The Neato Robotics XV-11 is a robotic vacuum that competes squarely with iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners like the iRobot Roomba 560 (*Est. $350), which have been on the market for a longer time. Both are similar in size and functionality, but each has a different way of moving around. The Roomba has a more haphazard way of wandering about the room, redirecting itself by bumping into objects or by encountering user-placed infrared barriers. The Neato robotic vacuum, on the other hand, uses a laser to map a room before starting to vacuum, so it doesn't bump into objects as much as the Roomba vacuum.
Reviewers at Good Housekeeping and other sites are quick to note that robotic vacuums can't totally eliminate the need for vacuuming with a full-size unit. Rather, they're meant for day-to-day cleanups and for lengthening the time between deep cleans with an upright vacuum and hose attachment. But in reviews at BotJunkie.com, Engadget.com and Geek.com, the XV-11 gets a slight edge, mainly for its more efficient and faster way of moving about a room.
When it comes to actual cleaning ability, results are more mixed. All reviewers say that both robotic vacuums do a good job on hardwood floors, but opinions differ when it comes to carpet and each vac's ability to pick up pet hair. For example, the BotJunkie.com review gives the Roomba the edge on carpet and on sucking up cat hair. But plenty of owners say the opposite -- that the Neato did a great job picking up pet hair.
In the end, it seems there's a certain entertainment value to owning a robotic vacuum. One downside to the Neato is that it only comes in one $400 version, while iRobot markets several versions of the Roomba. The Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 (*Est. $100) is said to do an adequate job of vacuuming hard floors and low-pile carpeting, if you're looking for a simple model and don't need advanced features such as pre-scheduling.
Three-quarters of the more than 140 owner reviews at Amazon.com are mostly or entirely positive for the Neato Robotics vacuum. Many owners have also owned the Roomba, so quite a few reviews include a comparison between the two. Owners discuss differences in navigation and cleaning ability as well as battery life. Some prefer the Neato version, while others would stick with the cheaper Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.
Review: Neato XV-11 All Floor Robotic Vacuum System, Contributors to Amazon.com
2. Good Housekeeping
While this review involves some hands-on testing, editors don't compare the Neato vacuum to other models. They say that the vacuum does a nice job on bare floors and low-pile carpets, missing just a few areas. They add that although they had "a lot of fun with it," it's no substitute for regular vacuuming.
Review: Neato: The Newest Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, Carolyn Forte, Oct. 4, 2010
In this head-to-head comparison of the Roomba and Neato vacuum cleaners, the author doesn't quite come down on one side or the other. Both do a good job with hard floors, but the Roomba does a better job on carpet and with cat hair. The Neato vacuum is more efficient, taking only a third as long as the iRobot vac, and the Neato XV-11 is a little better at getting into corners. Neither vacuum can totally replace regular vacuuming with a hose and attachments, the author concludes.
Review: IRobot Roomba 560 vs. Neato XV-11, Evan Ackerman, June 4, 2010
This is another head-to-head between the XV-11 and the iRobot Roomba vacuum. The Neato vacuum is said to be slightly more powerful, but mainly, editors seem enthralled with watching it scan a room and plot an efficient course compared to the iRobot's wandering route. Like other reviewers, the author says you'll still need to vacuum with a more powerful upright now and then. But overall, the XV-11 is more advanced.
Review: Neato XV-11 Robotic Vacuum Review, Tim Stevens, Aug. 24, 2010
Like other reviews, this one notes that the Neato vacuum seems easier to clean than the Roomba. The author only used it on hardwood floors, so not much of the review is spent on either robotic vacuum's cleaning ability.
Review: Review: Neato XV-11 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, Sal Cangeloso, Dec. 16, 2010