Neato Botvac D85 Robot Vacuum review:

A fresh coat of paint does not a new Neato make

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Neato Botvac D85 excels at stubborn pet hair pickup and it costs just $499.

The Bad This D-series model performs worse than Neato's original Botvac 85.

The Bottom Line Neato's Botvac D85 is a solid robot vacuum, but I'd stick with the original Botvac series for superior overall performance.

7.8 Overall
  • Performance 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Design 8.0
  • Usability 7.0

When Neato introduced its D-series robot vacuums earlier this year, we were hopeful that they would add some much-needed variety to the brand's product roster. Its existing XV and Botvac models differ only slightly from one another and you'll also find little to distinguish between units within a particular lineup save different coats of paint and different accessories; the core hardware components are identical.

Unfortunately, the $499/£449 Botvac D85 is a lot more of the same. It looks very similar to Neato's original Botvac series, sharing the same size, shape, spinning side brush and pet-hair-annihilating combo brush. But, it also boasts an updated silicone spiral blade brush as well as claims of better suction and quieter cleaning. While the D85 did do marginally better at collecting pet hair than the Botvac 85, it performed worse in our other two test categories, rice and sand. It wasn't noticeably quieter, either.

Since the identically priced Botvac 85 performs better than the new D85, I can't think of any reason to opt for a D-series bot over one from the original Botvac line.

It isn't all bad, though

Even though the Botvac D85 wasn't able to outperform the brand's own Botvac 85, it still ranks among the top for robot vacuums we've tested. Take a look:

Rice (out of 2.5 oz.)

Neato Botvac 85
2.45
2.38
2.45
iRobot Roomba 880
2.38
2.43
2.33
Neato Botvac D85
2.44
2.22
2.38
Samsung Powerbot VR9000
2.33
2.23
2.28
Neato XV Signature Pro
2.05
2.33
2.13

Legend:

Midpile carpet
Low-pile carpet
Hardwood floor

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The Botvac 85 remains the reigning rice-removing champ, since it managed to pick up 2.45 ounces of rice on thicker mid-pile carpet (out of a total of 2.50 ounces), 2.38 ounces on thinner low-pile carpet and 2.45 ounces on hardwood. iRobot's Roomba 880 followed close behind with 2.38 ounces on midpile carpet, 2.43 ounces on low-pile carpet and 2.33 ounces on hardwood.

Neato's D85 ended up in third place, picking up 2.44 ounces on midpile, 2.22 ounces on low-pile and 2.38 ounces on hardwood, with the Samsung Powerbot VR9000 finishing in fourth place and the Neato XV Signature Pro falling well behind the pack for a last-place finish.

Pet hair (out of 0.2 oz.)

Neato Botvac D85
0.19
0.20
0.20
Neato Botvac 85
0.17
0.17
0.20
Neato XV Signature Pro
0.15
0.15
0.18
Samsung Powerbot VR9000
0.15
0.15
0.18
iRobot Roomba 880
0.12
0.10
0.17

Legend:

Midpile carpet
Low-pile carpet
Hardwood floor

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The Neato Botvac D85 performed the best here, collecting 0.19 ounce of pet hair on midpile carpet (out of a total of 0.20 ounce), 0.20 ounce on low-pile carpet and 0.20 ounce on hardwood. The Neato Botvac 85 didn't fall far behind, though. It picked up 0.17 ounce on midpile, 0.17 ounce on low-pile and 0.20 ounce on hardwood. Both the Neato XV Signature Pro and the Samsung Powerboat VR9000 got 0.15 ounce on midpile and on low-pile and 0.18 ounce on hardwood. And, the otherwise impressive iRobot Roomba 880 got last place on the pet hair test with 0.12 ounce on midpile, 0.10 ounce on low-pile and 0.17 ounce on hardwood.

Sand (out of 1.25 oz.)

iRobot Roomba 880
0.35
0.58
1.25
Neato Botvac 85
0.43
0.45
1.22
Neato XV Signature Pro
0.48
0.45
1.12
Samsung Powerbot VR9000
0.38
0.27
1.18
Neato Botvac D85
0.33
0.25
1.24

Legend:

Midpile carpet
Low-pile carpet
Hardwood floor

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Sand is a tough test for any robot vacuum, since it's a particularly stubborn small particle that can easily get stuck in carpet fibers -- or anywhere really (I'm still finding bits of sand in my luggage from a beach trip I took months ago). That's why we use it as a sort of "torture test" -- it helps establish each model's limits.

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