This Robot Mops, Vacuums and Doesn’t Suck

This Robot Mops, Vacuums and Doesn’t Suck
Image: Lifehacker Australia
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To me, robot vacuums have always seemed like an expensive purchase that can never live up to the power of a handheld. But I may have to reconsider that statement after spending time with one.

Ecovacs’ new Deebot N8 Pro may not be the most premium robot vacuum cleaner on the market, but it gets the job done and I must confess I haven’t touched my faithful Dyson handstick in weeks.

What’s good about the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro?

deebot n8 pro cleaning
Image: Lifehacker Australia

Cleaning

The first thing you should know about the Deebot N8 Pro is that it’s a 2-in-1 – it both mops and vacuums. It can also detect whether it’s running on carpet and automatically adjusts its cleaning process to match. So you don’t have to worry about it trying to mop your carpet.

This is a pretty neat feature for those with lots of tile or hardwood floors. My apartment is mainly carpet with small areas of tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. Unfortunately, because of the raised nature of the tiled areas in my house I had to physically lift the vacuum into the rooms I wanted it to mop in. Therefore I couldn’t really judge the seamless transition between these two cleaning modes.

However, when it came to vacuuming and mopping those areas individually, I found the Deebot N8 Pro to be quite adequate.

The robot can be adjusted to four different power settings. I mainly used it on maximum suction and mopping to get the best clean and I consistently emptied a full basket of waste at the end of each cycle.

You can’t add detergent to the water tank so the mopping cycle isn’t going to get you a sparkling fresh clean. That being said, I always found the Deebot picked up the majority of debris on the tiles, although I’d sometimes have to run it twice.

Even on max power, the N8 Pro didn’t pick up every stray crumb or piece of dust, particularly in corners, but it did the job well enough.

You also can’t overstate the convenience of a robot vacuum. Being able to switch it on for a cycle and leave it alone to do the cleaning is the best feeling for those who are time poor or just aren’t a fan of doing the vacuuming (which, let’s be honest, is everyone).

The Deebot’s TrueDetect 3D technology and AI are also impressive.

It was able to navigate and remember the layout of my apartment and deftly avoid obstacles. I’ve never seen it bump into anything and it hasn’t left any scratches or scrapes on my walls or furniture.

Sure, it’s prone to silly vacuum things like occasionally roaming around in circles for a bit, but it’s always course-corrected and I’ve never worried about it missing an area.

I had to rescue the Deebot once or twice from the raised ramp areas of my apartment, but I blame that more on the apartment design rather than the vacuum. It just really wanted to clean everywhere.

The N8 Pro can lead itself back to its charging dock which is insanely useful if you just want to start a cycle and leave the house. It’s also compatible with the Ecovacs’ auto empty charging station, but you’ll need to fork out extra for that.

Design and app

deebot n8 pro design
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Design-wise the N8 Pro is pretty standard for a robot vacuum. It’s circular in shape and has a raised notch for the sensor, two side sweepers and a centre brush and a built-in tank for water. It only ships in white and comes with a docking station that needs to be plugged into a wall outlet.

The robot comes apart easily for cleaning with detachable brushes and a pop-up lid with a simple dustbin. It has a removable mopping pad that you can fit with disposable cloths or one that you can wash and reuse.

The vacuum may do the cleaning around the house but you’ll have to clean its internal parts pretty frequently or the robot will stop and tell you about it.

The Deebot is controlled entirely from within the Ecovacs app over your home’s WiFi. I found it was quick and easy to set up – it took less than 10 minutes.

deebot n8 pro app
Image: Lifehacker Australia/Ecovacs

From there, at the press of one button, I could just activate smart cleaning and leave the robot vac to do its thing. The app will alert you if the robot gets stuck or needs the filter cleaned and it will also call out to you via the inbuilt speaker so you can find it.

The app allows a virtual map to be built via the robot’s inbuilt sensor technology. This means you can choose which areas of the house you want it to clean and create virtual boundaries for any you don’t.

The Deebot N8 Pro is also compatible with your Google or Alexa smart home speakers. You can give the robot a nickname and then control it with just your voice.

The last thing that the Deebot N8 Pro should be praised for is its price. At an RRP of $799, it’s far from a cheap purchase but it won’t cost you thousands of dollars for a 2-in-1 like some of the other premium vacuum brands.

What’s not so good?

Image: Lifehacker Australia

While I was impressed with the Deebot’s capabilities it did have a couple of flaws.

Battery

The battery life was the main one. I have a pretty small apartment split over two levels but sometimes the N8 Pro would struggle to complete one floor before running out of juice.

I found it averaged between 30-45 minutes of battery which wasn’t quite enough for it to complete its clean. You can lower the suction and mopping settings to try and get a longer duration but then you sacrifice that extra cleaning power.

The good news is that the vacuum will direct itself to its dock when it’s out of juice, charge itself up and then continue its cycle without you having to do a thing.

App glitches

The Ecovacs app also doesn’t have a huge amount of functionality and I found it could be glitchy. Sometimes the app would lose the maps the Deebot had created, forcing it to start all over again.

It could also become quite slow and did crash on me a few times. Often I’d hear the robot yelling at me before I got a notification in the app. But these are minor disruptions.

Deep cleaning

While the Deebot performed above my expectations for its thoroughness and cleaning, it doesn’t give the deep clean you would get from a traditional vacuum or a Dyson.

(I’m actually shocked Dyson hasn’t broken into the robot vacuum market yet but can you imagine when it does? I’m not sure our wallets can handle it.)

The Deebot simply can’t get into every nook and cranny, particularly when mopping without detergent.

Plus it’s not exactly something you’d go to if you need to quickly clean up spills or broken glass, so you can’t eradicate the need for a traditional vacuum entirely.

Deebot N8 Pro: The verdict

deebot n8 pro ecovacs
Image: Lifehacker Australia

On the whole, I found Ecovacs’ Deebot N8 Pro to be an immensely handy little unit.

Its cleaning capacities were beyond what I expected of a robot vacuum and while it can’t compete with the power or depth of a traditional vacuum or mop, it does the job.

Its detection capabilities are impressive and while it suffers from a short battery life its AI processing powers allowed it to be largely hands-off as it self-charges and avoids obstacles.

Price-wise the Deebot N8 Pro won’t break your bank account at $799 – like some of the premium robot vacuum cleaners. It’s still a hefty investment but worth it if you hate the chore of vacuuming.

For me, a robot vacuum is all about convenience and, aside from a few minor flaws, the Deebot N8 Pro cleans up here.

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