Intelligent and feature packed, the Deebot R95 is an incredible value
As a flagship product, the Ecovacs Deebot R95 does a lot to undercut the competition on price, all while offering more features than those other guys do. Ecovacs has a wide portfolio of robot vacuums, many made for differing price ranges and needs of consumers, and the Deebot R95 represents some of the finest in robot vacuum spec sheets out there. At $599 it undercuts the bigger names like Dyson and iRobot by a few hundred dollars, and while it doesn't quite get as low as what Xiaomi is selling their Mi Robot Vacuum for, Ecovacs offers more features with the R95 and has more pack-ins in the box too. Is this the robot vacuum you're looking for? Let's find out.
In the Box
The Ecovacs Deebot R95 may be less expensive than some other big-name robot vacuums out there, but Ecovacs is packing this box full of goodies, making it one of the best values in all of the robot vacuuming world. Standards here of course include the vacuum and charging dock, as well as a standard wall outlet plug. Everything you need to get running is of course included too, meaning two side brushes, a replaceable filter, a cleaning tray with a brush, a brushless cleaning tray, mopping reservoir and accompanying pad, as well as a measuring cup for precisely filling the reservoir up. In addition to these, Ecovacs also includes an extra filter, two extra side brushes, as well as an extra mopping pad for alternating cleanings. Ecovacs also drops in a little cleaning tool, located right inside the top hatch and next to the dustbin, but picking and cutting out hair from the rollers and wheels.
Hardware and Design
The usual round shape of robot vacuums hasn't changed at all here, and you'll see very few distinguishing features of the R95 at first glance. The diameter measures in at 360mm/14.17 inches, and it weighs 3.49kg/7.69lbs. Up top is a single square button for beginning the vacuum's automatic clean cycle without using the app. Below are status indicator lights for WiFi connectivity, scheduled cleaning, spot mode and charging. Near the back is a standard sized hump for the laser distance sensor, as well as a small bumper mechanism up here in case the hump runs into an obstacle before the front of the vacuum does. Along the front is a series of anti-collision sensors, as well as the fail safe bumper in case it does actually push against an obstacle.
Right in the middle of the top is a large lift-up cover that keeps the dustbin in place. This dustbin is also held down by a simple handle mechanism that slides and locks into place, keeping it from getting dislodged or out of alignment. The dustbin itself is rather ingeniously designed, as it not only features a plastic flap along the front to keep debris inside when the bin is removed from the vacuum, but also features a great filter setup. Sporting both a filter at the back (similar to one in an automobile or other robot vacuums), which is easily removable and replaceable when needed, as well as a permanent washable pre-filter between it and the contents of the dustbin. This pre-filter worked incredibly well during testing, and looks like it'll prevent unnecessary filter replacements over time.
Underneath holds a bounty of treasures and accessories, starting with the dual brushes towards the front. Equally spaced out from the center, these brushed rotate inward to grab particles and move them in toward the suction motor in the center. A motorized, 360-degree rotating wheel sits in-between these brushes, and gives the Deebot R95 a nice tight turning radius. Four anti-drop sensors are scattered between the front wheel and the brushes, keeping the Deebot R95 from falling off stairs or ledges. A pair of charging contacts straddle the front wheel, and just below is the suction motor and rotors. The stock rotors are made of traditional vacuum bristles, and are easily removable via a spring loaded mechanism.
What's particularly unique about Ecovacs' design here is the fact that the entire suction piece and brush can be removed and replaced with a fully brushless design. This design is for households that have a lot of pet hair, or specific areas with lots of pet hair, that would otherwise get tangled in the bristles. The thick rubber wheels have an alternating deep tread pattern, and can retract an inch or so to keep the vacuum level on uneven surfaces. Toward the back you'll find two holes, which appear to simply be ways of keeping screws hidden, however they have a far better use than that. These holes are used to mount the wet/dry reservoir to the back, turning the Deebot R95 into a wet/dry sweeper as well as a vacuum. This reservoir holds 100ml in it, allowing for several hundred square feet of light wet mopping until it needs to be filled again. The pad is removable via velcro pieces and fully washable and reusable, and can also be used as a dry pad for grabbing any fine dust particles the vacuum's suction motor may not have.
