While many robot vacuums look nearly identical to each other, Neato has been differentiating its products for years by utilizing a unique D-shape the company says is better for corner cleaning and picking up pet hair. Meanwhile, Roborock is focusing on its expertise in mapping and software technology, as well as the versatility of mopping while vacuuming with the Roborock S5.
|Roborock S5||Neato Robotics Botvac D7|
|Robot dimensions||13.8" x 13.8" x 3.8"||13.23" x 12.5" x 3.9"|
|Maximum runtime (in minutes)||150||120|
|Virtual barriers||Virtual No-go lines, No-go zones||Virtual No-go lines, No-go zones|
|Virtual Assistant compatibility||Alexa||Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri|
These robot vacuums look quite different from one another, but the spec sheet is surprisingly similar. Both vacuums can clean individual rooms or zones of the house as well as a whole-home cleaning, and any of these features can be scheduled to run at any time during the week.
The most obvious difference between these two robots is, of course, the price. Roborock has been offering lower-priced robot vacuums than the competition for years, yet generally offers equal or greater capabilities. At MSRP, the Roborock S5 is $230 less expensive than the Neato Botvac D7. That, alone, is a compelling enough reason to choose the Roborock S5.
What's in a shape?
As is the case with other Neato robot vacuums, the Botvac D7 is a different shape from the usual round robot vacuum. Aside from just a different shape, which physically fits into the corners of rooms better, Neato equips the Botvac D7 with a brush that's 70% larger than most round robot vacuums. This larger brush also juts up against the front side of the vacuum, meaning the brush gets to the mess before any other part of the vacuum. The tiny side brush only helps scrub debris along the edges of walls.
Roborock is utilizing a round shape here, as most other robot vacuums do, along with a large side brush that tries to reach into corners. Functionally, there isn't a massive amount of difference between these two shapes, but the larger brush on the Botvac D7 is more likely to grab errant particles than the smaller one on the S5; it's just a matter of physics, especially since both top out at a maximum 2000Pa suction.
Bins and batteries
Neato's Botvac D7 features a 15% larger dustbin than the Roborock S5, matching up with the larger main brush underneath. This difference matters most for folks with long-haired pets (or lots of pets), as the 600mL dustbin on the Roborock S5 will get full faster than the 700mL one on the Botvac D7. Again, it's just a matter of physics.
Conversely, the battery life on the Roborock S5 is a half-hour better than the Botvac D7's battery life. Given the generally more efficient and accurate navigation on Roborock's vacuums, this half an hour difference likely means the Roborock S5 will clean your entire home in a single charge while the Botvac D7 might have to go back home for a top-up before finishing.
Multiple floors, or multiple floor types?
Do you have carpet and hardwood or tile in your home? How about an upstairs and downstairs that you'd like your robot vacuum to clean? You'll need to prioritize which of these is more important when comparing these two vacuums. While you can always place the Roborock S5 upstairs and hit the clean button to do a whole floor cleaning, Roborock doesn't currently support per-room or zone cleaning for these additional floors. Conversely, Neato offers the ability to save up to 10 floorplans and quickly switch between them within the app, opening up the ability to do zone cleaning on all the levels of your home.
Subsequently, the Roborock S5 is going to have a harder time with darker carpets, as the cliff detection sensor (for keeping it from falling down the stairs) is unable to differentiate a dark area rug from an actual drop-off point. Roborock's 2019 models and the Neato Botvac D7 feature a newer sensor that can deal with this problem.
While dark area rugs and multiple floors are limitations for Roborock, the mopping attachment for the Roborock S5 will clean hardwood and tile floors better than the Neato Botvac D7 can, simply because the Botvac D7 is just a vacuum. Roborock also displays the real-time location of the vacuum within the Roborock app, along with a detailed cleaning plan and every path the vacuum took along the way. That's a lot of important, detailed information that comes in handy in a variety of ways.
A tale of two apps
Each app is very similar in many ways, but the execution is different. While both apps will give you a clean map at the end, a map that shows where the robot has been and what it was able to accomplish, only Roborock shows you where the robot is while it's vacuuming. This unique trait isn't just fun to watch, it's also useful when finding odd corners where something might be impeding the vacuum's progress.
Neato has been differentiating its products for years by utilizing a unique D-shape the company says is better for corner cleaning and picking up pet hair.
Then there's the way mapping a room separation is handled. The Roborock S5 will create a map as it cleans, displaying everything in realtime as previously noted. When it's done, it'll divide your house into logical rooms to make per-room cleaning easier. These rooms can then be selected later for a scheduled cleaning, meaning you can clean the bedrooms only on the weekends while the living room and dining room areas get cleaned every day.
Neato's software will also create a map after the first cleaning, but you'll need to divide the house up yourself. Neato doesn't refer to these segments as rooms, rather, as "zones". That's because you can overlap zones if you'd like. This is a more complicated way of doing things but could ultimately mean fewer taps down the road, depending on how you schedule cleanings.
The Roborock S5 still utilizes the Mi Home app, which, depending on your region, means interoperability with several dozen different smart home gadgets without having to change apps. Mi Home was created by Xiaomi and features the most connected products within the home country of China, but plenty of devices are available elsewhere in the world and can be operated right from this handy dashboard. You can also pair your Roborock S5 with Amazon Alexa for hands-free voice-operated cleaning.
Neato's app is completely standalone and requires its own login. It works well with all popular virtual assistants including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Siri. It even has smartwatch apps for the Apple Watch and Google's WearOS so that you can quickly operate your vacuum from those devices. So while Neato's app won't operate other devices, it has deep hooks into your favorite virtual assistant to be operated from other devices.
And the winner is…
This is a very narrow win for the Roborock S5 and, in some cases, you may still prefer the Neato Botvac D7 because of its support for multiple flooring levels and the ability to clean dark area rugs. If these two obstacles aren't a problem for your home, or if you have hardwood and tile floors and want them mopped as well as vacuumed, the Roborock S5 remains an easy recommendation. This is especially true because of the S5's significantly lower price.
Mop, vacuum, win
The best hard floor cleaner, for a cheaper price
With Roborock's advanced laser-guided navigation, you'll never wonder where your vacuum is or what it was able to clean. The Roborock app shows you where the vacuum has been and gives you total control over where the robot goes.
So many ways to control it
Control the Botvac D7 with your voice or watch
Neato has been at the forefront of smart integration, with voice control via Alexa, Google Assistant, or even Siri, and apps for your favorite smartwatch. Even manual control is in the app so you can drive your vacuum around like a remote-controlled car.
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