In the dark ages of the 20th century, human beings still labored with manual weekly and daily chores. These savages would toil begrudgingly with push vacuums tangled in wires and even personally manicure their lawns with reel mowers — a curious species indeed. Fortunately, in the smart home area of digital assistants, droid lawnmowers, and roving robotic vacuums, the days of such life-sucking rigmarole are no more.
While the first wave robovacs were fairly limited technologically, the latest models are significantly more intuitive, connected, and capable than their caroming predecessors. From units designed with pets in mind, to a solid budget option, here are the best robot vacuums a pile of greenbacks can buy. After all, it only makes sense that we let our future robots shoulder the grunt work for the time being before they take our jobs and more or less claim dominion over this space rock.
If you’d rather do things the old-fashioned way, we also compiled a roundup of the best traditional vacuum cleaners currently on the market as well.
Eufy Robovac 11+ ($240)
Although “Roomba” may be the eponym in the “robotic vacuum” industry, many other brands have made a push in recent years and Eufy is one of the best in the business. With three specific cleaning modes, the Robovac can easily be set to Spot, Edge, or Single Room to handle the weekly, daily, or spur-of-the-moment chore at hand. For deep cleaning, the Max function increases suction power, however, it should be noted that the total battery life is substantially reduced in this mode. It’s also extremely easy to micromanage your Eufy Robovac 11+ via the accompanying remote control or Eufy Home app.
While a remote control for your vacuum simply transforms the manual task into a vicarious one, it certainly has its benefits that even non-control freaks will appreciate. After meals or when a pet (or run-of-the-mill human) tracks dirt into a space, you can simply summon your Eufy and use the basic multi-directional keypad to spot clean an area without unnecessarily cleaning an entire room. Similarly, if your Robovac is about to potentially snag a cable, toy, or is simply confused under the kitchen table, you can quickly nudge the little fella in the right direction with the push of a button. Priced under $250 and loaded with useful settings, this droid is our overall pick.
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Best connected multi-room and cornering
Neato Botvac Connected ($699)
In the smart home era, preheating the oven, adding a little extra dying time to laundry, and even locking our doors are all tasks of the past. That said, with one of the most advanced apps and overall connectivity, the Neato Botvac Connected is our pick for the fully functioning smart home. The Botvac Connected can easily be set or commanded to clean your entire home, spot sweep a specific section of a room, or even cover higher traffic areas twice for good measure. Once set up, you can easily check in on the bot to allot (or schedule) tasks and similarly receive notifications as rooms are cleaned via the Neato app. The bot can also be paired with If This Then That for added versatility.
Unlike more rudimetary robo vacs, this Neato model comes with 13 feet of magnetic strips to set up boundaries around the home or apartment. This is a great way to prevent the unit from bumping into pet’s food dishes and also partitioning play areas to keep the bot from chewing up toys. These strips are easy to cut and set in place, and while it does add the overall setup process, you will enjoy the added control after the fact. Those sensitive to allergens will appreciate Ultra Performance Filter and, with Neato’s D-shape build, this robotic vacuum is a boss when it comes to cornering.
Some rounded models take more a bounce-and-pivot approach while edging a room, however, with flat sides, the Botvac Connected simply strolls along the wall, minimizing perimeter vacuuming tasks and maximizing the overall battery life. Look, if you’re in the market for a basic robot vacuum, at more than $600, this unit is robo overkill but when it comes to overall smart home connectivity, the Botvac Connected is tops.
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iRobot Roomba 980 ($880)
Few homes are limited to just carpet or hardwood, and not all robotic vacuums are capable of tackling high-pile carpets or linoleum. That said, the Roomba 980 can handle the full spectrum of flooring options in your home. While many models boast a turbo and efficiency model, these are often options you need to tweak manually as the bot moves about the home, and babysitting your vacuum sort of defeats the purpose of allocating the task to a droid in the first place. That said, the Roomba 980 AeroForce Cleaning System automatically adapts to its environment, increasing or decreasing the suction for the terrain underfoot at a given time.
Some models — like the aforementioned Botvac Connected — use magnetic strips to establish a perimeter fence to prevent the vacuum from venturing into unwanted areas. The Roomba 980, on the other hand, allows you to establish omnidirectional virtual walls and halos throughout your home via the iRobot Home App. This app also features a Clean Map for notifications and scheduling. The filter does capture particles as small as 10 microns, however, those more sensitive to indoor allergens may need to choose a different model.
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Best for pets
Neato Botvac D80 Robot ($400)
As a regular treasure trove of YouTube videos can attest to, our pets certainly have a love-hate relationship with our roving robotic friends. While our lovable four-legged companions may be mostly well-intentioned they still, unfortunately, leave hair and track of debris around the home. That said, some robotic vacuums are better at cleaning up after our pets than others and the Neato Botvac D80 is one of the best.
Like the other Neato model on this roundup, this unit incorporates the D-Shape build and extended side brushes to clean corners and edge more effectively than other rounded vacuums. The D80 also comes with a pair of interchangeable blades to grab debris and hair across the full gauntlet of surfaces around the home. This vacuum uses laser-guided mapping to efficiently move about without clumsily bumping into too many items (or sleeping pets) around the home to recalibrate. This may seem like a digression, however, anyone who has been in a room with the more rudimentary “bump and pivot” models knows, the incessant tapping can we be annoying when you’re trying to relax, nap, or enjoy a movie.
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ILife A4s ($200)
Not everyone in the market for a robotic vacuum is looking for a top-of-the-line unit to work with their smart home and digital assistant, and for under $200, the ILife A4s is our pick. This model comes with a remote to conveniently set cleaning schedules and spot-treat high traffic areas as needed. The term “low-profile” is thrown about with virtually all robotic vacuums, and at just 3 inches tall, the A4s is by far the slimmest model on this list. That said, this squat unit should be able to limbo even the lowest of coffee tables to keep those dust bunnies from accumulating around your pad and also edge beneath extended cabinetry in the kitchen with ease.
The ILife A4s has an operational time of two hours per charge and as the battery life diminishes, the unit will automatically return to its docking station. An onboard HEPA air purification system helps reduce allergens and a series incorporated sensors will prevent the model from tumbling down staircases. Folks looking for an affordable option more than capable of handling berbers, hardwood, and low-pile carpets should give the ILife A4s a look.
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