The great thing about the Neato is that you can program it for the day, if you’re out at work or running errands and won’t be around for a few hours, or you have other work you have to do, like write a review for a robot vacuum and don’t have time to clean. It’s stupid simple to set up. In fact it’s so simple, it doesn’t tell you how to do it in the instructions, so I put in a call to the PR company. They were very patient with me, explaining to me that I just had to either: 1. Press Start and it would clean my place or; 2. Follow the menu instructions and set up a timed schedule. (*Slap forehead). I tried both starting methods and both worked equally well.
Starting up, it sounded like a jet plane taking off. The company wasn’t kidding that this was a powerful vacuum! Once it got going, it quieted down or I just got used to the noise. Either way, it still wasn’t half as loud as my regular vacuum and my neighbors downstairs couldn’t hear it running.
Since I have hardwood and ceramic floors, I went with the Combo Brush. I did switch out the brushes to see how easy it was, and found they were simple to swap out when it came time to vacuum the area rugs.
There is some prep work involved. Just like mom used to say, you’ll have to pick up after yourself. This is because the Neato will simply vacuum around items on the floor, and you want it to get as much dust and fur as possible. So I moved all of Oscar’s toys, his bed, my clothes, plus other odds and ends out of the way. As well, you need to move all the wires off to the side.
The way the Neato cleans reminds me of mowing the lawn for my dad. It’s methodical; it plans and maps out the room, analyzing it before it starts. It does a boundary cleaning of the area (just like my dad and his mower) and then it cleans the interior of the segment using a back and forth straight-line pattern (just like my dad – seriously, did they consult with my dad when they designed this robot?). It will move in a straight line until it senses something in its path, then it deftly moves around it, cleaning as it goes.
When it came to my stairs, I got a little worried. It was like the Neato went over to take a look at what was going on at the staircase, decided it didn’t want to clean it, and went back to work. It was pretty cute to watch.
Going around the room, the Neato got tight under the stairs, furniture and chairs. It doesn’t haphazardly bang into things, but its smart laser allow it to really get into tight corners. However, around smaller furniture legs, like on my sectional, you may need to pull it apart so it can get in between the legs of the lounge and the sofa.
After an hour, the Neato has cleaned the main hallway, the great room, bath room and was halfway through the spare bedroom. It was time to recharge. The Neato automatically returned to the charging base and twerked its way in for a break (it really did!). I was afraid that it wouldn’t remember where it left off and it would start from the beginning starting back up again… but it didn’t. In fact, it went right back to where it left off – under the bed of the spare bedroom.
I left one room full of stuff – framed pictures stacked on the floor, a stability ball, a rolled-up yoga mat, hand weights, an outdoor lounge cushion, a gym bag full of clothes and a little step ladder. I wanted to see what the Neato would do with a room of obstacles. It was no challenge at all. Neato simply maneuvered its way around them while cleaning the open areas of the room, circling its way through a few times before moving onto the next room.
There’s another really cool thing I have to mention. I was in the kitchen when the Neato came by to clean it. My kitchen is small and it’s not big enough for the two of us. This wasn’t a problem for the Neato XV Signature Pro – it went off to clean another room. Later on, when I had finished cooking, it came back and cleaned it. I was very impressed!
In terms of time, the Neato took 1.5 hours to clean and 1.75 hours to recharge. It took it’s time cleaning, which I don’t mind at all. I was busy working so I just let it do its thing. And if I was at work, it wouldn’t matter at all. Now that I know that Oscar doesn’t mind it, there’s no obstacle scheduling it while I’m away for the day.
And more good news – Oscar isn’t scared of it. When it’s on, he’ll eye it warily for the first five minutes or so from the couch, but forgets it after that. When it’s off, he’ll go lie down next to it, as it’s right next to his favorite sunbeam.
There were a few issues the Neato encountered. One was with furniture with a cylindrical base. In my house, these included a standing lamp and bar stools, all with a stainless steel base. The robot went over the base to clean it of dust and fur, but ended up getting stuck. When it got stuck, it automatically turned off until I could clear its path. In the future, I would have to move these items upstairs if I wanted the area cleaned properly. Is it a huge deal? To me, not really. There aren’t heavy, and it will take me all of a minute to rearrange the furniture. The effort is worth the clean floor.
The other issue was Oscar’s dog food bowls. For whatever reason, the Neato kept bumping into them. Perhaps it’s because the dishes are only 1.5″ high. It didn’t hit them so hard that the water and food spilled out – even if it did, the dishes are on a mat, so it would have been contained. The dishes ended up being a couple of inches from where they were supposed to be. But that’s beside the point. The Neato is supposed to clean up, not make a mess. For all of these issues, I can use the boundary markers to wrap around the items I don’t want the Neato to go near, but I would have to order a few more coils (about $29 each) to cover all of these items – and that’s not really cost effective. It would just be cheaper to move them to another location until the Neato had finished its business.