The humble vacuum is certainly going through changes. Growing up we had a vacuum that had a material bag inside it, a 20 meter cable to the powerpoint, would make a rowdy racket and you had to manoeuvre the head and ground unit around the house. Eventually we joined the bagless revolution and even battery powered vacuums and things were a hundred times better than the former. Today we have robot vacuums and while they’ve had a slow start, they’ve now become intelligent and useful that you’ll actually want one.
The Deebot 900 has been patrolling our house recently and is the smartest vacuum we’ve ever used. It is incredibly advanced in terms of navigation and connectivity. From a navigation point of view the Deebot 900 uses technology similar to lidar which powers self-driving vehicles to see objects and map out a household well beyond the ground right in front of them. The Deebot 900 will patrol your home and create an entire floor plan while vacuuming, it will look into rooms, even outside, despite not being able to travel out there. Through all of the navigation and mapping you’ll later find a complete floor plan of your house. You can use that floor plan to command the vacuum to focus on particular areas or create virtual boundaries where you dont want the vacuum to visit.
We loved both features for doing a kitchen clean up after dinner and for avoiding our plush rug in the lounge room. One thing we also loved was that regardless of where the Deebot 900 was in the house, if we commanded it to return back to base, it would navigate it’s way there without a bump. The sensors on the vacuum are extremely smart at mapping out objects and walls however it did struggle to stop when an item was shorter than 3 or so centimetres. A clothes airer which we use in the living room become a sticky point for Deebot as it tried to climb over it and got stuck. The bumper on the front would need to be lower to recognise this object as something it shouldn’t attempt.
From a connectivity point of view the Deebot 900 uses Wi-Fi to connect to your smartphone but it also takes commands from your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa devices. So “Alexa, ask Deebot to start vacuuming” will set the vacuum on a cleaning trip and “Alexa, ask Deebot to recharge” will send the vacuum back to it’s base.
As a vacuum, the Deebot performs an everyday clean rather well. The suction is not as impressive on carpet as we have seen with the iRobot 980 which detected the surface and adjusted accordingly. It does however clean the surfaces very well, just without sucking the roots of the carpet bed. The “bag” or bin of the Deebot is around the size of a Coke can at 350ml which will mean you’ll empty it often to begin with however if you run the Deebot regularly you’ll find it necessary less and less. The Deebot will remember where it has last been and will work to cover the whole house before going over it’s last steps. It will also be glad to return home to charge before venturing out again to finish the job if required.
Most importantly is the price here, the iRobot 980 was not as intelligent from a navigation point of view, had better suction but cost twice the price of this Deebot 900 which sells for $799. So what we are left with is a vacuum that is smart, connected and becoming an affordable option. We’re very impressed with what Ecovacs has put in our homes to review and will be sure to shed a tear when we leave that front door open and watch it navigate and clean the streets.
Living in Sydney his entire life, Geoff has always had a close eye on technology. Through school and immediately after, tech held his focus. Attending University later in life, Geoff began his IT career immediately after leaving high school and has been in the industry ever since. In his spare time he launched a YouTube channel focused on consumer tech that had millions of views. This led to work on community radio talking tech every week and has now stepped him into the studios of 2GB / 4BC every Saturday helping people with tech problems and reviewing the latest gadgets.
When Geoff is looking away from the screen he can be found holding a glass of red wine, spending time with friends and/or watching the Formula 1.