Neato Botvac D7 Connected review: A remarkable robot vacuum
Update: The Neato Botvac D7 Connected was the best robot vacuum cleaner when we reviewed it at launch but, thanks to a software update, it’s just got even better. A new version of the app now allows you the robot to map multiple floors, where before it was limited to just the one, which is handy for those living in houses.
Neato is also now selling the charging base as a separate accessory so you if you have a particularly large area of floor space to clean on your second or third floor, you can have it charge itself. And Neato has also improved the algorithm used to detect when it needs to be recharged; instead of waiting until it’s almost empty, it’ll now run back to base for a quick top-up before continuing its clean.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: In full
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected (also known as the D710) is one of those rare things: it’s an update to a product that, in my opinion, didn’t need an upgrade. Before writing this review and using the D7 Connected, its predecessor, the, was the best robot vacuum cleaner I’d used.
Alas, the cheaper D5 Connected is no longer available but the D7 is still in shops and it’s still a highly effective robot vacuum even several years after its launch.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: What you need to know
At its heart, the hardware isn’t much different from its predecessor. The D7 Connected uses the same sensors, motor and drive gear, the same filters and battery. It also has the same bin capacity.
The difference is that the D7 Connected has a more efficient blower contributing to longer battery life, better Wi-Fi and the app has extra features, too, which I’ll get onto below.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: Price and competition
Robot vacuums are pretty common these days and there are many around competing for your cash. The Neato D7 Connected comes in at the top of the price spectrum with a list price of £800, although it rarely hits those heights anymore. In fact, you’re more likely to see it priced at between £400 and £530 these days.
At those sorts of prices, it competes with robots like the excellent(around £490) and the Xiaomi Roborock S6 (around £496), both of which offer mopping and vacuuming facilities, although if you want the ultimate in robot vacuuming power, you’re better off choosing the .
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: Design and key features
That price difference could prove a problem for the Botvac D7 Connected, considering how close they are in terms of design and function. Because aside from a brushed-aluminium effect on the top of the D7, it could be the same thing.
The D7 Connected measures 336mm wide, 319mm long and has a low profile of only 100mm, which helps it duck under sofas, beds and other low-sitting furniture. It weighs 3.5kg, so it’s pretty easy to carry from floor to floor as well.
The power button is on the top panel on the left-hand side with four status LEDs flanking the dust container handle in the centre. The dust container itself is small at 0.7 litres, although that’s around the same size as most robot vacuums.
As far as sensors goes, the main one is the laser scanner, mounted in a disc-shaped module on top of the D7 Connected. This allows the bot to rapidly build a detailed map of its surroundings, navigate around your home whether it’s dark or light, and go about the business of getting your carpets clean in a highly methodical manner.
This isn’t the only sensor the D7 uses, though. Along the robot’s straight front edge is one big bumper pressure sensor, and in the two corners underneath a pair of drop sensors prevent the Botvac tumbling off edges and down the stairs.
The other design feature the D7 Connected inherits from the rest of the Botvac range is its full-width roller brush, which sits in front of the drive wheels on the bottom of the chassis. Most other robot cleaners house the brush between the main drive wheels, which means they can’t clean along edges or into corners as effectively as the Neato.
There aren’t an awful lot of differences between the Botvac D7 Connected and its predecessor but the upgrades you do get are worthy. First, the D7 Connected has dual-band Wi-Fi, which is important if your local 2.4GHz environment is clogged with devices and neighbouring networks.
The second is an upgraded blower, which ups run-times to two hours in normal mode. There’s also a Turbo mode for more powerful cleaning when you need it and a manual remote control mode, which is accessed via the app.
And the third is the ability to set up virtual no-zones using the accompanying app, which is a brilliant feature. After the D7 has cleaned an area once, it produces a floor plan of your room and you can then draw lines around areas you don’t want it to go. It’s a bit fiddly to set up, but the system works well in preventing the Botvac from trundling over areas you might not want it to go. I used it to protect the D7 from getting entangled in my various cable nests.
One thing to note, though: the D7 only takes notice of these no-go lines if you use the app to start it cleaning. If you press the physical button on top you’ll have to use the magnetic boundary marking strips included in the box to zone off protected areas. Two metres of these strips are included in the box.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: Software and setup
The rest of the app is pretty intuitive and easy to use, though. It can be used to start and stop cleaning remotely and it will send you notifications if your robot gets stuck. And, while it is possible to control the Botvac with the single button on its nose, you’ll need the app to access more advanced features such as manual remote control, gentle navigation and the ability to adjust the size of the area to clean in spot-cleaning mode.
The latter is particularly useful. By default the D7 Connected will clean a square in front of it 2 x 2m in size, but in the app this can be expanded up to a square 4 x 4m in size. The app also lets you see maps of the areas it has cleaned and review historical performance, displaying the dates on which cleaning has been carried out, the area cleaned and how long it took.
It’s also possible to use Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and smartwatches to start and stop cleaning.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: Cleaning performance
How good is the Botvac D7 Connected at its core job, though? In a word: thorough. Unlike many cheaper models of robot vacuum cleaner, the Botvac goes about its business in an amazingly methodical way that ensures every bit of floor space is covered.
Press Clean in the app and the D7 ambles off its charger base, spins around to scan the immediate area, then makes its way to a nearby wall or boundary and begins to clean around the edges of your room. Once it’s completed a full circuit, it then fills in the space left in the middle by trundling up and down in straight lines, avoiding obstacles as it goes. And it’s possibly the best robot vacuum cleaner I’ve come across at avoiding getting stuck. It took my cable-strewn living room and the flat “legs” of my Ikea Poang armchair in its stride, never once needing to be rescued.
And that’s not the only good thing about the D7 Connected. It’s a pretty good vacuum cleaner in its own right, and that full-width brush helps it pick up a remarkable amount of dust and fluff. In my testing, I found it wasn’t quite powerful enough to pick up an entire cup of clay-based cat litter on the first pass of a spot-cleaning cycle in Eco mode. However, it managed to get nearly all of it the second time around, leaving only the odd stray grain deep in the carpet pile. And if you find the Neato doesn’t clean everything first time, you can pop it in Turbo mode, run it again and it’ll pick up the rest.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected (D701) review: Verdict
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the D7 Connected is among the best robot vacuum cleaners money can buy. It has great battery life, is easy to use, is resistant to getting stuck and it cleans remarkably well.
The question is, is it better than cheaper robots that can also offer mopping facilities, like the newer EcoVacsand Roborock S6? That depends on the current price. The list price of £800 is too high but at £530, it’s worth considering because it cleans more effectively along edges and corners.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected specifications
|Dimensions (WDH)||319 x 336 x 100mm|
|Floor types||Carpet and hard floors via integrated brush|