Cheaper robot vacuum cleaners tend to sacrifice power, features or both in an effort to keep the price down. The Neato Botvac D4 Connected is a little different, offering some of the higher-end features of the more expensive Botvac D6 Connected and Botvac D7 Connected.
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There are some sacrifices, though: edge performance is reduced compared to the higher-end models, and the older brush bar isn’t as good as the newer one. Still, those on a tighter budget will find a lot to like here.
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There’s no mistaking that the Botvac D4 Connected is a Neato product, thanks to its distinctive ‘D’ shape. This is so that the vacuum can squeeze into corners for the best edge performance. It’s also the exact same size as its stablemate, the D6 Connected, at 319 x 336 x 100mm.
The size of the robot has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that the robot can fit under many bits of furniture, such as sofas. The downside is that its width means that some obstacles, such as dining chair legs, can be too narrow for the cleaner to fit through.
The Neato Botvac D4 Connected is a little lighter than the D6 Connected, although this is likely down to the use of a smaller, older-style brush bar. This is removable, as on other models, so you can replace it or clean out hair wrapped around it using the bundled razor.
With this model, there’s no side brush for pushing edge dirt into the path of the main roller. You can clearly see where the brush should go, hinting that the chassis is the same as with the more expensive models. The brush needs replacing every six months or so, at a cost of around £23 for a two-pack. Avoid the kits that come with the side brushes, as you don’t need these.
The flap at the top opens up to reveal the 0.7-litre bin inside. It’s mildly annoying that the bin flap is right next to the handle used to lift the robot: it’s all too easy to flip open the bin lid by mistake.
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As a cheaper model, the Neato Botvac D4 Connected uses the basic filter, which won’t trap as much dust. If you have allergy sufferers in the house, you may prefer the Botvac D6 Connected or Botvac D7 Connected. Filters need replacing every one to two months at a cost of around £18 for a pack of two, and the app will let you know when it’s time to make the change.
There’s just a single button on the Neato Botvac D4 Connected. One tap starts a regular clean, and a double-tap does a spot clean (a seven-foot square area). The latter is handy for cleaning up a specific spill without having to clean your entire home.
You can only unlock the robot’s main features by using the app and connecting the robot to Wi-Fi. You can have multiple robots in the app.
The Neato Botvac D4 Connected can create a map of your home when you run a special clean starting from the robot’s charging dock. Once created, the floor map lets the robot know where it is and, more importantly, lets you create virtual no-go areas by drawing lines on the map. These are accurate enough to block off a room or general area, but the accuracy isn’t pin-point accurate. There’s no magnetic border tape in the box for this model, either, which the higher-end models come with.
As with the other Neato robots, the no-go areas only work if you start a clean from the app, rather than pressing the button. Only one map is supported, whereas the D6 Connected supports three. The difference is that if you move the D4 Connected to a new area, it has to explore and can’t take the best path. Thanks to laser navigation, the D4 Connected can work in the dark.
You get a choice of two cleaning modes in the app, Eco and Turbo. With Eco mode, I measured the robot at 70.6dB, which is a little louder than the D6 Connected. On Turbo mode, which increases suction power and brush speed, the robot jumps to 72.9dB and is relatively loud.
Battery life is up to 75 minutes, which is far shorter than the 120 minutes of the D6 Connected. This makes the Neato Botvac D4 Connected better for smaller properties. That said, the D4 Connected can return to its dock mid-clean and recharge itself. With Quick Boost and a floor map, the robot can calculate how much of a charge it needs to finish the job, reducing cleaning time.
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Scheduling lets you pick when you want the Neato Botvac D4 Connected to clean you home, and helps keep a nice and tidy home automatically. However, you may need to pre-move some furniture to get the best clean.
Neato produces some of the best-connected robot vacuum cleaners and the Neato Botvac D4 Connected is no exception. Amazon Alexa support lets you start and stop a clean, and send the robot back to its dock. It works perfectly and, if you have multiple robots, you’re asked which one you want to apply the command to.
Related: Amazon Alexa guide
Google Home support is very similar, although you can’t add the Neato Skill through the Home app, but have to use the Assistant app instead, which is a little frustrating.
IFTTT support is great to see, letting you use actions to control your cleaner when something else happens. For example, you can get the Neato Botvac D4 Connected to start a clean when you go out or pause it automatically when your smart doorbell rings. That makes the Neato Botvac D4 Connected a far smarter product than much of its competition, provided you’re willing to programme some rules.
Performance is the one area where cheaper models tend to let the side down a bit, and the Neato Botvac D4 Connected isn’t as accomplished a cleaner as its big brothers. On hard floors I used a mixture of flour and carpet freshening powder, splattering an X in the middle of the floor and at an edge.
Although the robot’s navigation was good enough to cover most of the room, there was a faint outline of an X at the edge of the room. Clearly, the smaller brush bar and lack of the side brush do have an impact. In the middle of the room, performance was better, with the robot picking up most of the mess.
On carpet it was a similar story. Although the Neato Botvac D4 Connected managed to move across the entire carpet, it left a small outline of my spilt powder.
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Performance isn’t bad for the price, mind, and for general spills and dust, the Neato Botvac D4 Connected will do a good job maintaining your home. You will need to use a regular vacuum cleaner keep your home tidy a bit more than if you used a higher-end robot cleaner, though.
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Navigation is one of Neato’s strong point and the Botvac D4 is as good at getting around as its more expensive stablemates. I found that the cleaner coped well with my front door mat, mounting it without getting stuck. Nor did the Neato Botvac D4 Connected fall down the small step into the kitchen.
The issues are ones that are common with the Neato Botvac range: the wide body means that the robot struggles with smaller gaps. I had to pick up and move some dining chairs to clean thoroughly under the tablet. It’s fair to say that all robot vacuum cleaners require a degree of furniture management to get the best clean, though.
At this price, the direct competition is the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930, which has similar vacuuming performance on hard floors and carpet, plus similar navigation skills. However, the Ozmo 930’s trick is that it can also mop hard floors. If you mostly have hard floors and want something that can clean up marks, as well as vacuuming dust, it’s a better choice.
To dramatically reduce the amount of physical vacuuming you have to do, you have to spend more. The Neato Botvac D6 Connected is a decent step up, with better pick-up on hard floors and carpet alike. For even more powerful cleaning, the Dyson 360 Eye is the best choice, although its taller design means that it can’t fit under most sofas.
That all said, the Neato Botvac D4 Connected is a decent lower-cost vacuum cleaner for basic maintenance of your home. Its intelligent software and great connectivity options make it an attractive deal.
A decent lower-cost vacuum cleaner, with lots of features, edge-pick-up could be better, but you have to spend a fair bit more to truly improve performance.
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