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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.

If you don't have a schedule in mind, you can ask the Botvac 80 to clean the entire house immediately by pressing the button with the house on it, or you can press the Spot Clean button, which has a picture of a grid on it. That directs the Botvac 80 to spot-clean a small 4-by-6 foot area immediately — handy if you happen to have a mess that you need cleaned up.

Cleaning and performance

The Botvac 80 is designed to clean a variety of surfaces, including hardwoord flooring, tile, linoleum, carpet, and in my case, even polished concrete and sheepskin area rugs. The robot rolls around on two heavy-duty rubberized wheels, so it can easily move from one surface to another, even if the surfaces have different heights. Still, if you happen to have particularly high-pile carpets or if you have anything shaggy (such as shag or...sheepskin), the rubberized wheels may get caught on the extra fibers.

Like other robot vacuums, the Botvac 80 is relatively set-and-forget. Once you give it a cleaning schedule, the vacuum will take care of the rest, methodically cleaning your house until it runs out of juice, and then returning to its base station to recharge. I found that the vacuum takes about three hours to fully recharge, after the initial charge of 12 hours.

Thanks to its flat edge, the Botvac 80 does an excellent job of working its way into corners and around sharp edges and angles. The main brush is just a centimeter from the edge of the vacuum, so the 80 does a good job of getting right up against walls, but there's also a twirly side brush that sticks out to reach every nook and cranny. The side brush spins debris into the path of the main brush, but I found that this strategy didn't always work, because the Botvac occasionally turned too sharply and missed the spun debris.

The Botvac 80 is very good at avoiding both stationary and moving objects. When it first begins cleaning, it uses its Botvision lasers to inventory its environment (this usually takes a few seconds) before it starts moving around. However, it continues to monitor its environment in order to avoid moving objects, such as people and pets, as it cleans. In my time with the Botvac 80, it didn't hit my feet once, nor did it run into my dogs. Of course, my dogs spent approximately 100 percent of the time running away from it, so that wasn't exactly a huge feat. If the Botvac gets caught (for example, during one of my tests I threw a cardboard box on top of it), it can use its wheels, which are on springs, to sort of hop up and down and try to extricate itself from the situation.


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