This post is a combination of our Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro Review and another iRobot vs. Neato comparison.
Neato vs. iRobot at a Glance.
We have already done a Roomba vs. Neato XV-21 comparison, and the Roomba 650 won by a landslide. This Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro is the follow-up model to the Neato XV-21 (which I also review) and the manufacturer says it is better, but it really is not. The model name changed, but the results stayed the same.
The Neato recharges and cleans much faster than the iRobot Roomba; cleaning results, however, aren’t even as good as the Roomba 650’s – not to mention the Roomba 880’s. It’s not a bad vacuum, but it’s not as good as a Roomba. Quality in terms of usability, handling and reliability, certainly are better with the Roombas; they don’t fall down stairs, they almost never get tangled (the Roomba 880 actually never does), they don’t eat up cords and I definitely prefer Virtual Walls or Virtual Lighthouses to Boundary Strips. One more thing, at least very important to me, is HEPA filtration, which the Roomba 880 has. Honestly, I don’t really understand why the Neato XV Signature Pro Pet And Allergy Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is called an Allergy Vacuum and does not have such filters. It’s the same as with its previous model.
Bottom-line, if you are looking for a great entry-level robot vacuum, even cheaper than the Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro, we recommend you check out the Roomba 650. Go for the Roomba 770 if you have allergies and if second best (which is still is still much better than the tested Neato) is never an option for you, check out today’s best available automatic vacuum cleaner, the Roomba 880.
Simply the best you can get today.
for pet owners & allergy sufferers.
And if you are interested to learn why we believe you get more for your money going with one of the Roombas in detail, have fun reading our review and comparison. We would love it if you shared your experiences and thoughts below this post to help other readers get what they are looking for.
Our Neato XV Signature Pro Review and Neato vs. iRobot Comparison
As you may know by now, I’m pretty obsessed with automatic vacuum cleaners. At this point, I’ve tried many – from the iRobot Roomba to the LG HOM-BOT, the Bobsweep PetHair Edition, and most recently, my neighbor Pat’s Neato XV-21. I still haven’t found anything that outperforms my beloved iRobot Roombas. I own both the Roomba 650 on the lower level of my home and the top-of-the-line Roomba 880 on the upper level where we have our bedrooms. I’ve tested plenty of other iRobot models, too, including the Roomba 630, the Roomba 770, and even the Roomba 780. I love them all, but the 650 is by far the best value for your money if you do not have allergies, and the 880 is simply the best there is. (Please feel free to click any of the links to read my in-depth reviews of these products.)
Introducing the Neato XV Signature Pro:
The Beginning of a (Friendly) Rivalry
If you read my review of the Neato XV-21 Pet And Allergy Automatic Vacuum Cleaner (make sure to check it out), then you already know that I wasn’t incredibly impressed. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the LG HOM-BOT, which looked amazing on paper but just didn’t perform in a real, live environment. That was my first Neato vs. iRobot, which ended iRobot – 1, Neato – 0. I borrowed the Neato Robotics vacuum from my neighbor, Pat, who always keeps an immaculate house and yard. When I returned it to her and explained how I felt about it, she wasn’t swayed – not even a little bit. She said she wouldn’t trade her Neato for the world, and I said I wouldn’t trade my Roombas, either. When I left her house that day, I wondered why she was so into that Neato when it obviously didn’t perform as well as my Roombas could.
A few days later, as I was out trimming weeds along the driveway, I saw Pat walking toward me. I shut down the weed eater, bid her a pleasant hello, and started talking about the relatively dry weather – and, of course, our petunias. She eventually switched the conversation back to the Neato, and I thought she was still trying to defend the little robotic vacuum cleaner. Lo and behold, she produced a package, proclaiming she’d just purchased the newest model the company had to offer – the Neato XV Signature Pro Pet And Allergy Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, which is the follow-up model to the Neato XV-21. Even though she took my advice about the Neato’s cleaning abilities to heart, she was still loyal to the brand.
Neato vs. iRobot and Why I Prefer iRobot
At this point, I feel it’s important to explain why I am so keen on iRobot products. First of all, iRobot actually cares about the quality of its products, and they won’t make something inferior just to save a few dollars on production. iRobot was born at MIT, where they created tons of products to make life safer, easier, and just more convenient. Not only do they make software that keeps families and loved ones in virtual contact, even across oceans, but they also develop bomb-diffusing robot technology that has saved countless lives.
Then, there’s the customer service. Whereas iRobot’s website is set up in such a way that I can find absolutely anything I want, including an extensive list of FAQs and instructional videos for the Roomba’s many features, the Neato website, while not awful by any means, just doesn’t have the same volume of information. You can reach either company’s customer service team via phone, email, or live chat, but from what I’ve read online via Facebook and Amazon, Neato’s customer service agents aren’t as knowledgeable as they should be. I know from experience that iRobot’s team of agents is incredibly well trained, and they know exactly what to do in just about any situation you could imagine.
