New (sort of) from Neato Robotics is the XV-21, an autonomous robot vacuum that's been enhanced to provide better cleaning for people with an excess of pets. Besides being a solid XV-10 better than the XV-11, will the XV-21 and its new pet-optimized hardware really do a better job, and is it worth the premium you'll pay? Being the robot vacuum experts that we are (or that we claim to be, anyway), we'll tell you what we think.
Neato seems to be sort of taking the same approach as iRobot did when they introduced their Roomba 572 "Pet Series." The 572 was essentially just a 500 series Roomba with a new name and some slightly different accessories that cost a bit more. The XV-21 is, as far as we can tell, exactly the same as the XV-11, except for the following (straight from the press release):
- A new bristled brush to improve the pick-up of pet hair, dander and fibers and allows the vacuum cleaner to run more quietly than previous models,especially on hardwood floors.
- A new filter, which is cleanable and designed for long-term use, provides increased airflow and suction power that allows the Neato XV-21 to pick up and retain more than three times the fine dust particles of the company's standard filter.
- A new paint job, "Misty White with purple highlights."
Now, we haven't gotten a chance to look at the XV-21 ourselves (yet), but based on our reviews of the XV-11 and the iRobot Roomba 560 (which has a bristle brush), we can make an educated guess about whether the XV-21 will be more effective at cleaning up pet hair. The short answer is, yes, it will be. The long answer is, you'll pay for it with having to clean the XV-21's brush more often. Here's an excerpt from our comparison review:
The Roomba cleaned slightly better [than the XV-11] in general, and significantly better when it came to pet hair, probably because of its bristle brush. The rubber brush on the XV-11 tended to leave streaks of pet hair behind it.
The XV-11 is much better at keeping itself clean as it cleans, especially when it comes to hair (pet and otherwise). I have a couple cats, and while the Roomba was significantly better at picking up cat hair, it also got a lot of cat hair wrapped around its bristle brushes, as well around the bearings holding the brushes in place. The XV-11, on the other hand, while not as good at picking up pet hair, remains very clean, on both its brush and bearings. After 3 rounds of my living room, the Roomba was very dirty and tangled underneath, while the XV-11 looked brand new.
And here's a comparison pic:
So the big question is, are you going to pay for that fancy new bristle brush on the XV-21 with having to clean your robot a lot more often? And if so, is it worth it, considering that at least if there's hair clogging your robot it's not all over your floor? It's also worth mentioning that one of our favorite features about the XV-11 was the fact that the robot itself was much lower maintenance than the Roomba 560, which we assumed was partly due to the non-bristle brush.
If you like the sound of the XV-21 but already have an XV-11, it's easy to upgrade: you can buy the brush and filter separately (for $60) and install them into your robot, which suggests that there aren't any fundamental hardware differences to the XV-21, which you can buy on its own for $430. This is good news if you're an XV-11 owner, and not as good news if you're looking for something new and exciting and different from Neato.