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#1 Shark Ion R85
The Shark R85 was our best robot vacuum overall. It did a great job picking up pet hairs and other debris with minimal fuss. It took us about an hour to finish our test run, but it was more thorough than any other robot vacuums. Our advice: Start it up, then get out of the house to do some chores.
We also liked the notifications that the Shark Ion 85 sent us. It was also easy to control the Shark Ion 85 from our smartphones. The R85’s dustbin was also very easy to empty — not a given with many robot vacuums — and you can purchase its charging base with an optional stick vacuum, so you can clean in between couch cushions and other spaces the robot vacuum can’t reach.
#2 iLife V3s PRO
The iLife V3s Pro robotic vacuum is the best you can buy for less than $200. Despite its low price tag, the V3s Pro consistently beat other robot vacuums three times its cost. It was able to pick up almost all pet hair in our lab tests and was also very good in our at home tests.
There are some things to be aware of when buying a robotvacuum so cheaply. First, the iLife V3s Pro is slow. It took us more than 90 minutes to clean our test space. Also, it can’t be controlled from your smartphone, so you have to use the included remote control, and you can’t connect it to Alexa or Google Assistant to turn it on or schedule cleanings. It also sounded a bit louder that other vacuums. It does a great job of picking up dirt. For this price, its downsides are tradeoffs we’re willing to make.
#3 IROBOT ROOMBA i7
The i7 cleaning robot is great. Its obstacle avoidance is strong, it navigates quickly enough for me to get around my place (2 bedrooms and an ‘office’/dumping area, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, lounge), usually without stopping to recharge.
The best part is that the i7 can map your place once it has been around it a few times. This app allows you to access the memory and then you can separate and name each room. Now you can send the i7 or the i7+ anywhere in the globe to clean the bathroom.
This works very well. The i7 actually works great, and it’s a good value for money. Cleaning under sofas, wardrobes, etc. is the only thing that doesn’t work well. The i7 is very low profile, so it can go under most obstacles. However, its primary means of navigation is to scan the ceiling with an upwards-facing camera – navigating a bit like a sailor, by the stars, but with your light fittings and whatnot as the ‘stars’. Although this is a great technique, the droid becomes partially blind when it is submerged under a sofa, wardrobe, or other furniture. It doesn’t lose heart or give up, but it can sometimes spend a lot of time trying to find its way back to the light.
#4 Neato D4
The Neato D4, an entry-level robot vacuum from Neato, isn’t as packed as higher-end models and isn’t as affordable as budget vacuums. However, it’s a solid performer for its price and has some useful features. The Roomba s9+ is half the price, and it doesn’t have a self emptying bin. But it’s very effective at cleaning up dirt and other debris.
The Neato D4 can also be used to map your home, but it can only remember one level of your house and can’t do targeted rooms cleaning as well as models that are more expensive. However, you can set up virtual “no no-go” zones. It did a great job mapping our house and running its scheduled rounds. This is a good option for those who don’t wish to mortgage their house to clean it.
#5 eufy from Anker
Another example of how robot vacuum cleaners have advanced in recent years is the Anker subdivision Eufy’s 30-C. A sub-300 robot would have been useless a few years back, but the Eufy is far more efficient. The Eufy doesn’t have any map-related smartness to avoid pitfalls but it does come with a long piece of bendy plastic you can use to block off trouble areas in your home. If you do some minor obstacle-removal prep, you may not even need it. It’s not the most elegant of movers – in fact it’s rather haphazard, and quite forceful – but it does seem to cover the ground well if you leave it to get on with things.
#6 Neato Robotics D7
Neato Robotics’ uniqueness is due to its pioneering D-shaped vacuums. And, though other manufacturers have started to follow its lead (see Samsung’s models and the Roomba s9+), Neato Robotics continues to innovate; the company’s top-of-the-line Botvac D7 Connected Robotic Vacuum Cleaner illustrates that.
My tests showed that the D7 Connected was very easy to program. However, I did experience some difficulties keeping it connected to Wi-Fi. The suction was very effective in picking up coffee grounds, pet hair, and cat litter.
It ran at a very quiet 66 decibels. Plus, it was fun to tell my smart thermostat to have the vacuum start cleaning — thanks, Alexa.