Can you get a robot vacuum under $500 that does everything?
Today on the hookup we’re going to figure out if you can get a robotic vacuum that does it all for under $500. I’ve been using the Neabot NoMo and Ecovacs T8 with auto empty base for a little over 4 months now, and I’m ready to make my judgment. Both vacuums are packed with features that are usually only found on ultra high end vacuums so we’ll see if the Neabot NoMo can do it all for an MSRP of $499 or if the Ecovacs T8 with Auto Empty Base can justify its approximately $100 greater price tag.
There are lots of videos on youtube about robotic vacuums. In most of those videos they throw sand, rice or cheerios on the floor and judge the vacuums based on how much they pick up. Given that both of these vacuums have auto empty bases I decided to do a more real world test, so I used them daily for a little over 4 months and saved and labeled all the dust and debris that they collected. If watching a grown man pick through and analyze a month of dust isn’t your thing then you might want to skip this video, but in my opinion, the results were super interesting.
Lets get the easy stuff out of the way: In my semi-expert opinion there are a few robotic vacuum features that you should never go without: For the most accurate maps and navigation the vacuum should have a spinning laser on top called LIDAR, the app should let you place no go lines and zones easily, the roller brush should resist tangles and be easy to maintain, the robot should have adequate object avoidance to prevent scuffing of your furniture and baseboards, and one new feature that I’ve added to my must haves is an auto empty base that sucks out the contents of the dust bin after each cleaning. Both of these vacuums tick all these boxes. In my opinion other features like mopping and multifloor mapping are significantly less useful since they require you to babysit your vacuum while they work, which violates my first and most important rule of robotic vacuums: You should not have to interact with your robotic vacuum.
In the interest of transparency I should mention that Neabot sent me this early unit of their Neabot NoMo for review in October and it had a rough first 2 weeks where it would randomly stop in it’s cleaning cycle. I almost sent it back and told Neabot that I wasn’t interested since it clearly didn’t follow my first rule of robotic vacuum cleaners, but they told me they were aware of the issue and it was being fixed in software. After a firmware update in early-November my Neabot has performed pretty flawlessly.
I did spend my own money for the Ecovacs T8 with auto empty bin which I got on sale at best buy in early december for $459, but at the same time the Neabot NoMo was on sale for $399, so it seems you’ll always pay at least, a bit more for the T8. I don’t do sponsored reviews, so you’ll hear my honest thoughts, good and bad about both vacuums.
Lets start by looking at the vacuums themselves:
The neabot nomo has an all white finish and white base. On top of the robot you can see the spinning lidar sensor giving it an overall height of 9 and a half centimeters. The neabot has two side brushes and one main roller brush, which has a great design. It’s the only roller brush that I’ve ever seen that can be completely disassembled to remove hair tangles, and I hope other brands take note of this design.
Flipping it back over there are two cutouts on the front and side for infrared collision sensors, and infrared cliff sensors on the underside. The Neabot doesn’t have mopping and can therefore dedicate more space to its bin fairly large bin which pulls out from the back, but the dust bin size isn’t all that important since it will be emptied automatically every time the vacuum returns to the base.
Speaking of the base, the neabot’s charging base is 35 cm tall and Neabot recommends allowing at least 12 inches on either side of the base to allow the vacuum to easily dock, but I haven’t had any problems with my setup where there is just over an inch on either side since the Neabot’s docking protocol is pretty precise.
Inside the base is a vacuum bag that Neabot recommends replacing every 2 to 4 weeks, but your replacement schedule will ultimately depend on how much dust, hair and debris you have in your house and pet owners should expect to be on the lower end. You could probably extend this bag life a bit more but there does seem to be a performance decrease from leaving the bags in too long. In my tests the bag that I replaced after 60 days did not have twice as much dirt and debris as the bag I replaced after 30 days.
The Neabot empties its bin through a single opening on the bottom of the robot and it does so by backing in first, emptying the bin and then spinning around to start charging. The neabot auto empty process is quite loud, and has been dubbed “the Jet Engine” by my family, but it does do a great job emptying the bin, which didn’t experience any jams and only struggled to remove very heavy objects.
