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iRobot
Roomba 980
Neato Robotics
Robot Vacuum for Pets and Allergies
Infinuvo
CleanMate Cordless
iTouchless
Robotic Intelligent PRO
P3
V-Bot Cleaner
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Good

Can handle multiple types of flooring material. Extremely easy to use and maintain due to tangle-free extractors.

Laser-driven mapping technology. Designed to combat pet hair and allergens.

Five cleaning patterns available. Suitable for hard floors.

Spiral pattern, when combined with "hug the walls" pattern, renders a clean floor. Suitable for hard flooring.

Works best on de-cluttered, non-carpeted floors.

Bad

Needs a clear line of sight to locate home base/charger. Some problems navigating shag, deep pile, and clutter.

Several recharging sessions may be required to finish larger jobs.

Does not map out rooms or remember obstacles. Gets "stuck" often.

Can get stuck/tangled with objects on floor; prior de-cluttering is advised.

Suction power is negligible. Short battery life and long charging time.

Bottom Line

A feature-packed robotic vacuum that makes life much easier for owners. The best available.

Strongly resembles the Roomba in terms of quality. The best bargain for your buck.

A moderately priced solution for hard floors in between deeper cleanings.

Best suited for households with hard floors and less clutter.

A budget-priced model. Performance is good but not on par with other contenders.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
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Models Considered
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Hours Spent
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Experts Interviewed
194
Consumers Consulted

Best Robotic Vacuums

The earliest robotic vacuum cleaner market was dominated by a handful of brands with limited options and features. Today, there are dozens of advanced models available to consumers. We evaluate and rate our top five contenders based on price, features, programming, and other considerations:

Products we Considered

iRobot
Roomba 980
Neato Robotics
Robot Vacuum for Pets and Allergies
Infinuvo
CleanMate Cordless
iTouchless
Robotic Intelligent PRO
P3
V-Bot Cleaner

Considerations

Floor Navigation

A quality robotic vacuum cleaner needs to have a solid plan of attack where floor cleaning is concerned. The best models offer multiple sweeping patterns, from following the walls to natural back-and-forth sweeping styles to random patterns. Some use artificial intelligence to memorize room layouts; others depend on laser beacons or magnetic strips to stay within boundaries.

Power and Performance

Robotic vacuum cleaners all use some form of rechargeable battery, but significant lifespan and power differences exist among our top contenders. We give bonus points to units with enough battery life to complete an entire cleaning cycle and return to the charger base automatically. In these ratings, we also examine which robotic vacuums have the power to handle challenges such as thick carpeting and pet fur.

Additional Features

Most of our top five robotic vacuum cleaners offer useful additional features such as remote control, high-capacity collection bins, and advanced filtration systems. In these ratings, we also consider obstacle avoidance and ease of maintenance to be useful features.

Price

Robotic vacuum cleaners in general are more expensive than the manually-operated appliances they are intended to replace, but our top five contenders cover a variety of price points. In some cases, a higher retail price easily translates into a high quality vacuuming system. However, even a bargain-priced model can deliver surprisingly good results.

Considerations

Floor Navigation

iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot For Pets and Allergies

Most robotic vacuums are programmed to run several different cleaning patterns, such as hugging the walls or moving in a spiral or grid. The iRobot Roomba 980 uses what the manufacturer calls a Persistent Pass pattern. We wondered at first if there was any method to the directional madness since the unit appeared to move randomly from room to room. As it turns out, the Roomba 980's cleaning pattern mimics the way humans would vacuum. Once its optical and auditory sensors detect excessive debris on the floor, the unit automatically sweeps back and forth until that section of flooring is completely clean. The only major concern about the Roomba 980's floor navigation system is that it needs a clear line of sight in order to discover its home base/charger.

Neato XV Signature Pro Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

The Neato XV robotic vacuum runs a back-and-forth cleaning pattern that mimics how most people use traditional upright vacuum cleaners. The Neato XV uses a laser-driven mapping technology called a Room Positioning System, or RPS. The unit's on-board computer measures the dimensions of every room and remembers the location of most obstacles (table legs, furniture, and so on). If a new obstacle is introduced, the RPS adds its location to the existing map. Because several charging cycles may be required to finish a cleaning run, the Neato XV will remember the last location it cleaned and return to it automatically to finish the job.

Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 BASIC Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The Infinuvo CleanMate has five pre-programmed floor navigation patterns; users can either choose a favorite or cycle through them. Some users will select a random pattern for general floor cleaning and then a wall-hugging pattern for final cleanup. We like the fact that the CleanMate also has a cliff detection sensor, so it won't drive off the edge of a staircase or other ledge. We do have some concerns about the unit getting stuck too often, however. Users report having to retrieve the CleanMate from under couches and beds. Unlike higher-end models, the CleanMate does not map out rooms or remember obstacles. It will simply continue to run the selected cleaning program until the entire room has been addressed or the battery runs out. There is no home base, so the unit will not return automatically to a recharging station. The results, at least on hard flooring, are comparable to much more expensive robotic vacuum cleaners.

iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO

The iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO offers three floor navigation settings, but the one most selected by users is a spiral pattern. The unit moves in a tightening spiral in one direction, then spirals back in the other direction. This first pass may have to be followed by a "hug the walls" pattern in order to get the entire floor surface clean. Some users strongly recommend de-cluttering the room before using the unit. (The iTouchless it does not handle obstacles very well and can become tangled in clothing, power cords, and other soft obstacles.) The on-board computer does not map out rooms like higher-end models do, but it will do its best to finish whatever navigation pattern has been selected. If it becomes stuck or tangled, the iTouchless PRO will shut off until retrieval. The unit is short enough to reach under beds and sofas, but it can sometimes lose its way in dark areas. There is no timer, so the iTouchless will not automatically begin a cleaning cycle if the user is away from home.

P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The V-Bot offers the same standard floor navigation patterns as high-end robotic vacuum cleaners: random, spiral, and "follow the walls." The random setting will reach most areas, but the battery may die before it can finish the job. Many users select the spiral setting for a first pass, but potential buyers should be aware that the unit seems to make nothing but right turns in that mode. A second pass in the "follow the walls" mode should remove debris along the baseboards and in the corners. A home base/charging unit is sold separately, but the battery's average run time of 45 minutes might not justify the added investment. The V-Bot will detect staircases and other danger zones, and users can also install special "invisible wall" strips that will stop the unit from going into prohibited territory. Some users say that a well-placed obstacle like a shoe or small box will also distract the V-Bot. We find that the V-Bot works best on hard floor surfaces that have been de-cluttered. Carpeted areas can be problematic for budget robotic vacuums like the V-Bot.

Unlike some other robotic vacuums, the Roomba 980 can handle all common flooring materials. This includes tile, linoleum, hardwood, and short pile carpet.
Considerations

Power and Performance

One thing the Roomba 980 excels at is battery power management. All robotic vacuum cleaners use rechargeable batteries, but the Roomba 980's computer processor used advanced technology to provide up to 50 percent more power per charge. We found this to be a very useful feature since other robotic vacuum cleaners will often lose power several times during a scheduled cleaning. The Roomba 980 senses when the battery is low and will automatically return to its base for recharging.

As far as performance is concerned, the Roomba 980 is powerful enough to handle all common flooring materials including tile, linoleum, hardwood, and short pile carpet. (Some other robotic vacuums can handle harder surfaces but tend to get bogged down on carpeting.) The Roomba 980 can handle sudden transitions from hardwood to carpet to linoleum and will adjust its brushes accordingly. Shag or deep pile carpeting can be problematic, as can obstacles like phone cords and curtain strings. Owners are urged to spend some time "Roomba-proofing" their floors before operation by removing clothing, loose wires, and other obstacles that might get caught in the unit's brushes.

The Neato XV may not have the power-saving setting of a Roomba 980, but it does provide instructions on how to extend battery life through re-calibration. The manufacturer also recommends running a few fully charged/fully discharged cycles in order to increase the battery's capacity. Because the unit's dimensions and brush sizes rival traditional upright vacuum cleaners, it naturally requires more battery power than smaller, lighter robotic vacuums. The Neato XV will automatically return to its home base for recharging if it senses low battery power.

