From the company that brought you the mobile air purifier robot that also plays music, comes the Ecovacs Deebot D83 (MSRP $399—on sale for $262), a robot vacuum that cleans floors by sheer brute force.
We were excited to try out this vacuum: A low sale price and the ability to double as a mop had us wondering if it might be a good choice for those wary of shelling out on a fancy robot vacuum.
And then we tested it.
For two hours, we watched the D83 go around in circles, cleaning the same spots over and over again in our testing lab. Since automated cleaners work best when you’re not around, it’s not the biggest waste of time when robot vacuums sweep the same area multiple times. More troubling were the D83’s navigation issues, which make stairs rather perilous.
Features-wise, the D83 is very much in line with other robot floor cleaners, including sweeper brushes in the front and even a detachable mop head at the rear. A few disposable wet and dry cloths are already in the box, and when you run out of the included cloths, store-bought brands will do just as well.
All that cleaning needs power, so the Deebot has a massive Ni-MH battery. After leaving its charging dock, the D83 has about a two hour run time, and it will run until the whole battery is almost entirely discharged. Unlike Lithium-ion batteries, which run at full power until discharged, Ni-MH batteries slowly lose power as they run.
This means that the D83 required about six times as much time to clean our testing area than the average robot vacuum. We think this programming is designed to prolong the life of the battery, but if you’re planning on purchasing the Deebot, be sure to set it to run while you’re out. That’s an easy process at least: You can set the D83 to automatically run from the remote, which comes with batteries included.
Ultimately all you’ll have to do is empty the bin. Given this model’s average pickup per run, the bin will fill up to its .7-liter capacity once a week.
When you tell the Deebot D83 to start cleaning, expect it to keep going for two hours before returning to its charging dock. In that time, it’ll move about in a spiral pattern to cover the whole room. Its general shape–3.5 inches tall and 13 inches wide–allowed the Deebot to navigate itself under obstacles and around most table and chair legs.
Before we talk about pickup, however, we should first mention the drop-off. The Ecovacs Deebot D83 has the dubious honor of being the first robot vacuum to fall off the edge of our testing step, a serious mishap for a robot vacuum. To its credit, the thing kept going after it hit the ground, but perhaps Ecovacs should’ve included some sort of barrier, like a virtual wall or magnetic strip.
By the end of its cycle, the D83 picked up 8.3 grams of the dirt we put down. That might seem like a pittance, but it’s 8 grams of dirt everyday, or 58.1 grams per week that you don’t have to vacuum up personally. (60 grams, by the way, is about what an upright vacuum might pick up after a week of foot traffic.)
Anywhere the brushes could fit got cleaned, but the Deebot couldn’t tackle high-pile carpets, openings narrower than 13 inches wide, or shorter than four inches. And if any of those gaps are a close call, the D83 will sometimes roughly ram itself into furniture, striking with about 2.5 lbs. of pressure. That’s not enough to scratch a table leg outright, but over a period of months it may scuff.
For one year from the time of purchase, Ecovacs will refund or replace products with defects of workmanship or material exposed during normal operation of the device. We’re not sure if we could’ve made a claim if the D83 had been damaged during its fall.
With so many better, cheaper options out there, it’s hard to recommend the Ecovacs Deebot D83 to anyone. While the two-hour cleaning cycle is excusable, the mishandling of stairs is not.
For more robot vacuum reviews, head over to Reviewed.com.
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