Neato Botvac 85 Bv85 Robot Vacuum
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Best for homes with pets. The high-performance robot vacuum with all the extras. Features a combo brush that is uniquely designed to pick up pet hairand is quieter, too, especially on hard floors like wood and tile. Patented laser-guided technology scans and maps the room, plans, and methodically cleans, automatically moving from room to room. 50% larger brush, bigger-is-better dirt bin, extra large filter, and precise edge cleaning brush pick up more dirt and debris. Schedule daily cleanings or push a button for instant multi-room or spot cleaning. Automatically goes back to charge base, then returns to where it left off.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
- Amazing with pet hair! I cannot praise this vacuum enough when it comes to suction power. We have a Great Dane and 3 cats, all of which shed like crazy. You’d never know it though after sending the Botvac around on both a low pile carpet and tile floor. At the beginning, we would run the Botvac daily and vacuum with an upright every 2 weeks. However, the Botvac does such an excellent job we stopped using the upright all together.
- Very organized cleaning path. This little guy maps out grids, zips back and forth until a grid section is finished, and then moves onto another area.
- Not terribly loud. I had no problem sitting in a room while it was vacuuming but I wouldn’t use it at night on the same level I sleep on.
- Side brush: really helps keep the dust off the base boards
- Easy to clean the brush and empty the dirt bin
- I have noticed that after 9 months of the vacuum going around my chair legs, the legs have gotten scuffed on the corners from the Botvac backing up when navigating around them.
- If anybody living in your house has long hair, be aware that the Botvac never manages to get any into the dirt bin and only seems to wrap it around its brush. Not a huge deal, just make sure you clean the brush regularly.
- Terrible customer service
- Not very reliable. See below….
After 6 months of using my first Botvac, the battery completely died. The thing wouldn’t even turn on anymore. One day it was fine, the next day dead. I called Neato and after a brief conversation, they offered to send a replacement. The new vac arrived super fast, and they sent a return label to send back the dead one.
All was not well however. The new Botvac was noticeably louder than the first. It always sounded like there was a loose rattling part somewhere inside. Additionally, the navigation on this one was off. It got lost frequently and would sometimes have to charge 3 times to finish what the old one could do on a single charge. So back this one went too.
Botvac #3 arrived. After the initial charge, it began beeping intermittently (about every 15-30 minutes or so) to “please put my dirt back in.” No amount of jiggling or pushing on the bin could shut it up. Additionally, after using the vac for a week, it now makes a horrible whining noise and no longer moves more than a foot off the base.
After talking with customer service AGAIN, they are now sending a refund since it is their policy to send refunds after 2 replacement vacs. Though I’ve had to be persistent with follow up phone calls to be sure my issues are being taken care of, I can’t say that I’ve had a bad experience with Neato customer service at all. In fact, I would say that they have been very easy to deal with.
I have to admit, despite my issues, I’m still considering buying another Neato with my refund money. When it was working well, it was amazing.
I have reduced my rating by one star on the Botvac due to my recent customer service experience. After writing this review, I was told that it would take 2 MONTHS for my refund to be processed after receiving the returned vacuum. I asked them if they would simply send a replacement vac since the latest replacement arrived non functioning and since the replacements arrive within days rather than months. They basically said "Nope sorry. You only get two replacements" despite the second replacement arriving DOA. I feel as if I am being penalized for Neato sending a product that didn't work right out of the box.
Additionally, someone from Neato has replied to this review and stated "we can confirm your refund is currently processing and will be mailed to you soon." That cannot be true as I haven't even sent in the defective vacuum yet. So there is someone out there from Neato posting misinformation to make themselves sound better.
I bought my original vac from Bed Bath and Beyond and I HIGHLY recommend anyone considering buying the Botvac to do the same. I decided rather than wait forever for a refund from Neato I would just do an exchange at BBB. Even though it had been 9 months since I purchased the vacuum, they exchanged it for a new one with no hassle. I've now had the replacement for almost a month and it has been working flawlessly.
I've had the latest replacement vac (now named Ultron) for little over 4 months now and I am still very happy with it. Battery life remains excellent. We've even expanded the area it cleans on one charge without any difficulties. As another reviewer mentioned, periodic cleaning of the laser sights is needed but it is very easy with 2 minutes and a few Q-tips.
Of note, we did have to replace the combo brush when one of the silicone blades cracked in multiple places for no apparent reason. I'm not sure if that will be a reoccurring problem or if we simply had a bad brush. As the brush replacements are nearly $40 each, it's not a part I want to replace frequently.
