Vacuum Minion
May 4, 2012 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Robot vacuum question: Neato or Roomba? Customer reviews seem to favor the Neato, but I can't tell whether the Neato is better or whether the company is better at astro-turfing. Guide me on my tiny robot vacuum choices!

I am in a couple that has one cat, we're both women with long thick curly hair and jobs in the arts that frequently require 12 hour workdays for weeks at a time. I'm looking for a vacuum that will keep the largely bare wood floors in our apartment relatively grit-free hopefully unattended or minimally attended. Anyone have personal experience with either the standard Neato or the Roomba 560?
posted by edbles to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason you're not considering the Roomba 562 (pet)?
posted by bilabial at 12:55 PM on May 4, 2012

For what it's worth, I have a Roomba and it has worked great for me. No problems in the year that I have had it. I have a 500 pet series. I thought it would be gimmicky and was not sure about it when buying it, but I am now a believer. No regrets.
posted by Nightman at 12:55 PM on May 4, 2012

I have an order model Roomba and it's great. We have tile floor, so there's that. America's Test Kitchen tested the Roomba against a different competitor and choose the Roomba.
posted by General Malaise at 1:01 PM on May 4, 2012

We have been avid Roomba users for at least six years, maybe longer, I can't remember exactly when we got the first one. It's freaking awesome. Understand that it is not a complete substitute for piloted vacuuming (if you have floor lamps in corners, or small spaces the Roomba can't get into, for example) but we run it daily to keep the pet fur down to a dull roar, and it really gets a lot of dust and dirt as well. You do have to clean the brushes regularly (I do it after each use) to keep it running well.

We have a dog and I have long hair. Wood floors, some area rugs (no rug fringe issues anymore, they fixed that) it handles it all.

I have no data on the Neato, but I love the Roomba.
posted by ambrosia at 1:04 PM on May 4, 2012

Response by poster: I thought the 560 was the pet one so I am considering the pet one I just apparently don't know it's name!
posted by edbles at 1:20 PM on May 4, 2012

I didn't have the pet Roomba, but I did share an apartment with hardwood floors and three long haired women. The Roomba did pick up all the hair, but it took longer to clean the hair out of the Roomba than it would have to clean the hair off the floor with virtually any other method. YMMV. It wasn't worth the hassle for us.
posted by telegraph at 1:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agree with telegraph. I imagine (hope) the pet version is better - it came out after I got mine.
posted by radioamy at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2012

w/r/t cleaning the brushes, I have to say that the current model is much easier to clean than the older version we used to have. I can clean out our new one in under one minute, whereas the old one did require more time and effort. Hair does still collect in the brushes (how could it not?) but it's a lot easier to clean out than older models.
posted by ambrosia at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our neato's name is Nom (as in 'nom, nom, nom...'). We go the neato because it has rubber sweepers instead of the spiky brushes; these are better for our hard floors and easier to clean with the large volume of dog hair.

Two things; 1. regardless of brand, run it daily on all areas and empty it every day. The problem we have is that it can't get to all areas of our house in one go, so when it runs in the less frequently cleaned areas the dust collector gets full or the brush gets tangled. With two long haired giant breed dogs though, I can't really blame the vacuum! And 2. pick up everything off the floor to allow as much free space as possible. We no longer have chairs around the dining room table. We rarely used them and putting them in the spare bedroom made it easier to keep the floor clean. You may also need to pull things away from the edge of the room.

We don't have a roomba so I can't comment on them, although a friend at work swears by his. I suspect whichever you buy you will be happy with.

I love to watch Nom run. He bumbles off the base station and turns a few times to survey the area. Then he picks a subsection and goes backwards and forwards incrementally and at some point he goes round the edges. Once he's done with that subsection he goes on to the next. He knows where the table legs are and does a neat circle around them. If he gets stuck somewhere he tries to jiggle his way free, including lifting up his backend to try and hoist it over stuff. So funny!

If you pick him up he beeps at you and says 'Please put me back on the floor'. He also says 'Thank you for emptying my dirt bin and cleaning my filter' when I take out the dust bin.
posted by eloeth-starr at 3:54 PM on May 4, 2012

Best answer: We have a three-year-old Roomba 5xx pet model; between hardwood floors, two dogs, and long-haired wife, it gets a real workout. We love ours. If it could climb up our trash bin and empty itself, it would be a tiny god.

They all, as far as I've seen, require some regular minor attention to keep happy. Roomba could probably go a few days unattended if it had just dog hair to clean; the fur bin is pretty large and sufficient for all times save shedding season in April. Alas, my wife's long hair will trouble it after just a couplefew days. I don't know if her hair is abnormally strong, but it gets wound around the little auxiliary wall-cleaning rotary brush, which then stops turning. That doesn't stop the Roomba from continuing to drive around and clean, but it clearly stops being able to clean right up against the wall. It really isn't an issue, though, because before I launch it I typically just flip it over and remove the tangled mass of hair. It takes about two or three minutes to clean the brushes; less if I'm not being particular.
posted by introp at 6:21 PM on May 4, 2012

Best answer: We have a cat also. I like the Neato, having been a previous Roomba owner. Only had it for a few months, but it already has several nice attributes:

- The brushes are silicone blades which kind of rub along the floor, so perfect for hard floors. They also don't collect *nearly* as much hair as the Roomba brushes. It seemed we spent more time cleaning the Roomba than it spent cleaning our floors. With the Neato we just dump the bin after every cycle and pick a few hairs off the brushes every now and then.

- It has *frickin lasers*. So it only goes over a given area once. We can start it in our apartment and it'll complete the whole thing by itself. It needs the occasional prod, but once you maneuver the furniture appropriately it'll go much smoother.

- It has a vacuum, not just a brush, so another pro for hard floors.

There are some things the Roomba does better, like circling around dirty spots, but on the whole the Neato is a much better experience.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:07 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

We love our Neato, both for the tech and because it does a great job. The LIDAR is incredibly cool -- check out this video of the SLAM algorithm it uses to get an idea of why it can do a better job of cleaning than the randomized patterns. The USB port has a fairly simple command language if you want to extend it, too.
posted by autopilot at 9:15 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Going with the Neato, but it sounds like either would work well. But thanks for all the advice about proper robotic minion upkeep everybody!
posted by edbles at 5:01 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

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