The Roomba 980 is one of iRobot’s most impressive smart vacuums, but is it a better choice than competitors like the Neato Botvac Connected? The truth is that the Neato model offers many of the same features with some cool extra perks — all for a more affordable price.
Despite being several years old at this point, the Neato Botvac Connected offers comprehensive smart cleaning that has very few drawbacks. It’s also pretty unique as well, opting for the brand’s signature D-shaped design as well as unique perks like manual control. The Roomba 980 is an excellent model in its own right, but does that name branding and features really offer enough to warrant the price? We’re not so sure.
Read on below for a detailed breakdown on the Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980, or use the navigation bar to jump right to the section that interests you the most!
Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980 — Things in Common
App Control – The primary way that you’ll control these vacuums is through a WiFi app. Using this program, you’ll be able to handle all the functions you need to keep your vacuuming cleaning efficiently, such as scheduling cleaning, initiating spot cleaning, and receiving notifications about the cleaning process.
Both apps communicate over a 2.4GHz connection, and allow you to control your Roomba or Neato from wherever you can get online. Being able to set up a clean while you’re at work in order to come home to clean floors is a useful perk we don’t see on non-WiFi-Connected models.
We do feel that the Neato app is a little more impressive, largely due to the way that it implements manual cleaning — but more on that below!
Run Time – The Botvac Connected and Roomba 980 will both run for up to 120 minutes on a single charge, which should be more than enough time to cover your home. When the vacuum starts to run low on charge, it will navigate back to its base in order to charge its battery automatically with no further input required.
Spot Cleaning – Is there an area of your room that needs a little extra attention? With Spot Cleaning mode, getting a deeper clean of your carpets is as simple as setting your Neato or Roomba vacuum down and activating the dedicated mode. Your robot cleaner will spiral outwards and back in on a concentrated area in order to ensure a thorough clean.
Side Brush – Both vacuums also feature a side brush. The earliest smart vacuums on the market were less than efficient with cleaning and ended up leaving a trail of debris behind during their scheduled cleaning. With more recent models like the Botvac Connected and Roomba 980, however, a side brush sweeps debris into the path of suction for a more comprehensive clean. It’s also an excellent way for your vacuum to clean along straight edges and in corners, as it allows the robot to pick up debris in areas that it wouldn’t normally be able to easily access.
Charge & Resume – While both models have an impressive two hour battery life, there’s still the possibility that the vacuums won’t be able to finish their cleaning if they’re left responsible for larger areas. This is where the charge and resume feature comes in. Both the Botvac Connected and Roomba 980 have the ability to return to their base for a charge and then automatically resume the vacuuming once they have adequate power.
The vast majority of vacuums have the ability to return to their base for charging, but very few have the ability to pick up the schedule where they left off. So these particular Neato and Roomba models are some of the most convenient to own for those with larger areas to cover.
Mode – Both vacuums have a standard and more powerful mode that you can use for tough stains, although they are named slightly differently. The Roomba had standard and Carpet Boost modes, while the Neato refers to their modes as Eco and Turbo.
As the name suggests, the Carpet Boost or Turbo modes are great for thick carpets and rugs that need extra power to pick up deep, trapped-in dirt.
Voice Control – Part of what makes these smart vacuums feel truly “smart” is their support for voice control. Using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, it’s simple to issue commands and adjust settings on your vacuum without moving an inch.
Hands full with dinner? Start up clean stepping away from the stove. Having trouble hearing your favorite show? Pause a scheduled cleaning so you don’t miss a minute of the action.
While you might have easier access to fine tune details in the smartphone app, the voice control is great to have where situations where you don’t have your phone handy.
Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980 — Differences
Difference #1: Camera – The first differences when comparing the iRobot Roomba 980 vs. Neato Botvac Connected is the presence of a camera.
In the middle of the Roomba 980, you’ll notice a small camera. This is an incredibly low resolution camera so you won’t have to worry about your vacuum spying on you, but it plays a crucial role in the Roomba’s ability to easily navigate around the room.
While this assists in navigation, it’s also an disadvantage in that it can’t function very well in pitch black conditions. So if you were planning to run your vacuum overnight, the Roomba 980 might not be the best choice.
The Neato Botvac Connected relies on lasers and sensors for navigation, which don’t rely on lighting conditions to accurately read the room.
Difference #2: Brush – Another notable difference between the Neato and Roomba vacuums are the brush mechanisms that are used for cleaning.