The EcoVacs T8 which is functionally the same as their highest end robot, the T8 AIVI, but without a front facing camera for AI object avoidance has a grey and black finish on both the robot and the base. It has a slightly more modern looking LIDAR enclosure on the top which gives it an overall height of 9 centimeters. The T8 has an array of front facing sensors that ecovacs calls true-detect 3d. According to the documentation it’s supposed to help the vacuum avoid objects better than previous generations, but I couldn’t see any real difference between the Neabot and the T8 in terms of object detection, though through the eyes of a security camera the T8 looks much more futuristic and spaceship like… probably not an important selection criteria but worth noting. Because the T8 includes mopping it needs a different setup for both the dustbin and dustbin emptying system. This also causes the bin size to be slightly smaller than the Neabot’s, though as I said, that is hopefully less of an issue with the auto empty base.
The Ecovacs auto empty base is quite a bit taller at 43 centimeters and it comes with a clear attachment to prevent drips on the floor if you are you using the moping feature. There are two holes for dust extraction, which I initially thought would work by pushing air into one of the holes and sucking air out of the other, but it seems like both are for suction and in my testing the ecovacs base is definitely more prone to clogging than the larger single opening on the neabot. This may be due to the smaller openings, lower overall suction of the base, or possibly even differences in the amount and type of dust that the vacuums are able to collect. I wasn’t able to measure the exact suction power of either base, but the ecovacs certainly sounds less powerful.
The bag size is basically identical on both vacuums, and ecovacs says it can hold “up to” 30 days of debris, which as I said before, can be exceeded, but can definitely lead to issues like less dust extraction and eventually clogging of the robot’s dustbin.
And that leads me to performance.
For me, the purpose of a robotic vacuum is not to throw into a filthy home and expect it to perform miracles, but instead they are best at keeping a clean home clean. I run my downstairs vacuum, which is currently the ecovacs t8 simply because it is quieter both during operation and during emptying, every night at 1am, and I run my upstairs vacuum the Neabot NoMo every weekday while my wife and I are at work and my daughter is at school. This frequent schedule stops dirt from getting ground into the carpet and allows the vacuum to easily keep the floors looking nice.
With that said, for the sake of controlled testing, I started out each vacuum on a level playing field by giving the floors a thorough clean with my dyson corded vacuum. In my first test I ran each vacuum for exactly 30 days on the first floor of my house which is about 70% carpet and 30% tile, and then removed and labeled their dust collection bags for comparison.
The results in this test were surprising. The first thing that I noticed was the difference in appearance of the two piles. The Neabot’s pile looks more coarse and stringy while the T8 is really dusty fine particles. This suggests that the T8 may be better at pulling fine particles out of the carpet which has to do with brush design and how close the suction can get to the carpet. The second thing that surprised me was how much more volume and mass was picked up by the T8 in the same 30 day period. The Neabot collected 49 grams of dust and debris compared to the 79 grams of the T8. I was impressed by some of the large objects that the Neabot was able to pick up and then extract, but you can definitely tell it cleans less dust and fine particles than the T8.
As I mentioned, neither of the bags seemed particularly full, so starting on January 26th I placed a new bag in each vacuum and ran the neabot 5 days a week upstairs and the ecovacs T8 7 days a week downstairs. At the end of 30 days I did a quick clean of the brushes and dumped any large debris that didn’t get sucked out of the bins, which didn’t have any clogs when I looked at them in February. On March 26th, 60 days later I collected and labeled the dust collection bags and here’s what I found:
The neabot collected 51 grams of dust and debris, only 2 grams more than the 30 day period, and the T8 collected just 84 grams, only 5 more than the 30 day period. In the case of the neabot this could be explained by the fact that it sucked up a heavy bracelet in the first test that increased the overall mass, but what about the T8? Upon futher inspection the dust bin appears to have gotten clogged sometime in the last 30 days of testing and there was an additional 28 grams of dust and debris that was too impacted to remove into the auto empty base. I’m not sure if the bag was full, or if one particular run produced so much dirt that the bin couldn’t empty, but the bin was definitely clogged. The app does have a warning message that says to clean the dust bin and filter regularly, but that message is displayed every 5 days no matter what and doesn’t seem to change based on a clog in the robot or base.
The vacuum bag contents were mostly the same as before with the neabot being full of mostly large debris while the T8 had a lot of dust and fine particles. This is also consistent with the testing done on the vacuum wars channel that showed that the neabot struggled with deep clean and crevasse pick up.
