About A Robot

This is a story about a robot. Actually, it’s a story about a new house, nine cats, and a robot.

When we got our new (old) house, we knew that we wanted tile floors. Even though the humidity isn’t as bad in Central Texas as it is near the coast, it’s still pretty high. And we have cats. A lot of cats. Which, as any cat owner knows, means hair and puke and other misadventures. So, carpet was out.

The house we found has tile in most of the main floor, but the bedrooms had carpet. So, before we moved in, we ripped out the carpet and put in “wood” (vinyl) flooring “boards”. Easy to install and clean.

Just sweep and mop! Except, I’m an extraordinarily lazy person. I make excuses about my excuses not to do something, especially something as mundane as cleaning a floor. Which really isn’t that good, considering the amount of cat hair our babies generate. In technical terms, it’s an assload of hair. Tumbleweeds of hair.

I did some research on cleaning non-carpeted floors and ran across a cat group. They had tried a number of things, but one that seems pretty successful was the Neato Robot.

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Unlike the iRobot, which just knocks around into things, the Neato is laser guided. It makes a map of the objects in the room and then follows that map. (It does have bump sensors for objects out of its view — too low.)

The other thing that sold me on the Neato was the price — I could get a high-end model for the price of a mid/low range iRobot. And, here is laziness coming in again, it has a pretty good sized dust bin.

We’ve had it for about 4 months now — long enough for me to give a proper review.

Long story short, it does a pretty darn ¬†good job of keeping our home floors clean. It picks up a LOT of hair. And I do mean a LOT. Not perfect — it does blow tumbleweeds around sometimes — but very good. Whenever I clean the bin I’m always amazed by the amount of crap it picks up.

Downsides? It will take more than one charge to clean our modest 1500 square foot home (it’s actually cleaning less than that, as we have one room closed off). The good thing is that when it runs low on juice, it just docks, recharges, then starts up again. But that takes a while.

Because we have a lot of obsticles around, it does take time to clean. I think about an hour to do most of the rooms — but that’s an hour of machine time.

It’s not the quietest thing in the world, but it’s a vac, so you can’t fault that. The bin still needs to be cleaned at least once during a vac session, but, to be fair, we have a lot of cats and they generate a lot of loose hair.

It’s pretty rare for it to get stuck somewhere. The Neato is good at getting itself out of problem areas, but once in a while it beeps to get help (it also alerts you if the bin is full).

One thing it does force us to do is some “pre cleaning”. We have to pick up any rope-like toys that might tangle in the revolving brush. And we put away the snack trays or any other light furniture (it will push around some light stuff, especially if it gets stuck on the item). This is actually a good thing, in a way, as it forces us to maintain a certain level of non-messiness. Keeping crap off the floor is good! The Neato is also the reason why I designed all of our bookshelves to be 6″ off the ground — so it can clean under them.

Cleaning the Neato is a breeze. The bin is easy to empty. The filter gets some shop vac action to keep it clean (I do this once in a while, not every time). The brush/roller is extremely easy to remove and clean. Far easier than any traditional vac.

Spending hundreds of dollars on a robot vac seemed pretty crazy to me at first. But, I thought about it. Opportunity cost. The time we save not having to vac/sweep will pay for the robot within a year. That’s a pretty good return on investment. Plus, we don’t have to handle a task that we don’t like.

What about the cats? Amazingly, after a few runs, they get perfectly used to it. Doesn’t phase them a bit. They either follow it around, seeing where it will go next, or just hop up somewhere and take a nap. I has very glad of that — I didn’t need a house full of paniced cats!

DSCN4636 (Small)P.S. This blog posting was typed in my living room, on my recliner, on the antique AlphaSmart 3000. Cats can jump on my lap and I don’t worry about them screwing up my work or me dropping a laptop. I’m not typing this on the AS to be cool — but because a certain little kittie of mine decided that my chair was the ideal place for a nap. The things I do for my babies.