The Neato uses a wide, spiral blade brush and a combo brush that work together in order to give your floors a deep clean while leaving that signature “freshly vacuumed” pattern on the floor you’d normally see with a more traditional vacuum. The combo brush is also great for picking up pet hair, and makes for a reduced level of noise when compared to the competition.
The Roomba 980, on the other hand, used a narrower, multi-surface brush. The narrower size may seem like a disadvantage at first, but the multi-surface designs actually makes the Roomba a little more effective at “grabbing” dirt. It’s also much easier to maintain due to the lack of bristles.
The Neato vacuum’s bigger brush does allow it to get a deeper clean overall and cover more ground than the Roomba 980, but the traditional brushes can get clogged with hair and require more maintenance than the 980’s less-traditional cleaning mechanisms.
Difference #3: Navigation Technology – The first Roomba models relied solely on sensors for navigation, but the Roomba 980 has a revamped iAdapt tracking technology that uses a combination of sensors and the mounted camera to make its way around the room. The camera acts like a GPS of sorts to keep the vacuum oriented correctly, but it does struggle in low lighting.
In terms of navigation the Neato Botvac Connected definitely had the advantage. The LaserSmart technology maps out and scans your entire house, allowing the robot to move in straight lines instead of bumping into things randomly like less high-tech models.
The Neato technology is frankly more advanced, and the fact that it doesn’t rely on being able to see things visually is a significant perk.
Difference #4: Dirt Detect Sensors – The Roomba 980 has dirt detect sensors that use the camera on the vacuum in order to sense which areas need the most cleaning. This sounds like a useful feature, but it falls short in execution.
While focusing attention on the dirtiest areas is super useful in theory, you actually end up with a vacuum taking seemingly- random paths chasing after the dirtiest locations. Strangely enough, the Neato Botvac seemed to do a better job by cleaning in a straight line than the Roomba did with its sophisticated dirt tracking tech.
Difference #5: Room Barriers – One area where we feel the Roomba does pull ahead is in the realm of Room Barriers.
For one reason or another, there are bound to be rooms or specific areas within your home that you’d like to block your vacuum from accessing. Both the Botvac Connected and the Roomba 980 allow you to block off areas, although they go about it in a different way.
The Neato Botvac Connected uses Boundary Markers, which are essentially black strips that you lie down on the ground in order to block off forbidden areas. In fact, you don’t even need the dedicated strips because the Botvac won’t move over anything black — so simple black tape would work as well.
The Boundary Markers system works well, but installation can be a bit of a hassle and you’ll end up with unsightly black tape on the floor of your home.
The Roomba 980 takes a more refined approach with a virtual wall barrier. This is a little node that you set up that will project an infrared line across an entryway, or in a radius around a specific part of the room that you want to keep safe. It’s a little more expensive to implement on a wide scale than the Botvac Connected Boundary Markers are, but they are also significantly more convenient to set up and use.
One thing to keep in mind on that note is that other models in the Neato Botvac family approach the barrier issue in one of the most elegant ways we’ve seen. You can actually just use your finger to trace off areas you’d like to block off from within the app — no tape or extra equipment required. This feature is not available on the Connected vacuum, but is currently offered on the D4, D6, and D7 with support for the D3 and D5 coming later this year. For more details, check out our comprehensive Neato Botvac Connected Comparison Chart & Overview.
Difference #6: Filter – the vast majority of vacuums have some sort of filtration to keep dust and debris contained within the bin rather than kicked up into the air.
The Neato Botvac Connected’s Ultra Performance Filter is one of the most effective filters we’ve seen on the market and is capable of trapping particles as small as 0.3 microns. The Roomba 980’s Filter is also impressive, but it can only filter out particles as small as 10 microns.
That difference may seem like a lot, but it won’t be an issue for the majority of homeowners. However, that disparity means that the Neato is capable of grabbing tiny particles like pollen that could potentially cause a lot of issues for those with sensitive allergies.
So if you’re not particularly sensitive to dust in the air, the Roomba is just fine and will leave your air feeling fresh. The Neato’s filtration is incredibly impressive, however, and that may be reason enough for those who are sensitive to these tiny particles.
Difference #7: LCD Control Panel Display – The LCD control panel display on the Neato Botvac Connected gives you easy access to a readout on the vacuum’s current settings, and it also makes manual control a lot easier. With the press of one of the buttons on the top panel, you can easily access ECO and TURBO modes, start and pause cleaning, and more.
The Roomba 989 features no such panel, which essentially leaves you to the app or voice control for maneuvering your vacuum.