My Botvac has now started alarming "Please open my dirt bin and switch to ON." That would be all well and good except the switch was already turned to on. So I called customer service. Apparently, that alarm is a signal that the battery is dying. Keep in mind this vacuum is less than a year old. I was informed that the battery warranty is only 6 months, so I was welcome to purchase a new battery for $50. I asked how often I should expect to replace the battery and was told that expected battery life is 6-9 months. 6-9 months! For a vacuum that costs $400. So after many phone calls, and follow up calls, I finally got them to agree to replace the battery. They told me that it would take 10 business days to arrive. So low and behold, 10 days pass and no battery. I call back again, and the customer service rep proceeds to tell me that that battery has not shipped and that I need to send in proof of purchase that proves my Botvac is less than 6 months old. I told him that I had been approved for a battery replacement to be sent even though my vacuum is older than 6 months. The guy then says that he does see where it was approved that my battery was to be replaced and he would follow up on it in a few days to see if it got shipped. I asked him politely to follow up NOW and make sure it was shipped TODAY. We'll see if it ever arrives.
Long story short, Neato customer service is HORRIBLE. It takes at least 3 phone calls for any problem to get resolved and you need to be clear on what was agreed upon in previous conversations. Otherwise the customer service reps give you wrong information. Because of the unacceptable battery life and the sub par customer service I have reduced my rating by another star.
I finally did receive the new battery and the robot worked well...for a few months. Now it is showing error code 3000, which in an internal mechanical error that cannot be fixed by resets and code clearing. Neato has told me that since the vacuum is out of warranty (by 6 months) there is NOTHING they can do. So now I have a dead vacuum and no recourse to get it fixed or get my money back.
Even though this vacuum is great when it actually works, with their horrible reliability I would have no hesitation to say buy a Roomba
This unit came with 2 extra filters, a magnetic boundary (useful to keep the unit out of areas if you wish), and a separate blade-type brush in addition to the mounted bristle and blade brush. The blade brush included is a total waste of materials & your money. The bristle & blade one is what you want because the other one doesn't pick up hair well at all. So they kinda gyp you right off the bat. The unit's LCD display is much smaller than the original XV series and is quite difficult to read if you're over 50 years old. I think the font size is right around 7 or 8. They could have done much better there. The controls are intuitive and, other than the somewhat cryptic Home & Spot Clean buttons, can be figured out without having to read thru the literature, which really doesn't say much anyway.
The brush is easy to remove and install, a big improvement from the previous versions of Neato's vacuums, but it comes at a price. They completely redesigned the brush ends and now there's an exposed ball bearing unit on one side. When I say exposed, I mean it's all metal and is not sealed. After one go thru my house, the gobs of animal and human hair swept up got wound up into the race of the bearing(that's where the ball bearings are and it means these bearings aren't likely to last very long). My wife spent some frustrating minutes trying to pull the hair outta the bearings. That is a really bad design & likely to cause owners quite a bit of frustration as those bearings fill up with dirt. It would not have been hard to install sealed bearings. An engineer somewhere was trying to cut too many corners.
A new feature on this vacuum is the side brush, meant to sweep up dirt all the way up against the wall. This is what Roombas have that Neatos never did, and it's a good addition. The little brush is held on by a magnet, not a bad thing, meaning it'll be easy to replace. It also means it may fall off at some point so try and keep your wits about you and check that the brush is still there before emptying out the dust bin. The dust bin itself is much larger than in previous models. I've read others say the difference is minor. To me it seems a whole lot bigger. The bin is easy to remove, empty, and reinstall.
As far as performance goes, I thought I'd save the best for last. The navigational problems introduced by Neato programmers into my XV-11 seem to have been rectified. This unit had no problems AT ALL in my house, which is full of knick-naks, cubby holes, and too much furniture. And, this unit seems to go faster than previous models. It completed my 2100 sq.ft. house in 2 runs, about a 2.5 hour total which includes one hour to recharge. It picked up far more dirt than my XV-11, being quite impressive in this category. I didn't expect this at all because the amount of air blowing out the exhaust port seems puny compared to my former robot vacuum. Plus on top of the low airflow, the unit is eerily quiet. I initially felt they downgraded the motor for the suction and, while they may have, it sure picks up more dirt, which is what counts after all. So in the performance category, right now at least, I am pleased. The quietness of the unit is a great selling point. It would never wake me up in the middle of the night, and it wouldn't interfere with watching tv or a conversation. Very quiet and impressive.
For those of you wanting to buy a Neato vacuum, please keep a couple of things in mind. While Neato makes a big deal about the ability to upgrade the firmware in your robot, DO NOT DO IT. Let me make this a little clearer... DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR NEATO VACUUM FIRMWARE. My son is a software engineer, and his advice is, if you think it works well, don't mess with it. Myself and many others all found out the hard way that firmware upgrades are often negative experiences, whether it's for a vacuum or a smartphone. And if a firmware upgrade messes up your vacuum, Neato will NOT make you whole. That's my experience, at least. Neato also has some serious customer service problems, which, if you read many reviews here and on other sites, is definitely an important part of any decision you may make in the purchase of a $400.00+ vacuum. Hopefully Neato's been listening over the last 2 years and will put more effort into helping customers with problems. Their product has tremendous potential to far outsell the Roombas if they can just get the reliability and customer service problems fixed. Secondly, I really advise you do an internet search to compare what other sites charge for this vacuum. Neato's site offers this highest end model at a pretty steep $599.00. I got mine for $399 at a Bed & Bath store, using their 20% off coupon on top of an already discounted price & saved $200.00. So be diligent & you can save yourself a lotta dough.
