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The Neato Robotics Botvac D402, often referred to simply as the D4, is the entry-level model in the current generation of Neato robot vacuums. By entry-level, we certainly do not mean budget, and the Botvac D402 is positioned to compete with upper-midrange models from large and small competitors alike. This looks to be a contender from the moment you set eyes on it, not least because it utilises the now famous Neato angled design. In a world of circles, this is the robovac that can really get into corners and edges, and there are some excellent features here that should ensure a great overall score.
- Laser navigation for a thorough clean throughout the rooms you choose
- Works with in-app virtual walls to block rooms and areas on the fly
- Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and even smartwatches
- Unique D-shape design ensures that the vacuum can reach flush to edges and corners
- Works for 75 minutes on a full charge and will recharge as required before continuing the job
- Copes with hard floors, together with low- and medium-pile carpets
If you are new to the world of robotic vacuum cleaners, the price of the Neato Robotics Botvac D402 will catch the eye immediately. This is the lowest model in the current generation, which also includes the likes of the Botvac D701 and Botvac D602. Some of the older models are still easy enough to find, but even they do not work out as cheap as this one – and it is not cheap in conventional terms. Hovering around the £450 mark before discounts and specials, it is clear to see that Neato’s business model clearly does not involve dominating the budget end of the market.
It is not an uncommon tactic by any means. iRobot is a far more recognisable name with its Roomba devices, and they too pass on being the cheapest of the cheap. Their Roomba 606 is about as low as they go, although even that is around half the price of this Neato Botvac. Clearly, the manufacturer sees itself as a premium robot provider, so let’s see whether we can expect a premium product.
The sales blurb, including the Amazon listing, refers to this model as the D402, but the unit itself proudly proclaims itself as just the D4. The terms are therefore interchangeable, and the central vacuum unit is joined in the box by the charging station, spare brush and an extra filter.
The initial charge is a pleasant enough experience, as the unit will be close to full when it arrives and a full charge only takes around 100 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time to top up the battery after you set it up anyway, as the app and wi-fi connectivity is likely your priority. Set-up is a breeze, with everything becoming self-explanatory once you have downloaded the Android or iOS app.
As mentioned in the highlights, the app is crucial to get the most out of this device. Without it, you miss out on mapping, virtual barriers, scheduling and more, and at that point, the value for money diminishes completely. If you or the potential recipient for this robot vacuum does not have a smartphone, Wi-Fi or any inclination towards the use of apps, it is worth moving on to another review. For those that do, there are several reasons to stick around.
All of those features are available, and the Neato Robotics Botvac D402 earns the ‘connected’ title in its name thanks to some of the best overall connections we have seen. Neato was the first robot vacuum manufacturer to deploy a smartwatch app, and we’re big fans. It feels so much more natural and futuristic to tap your watch to activate your robot vacuum cleaner than to use a phone, although we suppose that triggering a clean with your voice is even more cutting edge, and this model links seamlessly with Alexa and Google Home.
The basics are covered well by this device, and you won’t have any problems with general cleaning. It is nowhere near being the most powerful robot vacuum at this price point, but it will handle hard floors and anything up to medium-pile carpets with ease. The dust box boasts a 0.7-litre capacity which is above our baseline, while the 75 minutes of active cleaning on a full charge will last for a whole house in most cases.
In larger houses, we would suggest doing the floor on which the charging base is located last, as the Neato Botvac D402 will return to base for a recharge before picking up where it left off. Admittedly, it does not go back to the precise spot where it gave up, but it tends to have a good general idea of where to be to combat inefficiency.
We surprise ourselves that we have made it this far into the review without mentioning the D-shape of this robot vacuum, especially as it is the most striking feature. All models in the current Neato line-up utilise a flat edge on the basis that it enables their Botvacs to get right into corners and flush against walls. This is the task for which circular robot vacuums use a side brush, and so, understandably, such a brush is not present here.
There are pros and cons to the shaping. On the plus side, it does as expected and can scoop up dirt in corners as expected. However, there is something clunkier to this shape, and it is not as elegant as its rounded counterparts when navigating in tight spaces. On occasion, it felt like the unit was banging its head against a figurative wall as it attempted to escape the clutches of dastardly chair legs.
Fortunately, there are few instances of the D402 literally banging its head against walls as the laser-based mapping system works well, especially once the robovac gets used to your layout. We were also pleased with the approach to virtual walls. Cheaper units like the Eufy RoboVac 30C use tape to block areas, while more expensive ones like the iRobot Roomba 981 use the cleaning equivalent of forcefield generators. It is appropriate that the Neato Botvac D402 falls somewhere in the middle, as the virtual barriers here are far more user-friendly than the tape options, but not quite as flexible as the Roomba forcefields. Nevertheless, without lifting more than a finger, you can decide on a clean by clean basis that a room is too cluttered for vacuuming and exclude it from the map.
One area in which we lose the luxurious feel of the D402 is in the filters. This model does not use HEPA filters, which means it falls behind some alternative models and also those within the same range for users with pets, allergies or both. Given the price, we do not think a top-end filter is too much to ask, but we do get the distinct impression that Neato went all out in some areas and cut back in others to keep the price manageable.
Neato Robotics Botvac D402 – Pros and Cons
- Good quality cleaning across most surfaces, right up to the edges
- Outstanding connectivity spanning phone and watch apps and smart home hubs
- Excellent control over pathing and room blocking within the app
- Those that do not want to use the app/do not have a smartphone miss out on the best bits
- Not the quietest robot vacuum on the market, running at 64 dB when in use
- D-shape makes for clunkier turns under furniture and other obstacles
Neato Robotics Botvac D402 – The Verdict
Neato Robotics clearly wishes to be viewed as a premium product provider in the robot vacuuming space, and there is no better way to achieve that than to produce premium products consistently. The Botvac D402 is such a product, and that is good news considering it is the lowest model in the current range. There is plenty to like about it, not least the fact that this is among the cheapest robot vacuums with something resembling authentic mapping built-in. The connectivity cannot be faulted either as this will link up with everything that a Roomba can and even more, at least for the time being, with the smartwatch app. If you’re into pointless gimmicks, you can also add a chatbot for Facebook to type to your vacuum to get it to do something.
Neato Robotics Botvac D402 Review
As noted towards the end of the review, the design of the Neato Robotics Botvac D402 feels like something of a balancing act. That connectivity is excellent, and the cleaning capabilities are suitable for the vast majority of domestic residences. However, to fit in features like mapping and laser navigation at this price point, compromises have been made elsewhere. We touched on the lack of a HEPA filter, and the battery in this model is inferior to its big brothers, which run for two hours as opposed to the 75 minutes here. Nevertheless, the overall clean should be every buyer’s priority, and this model excels. If you love apps and smart home features, it is first-class there too. The D402 is not the pinnacle of value for money in every area, but the mapping and virtual walls carry it through to being worth every penny – especially if you see it at a sale price.
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