Momma Told Me: When I was a child we had to sweep the floors!
Of all the chores, growing up, it was vacuuming I despised most. You see, vacuuming, like mopping, was often a dual chore. Wherever there were carpet floors to be cleaned there were surely rugs to be beaten and tile to be swept. After all, you can't just clean 1 floor, you have to clean them all. Momma, who extraordinarily managed to have enough energy to cook a homemade meal, after shopping, laundry, and childcare; did not have the energy to wander up and down stairs and in and out of rooms to care for our floors. (Those who are unfamiliar with Momma and I, I am not calling her lazy, after surviving Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma, she was literally a walking miracle.) And so I was tasked with the job of lugging the Dirt Devil and Crimson Hoover throughout our condo, and then house. It was a double edged sword, for me; I loved the pride of helping Momma out, but the vacuums of the late 80s were not the sleekest examples of modern mechanics (okay, all electronics in the 80s were mammoths compared to today!)
As much as I loved the pride and accomplishment after the task (which in reality only took about 20 minutes in our small 2 bedroom condo), I'd huff and puff, and even pout, when asked to do so. There were the bags, the stairs, the filters, the cords; and every now and then the entire device would simply clog up and 'back fire'. I'd pull that Dirt Devil behind me *clunk* *clunk* *clunk* down the stairs, and declare to Momma I was never going to vacuum again, no matter what the punishment, anything would be better. If course in true 'When I was your age' fashion, Momma had her own 'walking in the snow' horror stories about vacuuming. This included an anecdote that when she was a young girl having an automated vacuum cleaner was a luxury. As the eldest, Momma was forced to sweep the short pile carpeting and beat all of the fine rugs outdoors. Having a simple push broom would have been reason to jump with excitement.
Naturally, my generation is accustomed to the highest tech, cutting edge, electronics within human advancement. Where, as a child, I was once terrified of robots that would take over the Earth and enslave humanity, the reality of robotic minions and helpers, is much more real. In fact, it is no longer the future, it's the present. I highly suspect my grandchildren will one day watch the Jetsons and consider it a historical documentary. Unfortunately, many edgy mechanics and 'robots' are still in production phases that keep them unattainable to the modern consumer. Either functions and execution are limited, or their size and cost keep them on wish lists and in fantasys, rather than in homes. Let's face it, when whispers of the Roomba (robotic vacuum) first surfaced the initial reaction was a mix between fear and skepticism. Today the lightweight 'feather duster' sits on clearance racks alongside knock offs of an equally disappointing caliber. In the midst of this robotic revolution, how does any one know where to toss their hard earned Simoleons?
The economy being the way it is, I understand 'robot vacuum' isn't probably at the top of your list for Christmas gifting and home maintenance. The truth is, a functional luxury item can prove to be just as practical in the long run, as the equivalent in a standard, or mainstream, fashion. Consider a modern day Dyson can range upwards of $7-800, while the luxury NEATO Robotic Vacuum averages less than $400 (refurbished units available for less). First I need to specify, a NEATO is not a Roomba, or any other suction device that claims to be a robot vacuum. The NEATO has been meticulously designed with intelligent, cutting edge, technologies that have truly jumped out of the pages of sci-fi intrigue novels. It's biggest discernible difference? The automatic NEATO pairs it's top notch suction/filtration system with a Paecision Laser Mpping program that allows the device a comprehensive 360 degree view of your home and rooms.
The NEATO XV-11 rapidly scans it's surroundings, via it's central optical laser system, and stores an active map of the nearby (and past) terrain. This cutting edge technology enables it to effectively discern insurmountable objects, changes in the terrain (animals, toys, kids, variables that move), and even prevent it's self from dropping off height variables (such as stairs). The NEATO actively collects data, with continual sweeps, creating an internal map of your home it will rely on for programmed and future cleanings. Utilizing a complex system of algorithms, referred to as SLAM, the robot is cognizant of it's surroundings and can effectively plan routes and patterns that most efficiently get the job done. Instead of waiting to bump into objects the NEATO maps a way around them with a precision that I've found to be within an inch of overlap.
