You may or may not have read about the #1 name in robotic vacuums allegedly stockpiling the maps their vacuums take of your home, potentially selling your data. While they eventually clarified that they have no intention of doing so, this is scary stuff, and one of the fears many have had about IoT. It also struck close to home, as it just so happens that I have been testing an Alexa-enabled, mapping robot vacuum from another company.
Let me get this out of the way–Ecovacs Robotics has confirmed with me that they do not and will not plan to put your data into the hands of another company. Can I take them at their word? I hope so, because I love the R95.
Previously, I reviewed their M88, a simple vacbot that my son loved due to the remote control aspect. The R95 doesn’t have a handheld remote (although the app does have one), but what it does have is much cooler. There’s a bigger battery, more awareness of its surroundings, the ability to map a room, and, yes, it has the same conversion kit to become a mop. It was also a lot less prone to getting stuck under furniture than the M88.
How about that Alexa functionality? Well, funny thing, but Ecovacs REALLY wants you to be polite. These are the commands you need:
- “Alexa, ask DEEBOT to start cleaning.”
- “Alexa, ask DEEBOT to stop.”
- “Alexa, ask DEEBOT to start charging.”
You have to “ask.” You can’t tell. Good manners, it seems, are very important. (It’s sad that I found this somewhat counter-intuitive. What does that say about me?) Still, the actual act of setting the R95 up on the network and then on Alexa is simple and straightforward.
The R95 is much closer to “run and forget” than any other model I have used so far. Of course, you need to make sure that there are no cords on the floor. I also had to block off one area entirely, because it kept “eating” the dog toys. Oh, that reminds me–the R95 handles pet hair really well.
As for the mapping, I’ve found it fairly accurate. This is a huge improvement over the M88, which cleaned in random, sloppy patterns and never remembered where anything was. My house has three floors, counting the basement, so I do have to remember to reset the maps if I want to switch where it is. I’d love an update that allows for multiple floors.
I have yet to test the mop feature, as it intimidates me.
Now, at $549.99, the R95 is not cheap. The M88 is $399, but like I say, it’s simply not as good. Neato and Samsung sell robot vacuums that can work with Alexa (I’m not sure which models), but I have never tested those and can’t compare. As for Roomba? Yeah, you can pay between $380 and $800 for a model that might have some of the same features and might not. They have a lot out there and it’s hard to chose what has what features.
As for me, I will stick with my R95. It’s nice to come home to a clean house. All it really needs is the ability to do the couches, and it would be perfect. Hmm. Maybe if I just put it on there?
Note: Ecovacs sent me the R95 to review. My daughter added the googly eyes, and named it Greg.