As if equipping a household robot with a LASER CANNON wasn't scary enough, Neato's autonomous vacuum now comes in evil, evil black. Meet the Signature Series, which brings you 50 percent more power for sucking up dust thanks to "a new aerodynamic design," and as far as we can tell, not much else.
Besides the new color (or shade, if we're going to get technical), the Signature Series Neatos are somehow 50 percent better at vacuuming dust with the aforementioned new aerodynamic design. We're not sure what exactly it means, but yeah, that's what it does. Otherwise, the hardware and software seem largely unchanged, but this is less of a disappointment than it could be, since the price is largely unchanged as well: you'll pay $400 for the base Signature (which is the same as the XV-11 costs), and for $449, you'll get the Signature Pro, which includes an extra brush and filter.
If this sort of upgrade path sounds familiar, it's because iRobot kind of does the same thing. In fact, kind of really the same thing: remember when iRobot came out with the AeroVac bin? Having said that, we certainly recognize that there are realities that have to be considered when you've got a product that needs to survive commercially—rapid iteration is just not feasible, and it takes a lot of work (and a lot of time) to bring major new features to market successfully.
We're still huge fans of the tech that Neato embodies: a vacuum with integrated, sophisticated, yet very cost-effective localization. LASERS. It seems like there's a lot more that could be done here, and Neato's been good about adding new features through free software updates. If you've got an XV-11 and haven't updated it recently, the latest version (3.0) includes a fancy new behavior to clean in corners better. Download it here.