I have recently purchased a Neato xv-11, and while I am fairly pleased with it I feel Neato Robotics could improve alot on their next model (or for future firmware updates). Feel free to chime in with any of your ideas.
Some of mine:
1) A brush option for the main beater bar; while the plastic does pretty well on hard floors, I find it to be unsatisfactory on medium to deeper carpets. This could be a replacement option for the standard plastic bar. While I realize bristle brushes often get tangled I imagine strong enough suction would prevent the bar from becoming too entangled. I have read many good things about Irobot
's aerovac system, many people have stated that the suction from this system is sufficient to prevent most hair from tangling the bar.
2) Better corner coverage; while I do not recommend a side suction duct (due to the loss of pressure for the main beater bar) I might recommend some sort of side beaters. Not too big of a deal for me, others get pet-peeved over this.
3) Multiple times a day scheduling; one of the pseudo-advantages roomba has over xv-11 is that it often covers the same spot multiple times, whereas xv-11 covers each spot only once. I feel that this advantage could easily be nullified if they allowed Neato to be scheduled to run multiple times a day. This would mean Neato covers the same area twice, or more, times a day. Another idea might be to have Neato take a different path for each cleaning, however I could see the difficult in such programming (and its energy inefficiency).
Lets be honest, I don't feel that a single "sweep" over a certain area by a robotic vacuum (that isn't as powerful as an upright) is sufficient to clean many types of surfaces. Even with powerful uprights, many people find it necessary to move back and forth to clean. I get alittle upset sometimes because XV-11 races past my tile and wasn't able to pick up some of the dirt in the "grooves" in the tile, and simple knowing that the neato will not ever go over that area again until tomorrow. Neato really needs to be able to cover surfaces more than once per day (in terms of scheduling). Future progress should be made so that Neato would cover areas via a different direction each time, yet still maintaining the energy efficiency that it holds over the roomba.
4) Quality Control on the manufacturing end; I have heard many good things about Neato Robotics sending replacements for defective products, which is excellent. However, I have also read alot of bad things about bad batches of plastic beater bars, along with faulty lasers. Neato Robotics would save face and money if they ensured their products were of good quality prior to them being shipped.
5) Dirt sensor. I have read that there are many patents surrounding dirt sensors and that is the primary reason this was never included in XV-11. Non-the-less I feel it should be stated that it would be a major improvement for Neato if it could go over extra-dirty areas multiple times and by multiple directions.
While I do not own a Roomba, I do feel that my XV-11 is alot more intelligent than any other robot-vacuum out there. I applaud the room mapping system (probably one of the better systems out there in the market), it is highly effective and efficient in my opinion. The laser is a nice feature, especially when it comes to the robot returning to dock (it has always made it back!) and finding its way to the next room (huge improvement over other products).
Some things could be implemented into the XV-11 as it is, firmware updates could allow multiple-times-per-day scheduling. A brush beater bar could be an option for sale for xv-11 if neato robotics determines the current suction to be on par with the roomba's aerovac.
If these things are included into the next Neato model, I will be very interested in purchasing it.