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DEEBOT X1 PLUS review: Part robot butler, part security system, part phone?
Ecovacs’ DEEBOT X1 PLUS is an outstanding robovac with advanced mapping, easy maintenance, and powerful suction - and for some reason it is also a home monitoring system, and a phone…? Kinda?
Sometimes it feels like the days of truly innovative consumer tech advances are over. These days upgrades to our phones, fridges, headphones, and robot vacuum cleaners are iterative. Manufacturers are still hoping to create that next breakthrough, but sometimes these strides simply overcomplicate an otherwise excellent product.
Part robot butler, part security system, part phone, the DEEBOT X1 PLUS serves to remind us that just because you can implement a feature, it doesn’t mean you should.
DEEBOT X1 PLUS Price
The DEEBOT X1 PLUS usually retails for $1,899, which makes it a pricier model than most robovacs. You can however, find it for as little as $1,499 which is still on the more expensive side of the spectrum, but a saving none-the-less.
DEEBOT X1 PLUS: Home monitoring
You don’t need to stretch the imagination too far to see the intersection between a robot vacuum cleaner and a security system. They patrol every inch of our houses, create detailed maps of these dwellings, and account for real-time changes. They signal for our attention, and for our help, and they can do it all with minimal intervention. I can see why a range of manufacturers, Ecovacs included, thought that strapping a camera to their robot vacuums was a winning idea.
On the DEEBOT X1 PLUS, the camera is primarily used as part of AIVI 3D, Ecovacs’ mapping software. It improves object recognition, obstacle avoidance, and helps create in-depth maps of your residence. The “astrophotography-grade RGB camera” in the front of the vacuum also allows you to record, and take photos in 480p through the accompanying app as a form of home monitoring. This footage can be captured either during cleaning or in Home Patrol, when you can send the vacuum for a leisurely trip around the premises. Looking at my house from the view of a vacuum reminds me of playing Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes on PS1 - complete with lag and all. Up to 50MB of these clips or photos can be stored in the Ecovacs library, but you can also download them to your device easily enough. Even though Ecovacs doesn’t market these as security features, they bear a striking similarity to dash cams, and at-home security cameras.
DEEBOT X1 PLUS: Calling
Home Patrol also allows you to use the vacuum as a phone of sorts, letting you speak through your phone and have that amplified through the device speaker. During set-up the Ecovacs app suggests using it to talk to your family while you’re at work, but I only used it to try and sneak up on and scare my partner. Unfortunately that didn’t work since the call creates a lot of static and he could hear it from behind a door. The static combined with the poor call quality makes for a near illegible call experience.
DEEBOT X1 PLUS: Vacuum Performance
Despite being a weird addition on the home monitoring side of things, the in-built camera significantly improves object detection and avoidance on the X1 PLUS. Ecovacs calls it Strategic Cleaning, but I call it Not Having To Pick Up Cords. AIVI and TrueDetect 3D 2.0 allow the cleaner to recognise and maneuver around objects in the space in real time, as opposed to entirely relying on a precomposed LiDAR map. In practice this means I spend less time pre-cleaning for the vacuum, and releasing cords from its jaws.
The mapping itself is impressive, automatically adding in main obstacles on the floor plan such as the couch, TV, bed, and dining table. Even though the X1 PLUS doesn’t go into the kitchen, due to a small step blocking the path, it was still able to ascertain an approximate size of that room from the data coming through the camera. All in all, it is quite impressive, but it does inexplicably think there is a toilet in the middle of the hallway, so it isn’t a perfect system.
Due to how accurate most of the mapping is, sending the X1 PLUS to certain places in the house to spot clean is simple and efficient. My only qualm is that the vacuum is slightly too tall to fit underneath most of my furniture - so when I send it off to clean under the bed or the entertainment unit it adorably bumps into the edges the whole way around. It tries its best, but if you don’t have a huge amount of clearance under your furniture you’ll still need to manually clean under there.
Controlling the cleaner through the app is simple, but the voice assistant isn’t as reliable. The X1 PLUS has Ecovac’s voice assistant YIKO, theoretically allowing you to give directions verbally. However YIKO hardly ever responds to my commands at all, but occasionally perks up when the TV is on. Using Siri Shortcuts via the Ecovacs app was more reliable and let me use voice commands for basic functions. Just beware that Ecovacs products are not HomeKit compatible so if you want to use Siri Shortcuts functionality with an Apple smart speaker, you’ll need to be the primary account holder in the house.
With 5000pA suction, the X1 PLUS can handle a good amount of debris but the tank is a bit small if you have animals prone to shedding, or a larger space. I’m in a constant battle with dog fur thanks to my kelpie x border collie that loses half her coat every minute. Daily vacuuming keeps this relatively manageable, but if I happen to miss a day the X1 PLUS’s 400ml dustbin capacity isn’t enough, and it will need to be emptied part way through. Even though it automatically takes itself back to the auto-empty station when full, it doesn’t resume cleaning after the bin has been emptied. Instead you’ll need to toggle ‘Resumed Cleaning’ on in settings and then once it has fully charged again, will go back to where it left off. You could easily set up a scheduled daily clean to combat this, but for larger spaces it may consistently miss spaces.
Should you buy Ecovacs' DEEBOT X1 PLUS?
With powerful suction, handy maintenance features, excellent mapping, and advanced obstacle detection, the DEEBOT X1 PLUS is a robot vacuum cleaner that lives up to the promise of saving you time on your chores. Its other features however, aren’t worth paying extra for.
Even though I'd relish the opportunity to scare an intruder by getting my vacuum to stalk them around the house, intermittently shrieking through the static call feature - the practical use cases for these features are hard to come by. Made harder by the audio and video quality. Realistically these aren’t features you would normally consider when comparing robot vacuums, and as far as I'm concerned they’re still not worth your consideration.
It would be better for consumers if manufacturers directed their efforts into more thoughtful cleaning features for vacuums as opposed to frankensteining multiple devices together. Still, don’t let these lacklustre home monitoring features detract from the cleaning functionality of the DEEBOT X1 PLUS, because as a robot vacuum cleaner it is hard to fault.