The NEATO XV-11 also pairs a powerful motor (that sounds like a small aircraft taking off) which operates on a centrifugal force more power than any other commercial robotic vacuum. This means that it does not sweep and suck the particles if brushes over, it conditions and removes debris from deep within your carpet's fibers for a true vacuum effect. In fact, the NEATO is entirely bristle free, relying on a polymer blade based design the vacuum can effectively pick up a wider array of debris, including touch pet hair. This enables a simpler cleaning process that eliminates the pulling and fighting of wrapped and knotted hair from expensive mechanisms. Also a dramatic change from many modern 'robotic' cleaners, is the NEATO's removable dirt bin and filter chamber. I received a NEATO XV-11 for review here on Momma Told Me (and as a loaner for this amazing Giveaway!).
The NEATO is designed to make your life simpler, from every aspect of it's consideration. It is entirely operational out of the box (a Quick Start that literally consists of snap the battery in and plug in a charger). The vacuum requires about 3-4 hours for it's first charge, and will automatically 'back into' the floor based charging unit (which is impressively discreet). Once charging is complete the top indicator light will change colors, and the soft orange push button will engage the intelligent LED systems display. The LED screen serves as the robot's method of communication for errors and necessary maintenance. Once the unit is turned on for the first time the NEATO's only necessarily programming task is to select a language. The user can program a daily, or weekly, cleaning schedule for hassle free service, though it's not necessary to enjoy it's first use. Simply push the engage button and watch as the NEATO backs away from the charger, scans it's environment, and takes off.
NEATO actively scans, as it cleans, for a progressively stored date based map of it's terrain. This means the initial sweep will inherently take longer than following sessions. For the most part the NEATO will eliminate any backtracking (though it does sometimes re-cover territory to pass areas it might have missed by a few inches), and it's depth sensing technology prevents it from leaving any single room until it has completed all of the ground (NEATO maps and logs doorways). For those concerned about changing variables, or who wish to manually prevent the device from entering a specific room or area the NEATO includes some magnetic stripping which may be laid out or implanted in carpeting as a marker. We laid out the stretch of magnetic strip along my father's plants to prevent the NEATO from bumping into or catching any of the vines running along his floors. It worked perfectly!
The entire (3BR, 2 B, single story) house took about 2 charges, and 4 hours to complete. The NEATO is suggested for safe use while away from home, though I did discover an odd hiccup in this planning. As one can imagine, the dust bin is not huge, and on carpeting (especially a first pass through) the NEATO can pick up an amazing amount of lint and fibers. Other than a flashing indicator light, the device has no programming to stop, or return to base, when the intake is full. We had the vacuum so backed up the incoming debris was pressing into the inlet valve! It's scary to think what might have happened if we hadn't been home! I do have hopes, however, that a software update will come available soon, to remedy this issue (NEATO can check for software updates from the main menu). I should note, when the intake was full the device also exhibited a significant audible drop in suction.
The NEATO leaves, almost Zen Garden reminiscent tracks in our carpeting, which is certainly a clean look, and wonderfully playful circular tracks around furniture. It is not slim enough to disappear under our couch, but does venture under beds and other furniture (thanks to laser mapping that is not light dependent), and performs equally well on hard flooring. When it comes to maintenance, the device is extremely easy to handle, with an entirely removable dust bin, and easy clean filter. It sure beats messy bags and heavy front load bins; but be warned, the NEATO will also clean much deeper and more efficient than your average vacuum- which means more frequent empty services (something I'm easily willing to live with). In all, my biggest issue outside the lack of build in 'full' shut off, is the sound, which is comparable to my current upright vacuum. It's hard to overlook that, when I am nervous about allowing the device to clean unattended, for dust bin maintenance, but understandable with the intense amount of suction the NEATO VX-11 provides.
What Daughter Says: Considering the cost of many 'standard' high end vacuums these days, the NEATO is within budget for luxury appliances, and well worth it!
One very lucky Momma Told Me follower will win the NEATO XV-11, as used for review purposes here.