Top critical review
DOESN'T Connect, so DOESN'T WORK and Neato Support IS NO HELP AT ALL in fixing!
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2018
After less than 2 years of once/week use, my Neato D7 stopped working after a firmware and iOS app update. I own two of these D7's, and this one, the older of the two, stopped "talking" to my iOS app. Because Neato does not offer any sort of web interface, I have no idea if the problem is with the app, the firmware change, or both. Oddly, my newer Neato is still working fine, so my guess is the firmware. Problem is, the Neato support staff seems utterly uninterested in having me do anything other than re-configuring my network, which isn't addressing the problem.
Neato FINALLY sent me an RMA and I shipped my D(efective)7 back to them for repair or replacement. Oddly, the very day it arrived, they shipped a D7 back to me. Wow, perhaps that means it is a new or refurbished robot? After arrival, I tried to connect it to my network. Guess what? IT DIDN'T WORK. It also came back with a fine mesh screen instead of a filter in the dustbin. Odd -- I sent it in with a filter in place. As part of trying to connect the supposedly repaired D7, I noticed that they MAC Address is the same, indicating that it is the same exact D(efective)7 that I shipped back to them. I thought that perhaps they had reflashed the ROM or something. Sadly, from all appearances, Neato did NOTHING to fix the beast. They simply slapped a new label on it the same day it arrived and shipped it back. Or, if they did anything in the few hours it was in their hands, it did nothing to solve the problem. Wow -- that has to be the WORST RMA service I've ever had the displeasure to experience.
You have been warned...
TLDR: My D7 stopped responding to the iOS app. Following the directions of two different Neato Support techs (Gareth and Luke), I deleted the D7 from the app and have since wasted hours and hours, both on my own and following their directions, to try to get it working again. Not only were they unable to help me do so, they have stopped responding to queries, are not escalating this to a higher-level tech, and have generally left me with an $800 wall ornament.
The details: The first thing Neato support (Gareth, on March 30) had me do was delete the entry in the iOS app for the problematic robot. Since then, the iOS app has repeatedly refused to re-add the robot to my account and the app. It always fails after connecting to the Internet. After Gareth stopped answering emails, I tried adding the D7 to my account using their website (you cannot manage things from there, simply add the robot by serial number). I managed to get the D7 running on its previously set schedule, but it still would not allow me to manage it with the iOS app.
Sadly, Luke convinced me that I needed to delete the manually entered D7 website entry, reset the robot and all would be well. I capitulated, and, sadly, NOTHING WORKS now. On April 21, in a response 10 days after my last email to Luke asking for a level 2 or 3 tech to help me, I received an email from Eric, from the Neato tech support & escalations team. Eric said that they don't really know why I (and many others) are unable to connect our robots. He mentioned that we could always try a Factory Reset (though has never responded to my requests to tell me HOW to do that), and asked for more information on my router and Wi-Fi configuraiton. Isent him that information along with updates based on further debugging, but have NEVER heard back. Are you detecting a pattern? I emailed yet again on May 11, but still no word from Eric and Neato.
I am far from technically naive, and I configured my firewall to report on all outbound connections from the failed D7. I can see it go to the DNS server to find the Neato servers. I see it connect to servers in AWS. Then, while waiting for a reply, it times out. About 60 seconds after the timeout, a bunch of data comes from the servers, then it all disconnects. Even odder, the Neato D7 remembers my Wi-Fi SSIDs and passwords (!!) when it isn't connected to the Internet. This means the D7 is saving this information in its internal memory. Wow, talk about a security hole!! I tried pulling out the battery and leaving it out for 2 days, hoping that would act as the Factory Reset Eric mentioned, but refused to describe to me. No joy. Not only does the D7 behave the same as before, it also still remembers my SSID and password pair. SO BE WARNED: do not give away your Neato D7 to someone until or unless you can find out from Neato how to clear your Wi-Fi information out of its memory (or you are willing to change your Wi-Fi password). Convenience is nice, but not when it can so thoroughly compromise your network security while offering you no way to remove the data.
I've also noticed that the D7 I have that is working regularly ignores the DNS server information on my network and just calls the Google DNS system (18.104.22.168). Were it not for all the time I speng with Gareth and Luke reconfiguring my network to switch DNS servers, this bit of hardcoding would almost be funny. Instead, it is yet another instance of Neato's questionable programming practices.
C'Mon Neato -- work with me to FIX THIS. Less than two years of weekly use hasn't broken this robot. It seems nearly certain that your software changes did that. I will work with you if you can connect me with someone who can actually debug the problem vs. take me through the same, rote change (reboot Neato and iPhone, change DNS to Google, try again, perhaps turn off 5G -- despite both robots normally connecting to that... wow, that didn't work after 5 tries... try again...). Sigh.
Here is the original review, which was titled: Works really well, once you figure it out
The D7 is quite agile when compared to the Roomba; I've watched the D7 lift its front end up to climb from tile to carpet, which is a nice trick. It doesn't always work (e.g. a shag throw rug in one bathroom bunches up when the D7 tries to climb onto it), but it often does. I'm also happy with its cleaning; picks up dust, dirt, pet hair... pretty much everything on my tile and Berber-carpeted floors. I really like its ability to realize it is low on power, head back to the base, recharge and start cleaning where it left off! It is able to clean my entire top floor (it says almost 900 square feet covered) with no recharge or only 1 recharge.
The mapping and no-go lines are killer features, especially when compared to iRobot wanting you to buy IR Beacons (or virtual walls... $60/pop for the 700-series); the beacons are also range limited (6 - 10 feet), and if you don't notice the batteries are running low (I run my Roomba when I am out of the house), the Roomba happily finds its way past the beacon and goes where you don't want it.
Now not everything is perfect with the D7, else I would've given it 5-stars. The most glaring hole is the poor documentation. The information in the package and iOS app is minimal, and there are (or were not, when I checked) a detailed Wiki, FAQ or knowledge base. It is their newest unit, but still, things like:
- Will the no-go lines be respected when running on a schedule (yes!)?
- How do you restart the D7 once it gets stuck and do so in a way that it continues cleaning vs. return to base (move it less than 2-feet, which is documented, then press once on the start button, which wasn't)?
- Do you need to do a special mapping run or will the D7 just map as it does its initial cleanings (it will map without a mapping run, but you won't be able to set no-go lines until/unless you first do a mapping run)?
- If you use the magnets to block the D7 from a room (in this case, a walk-in closet, where I did not want it rummaging through my shoes or against hanging items close to the floor), will the D7 enter that room after the mapping run when the magnets are removed (Yes! Though support told me no...)?
I also had some initial problems getting the D7 to make its initial map, but after 2 or 3 false starts (getting stuck then returning to base when I tried to free/restart it), I had my map. Then I laid down no-go lines under my desks, where I have computer cables strung. in a corner where I keep a fan plugged in, to keep it to the middle of my closet... and it WORKS GREAT! It was the process of getting there that was frustrating at times.
I do have a gripe with the filter used in the D7. The filter itself is surrounded by fine mesh. Seems like a good idea, until you find that dust gets stuck behind the mesh and cannot be cleaned out (not with a brush, vacuum or tweezers). Poor design choice, unless your goal is to sell more filters...
I've also had problems where I received different answers from different support people; usually one of them was right, but it took trial and error to figure that out.
All in all, I am happy with my D7 and would never consider getting another Roomba (not throwing the old one away, but I know where I will turn when it is time to replace it). I hope that Neato irons out the kinks/holes in their documentation. A better filter design would be nice too :)