Pet owners know about the delights of having a pet like a dog or a cat at home. Basically, you can’t help loving them because they also love you, and besides it’s very soothing to just simply spend some time relaxing while stroking their fur. Even doctors realize that having a pet offers medical benefits.

But that nice fur isn’t so nice when they’re not on your dog. They can be a mess to clean up and some people may be allergic, and that’s why you have the Neato XV-21. It has been a popular alternative as one of the best robotic vacuum cleaners for pet owners, next to the Roomba models for the last 4 years.


The XV-21 is quite affordable, especially these days when it’s showing its age. But it doesn’t mean it has “cheapo” features. This is one solid robotic vacuum. The design may be a bit quirky because it doesn’t have the sleek spacey look of other robot vacuums, but the retro Super Nintendo vibe does have its charm.

Besides, the way it actually works is much more important in its looks. When it comes to picking up pet hairs from the floor, it is a marvel that beats out all its competitors, and that includes newer Neatos. It doesn’t matter if it is going over short-pile or medium file carpets, or hardwood floors. It will pick up more strands of pet hair than other robots out there.

This is due to the specialty brushroll and pleated filter in the XV-21. The mechanism simply moves the hair into the bin without much tangling of hair along the way. You won’t have to pick too much hair in the brushroll at all. It also comes with a beater bar so it beats the dust off the carpets effectively.

Of course, this vacuum mechanism is very effective as well against all manners of particulates found on a floor that hasn’t been vacuumed for a while. Regardless of the surface, it will pick the dirt up.

It’s in the navigation which may give you problems with the Neato, however. It’s not quite as efficient, so it can keep on searching and doubling back, and it may somehow try to avoid obstacles that aren’t there. You don’t have “lighthouse” technology with the Neato, too. Instead, you have boundary markers.

It’s programmable so that you can schedule automatic vacuum sessions even when you’re not there. It will run for about 30 to 40 minutes, and then if it’s nearly drained it will come back to its dock to recharge. That takes about 3 hours.

Pros and Cons

It’s not that expensive as other models, and yet it is very powerful. It can deal with all manners of floor types and it can really get rid of pet hair and dust. Stairs aren’t a problem either because of the drop sensors, and to be doubly sure you can put boundary tape on the stairs.

Maintaining the XV-21 is also very simple and easy. In fact, it even reminds you when it’s time for you to empty the dust bin, and if you need to unclog the brushroll.

While theoretically the automatic charging system works great (and often it really does), when the XV-21 loses its way it may simply give up and it won’t dock at all. So you may find yourself coming home to a partially vacuumed house with a robot that isn’t charged at all. The navigation is very erratic, and there’s no real sense of it really mapping the floor. It can concentrate too much in one area and miss other spots completely.


It’s certainly a useful critter to have around, especially when you have a pet. But the problem is that the XV-21 was released on 2012, and the 4 years that have passed is like an eternity in the vacuum robot industry. It doesn’t really compare to the iconic Roomba.

If you’re unable or unwilling to spend a lot of money on a Roomba, you may want to try out the newer Neato vacuum robots like the XV Signature Pro or the latest XV Essential. They offer more features than the XV-21, and their prices are nowhere near Roomba’s. They’re smarter, and their navigation is much more trustworthy.

It’s only when you still can’t afford these other Neato models should you get the Neato XV-21. Although it’s worth the price since it has dropped from its original retail price, the other Neato models offer more bang for the buck. It’s a good buy, but there are better deals out there for you if you’re willing to spend just a little bit more.