I also like Roombas because iRobot designed them in a way that makes repairs and replacements easy. If I need to replace a brush, or if something breaks (you never know with rowdy kids in the house), all I have to do is call. They’ll rush me the part I need, and the agent will even send a link to an instructional video directly to my email inbox. How cool is that? In today’s day and age, where most companies would want to capitalize on repair costs, iRobot wants me to be able to repair my own machine with ease. Talk about customer loyalty!
My Neato XV Signature Pro Review
Back to the story….
Pat started telling me about all of the features of the Neato XV Signature Pro. She said that the differences between the XV-21 and the XV Signature Pro were much like the differences in my Roomba 650 and 880. Supposedly, the Signature Pro offers more features, such as advanced laser-guided navigation and Smart Sensor technology. It is also possible to schedule the XV Signature Pro in advance, which is something Roomba has been doing since the launch of the 650. Of all of the features Pat described, the one that really stood out the most was the ability to update the software in the machine when new features were available – but this just appealed to the tech junkie in me, not the clean freak.
At any rate, Pat just about shoved that Neato down my throat. Bless her heart. She was determined to show up my Roomba 880. And as she had never used a Roomba 880 in her house, we made a deal. I gave her my Roomba for a couple of days and took her Neato home to put it to the test. She told me that she felt certain I’d have my Roomba 880 up for sale by the end of the experience. (Highly doubtful!) I retrieved the 880, gave Pat the website and a quick rundown of the Virtual Lighthouse system, and took it home. I have to admit, though, that I was curious about this robotic vacuum cleaner from a company that claimed it would outdo a Roomba anytime, anywhere.
Testing the Neato XV Signature Pro
According to Neato, the XV Signature Pro is one of the best automatic vacuum cleaners consumers can get today. I plugged it in and set it on its dock, and I started reading the brochure that came in the box. Here are some of the things I was looking forward to testing:
- The Neato has a square front, designed to let it clean corners and along walls with incredible suction. (The XV-21 is square, too, but it doesn’t clean corners well in my experiences.)
- The XV Signature Pro is supposed to manage transitions from one floor type to another, and it is supposed to manage tasseled rugs. (The XV-21 couldn’t do this, either. It tangled.)
- You can calibrate the batteries to improve the overall capacity, which means that the Neato is supposed to run longer than the Roombas on every charge. (The XV-21 ran only about half the time of my Roomba 650 and the 650 doesn’t even have iRobot’s X-Life battery, found on later models like the 880!) This would not be a problem at all as the Neato XV-21 is supposed to have higher suction power and runs much more efficiently than both Roomba 650 and Roomba 880, which is true. The trouble with its efficiency is that it seems to be in such a hurry that it doesn’t do proper cleaning, at least not as good as my Roombas.
- The laser mapping system (Botvision) is supposed to be the most intelligent of its kind, and Neato claims that it updates when you rearrange your furniture or add something new to the room. I have to try this, as it sounds really cool – at least on paper.
With all of this in mind, I put the Neato XV Signature Pro to the test upstairs. Although the Roomba 880 had run only the day before, there was some hair on the floor from the dogs that day, of course (that’s why I have it running every day), and I was curious to see just how well the Neato would do the 880’s daily job and pick it up. I was optimistic, especially when I considered the fact that Pat just spent more than $400 upgrading to this particular model from her previous Neato XV-21. (This is also worth a mention. The top-notch Neato model is significantly cheaper than the Roomba 880 when purchased new from major retailers. However, I quickly discovered why.)
Neato vs. Roomba 880 – My Results
As it turns out, there is a reason why the Neato is less expensive than the Roomba 880. It doesn’t even begin to compare to any Roomba model, including the 650. Here are some of the things I saw (and didn’t see!) while the Neato XV Signature Pro went about its work:
- It just didn’t clean as well as my Roombas. Although the mapping system (Botvision) definitely makes it much (and I am saying much) faster than the Roombas (just like the XV-21). Check out this video:
It just doesn’t pick up the same amount of stuff. In fact, there was visible hair left in the corners and along baseboards and heavy debris in the very middle of my son’s bedroom. This is bad news considering his allergies. I couldn’t tell if cleaning results were any better than the XV-21’s. Honestly, I don’t care, as neither one gets even close to the Roombas.
- It doesn’t even clean the entire area. It missed spots (in terms of there was stuff left to pick up) in two of the upstairs bedrooms. How intelligent is the Neato again? It can’t even clean an entire room. How disappointing. Actually, I got upset after this experience with the second Neato and went online to see if it was only me – (un)fortunately, it wasn’t.
- The Neato is a bit louder than either of my Roombas is, just like the XV-21, which doesn’t bother me at all.