The Deebot R95 views its surroundings via a laser distance sensor rather than the lens of a camera as some other robot vacuums do. This laser distance system, as seen in vacuums like the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum or Neato Botvac Connected, utilizes a distance measurement system to instantly map out walls and obstacles throughout the room. To augment this higher-mounted laser system, you'll find a set of anti-collision sensors right on the front, which keep the vacuum from running into obstacles, and walls in particular, the vast majority of the time. Ecovacs' navigation is incredibly accurate to say the least, and it's probably the most fluid, gentle and precise robot vacuum we've yet tested. Watching it move around the room and gently avoid obstacles and walls is stunning, and it was a rarity to see it ever bump into anything at all. Generally keeping a healthy distance of a few centimeters from any object or wall, the Deebot R95 seems to rely on its dual brushes out front to grab objects instead of smashing against a wall to attempt a brute force method of sucking in particles.
In fact Ecovacs navigation is so intelligent here that it seems to be able to deviate from the straight line patterns that most robot vacuums work in, instead moving in a more organic way around the room until it's clean. Sometimes this would create strange looking cleaning patterns though, as it would start off in typical robot vacuum fashion and then deviate from this a bit. The normal pattern seems to begin with a striping pattern through the room, mapping the area out, and then modifying the pattern until it cleans the whole room.
An example: my living room and dining room are separated by an arched doorway (with no door). The Deebot R95 starts on the north side of the dining room, and covers the room until it gets to this doorway. Instead of continuing to clean the dining room and then move onto the living room, the Deebot will actually head into the living room and start to clean there. The pattern changes sides, moving from horizontal east/west lines in the dining room, and now moves in a north/south pattern instead. This covers the entirety of the living room, and it then heads back into the dining room to finish, or at least you'd think that's what it would do. Instead since my kitchen lines up with the same doorway as the living room, it heads in there instead, seemingly ignoring the entire south half of the dining room. After finishing several other rooms, the Deebot R95 heads back to the dining room, cleans the south half, and then docks itself for a charge.
This scenario happened every time I ran the vacuum, and I thought it a rather curious way to run things. I never noticed it missing a spot, as it takes care to note every crevice and corner that's been cleaned, but it was still a bit odd to not cover each room at a time, or even something that seemed like a logical shape like a square. All this map data is stored on the vacuum itself, easily accessible by pairing the vacuum with Ecovac's smartphone app. In fact most of the vacuum's features require this app to run, features which we'll cover in the app section below.
Like other robot vacuums, you'll need to be sure to pick up any small objects, such as toys or cords, before starting the vacuuming process. The vacuum has no way to sense whether or not it's about to come in contact with a small toy or cord, and will likely suck the object up and get it jammed inside the suction chamber. A number of my son's smaller toys, such as building blocks or figurines, made their way into the vacuum's rotating brush and suction chamber, creating a terrible noise and significantly diminishing its cleaning ability. Likewise there were a number of cords in places I hadn't thought about since we recently moved furniture around the house, causing me to have to free the vacuum from the clutches of said obstacles.
Ecovacs states that the vacuum should be supervised the first time to avoid future issues like this, and that's generally a good rule to follow. The only place I frequently found the vacuum having trouble were on the rather large transition strips between the wood and tile areas of my house, which are much larger than simple strips that most homes will have. A number of times I found the vacuum moving back and forth to try and get over the hump, as it had just gotten past it a minute previous and needed to go back to finish the room. Sometimes it would be able to negotiate this hump, and otherwise it would give up and try elsewhere.
It's the "try elsewhere" part that's extremely impressive, and something I've never seen a robot vacuum do before. To test this I allowed the vacuum to wander into a back bedroom, only to block its original entrance out. Since my house is a rectangle shape and features interconnecting rooms, the vacuum was smart enough to give up the idea of getting back the original way and work its way around to the back of the house, through the kitchen and then finally back to the charger. It was incredible to see it work out such a solution to say the least; this is one seriously intelligent vacuum.
