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.
With their budget-busting prices, robot vacuums are a convenience many of us can't afford. That makes the Eufy RobotVac 11 a welcome addition to the brigade. You won't get premium features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, mapping, or camera navigation with this $250 vacuum, but you will get cleaning power comparable to premium models, at a fraction of the cost. Its charcoal finish is adorned with nothing more than an Auto button and the Eufy logo on its tempered-glass top. Its front bumper houses the 11 infrared sensors that help it navigate, and an ample-sized dustbin takes up the bulk of its backside.
When it comes to cleaning, there's one thing we can all agree on: vacuuming is no fun. First, there's the setup that requires you to grab a clunky vacuum from your closet, find a nearby outlet, and somehow not trip on a long cord. Then, you pray for the thing to work, considering the lights flicker whenever its power button goes on. When you're finally cleaning up week-old Cheerios or a dust colony, you realize the vacuum doesn't suck up the mess. Oh, and we can't forget about the noise. It's an awful soundtrack of clicking, rolling, and picking up that drives you nuts and scares your pets.
When people ask "How does a robot vacuum work?" it's typically the device's robotic element, more than its vacuum, they're curious about. How does this computerized cleaner know where it's been and where it hasn't yet? How does it know when it's finished? Why do some seem to clean in an orderly way, while others follow a meandering and perplexing path? It turns out that the answers aren't all that complicated: There are basically just two ways a robot vacuum finds its way around your home.
Jennifer Jolly puts top robot vacuums to the test. Robot vacuums have been promising to do our dirty work for more than two decades now, but rather than provide the hassle-free cleaning help of our dreams, some just suck – and not in a good way. Sure, early models devoured surface detritus, but often left a trail of half-eaten dirt-crumbs and dust-bunny bits while they crashed into walls and furniture legs with about as much grace – and overall success – as a drunk person wearing a blindfold. But sweeping changes are underfoot in the robot vacuum world, with a few of the latest models inching closer to a kind of Rosey from "The Jetsons" reality than ever before. For instance, most robot vacuums come equipped with Wi-Fi now, so that you can schedule and control them from an app on your smartphone.