The world is full of superfluous connected tech which is supposed to make our lives easier, but often, well, doesn't. As such, when I had the opportunity to try out Ecovacs Deebot 601 robotic vacuum cleaner, I was a tad skeptical. However, I must say that the company has made me a bit of a believer.
Although the Deebot 601 lacks some pretty crucial features owing to its budget price point, it really makes me hopeful for a world where some of the dullest domestic chores can be handed off to machines, so that I can truly maximize my laziness. Here's our overview of the Ecovacs Deebot 601.
- Surprisingly quiet
- Robust, quality design
- Solid battery life
- Collision bumpers protect your furniture
- Clunky navigation systems
- Struggles to find its way back to the charger
- Requires more maintenance than a standard vacuum
- Can get stuck fairly easily
- Android app doesn't support manual navigation
What you'll love about the Deebot 601
For those thinking about migrating from standard hand vacuums to something a little more robotic, the Deebot 601 is a good place to start. Currently available for around $230, it puts the 601 firmly in the "budget" robovac category, but thankfully, Ecovacs ensures that its starter offering generally delivers.
|Cleaning types||Spot cleaning, "S-shape" hard floor cleaning pathing|
|Range||1100 square feet|
|Size||13.9 x 13.9 x 3.3 inches|
|Battery life||90 minutes to two hours|
|Connectivity||Android, iOS, Amazon Echo, with an included remote|
The Deebot 601 is primarily designed for hard floor cleaning, making use of S-shape cleaning routes as it snakes back and forth across your floor space. The construction on the Deebot 601 is top-notch, with perimeter bumpers that protect your furniture from scuffing, and simultaneously allow the Deebot to reverse and re-orient should it come into difficulty. It also has anti-drop detection to prevent itself from falling down stairs, and although it was quite worrying to test out, we found that it worked flawlessly every time.
Deebot 601 set-up is also pain-free, for the most part at least. Ecovacs confusingly has two separate Android apps available for its range of products, the Deebot 601 uses the Ecovacs Home app, not to be confused with the other "Ecovacs" app, used for some of its other devices.
But how good is it at actually cleaning? The answer is very.
After a simple pairing procedure, the Deebot 601 will sync over your home WiFi to your Android (or iOS) device, and afford much of the same functionality you get with the in-box remote. For added futuristic laziness, you can link the Deebot to an Amazon Echo or Google Assistant smart speaker, too, and issue commands via voice. The commands work well, and mimic what's available in the Android app for general controls.
But how good is it at actually cleaning? The answer is very, at least when it comes to suction, that is. The Deebot 601 made short work of general dust and pet hair from our living room, working its way across both hardwood floors and onto the few fabric mats we have.
It's also far, far quieter than our traditional hand vacuum, even when utilizing its boosted suction mode, which we didn't really find to be necessary for general use anyway. We created some "custom" messes for it to attempt, including charcoal and ash from our wood oven, and found it to make relatively short work of anything we threw at it.
Overall, the Deebot 601 has been a nice addition to our domestic arsenal, but it isn't without its drawbacks.
What you'll dislike about the Deebot 601
Perhaps the biggest downside of the Deebot 601 is that it lacks any sort of area mapping technology, which creates a fair few problems.
Since it has no awareness of where it is or where it has been, this can lead to parts of your floor simply not getting cleaned, which is obviously not what you want if you're planning to drop a few hundred on a vacuum. Additionally, it appears that if the Deebot 601 loses line of sight to the charging station, it can struggle to find its way back, requiring human intervention.
The floor clearance space of the Deebot 601 seems to be a bit of a problem as well in some scenarios. If you have a floor fan or a coat stand with a flat or angled base, the Deebot 601 can get stuck while navigating near to it, losing traction, and once again, requiring human intervention.
Like any vacuum, you need to ensure that you're not accidentally sucking up larger objects too. However, sometimes you might miss something while searching, which can lead to problems. In testing, our Deebot 601 sucked up a small twig that had fallen from a basket of wood, once again forcing us to intervene. It felt like there were a lot of instances where the Deebot 601 needed a bit of human help, which while not entirely unexpected, makes me a bit wary of setting up any automatic cleaning routines.
The Deebot 601 has been a fun glimpse into a fully connected, automated future that proves domestic robotics aren't simply a gimmick. This thing can really clean, and works just as well as any standard vacuum cleaner for everyday dust and grime. It's easy to maintain and clean, with simple pop-out components, and is made with quality materials that should ensure it lasts quite a long time. You will find that it'll require far more maintenance than a standard hand vacuum, sadly, owing to the additional moving parts.
As a budget model, the lack of true navigational systems is a bit of a drawback. The fact the Deebot 601 doesn't seem able to find its way back to the charging dock, nor navigate around potentially debilitating obstacles, makes setting up auto routines feel a bit risky.
That said, if you supervise it a bit, it works extremely well as a basic vacuum cleaner. The remote allows you to control the Deebot 601 manually to help guide it back to the charge dock, but it's maddeningly annoying that the Android app doesn't support the same functionality. Despite the downsides, the Deebot 601 is a great product for those getting into building a connected home for the first time. But if you want something with more robust navigation, you might want to spend a bit more for the Deebot 901 instead.
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