- It still got stuck on the electrical cords, though not quite as badly as the XV-21. In comparison, my Roomba 880 never got stuck. It just keeps going and I believe that’s because of its unique cleaning system:
- It got lost twice while it was trying to “map” my upper floor, and that incessant beeping nearly drove me insane.
- There are dual filters, but they aren’t HEPA filters. I don’t want to judge on these filters, as there is no way at least for me to test if there really is a difference in air quality using these two kinds of filters. As I understand it, HEPA filtration is an industry standard for filters and highly recommended for allergy sufferers. Here’s an article: “HEPA Filter Benefits for Allergy Relief” I found on webmd.com, and here’s a link to Wikipedia about them: HEPA. I have no idea why Neato chose not to use these filters in their machines (maybe to cut back on expenses?), but as I have a son with allergies, I want to go with the best as this makes me sleep better. No good. Not at all.
- There are no Virtual Walls or Virtual Lighthouses. Instead, the Neato came with Boundary Strips, which are still a bit of a pain in my opinion. If you don’t know about those, check out this video:
Neato vs. Roomba 880 – Pat’s opinion
A little later that day, after my family had finished supper, I went back over to Pat’s to exchange her Neato for my Roomba 880. (Honestly, the kids were whining about having to do the dishes and I was ready to make my escape for a few minutes.) Surprisingly, Pat had a look of defeat on her face. She said she was incredibly impressed with my Roomba 880. Here are some of the things she mentioned:
- When she got home, she had already forgotten how to set up the Virtual Lighthouses, but she got the information from the iRobot website and an instructional video.
- She did note that the Roomba took significantly longer to get the job done, but it didn’t get lost in her house and it cleaned better than her Neato. (Something to add – Pat lives alone with cats, and since there are no children in her home and no one to make a mess, she told me that she thinks a Roomba would eliminate her need to vacuum manually for the most part. I agreed.)
- She noted that the Roomba was quieter.
- She was also curious about the HEPA filters and checked out more about them on the web. Pat does not suffer from allergies, but she does have an illness that causes a compromised immune system. Essentially, she gets sick much easier than the average person does. Thus, reducing her exposure to germs and bacteria is definitely in her interest. She told me that she simply hadn’t heard about those filters before and wasn’t happy to find out about that after her purchase.
In short, Pat sent her Neato XV Signature Pro back and fortunately enough, got a full refund. She is now running a Roomba 880 that she is very happy with.
Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro Review – My Results
Before I wrap up my Neato Robotics XV Signature Pro review, there are a few other things I’d really like to point out that concerned me, not only with the product, but also with the company in general.
- The Amazon reviews. While I was checking the price of the Neato, I took the time to check out some Amazon reviews. People are disappointed in this thing, and I can’t figure out why the Neato still has such a huge following. Furthermore, I don’t understand why the new model, this XV Signature Pro, which I understand is the follow-up model after the XV-21, doesn’t seem to be better than the previous one. I mean, there are enough reviews for Neato on their XV-21 to find out what consumers are no happy with and it seems they either haven’t paid attention or at least haven’t addressed that yet. Maybe their Botvacs are better; we’ll just have to see.
- The manufacturer lists error codes in the product description on Amazon. This is more of a curiosity (to me) than something to really care about, but funny enough (for me) to tell you. Why list the error codes in the product description unless they occur frequently? Maybe it’s just me, but I am really disappointed with the two Neatos I’ve tested. There is the Botvac series left, though, and we’ll see if I get a chance to review them.
Guys, if you are considering a Neato, please think again. I’ve seen and tested a couple of vacuums by now and I believe I can tell the difference – not when it comes to lab testing results, but when it comes to real life cleaning results, product quality and handling. Some look awesome on paper, Neato seems to have a huge following, and owners claim that it is the best and most intelligent robot vacuum in the world – and cheaper than most competitors. Please note that is only true compared to iRobot’s top of the line Roomba 880, but that Neato’s XV-21 and Signature Pro are both even more expensive than a Roomba 650, which is a better vacuum in my opinion.
And as Neato uses it for marketing and it’s mentioned in this video:
Again, it seems as if they emphasize the lower price compared to competitors, which is only half the truth.
And let me say that again, it doesn’t even have HEPA filters, so it’s not a true vacuum for allergies, at least to me.
If you want a 21st century product, go with a Roomba. The Roomba 650 is the perfect entry vacuum cleaner if you don’t have allergies, and it’ll do the job if you only have one or two pets that don’t shed much. If you need something more powerful, you can go with the Roomba 770, Roomba 780 or the state of the art Roomba 880. Of those, I’d recommend spending a little more and going with the iRobot Roomba 880 due to its superior cleaning abilities. It blows Neato out of the water, and it’s definitely worth the money. Don’t be like Pat. Don’t spend money on the rest when you can have the best.