As for brush tangles, the Neabot had hair tangles throughout the entire brush while the T8 tangles were concentrated into small bands, and neither were particularly difficult to remove with the included tools. As I mentioned before I really like the design of the neabot brush which disassembles at both ends to allow for easier cleaning, but the T8 seemed to resist edge tangles completely so I guess that works just as well.
Next lets look at their software:
The neabot app is surprisingly good for a newer company, and I definitely prefer it over the ecovacs app. I did have a few issues with the neabot app crashing from time to time, but of all the vacuum apps that I’ve ever used the neabot the easiest to use with the most customization.
Both robots generated an extremely accurate map during their first cleaning that I was then able to add no go lines and zones to in order to keep them out of trouble areas. Both vacuums had options to change the suction power and turn features on and off but the neabot also had the option to change the frequency that the dustbin is emptied and the more option causes it to empty after every cleaning. If the EcoVacs app offered this option there’s a good chance you could avoid clogging completely.
Moving onto scheduling, I like the interface on the Neabot app slightly more, and my favorite feature is the ability to assign different cleaning types to different zones, meaning I can do a double pass on high traffic zones, and a single pass on the rest, and I can even skip different zones in different schedules. Overall, I like everything in the neabot app just a little bit better than the ecovacs app, when it works. Luckily since both of these vacuums obey my first rule of robotic vacuums I don’t have to open the apps very often.
Some additional considerations about these two vacuums: If you have an irregular schedule and you want to only trigger the vacuum cleaner when you are away for a certain amount of time then the Ecovacs is going to offer you significantly more options for automating that behavior. Although neabot has plans to allow for control with amazon echo devices, the app is currently the only way to start an unscheduled clean while the Ecovacs T8 is compatible with Amazon Echo, google home, and home assistant via a custom integration.
All vacuum cleaners have consumable parts, and these are no exception. Because neabot is a newer company having continued access to those parts is also a concern, but as of right now they are available on amazon, but because neabot is a smaller company, you’re less likely to find generic options for those accessories like you would for ecovacs vacuums.
And the last elephant in the room is that neabot is a new company, and if they were to go out of business it wouldn’t be out of question for you to lose all ability to set up new maps and change options. I did test out blocking the neabot from the internet, and it continues to follow its schedule and obey no-go lines, but you can’t access the vacuum or change options without a cloud connection.
So final verdict: It’s pretty clear from my results that the neabot doesn’t have the same amount of suction and pick up power as the deebot since it collected significantly less debris in the same time periods and the debris was overall larger and less dust like.
Although I do have some concerns with neabot being a newer company, I have to say that their app interface and options seem to be better than ecovacs and overall I haven’t had any issues with the vacuum after that firmware update in November. It’s hard to say how much more improved suction is worth, sometimes when these vacuums are on sale and the T8 only costs $50 more than the neabot, in which case I’d recommend the T8 to most people simply because of its better dust collection. For their normal MSRP the T8 is $200 more than the neabot, in which case the neabot is the much better deal, and it does a great job keeping the floors clear of hair, sand, and debris.
Either way, If you’re going from having no robotic vacuum cleaner at all, your mind will be blown by how clean your house feels on a daily basis. If you are coming from a non-LIDAR-navigation robot you will be amazed at the increased reliability that comes from no-go lines and zones, and if you’re upgrading your current LIDAR vacuum to an auto empty base you will love the fact that the chore of emptying the bin multiple times a week is gone. Both of these vacuums will accomplish the most desirable outcome, which is to work while you are asleep or away and not only keep your floors clean, but also reduce overall dust buildup in your house, without you ever seeing them.
As always, this is a completely non-sponsored review and I do not accept any payment for product reviews. I do have affiliate links to both vacuums down in the description, and if you use those links I get a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. Neabot also gave me a stackable 10% off coupon for the neabot down in the description, which could potentially get you a crazy deal… but I have no idea how long it will be active for.
Thank you so much to my awesome patrons over at patreon for your continued support of my channel, if you’re interested in supporting my channel please check out the links in the description. If you enjoyed this video please hit that thumbs up button and consider subscribing, and as always, thanks for watching the hookup.