Neato XV21 Pet Hair Vacuum Review: Is It Time to Retire Yet?

With the bliss of having a fur baby in the house comes the trial of cleaning after its sheddings. 

Vacuuming an apartment littered with pet hair is not a cakewalk. 

Most pet owners believe that robot vacuums are not cut out for them and opt for upright vacuums instead. Is this really the case? 

With a handful of pet-friendly robot vacuums dominating the market, Neato Robotics seems to believe otherwise.

The company launched its most powerful pet hair and allergen catcher, the XV-21, back in 2012. Almost a decade later, this unit is still considered unparalleled. 

But is Neato XV-21 really a wise pick in 2021? Is this time for this unit to retire or does the XV-21 still have a long way to go?

We tell you all that in this 2021 version of the Neato XV21 review

A Glance at Neato XV-21 Robot Vacuum

neato xv21 review

Product Highlights:

  • Hybrid Motorized Specialty Brushroll pulls dust, dirt, and pet hair like a magnet.
  • HEPA filters remove allergens from the air.
  • Flexible scheduling features allow you to pre-schedule cleaning sessions a week ahead.
  • Magnetic Boundary System creates a virtual wall.
  • The D-shaped advantage allows better edge cleaning.
  • 60 minutes run time.


Product Dimensions5.5 x 21.3 x 15.2 inches
Item Weight14.37 pounds

The Outlook:

If you are an 80’s kid with a fair share of Nintendo nostalgia, you are in for a treat. Neato XV 21 robotic vacuum resembles a Nintendo game console. The designers don’t shy away from giving the unit this distinct classic face. 

Then again, a dated look doesn’t mean that the design isn’t ergonomic. Like all Neato botvacs, the XV-21 has a flat front with a rounded back making it look like a D. The makers claim that the D-shaped advantage makes it easy for the device to clean across edges and tight corners.   

The unit has a basic control panel with a stark red ‘start’ button and an LED screen. It is short, stout, and hefty. 

With a super quirky and super fun appearance, the XV-21 is nothing like the sleek modern-day botvacs. 

In short, you are looking at a D-shaped solid botvac with a loud and unusual appearance. 

What does Neato XV-21 Pet and Allergy Robot Vacuum Offer?

Neato XV-21 may not be loaded with innumerable features, but the device has enough up its sleeve to provide a good value for your money. This automatic vacuum cleaner comes with:

Motorized Specialty Brushroll:

Neato pet vacuum is equipped with a motorized brush roll. The brush material is an interesting hybrid of nylon and rubber. This unique material picks pet hair, dust, and dander like a magnet. 

The combined work of the specialty brush roll, strong suction, and a pleated filter quickly moves hair, including the long ones, from the cleaning surface to the bin. There is little to no tangling in the process. 

HEPA Filtration:

This is a welcome feature irrespective of whether or not you are prone to allergies. For allergic individuals, having a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters is a must. For everyone else, it is always a great idea to remove allergens and dander from the environment.

The HEPA filtration system in Neato XV21 Pet and Allergy robotic vacuum effectively removes maximum allergens from the air around you and prevents them from circulating back in. 

Scheduling Feature:

The XV-21 is programmable. You can schedule your robot to clean on its own once a day for all 7 days of the week. You can pre-set it to work at different times on different days and may also decide to give it a rest once a while. 

Magnetic Boundary System:

Neato Robotics XV21 utilizes a magnetic boundary system to generate an invisible wall. This helps the device to map out the cleaning area and to avoid hitting obstacles. This also prevents the botvac from falling off the stairs.

The virtual wall system that newer robot vacuum cleaners use quickly drains the battery. In contrast, the magnetic boundary is simpler and much more energy efficient. 

What Features does Neato XV-21 Lack?

Being feature-packed isn’t the defining element of Neato Robotics XV 21. Rather, it’s the power, performance, and value for money that still gives the unit a strong rapport.

When you are considering the XV-21, do keep in mind that this is a basic, aging robot. Ergo, the unit does not have a:

Remote Control:

This means that you won’t be able to navigate the robot from the comfort of your couch. If you want to stop it, you will have to walk up to it to press the button. Similarly, if you want the robot to work on a particular area, you’ll literally have to pick it up and place it there.

Edge Brushes:

The XV-21 struggles with the corners and edges due to a lack of edge brushes. This is the reason this model cannot fully utilize the “D-shaped advantage” the way newer Neato robots do.  

Things We Love About Neato XV-21

It has been almost a decade since the XV-21 made its way to the ever-expanding vacuum cleaner market. Here are the reasons why this botvac still sells.

Picks Up Pet Hair Better than Most Robots:

The XV-21 has stronger suction than most robot vacuum cleaners today. Even the newer Neato vacuum cleaners cannot beat this classic in terms of suction capabilities.

This feature, coupled with the hybrid brush roll effectively picks up dirt, dust, dander, and hair on its cleaning path. This robot does have limited intuition, but the muscle power makes up for it. 

Good Run Time:

Since there aren’t a load of extra things going on, the XV-21 can invest all of its energy into a cleaning cycle. Ergo, this robot enjoys a prolonged run time, often up to 60 minutes. After each run, the botvac returns to its charging station and automatically plugs itself for a recharge. 

Bagless System:

The best thing about larger canisters and uprights is their heavy-duty performance. However, they require YOU to do the cleaning. Robot vacuums are smooth, convenient, bagless, and hassle-free. And they do the cleaning on their own.

