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Product of the Year…until….

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The past few months I have watched articles online pop up about a revolutionary new vacuum that was far beyond the typical “do it on its own” vacuums I have seen in the past. Neato Robotics invented a vacuum that they claim scans, maps, and plans out its attack on your dirty floors- and in my house, that is a lot of dirty floors. 5 cats and one dog that sheds even more than the cats combined, leave me daily frustrated with the amount of work that I have do. But having a toddler at home requires that the floors need more than a “end of the night” once over and I find myself vacuuming, wiping, moping, and otherwise sighing over my dirty floors by the hour.

So when Neato contacted MomDot and offered a sample product, I agreed to really give this little vacuum a run for its money.

Arrival of the Neato

Box to Usage Score: 10

I admit when it arrived I got excited. Would this really change my daily routine? Would it live up to its hype? Could it handle the home I live in? My best friend has one and swears by it, but with a house that has more than just carpet (rugs, linoleum and wood) that vary from room to room, I was doubtful it could successfully navigate to clean.

I pushed my questions aside and opened the box. It was simple. Open, put on charger, set language. Done.  Score one for Neato.

First Impressions

Cleaning Power Score: 8.5

After the Neato was charged, I anxiously set it loose. Its a pretty interesting technology as you can see it thinking. It scanned the room and then went on its merry way and began cleaning. Right away I noticed the difference in the flooring. For such a little vacuum, it packed a major punch. It sucked up food crumbs, cat hair, dog hair, bits and pieces and things the average person doesn’t want to admit is constantly hitting the floors. We installed laminate earlier in the year thinking it would be cleaning than carpet. Part of me wishes I could still live in the dark on what is actually in the carpet fibers because my cleaning is taken to task on a daily basis.

I found myself watching it go from room to room and cleaning in a pattern just like they claimed. As a week went by it developed a routine of coming out, going into the kitchen and dining, cleaning, then going back to my living area and cleaning the huge floor rug, running into my office, and then recharging itself.

neato

Unfortunately it kept missing my front door area, one of the messiest places in the home, so I relocated the charging station and it relearned a pattern that included cleaning that area first, then living area, then dining room. Personally I found that sometimes I needed to set it up in a room and tell it to clean that area, which it would, and then go back to the station.

chargingstation

I also have a 2 story home, so for testing purposes, I brought it upstairs and had it clean starting in the master. It did have an issue getting caught up in the wires under the master bed (We have a movable mattress base with cords) and I had to crawl under and dislodge it. I don’t know a way to tell it to not go under the bed and because it doesn’t recognize the cords as an obstacle, continues to go under. I relocated the station to the playroom and it cleaned it perfectly, then went to my daughters room, then back to the station. It did not fall down the stairs and avoided the opening just fine. I did notice that it did better on sucking up dirt downstairs than up. My carpet isn’t overly thick, but the canister seemed far more full downstairs  which lead me to believe that it gets the top soil really well but on carpet cannot dig down like a push vacuum can.

Now keep in mind that this vacuum doesn’t hold a HUGE canister like an upright you may own. It’s fantastic for every day maintenance, but requires you to empty the bin after every use. It will tell you if it needs to be emptied as well. You cannot let it go for a week, specifically if you have pets, and assume it can pick up every thing and continue to hold and hold.

It does the work, but you have to make sure you maintain it.

neato_vacuum

vacuum_review

This is a weeks worth of dirt, hair, and carpet fibers in my home from front door, living room, dining, kitchen, and office collected by the Neato Vacuum:

neato-review

Navigation

The vacuum does a fairly good job navigating around the many toys and obstacles in my home. It went under the dining room chairs and out again, turning and twisting til it found the correct path.  On occasion it went up and over a cat toy and I had to reset it. It easily went under the baby gate and back and had no problems getting as close to the edge of the couch and under the kitchen counters.

It also navigated the edge from floor to floor in my home, up and over, with no issues.

Here are how the ledges are set up in my home and it leaves and comes back with no issues.

neato_ledges

The only true situation we have had with it getting around the house is sometimes it tries just a little too hard. Because it can move up and down from room to room, it has decided my cat condo is also a place that needs to be cleaned. Unfortunately the ledge is a tad too high for the vacuum to get up and over and I often have to free it from the base.  I also found that it gets stuck going over cords and doesn’t avoid them well. It doesn’t suck them up, but sometimes needs to be freed from sitting on top of them.

To combat areas like under my bed, where the Neato doesn’t need to go, you can buy boundary markers which keep it from going into the areas of your home that it could get stuck consistently.

Can NEATO stand the test of time?

On your NEATO it gives you a choice to set your vacuum off at certain times. Because my house is in constant motion, I have it set basically to charge and go back out again. It probably goes out anywhere from 3-5 times a day, keeping my floor clean from debris and that never ending supply of pet hair. I have more than once told my husband that if I could pick a product of the year in our  home, this would win it. There are plenty of ways to upgrade it and accessories to help it along as it keeps your home clean.

