Before word came down the line from the boss that we had a robot vac to put through its paces and review, I’d been looking at the various brands and models available. You see we’ve not long welcomed a little Jack Russell Terrier into our family and who knew just how much hair they shed on the daily! (Short answer – a lot!) needless to say I was very keen to try out the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS!

I’ve been a big fan of good vacuum cleaners for many years now, back in the day (when I was a kid, yes we had colour television!) my dad was an Electrolux salesman for a year or two, those things were amazing to me! They were ridden down streets by the local children and then, back inside, did the job they were designed to do. Skip forward many years and I purchased my first Dyson (DC08 Animal) that was when I was 30, precisely 18 years ago, and it still sucks – I’d say almost as well as it did when we purchased it! I’ve since had one of those handheld Dyson vacs that I’ve retired (battery life is rubbish, though I’ve just spotted that you can adapt a Bosch drill battery to them… hmm) and recently, in the last three years, I’ve purchased a Dyson Big Ball for home and a little baby Dyson Omni-Glide! Now, while this may sound like an ad for Dyson, I assure you it’s not – read on dear reader. As well as those, I have a 2hp Carbatec Dust collector with lots of filtration, as well as two wet & dry shopVacs – I think qualified to talk about suction, but I’m not about to get all technical – don’t fret!

We’re not going to be running through detailed suction reports in this review, we’re all about real-world – will it effectively clean up after everything that happens around my house? Beach sand from my two kids, hair from the dog, spilled Weetbix from the wife, waylaid coffee grinds from me… We have a mixture of hard floors (more on that later!) and a few rugs thrown in for good measure.

I will admit, I was certainly skeptical at the thought of a Robot Vac! What sort of job will it do? will it navigate well enough to get to all of the places it needs to? What about battery life? We had so many questions and I now have answers to all of them and I’m going to tell you about my experience (four weeks) with the DEEBOT X1 PLUS.

Unpacking the two main units was a simple affair, opening the box you’re greeted by a simple to follow instructional on what to do first and how to unpack everything in the right order, there are a handful of various parts and pieces, but if you follow the instruction sheet, it’s super easy! (even for a stubborn bloke who doesn’t read instructions often!)  There are two main pieces as I said, the Robot and the Robot’s house (was what my 9yo called them) The Deebot X1 Plus is a vacuum and base model, it both vacuums and mops as well as spreads a lovely air freshener around – The vacuum robot returns to the base to both charge and to be emptied into the base station, so you don’t need to bother about emptying the vacuum cleaner every day or so (as I’ve heard from friends about their vacuum only, no base units)

After plugging the base unit in and letting my little robot friend charge up, setting up and preparing the unit to suck was simple. I want to start by saying you’re best to have WiFi (I don’t think I know anyone that doesn’t?) And you are required to install an app on your phone that allows you to access all of the functions on the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS. You can use the unit without WiFi, but you have no access to any scheduling or remote operation of the unit.

I have a kind of weird layout to my house and I also have an area at the back door that is on a slightly different level (about a 12cm step down) in just that one room, so I had to let the Deebot do its mapping twice, once around the main areas of the house and then once in that weird little room at the back. Mapping was easy and you really can just let the vacuum cleaner go and wander around taking all of the details of its surroundings into its little robot brain! It actually creates a map of your house in the app, and while it got most of mine right, it did tend to get a little crazy when the sensors came up against a large glass window (bay window of sorts) at the front of the house, it decided that the room continued into the front yard, but that it just shouldn’t go there! Quite amusing, but very interesting to see how it worked at mapping. When I went to map the second space, a single room with a couple of chairs in the corner, I had to physically pick up the vacuum unit (not the base station) and carry it into the room and ask it to map. I’m not sure if that was the right way to do it, but it worked – it just got a little upset when I asked it to go back to the base station and charge as it couldn’t get there – it wandered around in circles looking for a way, and then finally resigned to the fact that it was stuck and sent me a message in the app to tell me so.  (I picked it up and put it back in the main map area and it found its way home).

The best part, in my opinion, of setting up all of the mapping is that you can request it cleans only certain rooms, for example, I have two boys 9 and 13 and they spill breakfast cereal daily! After breakfast I can send the vac to just the kitchen to clean up, it’s quick and efficient! You can also set boundaries within the map, for example you have a room that you don’t want cleaned, you draw a line in the app and the Deebot won’t cross it – genius! Speaking of lines that the unit wouldn’t cross, you’ll note I mentioned there was a 12cm drop into the back room, the vac would go right to the edge, cleaning as it went, but knowing (sensing) that driving off could be a silly thing to do and always staying right on the edge but not going over – very clever!

