Roomba vs. Neato: Robots Battle To Clean My Home

The life of a technology analyst has its perks. While women don’t fight for my attention, technology does, and often that is a good thing. This occurred to me as I unpacked my Neato Robotic vacuum and put in down on the floor. I could almost hear the growl from the other rooms because we are a Roomba house, and each floor has one or two of those little monsters. They didn’t appear to be happy. Granted, the growls were in my head, but I’m pretty sure that if they were smarter they’d be pissed.

Now, one of the reasons they should be pissed is that the Neato is both smarter and more capable than a Roomba, as we geeks have discovered. Inexplicably, they’re also nowhere near as popular.

Neato vs. Roomba: The Battle Royale

There is something particularly satisfying about two robots fighting to clean up cat hair. No matter which one wins, as long as the cat hair is gone, you’re the winner. I mentioned that the Neato is smarter, but then it has to be, because it’s a real vacuum, the Roomba is more of a powered sweeper. A vacuum on carpet will always be better, but a vacuum uses a ton more power, so it has to be more efficient as well. So while the Roomba can bounce around the room, often covering the same spot a number of times, the Neato has to map out the room and execute on the map, maybe even needing to recharge once in the process.

There is something particularly satisfying about two robots fighting to clean up cat hair.

So the Roomba starts off merrily, like a drunk clown bouncing off everything in the room with wild abandon. The Neato stops, thinks a bit as it makes a plan, and when it has one, fires up the vacuum and methodically covers the room. It really is like watching the difference between the village idiot sweeping a room and a trained professional. Now, on a wood or tile floor, both products actually do a reasonable job, which is why I’m up to my armpits in Roombas. But on carpet the Neato is vastly superior, because you don’t have someone come in and vacuum to get the deep dirt out. Since the Roomba does get the stuff on top, you may not see the deep dirt, but it will reduce the carpet life and it is kind of gross to think about.

You really don’t want to run either of these products close to you when you are sleeping, but the Neato, once again because it actually vacuums, sounds like you have a little jet engine running in the house. It is best used when no one is home, and comes with an event timer to make that easy.

One really cool thing about the Neato is that it uses a technology similar to what is being used for self-driving cars to map out a room digitally. While I wouldn’t suggest giving it the key to your automobile, it is kind of fun to point this out. Oh, and when it is charging, since it senses the charger, you can slide the away from it and it has this cute, (yes I said cute, so what?), way of wriggling its butt back until it gently touches the charger again.

Which is better?

If all you need is a sweeper, the Roomba is fine, but if you want a vacuum, the Neato has this feature. Be aware that the Neato is taller and won’t go under many couches, but given how often we lose our Roomba because it has gotten stuck under the couch, I’m thinking I’m OK with that. For a geek, and yes I am a card-carrying geek, the Neato is far cooler. Even the jet-turbine sound puts a small smile on my face. Since the Neato is smarter, sucks better, and sounds cooler in my battle royale (which was mostly in my head) it is also the clear winner.

Crap, now I have to lock my bedroom door because I’m likely to be pummeled by pissed-off Roombas, which come from iRobot, the same company that makes it makes military robots. Maybe I should rethink this? Nah, I’ll live dangerously, just not Carlos Dangerously, the Neato wins my vote for King of the Robotic Vacuums.

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