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#1 Shark Ion R85
Our best robot vacuum overall, the Shark R85 proved excellent at picking up pet hair and other debris around our home with a minimum of fuss. While it took about an hour on average to finish a run in our test space, it was much more thorough than all other robot vacuums. Our advice? Start it up, then leave the house to do some chores.
We also liked the notifications we received from the Shark Ion 85, as well as the ability to control it from our smartphone, as well as using it with both Alexa and Google Assistant. 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 is the best robot vacuum you can get for less than $200. Despite its low price, the V3s Pro consistently outperformed other robot vacuums that cost three times as much. It picked up nearly all the pet hair in our lab tests, and was also good in our at-home tests, too.
There are a few caveats when purchasing a robot vacuum this cheap, though. For starters, the iLife V3s Pro is slow, taking more than 90 minutes on average 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. We also found that it was a bit louder than other vacuums. But it’s great at doing the one thing it needs to do well, and that’s picking up dirt. For this price, its downsides are tradeoffs we’re willing to make.
#3 IROBOT ROOMBA I7
he i7 is a great cleaning robot. Its obstacle avoidance is solid, it navigates quickly enough to get around my place (2 bedrooms, an ‘office’/dumping ground, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, lounge) usually without needing to stop to recharge.
The really clever bit is that after the i7 has been around your place a few times, it maps it in its memory, accessed via the app, and you can split off and name each room individually. Now, you can dispatch the i7 or i7+ to clean only the bathroom (so long as the door is open and the path to it fairly clear) from anywhere in the world.
That works really well. In fact, everything about the i7 works well, as it bloody well should, given the price. The one thing that does not work well is cleaning under sofas, wardrobes and so on. The i7 has a low profile that means it can get under all sorts of obstacles, which is great. 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’. This is all very well in general, but as soon as the droid is under a sofa or wardrobe, it becomes partially blind. Laudably, this doesn’t cause it to give up and fail, but it does mean it sometimes spends a very long time trying to blunder its way back out into the light.
#4 Neato D4
Neato’s entry-level robot vacuum, the Neato D4, isn’t as jam-packed as higher-end models, and isn’t as cheap as budget robot vacuums, but for its price, it’s a solid performer with some useful features. Priced at around $500, it’s half as expensive as the Roomba s9+, and doesn’t have a self-empyting bin, but it’s effective at cleaning up dirt and debris.
The Neato D4 also has mapping capabilities, but can only remember one floor of your house, and can’t do targeted room cleaning, as pricier models do (you can set up virtual “no-go” zones, though). Still, it did a great job of mapping our home and running its appointed rounds. This is a good model for those who don’t want to mortgage their house in order to clean it.
#5 eufy by Anker
Anker sub-division Eufy’s 30C is another great example of how much robot vacuum cleaners have improved in recent times. Just a few years ago, a sub-300 robot would have been guaranteed to be useless but the Eufy is far from that. It doesn’t use any map-related cleverness to avoid pitfalls, but it does come with a long length of bendy plastic that you can use to physically block off problematic parts of your home. Do a bit of minor obstacle-removing prep, however, and you should find you don’t even need that. 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 is unique because it was the first company to make 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.
In my tests, the D7 Connected was easy to program, though I did have trouble keeping it connected to the Wi-Fi at times. The suction was excellent when picking up flour, coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair.
I was also impressed with how quiet it ran: 66 decibels. Plus, it was fun to tell my smart thermostat to have the vacuum start cleaning — thanks, Alexa.