What makes the best robot vacuum? Let’s have a closer look.
If you’re picking out a robot vacuum as a gift or a cleaning solution for your own floors, you’ll probably compare Neato vs. Roomba vs. Samsung models at some point during the process. These popular choices offer powerful bot vacs designed for specific tasks, but still not sure which to pick? We can help out! Check out our comparisons and suggestions. You can also read about the best Shark vacuum.
Note: When we compare models, we’re looking at the most elite models from each brand (we only want the best to accurately compare what each brand is capable of at the highest levels). In other words: the stats we’re talking about are available on the most expensive units, but may not be present for lesser models. But on the plus side, you can save money by picking those other models.
Basics and Design
Neato: Neato creates the robotic vacuums known as Botvacs. You can easily identify Botvacs in a line-up because they have a distinctive large, square-edged 10.9-inch front that allows for a wider brush and more detailed corner cleaning (Neato claims that the brush is 50% larger than competitors, although that seems to apply primarily to older Roomba models). The Botvacs use laser mapping, wall sensors, and cliff sensors to map out the nearby area and avoid bumps or drops.
- iRobot: iRobot is responsible for the popular line of Roomba robots, which are the round, friendly-looking robot vacuums that can navigate across hardwood, tile or carpet with no trouble. While the software is different, Roombas and Botvacs use essentially the same group of laser mapping, wall/bump sensors, and cliff sensors for control.
- Samsung: Samsung is relatively new to the robotic vacuum field, and currently only has one model on the market, the Powerbot. Despite its lack of options, the Powerbot is a well-received little device that appears to combine the design qualities of both Botvacs and Roombas with a rounded shape that looks a lot like a mini vacuum roller. In addition to the digital camera for mapping, the Powerbot uses nine smart sensors to help get around.
Read More: Best Vacuum Cleaner for Carpets
One of the most common questions we’ve gotten about robot vacuums is, “Will they work with my floors?” It’s tough to give a blanket answer, but if we had to we would say “Don’t worry about it.” Today’s automatic vacuum bots are intelligent and powerful enough to deal with most residential and commercial floors without breaking down. However, they will generally be a bit more effective at cleaning hardwood than cleaning carpets, and this is mainly an issue of size. Robot vacuums are just too small to provide the weight and motor size necessary for deep carpet cleaning, but unless you need to clean up deep dirt or serious spills, this is probably a minor problem in comparison to the convenience factor you get out of them over the long haul. Dyson Unveils Its First Robot Vacuum after 16 Years
In summation: if you have a larger space or a commercial space, consider Neato’s Botvacs. If you have many different types of flooring transitions, like tile to carpet, look at the Roombas. If you need the most powerful cleaning you can get but still prefer robot vacs, then look at Samsung’s Powerbot.
Power and Suction
Alright, let’s take a closer look at power and vacuuming abilities. When it comes pure power, Samsung pulls ahead with a unit that the company claims has 20x more suction than the leading robot vacuum brand. Again, it’s smart to take these claims with a grain of salt, but we are seriously impressed with Powerbot’s, well, power, as well as its surprising speed. If you have a lot of dirt that gets tracked into your house and are worried that robot vacs just don’t offer enough, this is the model to change your mind.
Neato, meanwhile, offers both a turbo mode and an eco mode that gives you the opportunity to choose if you want extra power with a shorter battery life, or a longer battery life and less power. This type of control is very useful, and Neato backs it up with options for extra-large canisters, additional wall brushes, and other features that are great for larger spaces or lots of dirt.
Roomba, on the other hand, offers a number of models for specific tasks. If you are comparing models like the Samsung Powerbot vs. the Roomba 980, the Powerbot only has one mode, while the Roomba switches to a carpet boost mode when encountering fibers for automatically engaging extra 10x more power when running over carpets. iRobot also uses the “Aeroforce” cleaning system, which is 5x more powerful than the suction on earlier Roomba models. There are even mop models available for kitchen spills available in the Roomba lineup, something that none of the other brands can claim.
Dust Control and Filtration
The top Roomba models come with Aeroforce high-efficiency filters, which can capture particles as small as 10 microns, and trap dust more effectively than most.
That’s impressive, but more impressive are Neato’s Botvac models, which come with the option for ultra high performance filters that can trap particular as small as 0.3 microns, ideal for keeping a home free of allergens and pollen. Combine that with the options for larger filters and a larger dust capacity option, and Neato is our pick for the best dust control. Of course, you will have to replace these filters more often than standard options, so take that cost into account first.
The differences are stark when comparing the Samsung Powerbot vs. Neato: the Samsung Powerbot VR20H9050UW doesn’t have a specialization in dust removal, and uses only a permanent, washable filter. The power and suction of this model is more focused on removing larger debris, not dust particles alone.
The most powerful (and expensive) Roombas have a battery life of around 2 hours. This is matched by the best Neato Botvac models, which also last 2 hours. When their batteries get low, the models automatically return to their charging stations and power up again before resuming their tasks. A typical cleaning job takes a couple of power ups before the vacuums are finished.
Samsung’s Powervac, however, is in a different category. That power means that the bot has to sacrifice battery life. It only has around an hour of use on a single charge, which makes this unit best suited for smaller spaces.
iRobot provides Roomba owners with the Home app, which is a hub that allows for remote control over Roomba scheduling. You can set a specific schedule, command your vac to “Clean” at any time, learn more about how to use your Roomba, and receive information on the Roomba’s status. However, there’s not much you can do to specifically control the Roomba when you’re in the same room together.
Neato, on the other hand, allows for both scheduling and manual control. You can create schedules or tell the vac to clean from afar with your smartphone, but if you’re up close there’s also options for manual “spot” cleaning, options to clean a spot twice, and the Eco/Turbo modes we already mentioned. If you like plenty of smart features and control options, Neato has an edge here.
Samsung, meanwhile, has a basic scheduling features and not much else…except for one very notable feature. The bot comes with a remote control that allows you to point at “spots” on the floor and command the bot to clean a specific area (much like the Neato without the additional settings), which is nice for tackling spills and, once again, more ideal for smaller locations.
- iRobot Roomba: There are Roomba models available from $375 to $880, depending on the features that you’re looking for. There are holiday offers to save money, especially when it comes to the more expensive models.
- Neato Botvac: Botvacs are available in models from $400 to $700. If you are looking for Neato Botvac prices, make sure you also look for deals and compare prices between stores.
- Samsung Powerbot: Samsung only has a couple very similar Powerbots available at the moment. They were $1,000, but the price has been widely lowered to $700-$800.
If you want the best robot vacuum cleaner in a small location to clean up single-time spills, the Samsung Powerbot is a great option. If you’re looking for an option with excellent smart features and the ability to clean larger spaces, Neato’s Botvacs are probably a better choice. If you need a vac for a variety of tasks or floors, then Roombas are an excellent bet, especially if you buy a high-end model with carpet boost and similar features.
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