Did you know your robot vacuum could be your security camera? How about your intercom? Do you want it to spray air freshener as it travels? Does it boast high-end designer genes and a dock as big as a mini refrigerator? Ecovacs Deebots do. In comparison, iRobot’s Roombas look staid and, frankly, even a little dull — but they’re also reliable.
The BestReviews Testing Lab wanted to compare Ecovacs Deebots models and features against those of iRobot Roombas, grading on pros, cons, suction, navigation and more. Despite the impressive features of some premium Deebots, we think the mid-range, top-selling Deebot N8 Pro+ is a solid Ecovacs model for most people, while the Roomba Combo j7+, a standout in our testing, provides mopping capabilities, stellar object avoidance and durability.
iRobot, the company behind Roombas, got its start making robots for space exploration and the United States military. It introduced the first Roomba in 2002 and created the household robot vacuum market. Based in Bedford, Massachusetts, its products are assembled by partners in mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia. iRobot was recently acquired by Amazon.
Ecovacs got its start as an OEM vacuum parts maker in 1998. In 2006 it committed fully to the home robotics market and released its first Deebot in 2007. In addition to the Deebot, Ecovacs also makes Winbot robotic window cleaners and Airbot robotic air purifiers, as well as models for commercial cleaning. Ecovacs is based in Suzhou, China.
iRobot products show a lot of careful iteration and a focus on dependability. Ecovacs prides itself on its boundary-pushing features and innovation.
Although well-respected brands, iRobot Roombas and Ecovacs Deebots do have some well-known drawbacks as well.
Battery life: 128 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3" L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.35 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba Combo j7+ was one of our favorite Roomba models during testing. A high-end model, it’s the only Roomba in North America that also includes a mopping function, swinging its robot arm down to mop and then returning it to the top of the Roomba when it’s not.
We found it cleaned effectively on all types of flooring, including hardwood, tile and carpet. It does a good job picking up salt, pet hair, cereal and cat litter with little to no residue left behind. Its mopping was one of the best things about it, handling small spills and managing thresholds without snagging thanks to its innovative mop arm. It’s also among the best Roombas at object avoidance thanks to its front-mounted vSLAM camera, quickly dodging objects we placed in its path.
Read more: iRobot Roomba Combo j7+
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25" W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba s9+ is the most powerful Roomba model we tested, with independent reviewers pegging it at 2,400 to 2,600 Pa in power. It certainly powered through our tests with small and large particles as well as human hair, pet hair and cat litter.
But what impressed us the most, however, was its edge and corner cleaning. It’s the only Roomba with a flat front and a D-shaped body. Combined with two rubber rollers that are 30% longer than the rollers on other Roombas, this lets the s9+ reach into corners and edges like no round vacuum can, cleaning as well in corners as other Roombas did on open areas.
We also loved its zone cleaning, or the ability to set an area within a room for specific cleaning. We sent it to clean under the dining table as a test, and it did so effectively.
Read more: iRobot Roomba s9+
Battery life: 94 minutes | Dimensions: 13.34” L x 13.26” W x 3.63” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba i4 EVO is a mid-range robot vacuum model, but we liked its performance and dependability on all surfaces. It impressed us with its thorough cleaning on carpet, and how it managed to clean on low- and high-pile rugs as well as on hard flooring such as vinyl plank, tile and laminate and medium-pile carpet. Despite not having any advanced camera or laser sensors, its mapping and navigation were effective, superior to the random bump-and-go of lower-end robot vacuums and able to clean specific rooms only when required. We also liked being able to control it from anywhere with the iRobot Home app and how easy it was to use with Alexa and Siri Shortcuts.
Read more: iRobot Roomba i4 EVO
Battery life: 140 minutes | Dimensions: 14.25” L x 14.25” W x 4.075” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 9.7 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Deebot X1 Omni is one of the most advanced and feature-packed robot vacuums available. Not only does it have a vacuum with 5,000 Pa suction power, and a double mop-pad system for cleaning hard floors, but its object avoidance camera can also function as a security camera. You can use its built-in Yiko assistant to have it follow you around the house or clean in spots near where you’re standing, aside from other, more ordinary robot vacuum commands.
The Deebot X1 Omni has a huge dock that soaks, washes and dries its mopping pads without any intervention from you, as well as automatically emptying any dirt the X1’s collected on its travels. While the station takes up a lot of space, like a mini fridge, measuring 16.9 inches by 17.6 inches by 22.8 inches, it’s sleekly designed and pleasant to look at.