Then yesterday happened.

I heard the vacuum crying from the other room. It has this very persistent beep, beep, beep when it needs you. When I arrived I found it sitting with a message that was asking me to clear debris from the left wheel. It wasn’t sitting on anything, there was nothing stuck in the wheel, the bin, I could find nothing in its path. I could tell that the right wheel, when manually pushed, was moving more freely than the left. After a frantic message to my husband

I took out my screwdriver and took it apart.

Nothing.

When my husband got home, he really took it apart. The left wheel, the base, all of it…we found nothing lodged or stuck at all. The hydraulics on the left just stopped working.

Would I tell you to buy it?

Overall Score: ??????

Until yesterday I was ready to come tell you it was the product of the year in my home. Technology is supposed to make your life easier, and it certainly did that.  I know that I used it a lot…but it has only been about 4-5 weeks and I could find nothing in Neatos path or a situation that would have caused the left wheel to stop rotating. We tried wd40, we took it apart, we inspected the wires, but it just won’t move. At a few points we got it to rotate in a circle, but other than that, it’s now useless.

And I am sad. Very, very, mega sad.

For now I am just going to say that I loved it when it was working. It did do its job, it sucked up a ton of dirt, and it made my day easier on a level that I cannot explain when you have linoleum, laminate, 5 cats, 1 dog, and 2 kids. But the fact that it stopped working in such a short amount of time makes me wonder if this was a fluke situation or that it can’t stand up to such a busy household. I am going to contact the company and look into it and report back what I find. Until then, I reserve my judgement on purchasing until I do some research.

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Update 11/19/12

Talked with NEATO and they assured me that my issue is not commonplace, they are sending me a new one and I am sending back this one so they can figure out the problem. They are going to update what the exact issue is once received so I can update you all!

I was very pleased with how they handled it!

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You can read other blogger experiences and articles by visiting some of these fine sites:

You can visit Neato and learn more on your own at their Website, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

~Trisha

*product provided by Neato for facilitation of this article. Please consider a Google+ or Facebook like if you think this post helped you or will help others. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. smithjohn says:

    Forgot to add, here’s a link discussing the problem.

    http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=16610

    All of the reviews I read, I still bought one, wouldn’t be afraid to buy another if needed.

  2. smithjohn says:

    The wheel problem is documented on the web. They got a bad batch of electric motors, some of the inside balancing material breaks loose and gets caught. They know of the problem.

    I just got one, knowing this, came with a free extended warranty for $275 shipped brand new. Great machine. If you do research on the web, you see that their customer service seems to be very good and low hassle. This problem is out of their control, basically some defective parts started coming in from one of their suppliers, and not all of them break. I figure it took them a while to see there was a problem, and they fix it right away when the problem happens.

    • They said they were sending me a new one about 3 weeks ago and I still dont have it.

      • smithjohn says:

        Wow, sorry to hear that. I read MANY reviews before I got mine, and I thought they seemed to be quick with replacements (well, most of the time)…. I get the impression they are just sort of figuring it out recently, and I thought I read somewhere that they possibly switched motor suppliers (not confirmed, but I read it). Maybe they are waiting on getting the right ones in, no excuse I know, but possibility. I’ve had mine a few days, found myself the first few times watching it do the whole floor. I have a bit of an obstacle course, couple cats, plus I track in some dirt sometimes onto my laminate floor (cattle rancher…). I’m impressed with it, does a much better job than I do with a broom, but haven’t had it long enough. It’s got 3 years left on the warranty, so I’m not too worried though.

        To other pet owners, of my cats, only the 6 month old pays any attention. She follows it around, but just watches it. Sometimes she sits in it’s path but moves out of the way before it gets there. The other is older, she doesn’t pay much attention, lays on her side and watches it go, but neither seem scared of it, or have pounced on it or anything. They haven’t looked at it at all while it’s charging, I was a bit concerned that they might “make it go”. I was thinking I’d put a flap/lid of some sort over the go button.

        There are other Neato models, the basic unit is the same. This model has an upgraded brush and filter from the other models, that’s the only main difference. The others can be upgraded to this with a kit. I know they are glitchy, but when they work, they are kind of …neat…. Price has gone down recently at a few stores as well, I got mine online during the madness during the holiday sales.

  3. Great review. I’ve been attracted to these AI vacuums for a while (for the obvious reasons), but I always hesitate to take the plunge because, apart from the operational concerns that you outlined here, I have small dogs and I worry she’d see the thing as a threat. It looks like you have a pet, and you didn’t mention any negative interaction, so that’s encouraging, but have any pet-owners here had a different experience?

  4. I was totally ready to add it to our wedding registry until I read about it breaking! I’ll be keeping an eye out for updates because it seems pretty awesome- if it works. Also I love your rug!!

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