The Neato Botvac D7 Connected represents the best and worst of robot vacuum technology: On the one hand, there’s cutting-edge features that let you perform one of the most-loathed household tasks while barely lifting a finger. On the other hand, there’s a heart-stopping price tag that makes you question just how much that convenience is worth. Ultimately, we each must solve that conundrum for ourselves, but we can say that the Botvac D7 Connected is an object lesson in “you get what you pay for.”

Updated October 25, 2018 by executive editor Michael Brown to report my experience with several features Neato added to the Botvac D7 Connected via an October firmware update. The most important of these is called Zone Cleaning. It enables the vacuum to create separate maps for different areas of your home. This feature is most useful for homes that have multiple levels, but there’s a significant caveat: You need to move the charging station to that floor the first time you have the robot vacuum each new floor–and every time thereafter, placing it in exactly the same spot–so the robot knows where to return to once it’s finished. The more convenient alternative is to buy second and subsequent base stations for each floor you want to robot to vacuum. 

botvac d7 connected firmware update Michael Brown / IDG

If you own a Botvac D7 Connected, be sure to installed the latest firmware. It will add some great features to the vacuum.

Since I live in a one-story home, I tested this feature by placing the vacuum in my indoor patio, which is at a slightly lower elevation from the rest of the house. I first created virtual no-go lines at the thresholds of the three doors going from the house to the patio, so I could leave those doors open without worrying about the robot going into the patio and not being able to return to the main part of the house. You create no-go lines by drawing a line with your finger on the floor plan the robot creates. If you live in a multi-level home, you’d want to create no-go- lines so the robot won’t fall down the stairs. 

Once you have a map for each zone you want the robot to clean, you simply select that map, move the vacuum to the charging base in that zone, and tell the vacuum to start cleaning. Another new feature, dubbed Quick Boost Charging, enables the D7 Connected to calculate how much power it will need to finish its job. If the battery runs down, the vacuum will return to its base and charge up just enough to complete its run before returning for a full charge. I’m happy to report that both of these new features works as promised; each extra charging base, however, costs about $40.

And now, back to Michael Ansaldo’s reporting:

The Botvac D7 breaks from the disc-shaped design of every other robot vacuum we’ve reviewed to date, instead sporting the Botvac line’s trademark “D” shape. This isn’t just a design cue; those right angles allow it to clean along walls and in corners better than its round competitors. It measures a hair over 13 inches across and 3.9 inches high thanks to a turret that houses its “Botvision” sensors. These scan and map the room for better navigation. A brushed-metal lid pops off to access the clear-plastic dustbin. Four LED indicators report the status of the battery and Wi-Fi as well as cleaning modes.

Neato says the rolling brush on its underside is 70-percent larger than those on its competition. We didn’t measure it. but an eye test of the brushes on all the robot vacuums we’ve tested supports the claim. A spinning brush on its side helps the D7 grab dirt from corners and wall edges.

botvac d7 lifestyle yellow chair living room Neato Robotics

The Botvac D7 Connected’s unique “D”-shape enables it to clean corners better than round robot vacuums.

Setup and usage

Most robot vacuums include a pair of charging contacts on the underside that you line up with the contacts on the docking platform. Neato placed the D7’s contacts on its rounded side, and you push it up against the dock’s metal charging contacts until they are pushed all the way in.



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