The house I tested the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS in is a mix of hardwood floors, a deep pile rug (about an inch) a couple of rooms with regular carpet and a tiled bathroom. The vac handled each of the surfaces valiantly! I’m not going to lie, as I mentioned earlier I was very skeptical at first, I thought there was no way the little device would even get all of the dog hair and Weetbix up off of the wooden floor, it did every time! I didn’t think it was even going to be able to wheel onto the deep rug, not only did it wheel right on, but it went up and back around and about along the rug and cleaned it just fine – I’m sure with a conventional vac (my Dyson with a specific head) I could get more sand / ground in potato chips, thanks kids, out from that deep pile rug, but the X1 did a fine job. You notice the suction adjust on carpet vs a rug vs wooden or smooth floors, with I’m guessing not as much suction needed on hardwood, so you save a little battery by not running at full power.

The EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS also has a mopping function like the other two in the Deebot range, but as it’s the baby of the three, the mop is a microfibre pad that oscillates around as opposed to the twin rotation washers, still doing a very passable job on the spilled milk, honey and coffee (I didn’t specifically pour these things on the floor to test, I told you before, I’ve got kids… and I’m a bit careless with my coffee sometimes!) It left no obvious signs of the spills behind and the onboard water reservoir had plenty of juice to mop the kitchen and living room floors as well as the wooden floor in the lounge. I also don’t know if it was coincidence, but I noticed that the X1 Plus mops back towards the base station, so it doesn’t leave it’s own tracks in the wet floor, can’t say I wasn’t impressed! That’s smart! Also, when you don’t have the mopping reservoir in, you can pop a little air freshener in the vac and it leaves a trail of refreshing forest around your house as it sucks up all the dust bunnies!

The sheers power of the unit was on display to me during the mopping, as I’d lifted the old vinyl surface on the floorboards and there were a couple of small nails left slightly protruding, the X1 Plus managed to rip the mopping pad almost in half on a nail, easily enough power to drive over a rug, then! The kit comes with a spare pad, and spares are readily available to order, conveniently from within the same app that controls the unit. I agree, this is a weird aside, but for those that don’t think these things are very powerful, you should be pleasantly surprised.

The EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS has an array of sensors that figure out where everything is and avoid everything that needs to be avoided on its journey around your house, now, the sensors extend to video and audio and I know some people are a little sensitive about devices with cameras roaming around, but the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS announces to the world that it’s starting the video recording each time you activate it, a handy notification I guess. Something interesting to note and an extra feature in an already feature packed vacuum cleaner is that you can makes calls over WiFi to it! So my kids are sitting watching tv, I could use the phone, but no! I drive the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS right up to them and then speak to them through the vac! kind of amusing and really it’s a little gimmicky – but they loved it and it amused me! You can also ask your X1 Plus to patrol your home and keep an eye on things, now this is a neat idea I guess, especially if you have pets and you want to know they’re ok (although my Jack Russel was wary of the vac and kept out of its way most of the time) but this patrol feature, I found, and maybe it’s just me! is the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS’ proverbial kryptnite! I really couldn’t fault the unit, its a great vacuum cleaner, it certainly mops sufficiently, it last a good while (claimed around 60 days / uses) before you need to empty the dust bag on the base station, the general battery life is great and the video and audio features are fun and very handy in some circumstances, BUT if you are away from home for a few days and you send the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS off on patrol but forget to send it back to its base station, when you remember a couple of days later – it’s flat, and you’re done. (You need to carry the poor wounded soldier back to his base station to recharge!)

Before I wrap up what has become quite a long review of the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS, I’ll say that while the vac has voice activation (isn’t everything voice activated these days – name that film) I found it pretty hit and miss, it worked a couple of times, but most of the time I called out OK YIKO, Vacuum the kitchen, it sat silently awaiting a command from the app. No worries – the app was responsive and my preferred method of comms with the vac.

Anyway, I’m rambling, I tend to do that when I’m excited about tech, especially tech that makes my life easier! Another ‘Simon gives this five stars!’ review for the EcoVacs DEEBOT X1 PLUS. If you are looking for one, they have a RRP of AUD $1899 (at time of publishing $1799) and are available at Ecovacs or Amazon.

Sime is giving this one the Pulse Award, congratulations Ecovacs! Many thanks to Deebot for providing the review unit.

DRN Pulse Award