Neato Botvac D5 Connected review: Neato's second best botvac falls short

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MSRP: $599.00

The Good The Neato Botvac D5 Connected costs less than some competing robot vacuum cleaners, especially those with an app connection. It has few extra accessories beyond what you get with the lower-end Neato D3.

The Bad The D5 picks up less animal hair than other machines. It lacks special cleaning modes, Alexa support, coverage maps and other advanced abilities on board Neato's flagship Botvac.

The Bottom Line Neato's midtier Botvac D5 offers plenty robot vacuum for the price, but you're better off spending extra on the most capable robot vacuum the company offers.

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6.9 Overall
  • Performance 6.8
  • Features 7.3
  • Design 7
  • Usability 7.3

Smack in the middle of Neato's robot vacuum lineup, the $599 (£481 in the UK, roughly AU$780) Neato Botvac D5 Connected is mediocre in every way. It doesn't choke on pet hair like its budget sibling, the $399 Botvac D3 Connected, and the D5 picks up less animal dander than the flagship $699 Neato Botvac Connected. The D5 also lacks the special cleaning modes, coverage map creation and support for the Alexa voice assistant, all standard functions on the step-up model.

What the Botvac D5 does provide is decent automatic floor-cleaning plus command and control through its companion mobile app, all at a fair price. You also get a high-capacity rechargeable battery to cover two and a half times more ground per charge than the D3. Of course, if you're already about to drop $600 on a vacuum, an extra $100 likely won't break the bank. That splurge nets you the Botvac Connected, which cleans better, is more capable and earned our Editors' Choice Award.

Design and features

The second in a pair of new additions to Neato's Botvac robot vacuum series, the Botvac D5 Connected has a lot in common physically with the Botvac D3. Both machines have a simplified control panel that only has one actual "start" button. Next to this key are LED indicators, one that communicates general alerts and another dedicated to battery status. It's a departure from the complex panel you'll find on the Botvac Connected. That machine has its own color LCD screen in addition to four capacitive buttons for navigating its menu system.

Neato's Botvac D5 Connected has some but not all the best robovac features.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The two lesser Botvacs share Neato's signature "D" shape chassis as previous models, including the Botvac Connected. TI like this design, since it situates the dust bin in the center of the bot, letting you remove the bin (by tilting back and pulling upward) without disturbing the vacuum when it's docked on its recharging base.

One difference between the D3 and D5 is the Botvac D5's enhanced filter. Neato calls the part an "Ultra Performance filter" which is supposed to improve cleaning performance, and provide better outgoing air filtration. The Botvac Connected is equipped with the same filter.

The D5 comes with Neato's enhanced filter for improved vacuum performance over the budget D3 model.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Botvac D5 attacks floors in the same way other Neato vacuums do, including the D3 and Botvac Connected. It clearly has a plan that's evident from the moment the robot rolls out of its dock. First the D5 pauses, activates its laser navigation system, then rotates slowly back and forth a few times to get its bearings. With this done, the machine runs along the edges of the room. Next, it systematically vacuums the room's interior in both vertical and horizontal lines.

Like the D3, the Botvac D5 has simple controls.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

With its battery fully charged the Botvac D5 will also conduct multiple passes, noting and avoiding any obstacles it encounters along the way. The robot keeps tabs on its battery level too and will return to its base to recharge if required. Designed to cover a total of 4,500 square feet over the course of three cleaning runs, the device is smart enough to push on into additional rooms as well when it detects an open doorway.

Use the app for more control

Just like the other members of Neato's Botvac Connected line, the Botvac Connected is equipped with an internal Wi-Fi radio, which lets it reach out across your home's wireless network and communicate with Neato's mobile application. Available for Android and iOS, the app has a clean, logical layout and allows Botvac owners to control one or more robovacs from smartphones and tablets.

Within the app you can see battery and robot activity status in real time. You can also start, pause, stop or schedule cleaning sessions remotely. The app pushes notifications at you, too, and gives you a heads up when your robot's software is out of date.