floor-plan map as you can do much more with it. It is not hard, but it can be tricky. For example, our first attempt failed because it got stuck on the ‘shag’ pile rug. It needs to complete a full circuit and return to base to register a map.
Using the no-go boundary marker fixed that. We admit that we got it right on the third try as we knew then what it could get stuck on. For example, a Persian carpet with tassels – it’s a no go!
Once done, you can set out of bounds areas and select specific rooms to clean.
Interestingly it can make maps of three levels of homes. If you have a multilevel home simply buy charge bases (about $150) for each level as it maps from them.
No go boundary marker and zones – EXCEED
I love the ability to place a No-go border under the edge of a rug. The 2m strip is like a heavy brown plastic. Neato has magnetic sensors to detect that. You can buy extra 4m strips for $54.95 and can cut these to size.
You can also set up no-go lines and zones in the map it creates. These are key to perfect unattended operation.
Speed of clean – EXCEED
Compared to most others, it is quite fast. In fact, tests show its nearly twice as fast as the i7 Roomba as it cleans about 60m2 per (Eco) and 90m2 (Turbo) per hour.
Cleaning depth/effectiveness – EXCEED
The bare-foot test shows grit and dust-free surface that is a pleasure to walk on. Carpets and edges looked clean. We followed up with an LG A9 stick vac (it is very efficient) to see how much dust was left – very little.
It can clean too within 14mm of an edge – that is closer than most.
Subjectively it exceeds the LG R9 and i7 Roomba – not by much.
Bin capacity – EXCEED with a caveat
The dust reservoir is 700ml. It is a little larger than average, but it needs emptying after each use.
There is a replaceable Ultra-High-performance filter that captures down to 3 microns (97%) of dust and mites etc. A two-pack replacement is $64.95.
We have one gripe – the is no full dustbin sensor. So, remember to empty it!
Battery charge time – EXCEED
The 240V AC base station outputs DC 19V/2A/38W. Neato has a 14.4V/4.24A (4200mAh/61Wh) lithium-ion battery SKU 945-0225.
It is easily accessible under a screw panel. Apart from anything else, it is user-replaceable. It costs $149.95 from Australian Robotics. But its simple design also means that you can get it repacked (but not recommended).
Neato claims up to 120 minutes and a charge time of 150 minutes.
Over several runs, we achieved a max of 110 minutes on the Eco setting and 75 minutes on the Turbo setting.
Recharge times varied but averaged three hours (180 minutes).
If it runs out of power, Neato calculates the charge needed to complete the job (based on the map) and tops the battery up to that, so it resumes sooner. It is called quick boost charging.
Neato’s claims are reasonable for typical use.
Base negotiation – PASS+
If all goes well (and it should), the unit returns to base at the end of cleaning or when the battery is low.
If it gets stuck or swallows something that disagrees with it (a newspaper left carelessly on the floor), it can become confused if you lift it and move it elsewhere. Our experience is that if it gets stuck, cancel the clean, take it to the base and let it start again.
Step and edge detection – EXCEED
We have an entry foyer with dark grey tiles, steps and a stainless-steel wire handrail. Where some robovacs have jumped to their deaths, Neato stealthily avoids robovac lovers leap..
Sill negotiation – EXCEED
While Neato claims it is 19mm we found that the large wheels enable it to attack 25mm+ sills with ease. That is important where you may have laid a floating floor over tiles or to get over the bathroom door sill.
Under furniture beds and coffee tables – PASS
The total height, including the laser turret, is about 110mm. The edge is about 80mm and will just fit under most cupboard overhangs. Overall, it is pretty manoeuvrable around furniture and did not get stuck under beds.
Error handling – PASS
If it gets into a tight spot, it lifts itself on one wheel and moves around until it finds its way out. If you lose it, you can use the find me function in the app.
Noise – PASS
It is pretty chatty with a loud ding whenever something goes wrong, but there are no voice prompts.
On Turbo it is around 67dB and on Eco about 61dB. Similar to its competitors.
Maintenance – PASS++
This is one of the easier ones. The brush clips out, and the supplied tool helps remove long hair strands. Parts costs are reasonable.
Our test is not long enough to judge durability, but it seems very well made. When out of warranty, there are Neato authorised repairers, so this should be a keeper.
No man’s shag – PASS++
It attempted and valiantly tried. To be fair, it was in Eco mode, and we then tried in in Turbo where it was great.
GadgetGuy’s take – after three weeks the Mr Neato D7 is a great robovac
We are quite confident that we can leave home and it will clean it well. That is provided you follow pre-preparation guidelines.
Any known issues?
Firmware was buggy when first released in late 2018 and required a lot of updates. The four issues were losing Wi-Fi connection (not its fault), losing saved floor-plans, after moving can’t find the base, and inability to get a complete map.
The owner reviews seem to have turned more positive over the last year. In all, it has 1471 5-star and 193 1-star reviews.
We did not experience any issues over the three-week test.
Why buy a robot vacuum?
Because you hate vacuuming. But remember that you must prepare the house for a robovac.
I have to admit that over the past two years, my attitude has changed. Roomba i7+ and LG R9 Master are a large part of that, and it shows how technology evolves so quickly. These are two of the best, and at $1899 (you can sometimes get bargains online) they are a lot more expensive than the excellent LG A9 Stick Vacuum or Mr Dyson’s V11.
The Neato D7 is in the same league. The only thing to add to make it perfect would be automatic variable power (iRobot) and washable dustbin/filter (LGs is a little smaller at 600ml).
Above all, it confirms that the ‘D’ shape is the best.
What it comes down to is what can you afford, and what are your expectations? Neato D7 is the closest so far to meet my expectations for unattended and quality cleaning.
Its the fastest and most efficient, no-trouble robovac yet.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reliable unattended cleaning
Won’t fly off the edge of stairs or a balcony
Repairable – it is a keeper
Good battery life up to 2-hours
Voice assistant control
Non really – more a wish list to make it stand out even more from the competition