Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro review: Amazingly strong obstacle detection
We tested the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro for just under three months. Do intelligent obstacle detection, suction, and mopping performance convince in the long-term test?
The product range of manufacturers of smart vacuuming and mopping robots is growing and growing. With each model generation, the bots outdo each other with never-ending feature lists. Ecovacs relies on artificial intelligence for its flagship Deebot T9 AIVI and will release the first autonomous and self-cleaning AI robot with its voice assistant in a few months.
But does it always have to be the latest model? I had the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro, which is priced in the midfield of current vacuuming and mopping robots, in continuous operation for just under three months. At the end of the test, the cleaning log shows 98 cleanings with a total usage time of 24 hours and 17 minutes and a total cleaned area of 1,139 square meters.
Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro: Review in a nutshell:
The Deebot N8 Pro's showpiece is its amazingly strong obstacle detection. Large and small objects, including cables, are usually avoided very safely. It also cuts a good figure when vacuuming and wiping. The only real problem is the N8 Pro's reverse gear, which can lead to occasional dropouts.
Advantages of the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro
- superb obstacle and object detection
- reliable, stable connection
- good suction power
- decent wiping performance
- robust navigation
- solid construction
- container easy to change
- easy cleaning of the brushes
- wide range of functions, many adjustment possibilities
- durable accessories
- compatible with automatic suction station
Disadvantages of the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro
- original accessories and robot itself are expensive
- likes to get stuck when reversing while mopping
- limited voice control via Alexa and Co
Setup and mapping
As with all Ecovacs robots, set-up and setup works like a charm with the N8 Pro. In the box, I find a washable microfiber cloth, a pack of disposable wipes and the charging station, in addition to the robot. After removing the transport lock, I attach the cleaning brushes and set up the station. The app guides me through the installation process in an exemplary manner. After a few minutes, the Deebot is ready for use.
With its dToF laser detection, the Deebot orients itself and creates a map of the room during the first ride. If I activate the advanced mode in the app, the robot also creates maps over several floors. If I carry it to another floor, it immediately recognizes the new environment.
During mapping, the N8 Pro automatically creates areas. In an open-plan living and dining area, for example, it notices whether it is currently in the kitchen or dining room by looking at the kitchen counter and the different floor coverings. He independently marks the areas with A and B. Using the cleaning sequence, I can later specify whether and how often the individual areas should be cleaned.
Ease of use and accessories
All the manufacturer's robots can be integrated in the Ecovacs app and selected on the home screen via swipe gesture. The app has a clear structure and functions are intuitively arranged. However, the layout differs slightly for each robot type and I have to rethink if I want to control many robots on different floors. A luxury problem, I know.
In the basic settings, I can set the auto-suction boost for automatic carpet detection, create cleaning schedules or activate continuous cleaning. In doing so, the Deebot continues a pass later if it runs out of juice in between. The cleaning log shows me in detail when the Deebot was active. For the individual accessories, I can see the remaining usage time before a change is due.
Both the robot itself and all parts are robustly manufactured. Original accessories are expensive, but have a very long service life. According to the manufacturer, the side brushes should be changed every 150 hours of operation. The main brush has a service life of 300 operating hours. I can take the filter apart and partially clean it under running water. With regular cleaning, it lasts up to 120 hours.
Alexa, Google Assistant & Co: integration into smart home systems
Ecovacs robots can be integrated into all common smart home systems such as Alexa or Google Home. I can send the Deebot N8 Pro to vacuum or mop by voice command, pause the current cleaning, or have it return to the station.
With Google Assistant, multiple Deebots can be conveniently controlled once the Ecovacs account is linked to the Google Home app. I had my problems with the Alexa Skill. While I was still able to start the Deebot, I could not find a voice command that would have caused it to stop or return.
Only intervention via the app helped here. Overall, the voice control is very limited. More advanced settings like adjusting the suction power only work via the Ecovacs app. Perhaps that is why Ecovacs will introduce its own voice assistant in the upcoming premium model.
Suction performance in daily use
The Deebot N8 Pro copes well in a household with two dogs. As with the Deebot T9+, however, its design means I have to clean the brushes of coiled hair about once a month. With two trips per day, it vacuums pet and human hair as well as smaller kitchen scraps easily, even on the medium setting. The Deebot doesn't even stop at penny pieces.
The suction power can be adjusted in four stages and manages up to 2600 PA in the Maximal+ setting. If the N8 Pro detects a carpet, it automatically increases the suction power and cleans it superficially. A deep-clean high-pile carpet is not possible even with the N8 Pro. To get deep-seated dirt out of carpets, more suction power is needed than current vacuum robots can offer.
The Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro can be upgraded considerably with an optionally available suction station. It costs an extra $299 (RRP), but anyone who is allergic to dust, for example, will get a really useful upgrade here. You can read more about the advantages of the suction station in my review of the Ecovacs Deebot T9+. The suction station tested there is also compatible with the Deebot N8 Pro.
Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro: There is still room for improvement when wiping
In contrast to the Ecovacs Deebot 9+, the Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro does not master any special wiping movements. The wiping plate is fixed, and the bot virtually drags the cloth behind it. To compensate for the lack of wiping motions, the N8 Pro repeatedly moves forward and backward in some places, repeatedly maneuvering itself into a dead end. The following video shows the mishap:
If the N8 Pro bumps into an obstacle while reversing, it doesn't notice it. For example, the bot backs up against the wall and keeps going backward. The wheels spin and the N8 Pro can't get out of the predicament. I have to move it away from the obstacle, so it can finish reversing and continue wiping.
The bot's chosen routes around the room don't always make sense to me, either. In some places, it wipes several times during a nearly 15-minute run, others it skips completely. Even after the second and third repetition, small areas remain untouched.
Good mopping performance on smooth floors
However, it removed stains surprisingly well when it encountered them. On the smooth laminate floor, it even manages muddy and dried paw prints from the second-highest water flow rate (there are four levels in total) and a double pass. It only struggles on rough surfaces and does not get the dirt out of the slightly grooved sports mats or the wood-look vinyl floor with grain during the endurance test.
In addition to a reusable microfiber cloth, the scope of delivery also includes a pack of disposable wipes, but these are also washable. The latter survive about six to seven washes until I have to dispose of them. In the Ecovacs app, I can set a notification so that the bot reminds me to change the wipe after a selectable time interval.
Deebot N8 Pro obstacle course: amazingly strong obstacle detection
Like the Ecovacs Deebot T9+ before it, the Deebot N8 Pro also had to face my obstacle course in the office/VR room. I covered the light laminate floor with black training mats about two centimeters high and placed various objects in the room.
Important for classification and to prevent confusion: The Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro tested here is not equipped with the AIVI technology optimized by artificial intelligence. The AI support is only found in the Ecovacs Deebot T9 AIVI.
The N8 Pro uses TrueDetect 3D 1.0 camera-based technology for obstacle detection. According to the manufacturer, it detects "objects in front of it from a distance of between 4.5 cm and up to 30 cm" and "objects as small as one millimeter, such as thin cables or other small parts. Shoes or textiles are also detected."
Object detection results in the office course with video
When it comes to object recognition, the Deebot N8 Pro comes up trumps. It easily overcomes the nearly 2 cm high edges of sports mats. Furniture, chair legs, or other large objects are no problem. In the test, it reliably maneuvered around dog toys, socks, a scarf, and tripod legs.
The Deebot only made one tactless act: a locking strap got tangled in the main brush while it was curving around a backpack. The bot then dragged the backpack behind it, repeatedly tried to get rid of it with jerky driving maneuvers, and ran over a sock in the process. After finally getting stuck on the backpack while reversing, it aborted the pass with an error message.
I briefly intervened and the N8 Pro continued the pass - this time almost flawlessly. It detected a thin white USB cable and wheeled around. On the second encounter, it rammed the connector but noticed the cable shortly after and safely drove around it again.
This shows the Deebot N8 Pro to be much more robust than the Deebot T9 when it comes to obstacle detection. The latter actually features the improved TrueDetect 2.0 intelligent obstacle detection. Despite the robust obstacle detection, I recommend clearing the floor of small or fragile items and securing cables before each pass.
|Object||Obstacle detection||Minute in video|
|Black barbell||Detected and bypassed||00:27|
|Office chair with silver feet and black wheels||Detected and bypassed||01:25|
|Blue backpack||Detected and circumnavigated, tangled on the locking strap, dragging the backpack / passage broken and error message||01:46 / 04:02|
|Gray camera tripod||Detected and bypassed||02:38|
|Black sock||Not recognized / later recognized and bypassed||02:40 / 10:36|
|Black speaker stand||Not detected and approached / detected and bypassed||03:37 / 14:02|
|USB charging cable (white)||Detected and bypassed / not detected, approached, noticed and bypassed||05:36 / 10:42|
|Black guitar stand||Detected and bypassed||06:12|
|Scarf, colorful checkered||Recognized and bypassed||06:51|
|Dog toy (brown squeaky cigar)||Recognized and bypassed||07:49|
|Black office chair||Detected and bypassed||13:55|
|End of passage and return to charging station||Charging station immediately detected and docked quickly||16:34|
Conclusion: Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro review
The Ecovacs Deebot N8 Pro is an excellent household robot with surprisingly robust obstacle detection. It goes around furniture and large objects just as unerringly as dog toys, socks, or cables. I could not find any weak points when it came to recognizing bright or highly reflective objects.
The suction power is strong, but the N8 Pro has a big problem when mopping. The wiping plate is firmly attached to the bin. To compensate for the lack of cleaning motion, the N8 Pro moves back and forth quickly in some places. If it bumps into an object while reversing, it doesn't notice it and stubbornly continues until you take it away. This rarely happens, but it is still annoying. If it mops without incident, it also removes muddy paw prints.
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