After a couple months I'll give an update, and really hope I can give a glowing review on this revamped product.
UPDATE AUG 26/2014
I've has this model for a little over a month and figured it's time for an update as there's some additional observations I've made:
1)The side-cleaning brush is showing some deformation of its bristles. I expected that as Roomba's side brush is somewhat short-lived, too. Hair gets caught up in it and then wraps around it, making removing the hair kind of a pain. As time goes on, expect to have to replace these brushes and hopefully in the not too distant future the price on them will go down
2)Still no problems with navigation in my house. I need to modify the duration of cleaning for my house... It does most of the house in 1.5 hours, takes 2-3 hours to recharge, and then about 1 hour to finish, for a total elapsed time of about 5 hours, not bad when you consider that I'm not involved with the cleaning for the most part.
3)The pet hair package, which you definitely should get & comes standard on the BV-85, is far superior to the silicone blade brush. I have 4 long-haired persons in my house, and the amount of their hair picked up is impressive, along with the cat hair. One thing to note is long human hair never makes it to the dust bin but is wrapped around the bristles of the brush. It has to be cut with scissors & unwrapped, along with unwinding it from the bearings on one side of the brush. Not hard at all. Those of you who had the older models of Neato remember the cogged belt that was such a pain to re-engage when replacing the brush. Now the brush simply slides into a socket to replace. It's a snap!
4)The teeny-tiny LCD screen is SOOO hard to read! Fortunately, I almost never have to use it. Be aware that there are times when that screen is indispensable, like when you have an error message. When you do, expect to need a magnifying glass.
5)Fringe, ah yes, oriental rug fringe... the bane of robots. If we ever have to protect the world from Daleks, all we have to do is lay 6 inch rug fringe out all over until Dr. Who can get here( if you have no idea what I was just talking about, you really need to start watching Dr. Who on BBC). For some reason users are always complaining about rug fringe getting stuck in their Neato. Really? And what happens when you use an upright vacuum on your oriental rug fringe? Same thing! Come on... all you have to do is tuck the fringe underneath the carpet. Your fringe will last longer that way, and your Neato will never get stuck on it. Done.
6)If you have carpet in your house don't expect a robot vacuum to perform as well as an upright. But if you have all hard floors in your home, one of these robots are ideal. They shine on hard floors.
7)Neato battery life has been an issue in previous models. Past tests by techies have shown that Neato has designed the units to shut down vacuuming and return to base when the batteries have discharged half way. Those of you battery-savy folks know that this promotes early demise of rechargeable batteries. In fact, on this new BV-85 model, the instructions warn that, to get the most out of the batteries, you need to COMPLETELY DISCHARGE THEM after the initial charge. Unfortunately, that's all that's said about it, without any instructions on exactly how to completely discharge the 2 battery packs. That's a problem because the software won't let you discharge the batteries more than half way. See the problem? Neato sticks us consumers in a Catch-22, where there's no way to do what they tell us we must do to keep the warranty. Pretty nifty way to limit their liability, don't you think? This and other customer service problems keep raising their ugly heads with Neato. Don't expect your batteries to last over six moths to a year.
So you see, there are pros & cons with owning a Neato. If this company would just be more customer-oriented, that would go a long way in making their product more attractive to the consumer. I expect one of the big appliance companies will eventually produce a reliable robo-vacuum that will supplant both Roomba and Neato, but until they do, these are the top 2 contenders. If the BV-85 shows that it's reliable, to me, it's worth what I paid for it.
Update Feb. 2015...
Hugo, yes that's his name, is functioning wonderfully. No glitches, no breakdowns, just clean. As I postulated in the first part of my review, the side brush is not a long-lived part. My original lasted about 5 months. You can buy replacements in bulk here on Amazon from a variety of suppliers, and they're fairly inexpensive in bulk. So far (almost 6 months) there hasn't been any drop in battery performance. One maintenance issue that the original Neato needed that's still needed here is cleaning of the laser turrets, maybe once a month. You can tell when the vacuum suddenly gets lost or starts banging into things - it simply can't "see" anymore. Just use 2 q-tips with the tips dipped in alcohol & wipe off the laser ports, deep pockets inside the turret on top of the vacuum.
I'm really happy with this model. One thing unexpected came to light after I purchased a Shark Rotator upright to deep clean my carpets, especially one oriental rug that I'm not supposed to use a beater bar on. The Shark has really strong suction & was listed as a best buy by a consumer group that shall remain unnamed. Anyhow, I decided I wanted to see how much more dirt & grit the Shark picked up after I'd been using the Neato exclusively for 6 months after steam-cleaning the carpets in July. Guess what. It picked up NOTHING! NOTHING! I really didn't expect that. I figured the Neato didn't have enough suction to do carpets well. I am truly impressed.