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Neato Botvac 80 review: Better than Roomba, especially for pet owners

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | July 31, 2014
I have two puppies, which means I live in a fur factory. One is a dark brindle French bulldog, who sheds short, coarse hairs relatively infrequently; the other is a sable Pomeranian who sheds long, thin hairs constantly. Everywhere. On everything. Needless to say, I'm definitely at a point in my life where a robotic vacuum that's specifically designed to pick up pet hair is basically a dream come true.

I have two puppies, which means I live in a fur factory. One is a dark brindle French bulldog, who sheds short, coarse hairs relatively infrequently; the other is a sable Pomeranian who sheds long, thin hairs constantly. Everywhere. On everything. Needless to say, I'm definitely at a point in my life where a robotic vacuum that's specifically designed to pick up pet hair is basically a dream come true.

Enter the Neato Botvac 80, a large, plastic, semicircle-shaped robot vacuum that Neato describes as its "best for picking up pet hair." Bingo. The Botvac 80 features a special 10.9-inch combo brush — that is, a brush that combines traditional bristles with flexible plastic blades — that can quickly sweep up dust, dander, crumbs, and of course, Pomeranian hair.

Getting started

The Botvac 80 measures 12.7 inches long by 13.2 inches wide by 3.9 inches thick, and weighs about 9 pounds on its own. It also comes with several accessories, including two extra filters, magnetic strips that you can place around your house to keep the robot from trespassing into unwanted territory, a docking/charging station, and an extra "all-blade" brush that's convenient for houses whose occupants have long hair, since the all-blade style means there are no bristles for longer hairs to get wound around. Neato instructs you to set up the docking station in an area with at least 1 meter of clearance on three sides (it can sit flush against a wall), so the robot is able to find it easily when it needs to go back and charge.

This is Neato's second-priciest vacuum, one model behind the Botvac 85, which costs $50 more and features three high-performance filters instead of just one. The 80 looks like the other vacuums in Neato's lineup: It has a shiny plastic white top, a matte gray plastic bottom, and a circular "Botvision" protrusion on its surface. The protrusion is actually the vacuum's infrared laser center — yes, the robot uses friggin' lasers to map out its environment before and during cleaning so it can better avoid obstacles. The 80 features Neato's signature semicircle shape (the vacuum's brush sits along the flat edge), which means it's better at reaching into corners and moving around furniture with sharp angles than round vacuums like iRobot's Roomba.

On top of the vacuum you'll find the Botvac 80's control center: a small LCD screen surrounded by four touch-sensitive buttons, two physical buttons, and the door to the vacuum's dirt bin. Once you turn on the Botvac, you can use the up, down, back, and select buttons next to the LCD screen to set the robot's cleaning schedule, and turn alerts (such as a low battery alert) on and off. For each day of the week, you can set a time — right down to the minute — when you'd like the Botvac 80 to start cleaning your entire house.

 

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