Battery life: 110 minutes | Dimensions: 13.9” L x 13.9” W x 3.7” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.42 L | Weight: 7.94 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Deebot N8 Pro and Pro+ together are some of the most popular Deebot models, the difference between them being that the Pro+ comes with a self-emptying dock. The N8 Pro models pack 2,600 Pa of power with advanced mapping, navigation and object-avoidance technology. It supports multi-floor mapping and zone avoidance and can charge and resume if it runs out of power during a run.
The N8 Pro and Pro+ also have mopping abilities, although, unlike more advanced Deebots, it has a flat mopping pad attached to a mop tank that you’ll need to switch yourself.
Taking a closer look at Deebots and Roombas, we found significant differences in several areas. Most notably, Deebots have higher suction, different navigation, a wider variety of features and more stylish designs than Roombas. However, Roombas and Deebots match up well in terms of price.
Ecovacs Deebots generally have more suction power, measured in Pa or pascals, than comparable Roombas. The Deebot N79 and Deebot 500, for example, are rated at around 1,000 Pa, more powerful than the entry-level Roomba 692 and 694 at around 600 Pa. (Neither Ecovacs nor iRobot publicizes suction values for these models.) The popular Deebot N8 Pro clocks in at 2,600 Pa, which matches the estimated power of the Roomba s9+, despite the N8 Pro being priced in the mid-range and the s9+ in the high end. High-end Deebots like the X1 and T20 Omni boast 5,000 to 6,000 Pa of suction power, outdistancing any Roomba model. It’s worth mentioning again that these Roombas did well in our cleaning tests, even the 600-series models with only 600 Pa of power.
Noise-wise, Ecovacs promises Deebots average less than 70 decibels, with the N8 Pro rating 67 decibels. In comparison, the entry-level Roomba 694 registered between 63 and 64 decibels during our tests, and the mid-range Roomba i4 EVO was even quieter at 56 to 62 decibels.
iRobot pioneered the semi-random bump-and-go navigation people tend to associate with robot vacuums. While effective, this navigation can be annoying to watch. Mid-range Roombas, such as the Roomba i series, now support orderly row-by-row cleaning and smart mapping powered by their gyroscopes and odometers, while high-end Roombas use cameras with what’s called vSLAM (visual simultaneous localization and mapping) navigation.
Ecovacs Deebots, on the other hand, prefer to use LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, navigation, shooting invisible lasers from turrets on their backs to form highly accurate maps of your home. Advanced Deebot models add dToF (direct time of flight) sensors to further enhance their LiDAR accuracy. In addition, they sport high-quality front-mounted cameras to react in real time to obstacles and perceive objects in three dimensions.
Most reviews of Deebot navigation, particularly those of higher-end models, claim it’s impressively accurate, with some caveats such as too much sensitivity and mistaking debris for objects and vice versa. Roombas with vSLAM, such as the j and s series, impressed us with their navigation despite being somewhat slower than LiDAR mapping, and the j7 family, including the Combo j7+, add real-time object avoidance that iRobot guarantees will avoid pet waste in particular.
Ecovacs Deebots sport features not found on Roombas, but otherwise share some capabilities.
Ecovacs Deebots used to be priced below Roombas, and compete well on the low end and mid-range, such as the $250 Deebot N79W. The mainstream N8 and N8 Pro models start at $320. The N8 Pro+ with self-emptying dock costs $700, while at the high end, the Deebot X1 Omni costs $1,550. By comparison, an entry-level Roomba like the Roomba 694 costs $275, the mid-level Roomba i4 at $400 and the high-end Combo j7+ and s9+ at $999 each.
Ecovacs has some 32 models of the Deebot available. It started out as a low-cost alternative but now focuses a lot of its development on high-end and premium models. iRobot sells eight models of Roomba directly with retailer-exclusive variants also available, but only one with mopping capabilities and only two, the j7+ and the s9+, positioned at the high end.
Roombas have a somewhat utilitarian look and black or gray colors, although some models, like the s9+, have bronze accents. Ecovacs boasts that some Deebots, such as the Deebot X1 Omni, feature designs by Nordic design firm Jacob Jensen Design. In general, Deebots are more colorful and have a sleek and futuristic style compared to Roombas.
Looking over the features and capabilities of the Ecovacs Deebot line, you can’t help but conclude that it has some of the most advanced robot cleaners available. Deebots outshine Roombas in features and specs on almost every level. The only drawback to them, aside from the high price of the top models, is their reputation for not lasting long, while Roombas are known for lasting a long time. If you want the best combination robot vacuums and mops with fully automated docks and money is no object, consider an Ecovacs Deebot. For a durable, everyday robot vacuum that will last a long time and is easy to repair, get a Roomba.
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Jmar Gambol writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.