Difference #8: Manual Clean – One of the most unique feature of the Neato Botvac Connected is the support for manual cleaning. When you access this mode from within the app, the screen will fill with directional arrows that you can use to maneuver your vacuum around the room.
It’s an excellent feature that allows you to be lazy while still efficiently vacuuming yourself. It’s all the benefits that a traditional vacuum provides, except you can do it all while sitting on the couch. So just pour yourself a drink, stretch out on the couch, and guide your Neato around your home.
This is not a feature common in the smart vacuum industry at all, and the vast majority of models only offer automatic vacuuming. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the back sensors are disabled during manual cleaning — so make sure you don’t run your vacuum off the stairs while moving in reverse!
Difference #9: Apple Watch Support – The Roomba 980 and Neato Botvac Connected both offer voice control through Amazon Alexa and Google Home. However, the Neato model also supports the Apple Watch which is pretty unique as far as smart vacuums go.
You won’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket anymore if you have the Apple Watch on hand, since all it takes is a couple of simple taps on your wrist in order to get your vacuum started on its cleaning routine!
The Neato vacuum family in general is one of the best for smart control, and you’ll also be able to take advantage of services like IFTTT to truly make your smart vacuum part of a smart home.
Difference #10: Design – Last but not least is perhaps one of the most immediately noticeable differences: the design.
The Neato Botvac Connected has a unique D-shape design that makes it simple for the vacuum to easily fit into small corners and clean along walls. It comes in at 3.9 inches and weighs 9 pounds.
The Roomba 980, on the other hand, follows the industry trend of a round design. It does manage to offer an excellent clean regardless, but we do have to admit that the Neato family’s D-Shape is an intelligent solution that really shows some excellent results. The 980 is 3.6 inches tall and weighs 8.7 pounds.
Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980 — Comparison Chart
|Neato Connected||iRobot Roomba 980|
|Run Time||Up to 120 min||Up to 120 min|
|Recharge & Resume||Yes||Yes|
|Main Brush||Combo Brush|
Spiral Blade Brush
|Mode||Eco & Turbo||Standard, Carpet Boost|
|Wall Barrier||Boundary Markers (2M)||Virtual Wall Barrier|
|Virtual No-go Areas via App||No||No|
|Voice Control||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant|
|Apple Watch Support||Yes||No|
|Multi Floor Plans||No||No|
|Filter||Ultra Performance||High Performance|
|Height||3.9 in||3.6 in|
|Weight||9 lbs.||8.7 lbs.|
Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980 — Accessories
The accessories for these Roomba and Neato models are largely focused on maintenance with some extra utility mixed in. It’s important to have the adequate parts on hand in order to swap out worn out equipment and keep your vacuum operating optimally.
The Neato Botvac Connected benefits from the comprehensive Replacement Parts Kit that includes filters and side brushes — the two pieces that will need to be swapped out most frequently. The Ultra-Performance Filter can also be purchased separately, and is important to have on hand to keep the filtration system working efficiently.
Outside of that, you might want a Brush Cleaning Tool Comb to pull out any clogs, as well as extra Magnetic Boundary Markers Strips if you have a lot of space that you’d like to make off-limits to your Neato.
The Roomba 980 has its own and Roomba 800 and 900 Series Replenishment Kit that includes pretty much everything you need to maintain your Roomba. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, that is probably your best bet. Alternatively, you can buy a 3-pack of the Replacement AeroForce High-Efficiency Filters for Roomba 800 and 900 series.
That’s pretty much all you’ll need from a maintenance standpoint. Other accessories worth considering are additional Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers, or perhaps another Integrated Home Base in order to give your Roomba multiple docking options.
Neato Botvac Connected vs. Roomba 980 — Our Thoughts
Ultimately, it’s actually a little bit difficult to give a clear decision one way or the other. The Neato’s unique roller design means that you’ll have to spend far less time pulling out hair from your vacuum, and the virtual wall barriers are definitely a more elegant solution than the tape you have to use with the Neato model.
On the other hand, the Neato Botvac has a ton going for it. From a wider brush that gives a more thorough clean, to better smart control and even a manual mode, there’s just so much that this model has to offer. Add to that the fact that it’s cheaper, and we do have to conclude that the Botvac comes out ahead.
You’ll be happy with either choice, as both vacuums have their own benefits to offer. However, we do recommend saving some money and going with the Neato Botvac Connected — you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re still contemplating check out our comparison on Neato D7 vs. Roomba 980. The Neato D7 is an updated version of the Neato Botvac Connected which comes with some unique features that Roomba doesn’t have. Seriously, check it out!
Last update on 2020-01-19 at 10:39 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API