Roomba is arguably the best-known robot vacuum cleaner brand. They are almost synonymous with “robot vacuum cleaner”.
People often mistakenly refer to any robot vacuum cleaner as a “Roomba”.
While Roombas are definitely great products. This domination of the product field means that other, very good, brands are often overlooked.
So, what else is out there? Well, there’s the Neato.
Despite its slightly cringe-worthy name, the Neato is a great robot vacuum cleaner that deserves attention. It’s difficult to tell the difference between most robot vacuum cleaners.
They are all generally the same shape and style. And most have a similar overall aesthetic.
But there are some very important differences between Neatos and Roombas. So, let’s get down to it.
What are the main differences between Roomba and Neato?
Looks-wise, the Neato is surprisingly different from the Roomba. There isn’t a huge difference but it is definitely noticeable. And it might just make it that little bit better than the Roomba.
A lot of robot vacuum cleaners attempt to copy the general shape and style of a Roomba. This allows for greater comparison as it means these brands can argue that they are just like a Roomba but better. Neato doesn’t try to do this.
It does have a similar shape as, currently, there are only so many shapes that a robot vacuum cleaner can be made into. So they are restricted by the current state of technological advancement.
The Roomba, famously, is completely circular. The neato is shaped in a semicircle. This means that it almost looks like half a Roomba (but just a little longer).
This is an interesting style. The circular shape does look sleek and stylish. But so does the semi-circle. The difference mostly comes down to performance.
Unless you live somewhere with a lot of turrets, or maybe in a lighthouse, the rooms in your house are likely square or rectangular with straight walls. Neato claims that this shape allows their devices to reach up to 70% more floor area coverage.
So why is the Roomba round? One of the most difficult places to vacuum, generally, is right up against the wall. This is because most vacuums can’t quite get into such tight spaces.
This flat side might not seem like a particularly important feature. But it is actually very useful. It means that it can get into spaces that a circular Roomba might not be able to.
It also means that it can take up less space, especially when docked. Having a vacuum cleaner that can get right into the corners will definitely be a plus.
Instead of what they call “outdated and insecure cameras”, Neato cleaners use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR).
Neato cleaners use lasers to track the space they’re in and plot their routes. This provides a more precise clean. Which helps with their ability to get into the smaller corners of rooms.
LIDAR is an impressive technology and is used in ocean and space research. It uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances. This is great quality technology so you can be sure that it will be accurate.
You don’t want to risk the vacuum cleaner repeatedly running into walls. If you keep having to move the cleaner yourself, then it almost defeats the purpose.
Neato also claims that this makes their cleaners 30% faster than cleaners that use camera-based navigation. However, having a robotic cleaner moving quickly around your home might not be as great as it sounds.
Sure, it’s good for a piece of technology to run quickly. And you want your vacuum cleaner to be able to clean quickly.
But one of the appeals of a robotic vacuum cleaner is that you can get on with other things while it cleans.
So you don’t want the vacuum cleaner to then be getting in the way. So, although they of course won’t be shooting around the place, it’s worth considering just how quickly they will move.
Unsurprisingly, Roombas generally use cameras. Roombas use iAdapt Localization Cameras. This is used to map the layout of your home which is stored in the Roombas memory.
The cameras do not record images or videos and do not have the capability to.
They do store the route around your home but they do not have the ability to share this information with third parties.
So, in terms of data protection, there isn’t really anything to worry about. But it’s still something to consider.
While the practicalities of the overall shape and the impressive robotics are interesting to talk about. The most important aspect of any vacuum cleaner is, of course, the cleaning power.
Most standard vacuum cleaners will have one setting and then a range of different tubes and pipes and physical capabilities for cleaning.
Some more complex vacuum cleaners will have a slightly stronger suction option available. But they are still pretty limited.
Both the Roomba and the Neato are different in this respect as they both have multiple cleaning modes.
Of course, as with most other features, the cleaning modes will vary model by model. But, generally, Roombas have three different cleaning modes. Neatos have two.
One of the cleaning modes of the Neato vacuum cleaner is the ECO Mode. This allows the vacuum to clean for longer periods of time. It also makes the vacuum cleaner much quieter.
The other Neato mode is the TURBO mode. The TURBO mode is the more powerful cleaning option. This mode actually increases the suction power and causes the brush to rotate faster.
This is great for messier areas or if you want something cleaned up quickly. Both of these modes can be controlled by the smartphone app. You can easily flip between the two.
The modes available for Roombas are very different. Whereas the Neato cleaning modes are simply low or high. The Roomba cleaning modes are CLEAN, Spot Mode, and Scheduled Cleaning Mode.
The CLEAN option is the most standard. You simply press the CLEAN button on top of the Roomba and it gets going.
The Spot Mode tells the Roomba to clean in just one spot. The Roomba will spin around and clean an area of around 3ft in diameter. Then it will return to the place it started.
The Scheduled Cleaning Mode allows the user to program a specific time for the Roomba to begin cleaning.
It’s worth noting that these cleaning modes are available only on the 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800 series. Other models will vary.
The suction power of Roombas varies model by model. But you cannot increase the suction power on one device.
The differences between the Roomba and Neato cleaning modes are so large that it is difficult to make a comparative judgment.
One is not simply a better version of the other. So your choice of device depends mostly on your personal preference and needs.
So, we know that both Neatos and Roombas have a great range of abilities and technological features. But how easy are they to use?
Both are controlled with smartphone apps and both have large and obvious physical buttons. Although the lasers might make the Neato sound very high-tech and complicated. Neatos are still very easy to use.
The Roomba and Neato both also have simple and clear physical buttons. They are both very user-friendly devices.
Value for Money
Due to the wide range of models available, it’s difficult to make a complete judgment on cost.
There are different Roombas and Neatos that can be easily compared to each other. Their prices are very similar. So it’s a difficult call.
Both have complicated and expensive high-tech models. And both have more basic and more affordable models. Both are good value for money as both have incredibly impressive products.
Because of this wide range and variation in price, it can only be said that both are good value for money.
One is not, on average, more expensive or more affordable than the other. They are both reasonably priced, especially for such impressive pieces of technology.
So, overall, both the Neato and the Roomba can be considered good value for money. There is not one that is cheaper or more affordable than the other.
Both have a range of price points available. So, if your budget is your main concern, you are free to browse and choose whichever will best suit your needs.
Although Roombas might be the most popular brand, we’re going to go the other way and say Neato is the superior product.
Roombas aren’t bad and they have a lot of great features. But the Neato has come out on top for both technical and physical abilities.
The shape of the Roomba is almost iconic now. So it’s understandable why it hasn’t been altered. But Neato isn’t constrained in the same way.
Neato hasn’t attempted to simply copy the Roomba. They have created a genuinely innovative piece of tech. It works in the best way that you need it to.
With any technology, especially robotics, it’s easy to focus on the exciting and impressive advancements.
And the use of laser navigation by Neato is very impressive. But the shape of Neato vacuum cleaners is the real winning card.