The vacuum performed admirably on both hard and soft surfaces, including both wood and tile. The abnormally tall transition strips in my house were the only thing the vacuum regularly had trouble moving over, and I never saw it once struggle with any carpet in my home. I have a number of area rugs scattered throughout my mostly wood-floored home, which range from small and thin bathroom ones, to a 1-inch thick shag carpet in the hall. This shag carpet was purchased specifically for vacuum testing, and poses a huge problem for most robot vacuums. The Deebot R95 passed the shag carpet test with flying colors, putting it in the elite few robot vacuums to ever traverse this massive clump of fabric without an issue. Ecovacs says to shy away from keeping these types of carpet on the ground, but I didn't have issues with it during testing.
Cleaning Process and Performance
Having two brushes is considerably more efficient than the single brush that most robot vacuums have, as one brush can grab what the other can't, and it also helps keep debris from flying across the room instead of finding its way into the vacuum as intended. These brushes move at a moderate speed, quickly enough to grab particles before the vacuum passes them, but not so quickly as to throw them across the room as we've seen from some other robot vacuums. These brushes are also nice and long, with a 1.5in/3.8cm reach off the side of the robot, a particularly important tool for pulling particles out of corners and away from odd shaped obstacles.
The vacuum is incredibly quiet too, running around 55dB or so during use, making it easily among the most quiet robot vacuums on the market. This means it's easy to run even while walking around the house or having a conversation. It's even quiet enough to where we could enjoy music or a TV show, albeit turning the volume up a bit; something that can't be said about most vacuums, robot or not. The downside to this is that the motor is not as strong as some others, notably more expensive vacuums out there, and the speed is not adjustable either. At 1,430Pa, this vacuum is at least 200Pa lower than its next competitor, and in some cases as much as 25-30% lower depending on the vacuum in question.
About the only time the vacuum isn't quiet is when giving audible feedback. While the voice feedback is quite nice, giving detailed reports about wheels being stuck or rollers being jammed, the other sound effects from the vacuum are not pleasant at all. These obnoxiously loud dings made me turn off the voice entirely, making it more difficult to identify a problem, but giving me a little more peace without the dings. A particularly interesting part of Ecovacs design here is the ability to change out the roller brush underneath for a brushless suction instead. While this won't help pull up particles from carpet like a roller would, the brushless design helps keep things like hair and strings from getting stuck inside the rollers themselves, leading to more loose hair picked up and less trapped in the spindle. This is a Godsend for pet owners, as it provides a way to roam around the house, sucking up hair and not getting it tangled in yet another place. This brushless suction option is designed for everyday light cleaning, and the roller can be put in for deeper cleaning when desired.
Mopping is a category that most robot vacuums never venture into, but Ecovacs has outfitted the Deebot R95 with a mopping accessory that works as both a dry and a wet mop. This mop fits into two holes on the bottom of the Deebot, covering the back half of the bottom of the vacuum. This keeps the mop functionality behind the robot, allowing it to both sweep and vacuum first, and then mop last, all in one fluid motion. The mopping reservoir holds 100ml of water, preferably hot, and slowly extracts this water into the attachable cloth via three small holes in the container. The cloth mopping pads included with the robot feature two surfaces, one more coarse than the other, and are fully hand or machine washable.
The pads can be used either as a normal static-type dry mop for sweeping up those little particles and hairs that the suction motor up front might have missed, or a damp pad for cleaning up small spills or pieces that would otherwise be left on the floor. This isn't a replacement for scrubbing, however, and the vacuum has no way to identify whether or not the mop is actually attached, meaning folks with carpets may want to be careful when using this accessory. Ecovacs recommends rolling up the edges of rugs to keep Deebot from rolling onto them with a wet mop, or simply blocking them off whichever way you can, but for the time being the app's virtual walls won't help with this feature for reasons you'll find out below. Either way this is a nice solution for gentle mopping that's better than nothing, but it wasn't as killer of a feature as I was hoping for.