The power of a Neato-XV is exceptional. Like the more expensive Roomba 980, it can also handle various flooring materials, from tile to hardwood to most carpeting. Many owners praise the suctioning power behind the bristled agitator brushes. Other robotic vacuums do not offer much in the way of suction, so they do not handle pet fur or other debris very well. The Neato XV is designed with pet hair and other allergens in mind. It does a much better job of drawing pet hair and dander into the collection bin for disposal than many other robotic vacuum cleaners.

The general consensus among users is that the Infinuvo CleanMate's battery requires about three hours of charging for approximately 80 minutes of operating time. This should be enough battery time to cover several average-size rooms. However, if the unit gets stuck without supervision, the battery will continue to drain until the vacuum is retrieved. The motor is powerful enough to run over tile, linoleum, and hardwood, but it is not necessarily strong enough to tackle carpeting. Our research suggests that the unit is sturdy enough for casual use between traditional vacuuming sessions, but it's not quite powerful enough to completely remove all pet hair and allergens in one pass. There is a suction component, but the CleanMate's strongest cleaning elements are its well-placed brushes and agitators. In essence, this model is a floor sweeper with a small vacuum -- an effective way to keep hard floor surfaces free of dust and debris.

Some satisfied owners claim the iTouchless PRO provides up to six hours of performance on a full charge. Others say the battery quality is variable and expensive to address. Because the unit does not have a home base recharging platform, it needs to be plugged into a wall adapter between uses. The iTouchless PRO's on-board computer will notify owners with an audio signal when it senses low battery power. The motor is powerful enough to sweep over hard floor surfaces such as linoleum, hardwood, and tile, but many users report disappointing results on even basic carpeting. This robotic vacuum is recommended primarily for homes without carpeted flooring. Since clutter on the floor can affect the iTouchless PRO's general performance, it might also be better suited for users who are on the more "neat and organized" end of the spectrum.

P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The manufacturer of the V-Bot recommends at least 12 hours of charging before using the V-Bot for the first time. (An indicator light blinks off when the battery is completely charged.) The average run time per charge is only 45 minutes; this means the battery may be completely drained before completing the cleaning of one substantial room. Subsequently, another 10 -12 hours of charging would be required, followed by another (short) 45-minute operating cycle. Potential buyers might consider purchasing two rechargeable battery packs to minimize this problem. The unit will accept after-market NiCad batteries if the original batteries stop holding a charge.

A few users describe the V-Bot robotic vacuum cleaner as a "Dirt Devil hand-held vacuum on wheels," and we agree with that assessment. The suction power is negligible, but the brushing and sweeping action is remarkably good for a budget model. There is a slot on the bottom that will accommodate dry or wet cleaning cloths; this addition improves the V-Bot's overall performance. One measure of a robotic vacuum's performance is its ability to effectively remove pet hair. The filtration system does need to be cleaned frequently in order to maintain proper air flow and suction, however.

Once the Roomba's optical and auditory sensors detect excessive debris on the floor, the unit automatically sweeps back and forth until that section of flooring is completely clean.
Bill
Expert Consultant
Bill
Engineer, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Bill has been a hardware store owner, locksmith, and general home repair guru for over 40 years. His ability to solve problems and repair every item in every situation is a true gift. In his spare time, you may find Bill working in his garden, tending to his perfectly manicured lawn, or riding his bike.

Considerations

Additional Features

iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot For Pets and Allergies

The iRobot Roomba 980 has a number of additional features that are extremely useful. Because this unit is designed to handle pet hair and dander, a dual HEPA filtration system is utilized. Essentially, the Roomba 980 filters its own filter before any dust, fur, or dander can escape back into the air!

The unit also comes with a remote control which allows the owner to override the original cleaning program and send the vacuum to specific trouble spots for extra attention. In order to keep the robotic vacuum from traveling past the assigned cleaning area, the Roomba 980 also comes equipped with two "lighthouse" laser-emitting towers. These small, battery-powered towers are placed at strategic locations (such as doorways or staircases) to establish invisible boundaries. (Other units rely on more obtrusive magnetic strips or wires to accomplish this feat.)

