Robot vacuum cleaners have gone from something very niche to an affordable concept. You can regularly find models on sale for under $200. That may seem like a funny definition of “affordable,” but when you add up the cost of a decent traditional vacuum plus the value of your time, I think it adds up.
I had a chance to review the Ecovac M88, made by Deebots. This is a newer model, and it’s a bit more than $200, but it’s also a bit more than just a robot vacuum.
First, the things it has that others do—you can control it with an app, it can sense where things are, where stairs are, etc. It has an alarm it gives off when it gets stuck… which happened a few more times than I was expecting. I started keeping a broom by one spot where it was getting stuck, just to be sure it would not. When filming the below, I forgot it. Hence my rush to block it from getting stuck:
Pardon my socks. The Deebot M88 also comes with a wet/dry mop attachment, which I did not test but was very straightforward.
My favorite M88 feature though, was the hand-held remote. While I could control it from the app (even when not at home, a huge perk to me), I could also use the remote to direct, set to auto, or send to charge. By “I” could, I mean my son. Because the second he saw that remote, he fell in love.
This, to me, is the genius of the Deebot M88. By adding that simple remote, they “gamify” cleaning floors. They also have two Marvel-branded Deebots, but they don’t appear to come with the remote. Here’s hoping there’s some kind of synergy again down the line. Especially as the Marvel ones are slimmer, and don’t get stuck as often.
One downside about the Deebot M88 (other than the higher-end price tag) was battery life. While this is the first robot vacuum I’m trying, it really felt like it drained out too fast. On the plus, though, that time was enough to do the entire ground floor of a small Cape-style house, so that’s not terrible. I also found that the patterns seemed less than logical at times; I’d love for the Deebot to actually “learn” my room.
The Ecovac M88 is not yet available on Amazon yet (but they are selling it on eBay, it seems), but I strongly suggest that you bookmark that page and keep an eye on sales. Because any product that can get a 6 year old to clean every room in the house (“Can I use the robot” “first the floors have to be clear”) is priceless.
Note: Ecovacs sent me the M88 to review, but not to keep. I made the mistake of naming him. Goodbye, little Norby.