The Neato Botvac D7 Connected represents the best and worst of robot vacuum technology: On the one hand, there’s cutting-edge features that let you perform one of the most-loathed household tasks while barely lifting a finger. On the other hand, there’s a heart-stopping price tag that makes you question just how much that convenience is worth. Ultimately, we each must solve that conundrum for ourselves, but we can say that the Botvac D7 Connected is an object lesson in “you get what you pay for.”

The Botvac D7 breaks from the disc-shaped design of every other robot vacuum we’ve reviewed to date, instead sporting the Botvac line’s trademark “D” shape. This isn’t just a design cue; those right angles allow it to clean along walls and in corners better than its round competitors. It measures a hair over 13 inches across and 3.9 inches high thanks to a turret that houses its “Botvision” sensors. These scan and map the room for better navigation. A brushed-metal lid pops off to access the clear-plastic dustbin. Four LED indicators report the status of the battery and Wi-Fi as well as cleaning modes.

Neato says the rolling brush on its underside is 70-percent larger than those on its competition. We didn’t measure it. but an eye test of the brushes on all the robot vacuums we’ve tested supports the claim. A spinning brush on its side helps the D7 grab dirt from corners and wall edges.

botvac d7 lifestyle yellow chair living room Neato Robotics

The Botvac D7 Connected’s unique “D”-shape enables it to clean corners better than round robot vacuums.

Setup and usage

Most robot vacuums include a pair of charging contacts on the underside that you line up with the contacts on the docking platform. Neato placed the D7’s contacts on its rounded side, and you push it up against the dock’s metal charging contacts until they are pushed all the way in.

Once you download the Neato Robotics app, there’s a process of putting the D7 in pairing mode (you press the bumper and start button together for 10 seconds) after which the app takes you through a pretty seamless Wi-Fi setup. Unlike many of the Wi-Fi-enabled robot vacuums we tested, it works on both the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands.

Neato heavily markets the D7 on its navigation capabilities, which include the ability to cordon off areas you want it to avoid—kid and pet areas, for example—by setting “no-go lines” in the companion app. To enable this feature, the D7 must first map out your space. The app provides instructions for preparing a room so the D7 can create a complete floor plan. These include opening any doors which access areas you want cleaned, and removing stray obstacles from the floor. You should probably also use the included magnetic boundary to block off cables or anything else you can’t remove for this initial cleaning. This should all be done after you’ve found a good home for the charging dock, as it can’t be moved once the space is mapped—at least not if you don’t want your D7 to get lost on its way home.

botvac d7 manual Michael Ansaldo/IDG

You can control the Botvac D7 manually with a directional pad in the companion app.

During its mapping run, the D7 appeared to feel its way around the room, pausing for a bit when it encountered something in its path before changing direction slightly to maneuver around it. Once it was finished, I was able to save the floor plan and draw red lines on it to designate no-go boundaries for future cleanings.

On subsequent cleanings, the D7 navigated like a champ, maneuvering chair and table legs, and even some clutter I didn’t pick up. Its sensor turret prevented it from getting under my couch, as I suspected it would, but most of the robot vacuums I tested had a degree of trouble with its low clearance.

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