Neato XV Signature Pro Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

In our opinion, the best additional feature of the Neato XV is the Room Position System, or RPS. When battery life is at a premium, a good robotic vacuum needs to work as efficiently as possible. Unlike the Roomba 980, the Neato XV won't waste valuable cleaning time banging into the same obstacles every time.

We also consider the Neato's large-capacity collection bin and powerful suction motor to be important added features. This model also comes with a remote control. Using the remote, its regular cleaning routine can be overridden in order to handle emergencies or to re-clean heavily soiled areas. The on-board interface is very user-friendly, so adjustments to the cleaning schedule are easy to make.

Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 BASIC Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The Infinuvo CleanMate offers one intriguing feature not often found in robotic vacuums at any price point. Besides sweeping and vacuuming floors, the CleanMate uses an ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitize the floor. Because UV light usually requires 15 seconds of constant exposure to kill germs, some critics wonder if it truly is an effective cleansing tool, as the UV light included in the CleanMate only passes over any particular area for a few seconds.

The CleanMate also features a remote control, but its uses may be limited to simple "back and forth" or "left and right" commands. We do like the versatility provided by the Infinuvo's five different floor navigation patterns, however. (Robotic vacuums similar to the CleanMate usually offer one random pattern. High-end models generally offer three patterns: "follow the walls," "grid pattern," and "random.") Users of the CleanMate can select one pattern for a first run and then choose another for a second or third pass.

iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO

We give the iTouchless praise for the number of features it offers compared to other robotic vacuums in its price range. The on-board computer does more than just guide the unit through its cleaning paces; it also sends out a "low battery" signal when the unit is about to shut down. Other low-end robotic vacuums will continue to drain the battery after becoming trapped or tangled, bu the iTouchless PRO's computer will revert to shut-down mode, thus conserving battery power. A remote control allows the user to send the unit on special cleaning missions without a program. The self-adjusting wheels can detect and respond to sudden changes in altitude (stairs, high room transitions, etc.). The vacuum's low profile also allows it to reach some very remote locations.

P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The V-Bot package does not include much in the way of additional features, but helpful items such as a home base/re-charger and replacement filters can be ordered separately from the manufacturer. A remote control is included, but some customers report difficulty getting a clear connection between the remote and the unit. There may be some electronic interference created by the on-board computer itself. A special slot in the bottom of the unit accepts wet or dry Swiffer-type cloths; you're not likely to find this feature on many other bargain-prices robotic vacuum cleaners. The unit has a low profile, allowing it to reach under beds and furniture with ease.

The Neato XV is designed with pet hair and other allergens in mind.
Considerations

Price

iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot For Pets and Allergies

At $598, the iRobot Roomba 980 is one of our pricier contenders. As they say in the movie industry, however, every dollar is up on the screen! Other less-expensive models can match the performance of the Roomba 980 in certain areas, but not all of them.

Customers who seek a "set it and forget it" technology that will save them hours of routine housework should consider the Roomba 980 an investment that will pay for itself after years of reliable service. Compare the initial cost of a Roomba 980 to the rates of a professional cleaning service, and the savings over time should be clear.

Neato XV Signature Pro Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

The Neato XV robotic vacuum, at a price of $1375, can rightfully be compared to its closest rival, the Roomba 980. Consumers who simply want an affordable alternative to traditional upright vacuums will discover that the Neato XV delivers most of the same features as the Roomba at a significantly lower price point. The Neato XV has some known issues with navigation and quality control, but overall, the unit has just as much cleaning power and adaptability as the Roomba

Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 BASIC Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The Infinuvo CleanMate sells for $116 -- far less than the Roomba and the Neato -- but it delivers quality results on most hard surfaces. Carpeting can be a challenge for the CleanMate, but many other mid-range to budget robotic vacuums also have this problem. The CleanMate's strongest suit is sweeping and brushing, which is generally what users without pets or small children need for everyday floor maintenance. We believe the Infinuvo CleanMate is an affordable replacement for traditional upright vacuum cleaners.

iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO

At a cost of $159, the iTouchless PRO is one of our least expensive contenders. It has many of the same basic features as the higher-end Neato and Roomba models. We are aware of certain performance and construction concerns, but overall, the affordability factor makes the iTouchless PRO a solid entry-level choice for people who want to maintain their floors between deeper cleaning sessions. The three navigation patterns work well for most hard floor surfaces, and a remote control makes smaller jobs much easier for elderly and physically challenged users. For the same price as a traditional upright or canister vacuum, the iTouchless PRO is a decent product for a decent price.

