Sunday, July 31, 2011

Neato XV-11 Review

Dog hair is the bane of my existence.  In a house of 3 labs and a revolving door of fosters, the house is constantly full of dog hair and dirt trekked in by paws.  To keep up with the dirt and hair, I have to vacuum every other day.  We could get away with not vacuuming as often but the hair and dirt drives us both a bit bonkers.

A few years ago, we heard of the Roomba but just didn't think it was right for us due to the openness of our house and because of the amount of dog hair it would have to pick up.  Recently we started talking about the Roomba again and a friend of ours lent us their Roomba to try out.  Unfortunately the battery didn't hold a charge longer than 10 minutes but it gave us a really good idea of how the Roomba worked.  It has a spin brush similar to a vacuum but it has no actual suction.  So it wanders around the room and sometimes the brush will just move the hair around and sometimes the hair goes into the Roomba.  Unfortunately since there isn't suction, most of the dog hair just stayed around the bristles and didn't make it into the dirt tray.  However we were both intrigued by how it worked and researched reviews of Roomba's competitor, the Neato XV-11.

Since costco.com sold the Neato, we decided to give it a try.  Costco has free shipping and a really generous return policy so that would allow us to try the Neato and return it to the warehouse if we didn't like it.  We liked it...a lot.

Instead of rotating bristles, the Neato has rotating rubber squeegees and suction.  Some reviews state that this makes the Roomba far better for carpets; however we have a small rug in our kitchen table and the Neato does a good job grabbing dog hair and dirt on both the carpet and hardwood.  Since the Neato also has suction, it is MUCH louder than the Roomba but all the dirt/hair make it into the dirt bin instead of getting swirled around the floor.

The Neato uses lidar to map each section of the room.  Once mapped, it will follow the edges of that section then methodically move back and forth in rows until that section is complete.  Then the Neato will move to the next section of the room and do the same thing.  It has magnetic strips you lay down across the floors to act as boundaries which works great. 



We have the Neato programmed to vacuum at 8pm every night and it takes 50 minutes to complete our entire kitchen.  Originally we left our chairs in place around the tables and counters.  While the Neato was mostly able to maneuver around and through the chairs, it just couldn't clean as well in those areas because of the tight spaces.  So every night we put up all the chairs, dog toys, and dog towels.

Prepping the kitchen for a Neato run

I clean out the bin and put in a clean filter after every cycle (It only takes me 2-3 minutes to rinse/wash the filter every night).  I only need to rotate out two filters since one is washed and drying, the other is placed into the robot.  I am surprised at how much dirt/dust/hair ends up in the bin every time.

I haven't had to vacuum the kitchen since we've gotten the Neato.  It does a really good job getting into the edges and handling our oddly shaped kitchen overall.  I've also noticed when mopping that there is a lot less dirt on the cloth than in the past.

The Neato is loud and can be distracting so running it when you're not in the same area is preferable.  It's very convenient and keeps our high-trafficked hardwood floors cleaner.  Unfortunately it is a bit pricey so you'd have to decide whether the trade-off of less manual labor is worth the cost.  It took us less than a week to decide that it was worth it.

The interface is intuitive and needs little directions to get it working; cleaning out the dirt bin is simple; it gets into tight spaces easily; and it requires little maintenance.  Definitely a fun little household toy and helper for us.