Neato XV-11, dark grey, replacing a Roomba 500 series. Appears made after August, 2011, since came with V2.1 software, immediately upgraded to 2.6 of 2012. Entirely run on low pile carpet, residential.
Subjectively as much as twice as much dirt, maybe more, extracted by the Neato in one run than the Roomba 500 (can't comment on newer models). Had previously found the 500 series Aerovac Roomba bin not as effective as the original split bin -- most dirt was fine particulates, and is run in only one room at a time, without pets resident. Neato did not seem to pull as much fiber out of the carpet, perhaps for lack of a brush. Maybe a good thing, if that was damaging the rug.
Neato charging base worked on low pile carpet against low base molding well, no mods required (though the charger needs bracing on the back when used on hard floors with half round molding against the walls causing a gap, not supplied with it). The machine approaches the charger oddly cautious with tiny little hops to insure level, as because backing up hard exerts torque flipping up the back lacking much weight. Software was the 2012 v2.6 release.
Noise level hard to judge with different pitch levels, neither suitable for using while present [in retrospect would say not too bad on carpet; much loader slapping of beater vanes on hard floors]. Through a closed door actually harder to hear the Neato, from lower pitch. Some web articles report a Roomba DB level about the same as Neato's 79 decibels. The afvantage is to clean when away from the house or part cleaned, anyway.
Neato suffers the same overhead wedge pinch stoppage under soft bottomed sofas as Roomba, and will require raising a sofa here 1/2" on blocks. Previously had temporarilly just raised the front when cleaning, but inadequate for Neato, so something permanent to consider. This situation allows the bot to imbed itself under a deceptive soft surface which gradually clutches increasingly, and is not detected by the bumper or scanner. There is a lack of detection where the bots do not detect disabled movement either and shut off (rather odd that, maybe could damage motors). Of course the offending piece can just be blocked off and only occaisionally cleaned underneath (besides the Neato magnetic strip, a thin piece of wood can be mounted recessed far under the sofa, or even a cloth strip, and won't be normally visible).
Neato moves slower than Roomba (both slower on carpets than hard surfaces), which allows the single pass cleaning to do more than a single Roomba pass -- plus the stronger suction.
This Neato has a beater roller instead of Roomba's brush, and still did better. Not clear if the German half-brush-half beater will do better; Neato noted here hopes to make this brush available outside Germany at some time, due to volume of requests. May be more relevant to pet owners reporting less effectiveness with hair using the beater. Until the Neato brush becomes available cannot make a judgement.
Absence of the side brush on Neato was welcome, as arms kept breaking off now and then when swept against some sharp corner somewhere, and I am not convinced it accomplishes much in the first place. The edges of the room are of less concern. It is more critical to the Roomba with a shorter vacuum opening imbedded within the machine circumferance. This brush is also what grabs onto wires tucked against the wall which may be avoided without it. Further testing required, avoided for initial runs. One less supply item to buy.
When considering all the accessories, lighthouses etc. to buy for Roomba, the Neato looks notably cheaper at full retail prices. Perhaps advantage to consumer from the challenge of competing with the leading brand, requiring lower prices for the features included.
The Neato standard filter (not HEPA), has noticeably different, fuzzy material compared to Roomba. Harder to see that dirt is brushed off it. Long term observation will be required to evaluate. They seem more expensive than old style Roomba filters at this point, which can change with more suppliers. And there will be different HEPA filters worth more as market develops.
Long term reliability not available for this review. Wide distribution begun late 2011, Target stores etc., would indicate they should have reached some adequate level or those large retailers would face a lot of customer complaints. They aren't known for selling mostly useless junk.
Since Neato employs the same sort of optial cliff sensor as Roomba, an alternative type of blocking strip based on black material detected as a cliff might work with Neato as well -- haven't tried. Needs a non-reflective material, not just black color. Unfortunately such things can be dust traps as well.
All in all is an upgrade over the older Roomba which worked well several years (and still does, but no longer needed). The Roomba was cheaper than the Neato at the original retail price years ago, but the newer models seem more expensive. Maybe some more detailed accounting is needed, but it looks like a nice improvement for the price -- even more with the occaisional bargain.
Addendum: Docking issues turn out often to be excess sunlight in the room, from large windows. Even cloudy days and sun on the opposite building side can be enough to confuse it. Closing the blinds seems to be the cure. Resurrects Neato from it's vampiric quality of working only at night.