P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

At the low price of $81, the V-Bot from P3 is definitely a model for budget-conscious consumers to consider. It contains many of the same navigational and cleaning features that higher-end models offer, but it sells for a price that first-time homeowners and young couples are more likely to be able to afford. Replacement nickel-cadmium battery packs and add-ons like the home base/charging station may boost the price into the mid-range, but these features are not absolutely necessary. The V-Bot robotic vacuum cleaner is a viable solution that owners could theoretically use between deeper cleaning sessions. Its relatively short 45-minute operating time makes it less desirable as a whole-house robotic vacuuming system, but it can certainly handle shorter cleaning assignments.

Other robotic vacuums will repeatedly bang into obstacles until they find a clear path. The Neato XV's Room Positioning System uses a laser to map out each room and remember the location of every obstacle.

Best of the Best

iRobot's Roomba robotic vacuum line has dominated the market for years, and the Roomba 980 proudly carries that tradition into the 21st century. It's the best robotic vacuum on the market today for several important reasons.

Pet owners and those with chronic allergies will definitely appreciate the iRobot's use of two HEPA filters. Busy homeowners will appreciate the "set it and forget it" aspect of the programmable cleaning cycle. Elderly and physically challenged owners will appreciate the Roomba 980's ability to reach previously inaccessible locations (under beds, behind couches, and so on). We appreciate the manufacturer's focus on product improvements and cutting-edge technology.

The Roomba 980's initial retail price of $598 may give potential owners a bit of sticker shock, but we see it as a long-term investment. While the owner sleeps or works, a powerful and compact robotic vacuum will sweep the floor and then return to its base to charge. Compared to the cost of a professional cleaning service or the labor-intensive operation of a traditional upright vacuum, the Roomba 980 could be considered a bargain at any price. The manufacturer, iRobot, also has a great reputation for customer service. Considering the surprisingly few customer complaints we discovered, however, most owners of the Roomba 980 may never find it necessary to make that call. The Roomba 980 is virtually maintenance-free and is designed to last for years. We wholeheartedly declare iRobot's Roomba 980 to be the "Best of the Best."

Best of the Best
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The Roomba 980 is virtually maintenance-free and is designed to last for years.

Best Bang for your Buck

The Neato XV robotic vacuum delivers the same type of service as the more familiar Roomba 980 at a much lower price tag. We like the fact that this unit is more substantial in size than some other robotic vacuum cleaners on today's market. Its brush size rivals that of traditional upright vacuum cleaners -- another plus.

As pet hair removal can be nearly impossible through brushing and sweeping alone, customers give high ratings to the Neato's strong suctioning capabilities. The Neato also uses HEPA filters to trap even the smallest particles of pet dander and house dust. People with allergies and other sensitivities would be very wise to consider this product.

We give high praise to the Neato XV for its intelligent floor-navigation system. Instead of using a pre-programmed path, the on-board Room Positioning System uses a laser to map out each room and remember the location of every obstacle. Other robotic vacuums will repeatedly bang into obstacles until they find a clear path, but the Neato XV avoids this problem, thereby saving time and preserving energy. The system also includes a remote control which allows owners to maneuver the vacuum cleaner in unfamiliar territory.

While there may be some concerns over quality control issues, the Neato brand itself is fast becoming a clear rival of the iRobot's Roomba. The lower price, cutting-edge technology, and substantial construction of the Neato XV earns it the distinction of being the "Best Bang for Your Buck."

Best Bang for your Buck
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The Neato XV uses HEPA filters to trap even the smallest particles of pet dander and house dust.
The team that worked on this review
  • Michael
    Michael
    Creative Lead
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jasmin
    Jasmin
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Kriti
    Kriti
    Data Scientist