Ecovacs' app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple Appstore, and works with all of Ecovacs connected products. Setup is as simple as can be, and we had zero issues walking through the easy wizard to connect the vacuum to the WiFi network. This is not always the case with connected robot vacuums, and it was wonderful to see one that just works without needing to tinker with it out of the box. Upon first loading the app up and signing in, you'll find a list of all Ecovacs devices connected with your account. This single account system means that you can sign into the app on any device with your account and have access to all your robots without the need to re-pair it to the phone or WiFi network. You can also pair the robot to Alexa via the Alexa app, connecting it like you would any other compatible smart device in your home. This enables voice commands for cleaning, pausing and returning to the charger, among others.
Clicking into the Deebot R95 brings up a split interface for the vacuum; the bottom ⅔rds of the screen includes a map, while the top ⅓ tells the current state and battery level. The menu button on the top right brings up the settings menu, which compared to some other robot vacuums is a bit sparse. Here you can enable or disable the voice feature on the vacuum, which quiets the annoying sounds but makes it more difficult to identify what went wrong if the vacuum gets stuck or has a problem.
The work log details the last handful of cleanings done, as well as a tally of total lifetime hours worked since the last factory reset. There's no detailed statistics available for this vacuum in regards to work history other than the date and time the vacuum has been run. A Do Not Disturb mode is here, called Continued Cleaning Function, which will keep the vacuum from normally operating during certain hours of the day or night. You can so choose an automatic cleaning schedule from here, reset the saved map, and change the on-board voice feedback language, choosing between German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch.
Back at the main screen you'll find two prominent buttons at the bottom for everyday use: Auto Cleaning and Return to Charger. Additional features can be found by expanding the map via the button located on the top right corner of the map. The phone will rotate into landscape mode, showing a 100% map view of the entirety of your home. This map is generated and saved after every cleaning, however it doesn't appear that the map is permanently saved on the device. This is a bit of a detriment since all of the advanced features of the vacuum require a fully completed map to use, and it's far too easy to keep the vacuum from ever developing a full map in the first place. As a test I closed off all but two rooms to the vacuum and let it map. Halfway through the second room the vacuum got nudged by my son, making it stop. Hitting auto clean again unfortunately erased the map and made it start over again, even though it never physically moved. This finicky nature is extremely irritating to say the least, and Ecovacs needs to provide a way to save this map permanently to avoid these sorts of problems.
When the map works correctly though, it's a stroke of genius. As we've seen with many other robot vacuums, a map is generated of your dwelling via the laser guided navigation system on board, and is incredibly accurate to say the least. The vacuum highlights areas cleaned in white, so you'll easily tell where it wasn't able to clean by the remaining gray areas on the map. Within this expanded map section you can manually control the vacuum via a virtual joystick to clean difficult to reach areas, as well as tell the vacuum to automatically clean specific areas of the house. Spot cleaning is done by selecting an area in the home to target, in which the vacuum will clean an approximately 5x5ft square area and then return to the charger.
During the mapping process the Deebot R95 will attempt to mark different rooms around the house on the map, breaking them into color coded sections denoted by letters. It's in this interface that you can have it clean a specific room or section of the room, however it breaks things down, and you can even edit the names of rooms as well. As with the spot cleaning tool, the vacuum will return to the charger once the room is finished. Lastly are the virtual walls, which in this case are truly virtual, and are only able to be assigned via the app. Selections include drawing a box around an area that needs to be avoided (such as a problematic piece of furniture or an area with lots of cords), or flat out drawing a line that the vacuum won't cross, giving the ability to block out entire sections of rooms or whole rooms themselves. This is far more efficient than having physical barriers, but on the downside requires a full cleaning and mapping of the house to work. If the maps fails or gets erased for any reason, as it did for me many times, you'll have to redo the entire process again without the aid of these advanced features.
