Gadget review: You've all demanded to see him - meet my robot vacuum-cleaner, Neato.
Well, two people showed an interest as he's mentioned in my personal Twitter profile. And while I've read some people have named theirs, usually female names, there just isn't anything feminine about it. He's definately male though - look at it - the Death Stars are always spotless and this thing looks like it was designed by the guy who made Vaders’ armour. But it's resolutely un-namable. If I started calling it “Charlie“ or something I get the feeling it would attack me during the night.
I've had this thing nearly two years now, when it was a five star purchase . It's now (on Amazon UK) just over four stars. The majority of one - star reviews are idiotic; the answers to their shrieking complaints - posted by people who took the time to look into possible solutions; on the very page they're complaining on.
Next to an ordinary office chair for size comparison. Easily fits under coffee tables and many beds.
Some of these robots have been sat around in warehouses for some time since their original factory charge and being powered off after such a period of times’ gone by makes some of them think somethings wrong with their charging cycle. The menu is very simple and easy to use; there's an option that tells your Neato that you've just replaced it's batteries. And then it behaves perfectly. With it being the Number 1 selling robot vacuum cleaner though, and an electronic device, it's led to a bunch of inept idiots buying them and then claiming they don't work. If I had their addresses I'd travel round the county and slap them all. People who are happy with their purchases like me are less likely to post reviews, those with an axe to grind can't wait to get online and spout nonsense. So ignore the 4 stars, this is a 5 star purchase.
Not the greatest picture but I was fighting a coffee table behind me to get it. Neato docked and charging under my entertainment system.
Now I am not some eccentric millionaire, but the combination of it being Black Friday and a warehouse return meant it was a bargain. I hate initial charging cycles when you have a new toy to play with, but when he arrived he got his 8 hours initial charge (or whatever it was) and we were off.
This is the basic model the Neato Robotics XV Signature. In addition to the vacuum cleaner it has a rack of quickly rotating rubber paddles that kick up dirt into the machine. The more expensive model is overpriced, the two differences being that it comes with a set of brushes you can swap with the paddles (much quieter apparently, though I wouldn't call the normal version loud) and it looks slightly different. And the brushes are supposed to be a pain to clean hair out of. You can buy this for the basic model if you want.
Now, you're thinking “this thing must be a cheap version of a Roomba". You'd be wrong; the Roomba is an underperforming idiot. Roombas charge into the room when it's timer goes off and go in a straight line until it smacks into something and then it changes direction until it hits something else, and so until it thinks it's cleaned the room. It's stupidly inefficient and takes ages. Also it's not so good at cleaning look at independant reports online to see how the models compare.
The capacity is just under half a litre, but the dirt is compacted into solid bricks you could build houses with.
Enter the Neato, with a spinning laser inside it's low-profile turret, and sensors on the sides and beneath the machine. You can set it to any day at any time - so you don't even ever even have to see the thing if you don't want and just come home to clean floors.
You'll want to watch it the first few cleanings though - USB cables lying around, shoe laces - it'll snag anything you've left trailing around. Not that it'll necessarily stop the thing ;there's been a few cases where it's continued happily cleaning while pulling a shoe around after it.
You soon learn to tuck your shoe laces away.
When it first starts the cleaning process it stays in place and rotates, building a map of its surroundings. Then it starts. If it detects an area that is especially dirty it'll keep going over that area until it's happy and then carry on. When it detects a new doorway to another room it'll briefly go in, work out a cleaning plan, and then come back and finish the first one.
It's suction is about the same a standard vacuum cleaner, unlike the Roomba which is fine for light cleaning but not getting dirt out of deep carpets. And the Neato always seems able to find a ton of dirty no matter how clean you thought the carpets were.
If there's a downside it's that it can't get into corners and hard to reach places. But since the rest of the apartment will be clean, you'll be tracking less dirt into the place which means less dust will spread and build-up in these areas. So you'll still have to clean those places with some other device occasionally, but we're only talking every month or so. If that.
I'm lazy as hell and this is one of the best things I've ever bought. It keeps the place clean and gives people the impression I'm a normal functioning person who's capable of looking after himself.
Essential batchelor-pad purchase.