Neato BotVac vs. iRobot Roomba 980: Which Robot Vacuum is Better for You?

With our technologically advancing world, there are a variety of wonderfully convenient, hands-free cleaning options available to us, including robot vacuums. Two of the robotic vacuums considered by many to be the best on the market these days are the Neato BotVac Connected and the iRobot Roomba 980. But, as you will want your robot vacuum to work well for you in your space and to last a while, which of these two quality vacuums is the right choice for you? This product comparison will help you choose which robot vacuum will take your cleaning to the next level of simplified.

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Hardware & Physical Properties

User Interface

BotVac Connected has a color LCD screen, which is convenient and an easy-to-use interface. Roomba 980 has a set of easily accessible multi-function buttons. Both robot vacuums have similar cleaning capacity, but if the way you set those cleaning modes up is important, this user interface difference is important to consider.

Shape & Design

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Neato BotVac Connected is a D-shaped vacuum. This combination of corners and curves allows the robot vacuum to reach further into corners for a thorough clean. The cleaning brush (detailed next) is located at the straight edge of the vacuum robot, in front of the wheels. Roomba 980 is a round vacuum, with the cleaning brush located between the wheels. This circular design is popular among robot vacuums, as it makes it easier for the vacuum to turn and navigate more complex spaces, such as those with lots of walls and furniture legs. Due to the brush placement between the wheels, the Roomba 980’s wheels can sometimes themselves get dirty and spread dirt around, because they connect with the grime on the floor at the same time as the brush itself.

Cleaning Brush(es)

Roomba 980 utilizes two cleaning brushes within its one main brush that rotate in opposite directions, which is described as a “tangle-free brush.” The idea behind this system is that the vacuum requires less maintenance overall, as less dirt and hair get ensnared in the rotating brushes. There is also a side brush on Roomba 980 to facilitate its corner cleaning a little better. BotVac utilizes a single primary cleaning brush, which requires a bit more maintenance to keep clean. This single brush is wider than Roomba’s (almost the width of the vacuum itself), which allows BotVac to cover more area with each vacuum pass. BotVac also has a side brush for cleaning room edges.

Filters

Roomba 980’s filter is HEPA certified. BotVac Connected’s filter is not, although both vacuums’ filters are considered to be high-performance. This valuation means that the filters are capable of capturing finer particles than a basic filter. More particles means more storage space required in the dust bin. The two are similar: Roomba 980 has a 0.6L dirt bin, BotVac Connected has a 0.7L dirt bin.

Boundary Markers: Both BotVac Connected and Roomba 980 come with boundary markers that allow the user to restrict certain areas. The primary difference between the two vacuums’ boundary markers is that BotVac’s is passive and requires no batteries. Roomba 980’s does require batteries.

Batteries

Both robot vacuum models use lithium-ion batteries, which tend to last a couple of hours. They also charge reliably.

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Software

Programmable Features

Both iRobot Roomba 980 Neato BotVac Connected have useful programmable features, such as pre-programmed scheduling and the ability to self-charge. This means, hands-free-wise, you pretty much just need to empty the dirt bin and untangle the occasional cleaning brush (especially BotVac’s).

Navigation & Mapping

From its earliest robot vacuums, Neato has been an innovator in the concept of systematic vacuuming. Neato robot vacuums uses 360-degree laser range sensing technology to create a map of your home’s floor. This map is then used to navigate the robot vacuum systematically through the cleaning process, in a methodical and efficient way. This method makes sense because, generally speaking, it’s the way that people vacuum when they are at the helm. It’s both more thorough, because you’re not missing entire chunks of floor, but it’s also faster. Secondarily, this navigational mapping system of Neato’s has allowed the battery to clean more square footage, because of the efficiency.

Unlike previous Roomba vacuums, the Roomba 980 has switched to this same type of systematic navigation. It uses a Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm to map the floor. This type of mapping is becoming more and more common among robot vacuums, allowing the vacuum to build and then update in real-time a map of the floor while it’s cleaning. Roomba 980’s SLAM involves a 45-degree camera angled toward the ceiling, resulting in a visual SLAM, as opposed to BotVac’s laser SLAM. The downside of the visual SLAM is that it is less effective, or does not work at all, in the dark because the camera cannot see, whereas BotVac’s laser technology can work in any lighting. This is also useful if the battery runs out of charge in the middle of a cleaning session; Roomba 980 can re-dock, recharge, and then return to wherever it left off.

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Sensors

Similar to what was discussed in the Navigation & Mapping section above, sensors play an important role in each robot vacuum’s effectiveness. BotVac uses a primary laser “eye,” which uses infrared light to scan the space and create its internal map. There are also cliff sensors, which help the robot to avoid falling, and bumper sensors, which allow the vacuum to turn a different direction if it bumps into something. Roomba 980 also uses cliff and object sensors as well as wall sensors, which allow the robot vacuum to follow along a wall as it’s cleaning for greater efficiency.

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Cleaning Modes

Both BotVac and Roomba 980 can use a Spot cleaning mode, which helps the vacuum to target one small, specific area. Both of the vacuums are also capable of detecting floor type and then automatically adjusting the suction power based upon that detection. Roomba 980 combines optical and acoustic sensors to gauge dirt presence and can adjust Spot cleaning accordingly. Other than the Spot mode, Roomba 980 has basically the same motor speed for cleaning. You can opt for Roomba 980 to make two passes for a thorough clean.

BotVac has a choice of Eco or Turbo cleaning modes. In Eco, the vacuum is quieter, which is a convenient feature if you happen to be running your robot vacuum while you’re at home. Turbo mode involves the brush motor’s running at full capacity to pick up the most possible dirt and debris.

Wi-Fi Enabled

Both vacuums in this product comparison article are wi-fi enabled. This means that each can be controlled with a smart phone or other smart device through an app from anywhere there’s internet. Essentially, your smart phone becomes the robot vacuum’s remote control, in addition to informing you of the dirt bin’s fill level and battery life. You can also, for both vacuums, use your smart phone precisely like a remote control and even steer the vacuum manually if you want.

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Price

While neither robot vacuum is cheap, there is a noticeable price difference between the two. The iRobot Roomba 980 costs around $900. Neato BotVac Connected costs around $700. Both robot vacuums have systematic cleaning, self-charging, and double pass. Both will do a good job at keeping your floors clean while you stay hands-free.

Conclusion

While both robot vacuums provide many appealing features and cleaning mechanisms, it’s recommended that you look closely at those features that are most pertinent to your lifestyle and situation. Today, many experts agree that Neato BotVac Connected is the preferred robot vacuum, particularly for the lower price. But it’s hard to ignore the additional 20 years’ of on-the-job design experience of Roomba, culminating in the iRobot Roomba 980. It seems that you really can’t go wrong with either option.

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