Maintenance and Battery Life
The Deebot R95's dustbin sits in the middle of the scale, holding 520ml of junk and debris. For reference the Dyson 360 Eye likely has the smallest capacity of any higher end robot vacuum at 330ml, followed by Xiaomi's also small 420ml dustbin. iRobot stuffs the Roomba series with 600ml bins, and Neato ops for a pretty massive 800ml bin on their vacuums. Ecovacs real advantage comes in the form of a pre-filter which, like Dyson's vacuum, keeps larger particles away from the paper filter, and you from constantly cleaning and replacing those.
Ecovacs rates the Deebot R95 at about 90 minutes of runtime per charge, which at the rated speed of 0.82ft/s, equates to about 4,000 square feet per charge or so. Seeing as my home is well under that number, about 1200 square ft in total, it was difficult to test that exact number without error. In the testing period I never once saw the vacuum return to the charger for a top-up; every job was completed on a single charge. That's good too since the vacuum's relatively small 2,850mAh battery inside takes an extremely long 3-4 hours to charge; a rated time that's absolutely accurate.
The charger design seems similar to others upon first glance, but the charging pins gave me a few headaches when manually trying to put the vacuum into place. The sweet spot on the charging contacts is pretty small, and you need to place it exactly in the right spot, otherwise the vacuum won't charge. When the vacuum brings itself back to the charger it's never a problem, but be careful when putting it on yourself, and be sure the charging light stays on, otherwise you'll end up like me and have a dead vacuum when you want it to clean the house.
The paper filter inside the vacuum is like any other paper filter for your car, air conditioning unit, or other vacuum. As such it can't be washed, but Ecovacs brilliant pre-filter netting keeps this paper filter from getting very dirty at all, and subsequently keeps the air around the vacuum cleaner and less dusty. I expect this filter to only need to be changed every 6 months to a year based on my usage time. The dustbin and pre-filter netting should be emptied after every use, and can even be washed after each time too. Ecovacs mopping accessory includes a removable cloth mopping pad that can be hand or machine washed.
The roller brush is a pretty typical style brush and needs to be cleaned off every now and then. Ecovacs includes a handy cleaning tool for cutting hair, picking out the remains and even brushing sensors and other sensitive equipment that will inevitably get dusty. The side brush snaps in place instead of screwing in, a convenient change from some other vacuums, which require a screw to take it off. The manual outlines a cleaning schedule for each component, including how often to clean components and how often they may need replacing. This manual also details just about everything you'd ever need to know about using the vacuum or taking care of it. It's a fantastic manual that's easy to read, chock full of information, and comes in English, French and Spanish.
Lots of pack-ins
Great overall hardware design
Cleaning multi-tool is built into the vacuum's cover
Very thorough and organic movement
Dual front brushes clean better than the competition
Interchangeable suction types
Wet/dry mopping accessory included
Fantastic battery life
Incredible advanced features in app(when they work)
Manual control through app
Passes the shag carpet test
Automatic cleaning schedule and charging
Mapping process in the app can be finicky
Advanced features aren't available unless a successful map has been made
Charging dock can be finicky
Takes a long time to charge
Not able to change suction power
Ecovacs has made an absolutely phenomenal robot vacuum in the Deebot R95. It's smarter than your average robot vacuum, more gentle, quieter, and has more advanced mapping algorithms than we've ever seen. Dual brushes up front do a better job of capturing small particles and pushing them into the suction motor, and there's even a brushless suction piece that can be used for pet owners who have lots of hair lying around on a daily basis. The included wet/dry mopping attachment is nice for light jobs, but it's not useful for daily cleaning since the vacuum can't identify areas that shouldn't be mopped, like carpet.
Battery life is phenomenal, and there are tons of great design choices and pack-ins in the box. Problems with the mapping process on the app kept many of the more advanced features out of reach during much of the review period, an annoyance that's sure to rear its ugly head on more than one occasion, and the simple ability to save a map permanently would completely alleviate the issues I had. Once those are ironed out, the Deebot R95 will be among the best in class robot vacuums, especially for this price range, and even without the advanced features it's an excellent robot vacuum.