Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+ | $700 | Amazon
Cleaning a house overrun by an 8-year-old kid, a giant dog, and two cats sucks under normal circumstances, but especially so when everyone is home all the time—particularly since we have so little spare energy to put towards such things right now.
By the time the weekend hits, our floors have amassed a barrage of dirt, crumbs, kitty litter, pencil shavings, stray bits of chewed-up dog toys, and whatever else builds up over the course of the week. And so my wife and I clean, because we know what it looks like when 2 or even 3 weeks of such debris accumulates (shudder) during the pandemic.
I bought us a low-level Roomba some years back when it still seemed like a ridiculous luxury, and while we had our fun with it in the early days, keeping up with it quickly felt like a hassle. It was loud and bothered the pets, and had a tendency to get tangled up in cords or stuck on not-that-steep door thresholds. Emptying it was a pain, too. It felt like that Roomba was creating more work than it eliminated, and so we barely used it.
That was years ago, though, and robot vacuums have proliferated in the time since. They’re cheaper than ever on the lower end, yet more advanced and robust on the premium end. That’s why I was excited to get my hands on the newly-launched Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro+, which brings along significantly more refinement than my clunky old Roomba while packing in some serious tech and fresh perks.
The Deebot N8 Pro+ isn’t the most expensive robot vacuum on the market, nor even at the top end of Ecovacs’ lineup; that’s the Deebot T8 AIVI with a built-in camera that you can watch from. Still, the Deebot N8 Pro+ seems to find the sweet spot of including premium functionality while scraping back some of the less-essential or more gimmicky elements to cut down on price. For example: There’s no camera to watch from!
Otherwise, though, the Deebot N8 Pro+ checks all of the crucial boxes. It has advanced laser mapping including 360-degree scanning and a time-of-flight sensor that bounces light around your room to gauge distances and track its surroundings. That results in wickedly precise maps that are drawn up in real time when the Deebot N8 Pro+ first roams your space. My son and I marveled as it plotted out the entire ground floor of our house with surreal accuracy, updating the smartphone app in real-time on subsequent sweeps as we moved things around.
It’s a powerful vacuum, of course, ably sucking up three pets’ worth of hair and filth, not to mention the aftermath of my tornado-esque child. The Deebot N8 Pro+ has more oomph than the standard N8+ model, at 2,600Pa vs. 2,300Pa, but it runs relatively quietly as it roams the home in search of debris. I was happily surprised to find that my very anxious dog tolerated the Deebot N8 Pro+ much more easily than our old Roomba, or even our Dyson V7 Motorhead.
But that’s not all. The Deebot N8 Pro+ is a mop, too. Just snap on the mopping pad plate and either the washable fabric or disposable paper pad, fill the 240mL water tank, and let ‘er rip. It’ll suck up dirt from the front and then gently wipe the floor behind, with variable flow options so you can control how much water comes out.
Thanks to the smart sensors, the N8 Pro+ recognizes when it’s on a rug or carpeting with the mop attachment equipped and turns back. It will not soak anything but the solid ground. Granted, it’s just water and the pad has a pretty light touch; it can’t compete with a serious scrub from your Swiffer Wet Jet mop. Still, it picked up some filth as it wandered back and forth on my hardwood floors, and kept ‘em looking better than usual.
And when that’s all said and done, whether it’s a simple vacuum run or a hybrid mop cycle, the Deebot N8 Pro+ automatically dumps its dust and dirt into the included auto-empty station that’s part of the charging dock. That eliminates one of the biggest pain points of typical robot vacs: having to dump out the small dustbin after every use or so. The auto-empty station sucks the dirt out of the robot with a loud, violent whirr and dumps it into a bag that you may only need to dispose of every few weeks (or months). It feels like magic.
The Deebot N8 Pro+ isn’t perfect, however. The sensors are impressive and the vac does a good job of not ramming into your stuff, but it still managed to suck up a couple cords around my home, forcing me to intervene. And even with the auto-empty station, there’s still a bit of light, ongoing maintenance you’ll need to do to keep everything humming along. I had to remove big tufts of pet hair after a few vacuum cycles, as well as a big string wrapped around the main brush. Deebot does a lot on its own, but isn’t a fully autonomous roommate.
In a market in which a basic, brand name robot vacuum can be had for $250 or less—much less if you skip the brand name—paying anywhere near the $700 list price is probably still out of reach for most buyers. But the Deebot N8 Pro+ works hard for your money, sucking up dirt, mopping up grime, and stashing away its findings for easy disposal. As a premium upgrade, it can be a valuable addition to your home, especially if you’re also struggling to keep up with grueling cleaning routines right about now.