Regardless of your degree of fondness for expending elbow grease, the prospect of a minion to do the cleaning around the house is just too good to pass up.
The simple – yet very necessary – chore of tidying the home has certainly come a long way from getting out a pan and brush for the living room carpet, followed by a quick dust round to finish and putting your feet up in front of the telly.
Now the market is flooded with über-vacuums that harness the power of cyclones – hoovers that glide around the home with the speed and finesse of an Olympic figure skater, and even the humble dust bag for capturing waste is nearly a thing of the past.
All of this new found convenience does come at a bit of a price, though. At the top of the household gadget tree is the Neato XV-15, a robotic vacuum cleaner that promises to make the task of keeping a clean house easier, quicker and more convenient.
Whilst the prospect of a automated buddy to clean up around the house sounds like the preserve of The Jetsons, the Neato XV-15 is not needlessly complicated, proving most impressive as a true labour-saving device.
With its low profile, grey hue and bright orange accents, the XV-15 looks more like a child’s toy than a cleaning device ripped from a Utopian future. But the magic really starts once it gets going…
The hefty little bread-bin-on-wheels takes very little effort to set up, simply requiring a lift out of the packaging and being nestled against its charging base station to get the battery juiced up.
A couple of hours later – confirmed by a healthy glow on the LED screen and a green light around the ‘start’ button – and the Neato is ready to strut its stuff. A quick press of the eye-catching power key and the XV-15 springs to life, quickly darting and bounding around the living room like an excited puppy.
The first surprise is the volume of the noise emanating from this tiny contraption. It sounds every bit as serious about the task at hand as a traditional vacuum, and even on an initial pass it happily sucked up plenty of dirt and debris across carpet, lino and wooden floors alike.
The fun comes from watching it methodically plan its way around the room, using sensors placed atop the device to ‘map’ its way and ensuring that a route is drawn out to cover a surprising amount of ground in a linear fashion.
The design of the XV-15 with a rounded rear and boxy, buffered front makes short work of bay windows, deftly manoeuvring around chairs and gliding under tables, bumping gently and rerouting itself regularly rather than seeming too self-aware…however, boundary markers can cleverly be stuck along skirting boards and prevent it from wandering too far.
The Neato is just as entertaining to watch navigate its way across your domicile as it is convenient to have, although you might find yourself shouting “you missed a bit!” as you wonder just how its robot brain has planned its way across the kitchen…only for it to go back and finish the job.
Thick wheels enable the XV-15 to turn quickly and dodge obstacles, as well as offer more clearance on shaggier surfaces to keep it cleaning in all conditions.
It did come up a cropper a couple of times – mainly getting stuck on a couple of protruding table legs and getting a little lost when moving furniture in an already-scanned room. But it seems to make short work of cosy rooms and wide expanses alike.
The Neato’s dust tray is admittedly small compared to uprights, but is a cinch to remove and empty, whilst the cleaning mechanism tends not to get clogged up with loose bits of carpet and dirt…which is nice.
Touches like automatic charging – it leisurely parks up alongside its base unit (pictured above) when running low – and the ability to schedule cleans at certain times of day make this a perfect accessory for the elderly and busy folks alike, definitely working best in more sparse surroundings (with less opportunities to get snagged on furniture) than a crowded living space.
With its low clearance to get under beds and tables, super-powerful suction and ease of use, the Neato XV-15 goes beyond gimmicky gadget to be a great accessory around the home…but the price is certainly a factor.
With the Neato retailing for £399.99 (although that does include the charging unit) and cleaning filters at £15 each, the XV-15 is not the cheapest method of sprucing up a home by any means…
However, for keeping floors clean with minimal fuss, effort and excellent results, the XV-15 is an amazing device and – whilst not a shiny metallic spacesuit or roast dinner in pill form – is a great step towards a future with robots in our homes!