Neato XV-21 ensures that you enjoy the perks of an automated bagless system while not compromising performance. 

Low Maintenance:

The dust bin is easy to handle. The brush is also removable and washable. Battery longevity is impressive. Overall, this unit is pretty much low maintenance. 

Pleasant Price Point:

Even at its prime, the Neato XV-21 had a lower price point than Roomba models with similar specifications. Today, this Neato robot vacuum cleaner costs even less. If you are looking for a budget buy, the humble price point will give you joy. 

Things We Don’t Like about Neato XV-21

Not everything about this botvac is smooth though. These are the areas that the robot needs to work on if it doesn’t want to retire just yet.

Struggles with Edge Cleaning:

The botvac struggles with edge cleaning. The maker truly needed to add some side brushes here. 


Like all Neato robots, the XV-21 is noisy. Better schedule it to run when you are not home. 

Not “Up To The Minute”:

In the era of voice-controlled robots, the unit is pretty basic and manual. 

Putting Neato XV-21 to Test

Now that you have figured out what to and what not to expect from the Neato Robotic Vacuum XV-21, it’s time to put this 2012 classic to the test. 

We ran the XV-21 over three surfaces – hard vinyl floor, low pile carpet, and medium-pile carpet. Here’s how this turned out – 


Although its predecessors such as the Neato XV Signature and the Neato D3 Connected set the bar of pet hair cleaning pretty high, the XV-21 still surpasses them in performance, proving Neato’s claim that this indeed is a ‘Pet and Allergy’ vacuum cleaner. 

On the hard floor, the unit picked up 90% of the pet hair we laid out. On low and medium-pile carpet, it successfully sucked up 80% of the pet hair in a single run. 

To test its performance against fine dust we used flour and talcum powder. The unit picked up about 15% of it from the carpets and almost double the quantity, i.e 30% from the hard floor in a single sweep. 

The strong suction power proved handy when we tested it against rice particles. The Neato Robot Vacuum Cleaner XV-21 picked up about 60% rice from medium pile carpet, about 64% from low pile carpet, and 70% from the hard floor. 


All Neato robots are built with the same laser-guided navigation system. This enables the Neato XV-21 to detect obstacles and formulate a cleaning path. 

Instead of zooming around in random circles, this unit walks back and forth in neat little rows. The navigation is effective and doesn’t miss a spot.

When it comes to dodging obstacles, this classic piece of equipment is a pro. It systematically avoids hitting furniture legs. 

However, we advise that you declutter your space and remove things like wires from the floor. Also, the manufacturers recommend that you keep the charging base in an open space to help it find its docking station without trouble. 

Transition to and from hard floors to carpets is smooth. A word of advice; if your rugs have tassels at the edges, tuck them in. Otherwise, the tassels may get tangled with the brush. 

Although we were pretty impressed with the navigation system, we must warn you that the unit does not have a SLAM algorithm like the modern-day botvacs do. Hence, it doesn’t offer a multi-room cleaning mode. You have to take this vacuum cleaner to individual rooms in the house. 

Ease of Use:

Using and maintaining the Neato XV-21 is a no-brainer. Simply start it by pushing the start button or by scheduling it beforehand. 

The violet area on the device is the dirt bin. It is easy to remove and empty. 

The only maintenance this vacuum cleaner requires is cleaning the HEPA filters and the brush roll. Most Neato XV21 reviews suggest cleaning the filters once a week to maximize their longevity. Don’t worry, this is fairly easy. You just need to brush the dust off using a soft-bristled tool.

What is Newer than Neato XV-21?

If the only thing keeping you from getting the XV-21 is the absence of the latest features, check out its younger sibling, the Neato Botvac D3 Connected

This sleek and stylish botvac is the latest from Neato Robotics and is armed with state-of-the-art features such as app operation, voice control using Google Home and Alexa, multiple cleaning modes, and much more. 

Moreover, it retains most of the great features of the Neato XV-21, including a strong suction, laser-guided navigation, and 60 minutes runtime. 

Want to know more about the D5? Check out our review here!

Our Final Verdict on Neato XV-21 Pet and Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Before giving our final verdict, here is a quick recap of the pros and cons of the Neato XV-21 Pet and Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner.

The Pros:

  • Excellent suction
  • Superb pet hair cleaning
  • Excellent dirt pickup
  • Flexible scheduling feature
  • Satisfactory navigation system
  • Easy bin emptying
  • Easily removable and washable brush roll

The Cons:

  • Noisy
  • Lacks edge brushes
  • Small dirt bin
  • No remote control
  • Lacks some latest features 

The Score Board:

  • Design 7/10
  • Features 6/10
  • Performance 9/10
  • Navigation 9/10
  • Usability 8/10
  • Battery Life 7/10
  • Value for Money 8.5/10

Final Score 7.8/10

The Bottomline

If you are looking for a sleek-looking robot vacuum cleaner that teams up with your Google Home or Amazon Alexa, the Neato XV-21 is perhaps not for you. 

However, if you don’t mind a classic device that cleans your home like a pro, welcome to the world of Neato XV-21 Pet and Allergy Automatic Vacuum Cleaner.

This unit does what it claims, gets rid of all the fur littering your floor and lurking in the air. Not only is this botvac ideal for pet owners, but this is also a good pick for anyone who loves good and efficient cleaning.

Happy shopping fellas!

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