Neato has been on a roll in 2018 with its robot vacuums, updating them to support extra features that go above and beyond what's normally expected from a simple robot vacuum. Neato's mid-range Botvac D5 Connected retails for $599 (Amazon has it on sale right now for $430), and Neato's latest firmware, version 4.3.0, updates the D5 Connected to have feature-parity with the highest-end Neato Botvac D7 Connected, which is generally about $300 more expensive than the D5 Connected. Neato's latest firmware update adds in Virtual No-Go lines, taking the place of the magnetic striping that ships with the vacuum to keep it out of areas it doesn't need to go to, essentially introducing some boundaries to its route. The virtual no-go lines are a significant improvement over the physical magnetic barrier for quite a few reasons, the least of which is not having to purchase additional magnetic barriers just to block off new sections of the home.
Virtual No-Go lines can be added straight from the Neato app after the vacuum has created a map of the home, and can be done at any time. These lines are created with a simple 2-point method; tapping two places on the map will draw a line between them, and the Botvac D5 Connected will not cross this line under any circumstance. Lines can be used to block off entire rooms at the doorway or to just block off a section of a room where you know a problem could occur, like the water dish for pets or a pile of toys in the corner of the kids' rooms. Another big advantage of virtual no-go lines versus physical barriers isn't just that you can place an unlimited number of them around the home, but also because you can place these lines from anywhere, be it at work or across the country, depending on what needs to be done in the home.
Virtual No-Go lines aren't the only thing that's been added either. Neato has also dropped in the famed Multiple Floor Plans feature for the D5 Connected, meaning you can purchase additional charging stands for each level of your home, and the D5 Connected will remember each of these charging stands as unique, enabling multiple floor plans for all levels of the home. This means you no longer have to deal with purchasing a second robot vacuum for that upper or lower floor, and you won't lose the advantage of Virtual No-Go lines either. Many other manufacturers offer virtual barrier systems, but the vast majority don't actually save the map of the home in perpetuity, rather, the map is redrawn every time the robot gets stuck or needs to be moved, essentially removing the advantage virtual barriers can have.
This, of course, would cause a significant issue when taking multiple floors into consideration, as other vacuums would erase the floor plan each time they are moved to a new charging station, while Neato's design keeps each floor plan in memory and automatically switches between floors as soon as it's connected to the charger. Quick Boost Charging is another important piece of the puzzle added with this update, which adds mid-cleaning charging to the mix so that the vacuum can finish the floorplan without having to wait for a full charge. Larger homes that find the vacuum needing a recharge before finishing that last room or two will benefit most from this, as the vacuum learns how much square footage it can clean on each charge, and will only charge as much as it needs to finish the rest of the home in this sort of case.
Eco and Turbo modes have also been added to the Botvac D5 Connected's repertoire, meaning those extra cleaning modes from the higher-end Botvac D7 Connected are also available for D5 Connected owners. The 4.3.0 firmware update will be rolling out to Neato Botvac D5 Connected customers starting today and should continue into the weekend, so if you don't see that update notification within the Neato app just yet be sure to keep checking throughout the next several days as Neato rolls out the update in waves. Back in July we saw an update land on the Neato Botvac D7 Connected that added multi-level support for Neato's highest-end vacuum, allowing the $830 (on sale for $730 at the time of this writing) robot vacuum to clean multiple levels of the home and save all those floorplans to its internal memory without having to reset each time.
Neato plans to roll out a similar update to their least expensive next-generation robot vacuum, the Neato Botvac D3 Connected, sometime later this Fall. The Botvac D3 Connected typically retails for $399, but Amazon also has this particular model on sale, and as of this writing you can get the Neato Botvac D3 Connected for $299. This means the $299 D3 Connected will be able to utilize the Virtual No-Go lines feature as well, bringing about a feature that's usually only available on significantly more expensive robot vacuums. Once users see this update hit any of the three models, the vacuum will need to run a full cleaning cycle in order to fully map out the home and enable the additional mapping features that come available with a fully-realized map. This is done through the special "Create a Floorplan" mode, found in the left-hand slide-out menu.
Neato's app has also been recently updated with a brand-new design that features a cleaner interface with simple buttons right at the get-go for commonly used features. The new app lays out an easy-to-read floorplan with statistics on each cleaning cycle, as well as different modes that are available for each vacuum. Neato allows for different types of cleaning modes including whole-house clean, spot-clean, or even manual clean where you can drive the vacuum around yourself using virtual navigation buttons. There's also an "extra care" toggle that will keep the vacuum from bumping into walls or objects with force, as it'll exercise extra care in movement any time it detects an object. Botvac D7 Connected and D5 Connected owners can check out these features right now, and future owners can check out available Neato products at the Amazon links below.