iRobot Roomba 780
The shape The first-of-its-kind Roomba, which debuted in 2003, is the Coca-Cola of consumer robotic vacuums. It is still a plate-size disc on wheels that bumps its way around your domicile, picking up all the little pieces of your life that, collectively, obscure the true colour of your floor or carpet.
The sweep The latest iteration in the Roomba line boasts dirt detection software that recognises and deals with particularly messy areas while working its way around the house, following the same mining-detection algorithms used by many militaries. It sports a rubber bumper to avoid nicking furniture and has electronic base stations that limit its range. It will even return to its base station by itself to recharge.
The result The Roomba 780 does the best job yet of raising the daily cleanliness standard of your floors and can be programmed to work when you're not around (although you, and especially your pets, will want to watch it in action on at least its first dozen missions).
The shape The NaviBot offers many of the same features as the Roomba, but with a sportier frame. It also comes with a charging dock, although it is a bit oddly shaped and might get in the way in many places in the house.
The sweep The NaviBot can be programmed to work at set times and employs 38 sensors that are designed to detect obstacles and avert disaster with delicate items around the house. It can untangle itself if it gets snared by cords or fabric (and it will).
The result The NaviBot is a viable alternative to the Roomba, but it's suction limits could be an issue in extremely dusty or stain-filled environments.
The shape The Neato shuns circular conventions and opts for a "D-shape" design to "better excavate" the dust that builds up in corners. Its navigation turret on top makes it one of the taller options, however, which might limit its access under beds or other furniture.
The sweep Offering many of the features of its rivals, the Neato XV-11 boasts the "largest dust bin" among robotic vacuums, meaning you should have to empty it less than those employing its competitors. Unlike the random paths other robotic vacuums take, the Neato XV-11 opts for straight, back-and-forth patrols, the way you might mow a lawn (but there are robots for that, too, now).
The result The Neato is one of the most powerful robotic vacuums currently available and is a good choice for messy people who live in simple homes and sleep on high beds.
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