The Ecovacs Deebot 901 Robot Vacuum is absolutely amazing and it’s jam-packed with features that you usually only see on robots twice the price. After putting the Deebot 901 through all of our tests, we still can’t believe they’re selling a robot vacuum of this caliber at the price they are. We were sent this robot for free to test, but the tests we put them through speak for themselves and leave little room for favoritism.
First, let’s look at the power. We measured the airflow at 13 CFM on low power and 18 CFM on high power. That’s more than the extremely expensive top-of-the-line Roomba 980 which we measured at 12 CFM on low/17 on high, and you notice that power with its cleaning performance (as we’ll see later).
But the most amazing thing about the Deebot 901 is its navigation and ultra-advanced mapping. Up until a couple of years ago, every robotic vacuum navigated by randomly pinballing around the house with no clear direction. But recently, premium robots started using cameras or invisible lasers to map out their surroundings and then use that map to clean in straight lines with varying degrees of success.
Well, the Deebot 901 uses lasers, which we’ve always preferred over cameras because they don’t require the lights in the house to be on, like the camera bots, and they have so much more than you can program them to do. Besides that, their maps and obstacle avoidance sensors are much more accurate.
Well, not only does the Deebot 901 navigate as good or better than the Roomba 980 or Neato d7, but it seems to be smarter than both in terms of its mapping. Part of the reason its navigation is so awesome is the software. After the robot vacuum makes at least one complete map of the house, you can then draw unlimited lines or boxes on the map in the app to keep the robot from going places you don’t want it to.
This makes magnetic strips or virtual wall barriers that other companies use seem like relics from a different age. You can also simply click on certain rooms that you want it to clean while avoiding others, which is something we haven’t seen yet.
The reason this great is that it solves the main problem that robot vacuums have had since their invention, that is keeping them from all the areas that they’re likely to get stuck. Further, this makes the scheduling feature on the app, where you can choose what time and what days you want the Deebot to clean, actually effective.
With its safe map route that you’ll create, you won’t come home to a stuck vacuum that didn’t clean anything. We think other robot vacuum companies are going to have to offer this feature to stay competitive in the future because it’s that important. We also like that you can see it clean in real time on the app, which is pretty cool.
Finishing up on navigation, we were also impressed with the Deebot 901’s ability to climb obstacles, like door thresholds. It tackled the 3/4 inch board in our test, which is better than most. It means it can go places other robots can’t, and is less likely to get stuck on area rugs or similar obstacles. It has a 3.3-inch clearance height which is better than the 3.9 inches of other laser nav bots, like the Neatos, meaning it can get under furniture.
Moving on to the pickup test. We tested it on carpet and hard floors in both low and high power. On carpet, we found that it picked up all the debris, including fine debris, pet hair, and even extra-large debris in both low and high power. There wasn’t much of a difference between low and high power on carpet which is typical since carpet pickup relies less on airflow than hard floors. In any case, it was superb on carpets, as good or better than any robot vacuum we’ve tested.
On hard floors, it also excelled, picking up all the debris in the test by the end of the run. Again, there wasn’t too much difference between low and high power. High power was better, but both settings did the job very well.
One interesting feature that we haven’t seen anywhere else is that, in addition to the solidly built brush roll. The Deebot 901 comes with “suction only” attachment that you can switch out with the brush roll. The idea is that if your main concern was pet hair on hard floors, you could run it in this mode without having to clean the brush roll periodically.
We tested this on high power on hard floors and found that it did pretty good but not quite as good as a standard brush. And it certainly isn’t something that you would want to use on carpets as it’s only designed for hard floors. But it’s pretty cool if you only were concerned about pet hair on hard floors.
The Ecovacs Deebot 901 claims 120 minutes of battery life on the low power setting, and we’re sure that it would achieve this with continuous runtime, but our battery life tests are a bit skewed since we have to restart it an average of five times, since our test area is small, and restarting wastes a lot of battery life. But we got 80 minutes on low power and an impressive 66 minutes on the high power setting.
For context, with the same test conditions, the Roomba 980 only achieved 48 minutes on its high power setting. Remember that its high power is lower than the Deebot’s. So the Deebot getting 18 more minutes at a higher CFM is pretty impressive.
The Deebot 901 is also quieter than the competition. It was 68 decibels in its high power compared to the Roomba’s 74 and the Neato’s 70 in high power.
Another area where the Deebot 901 did good was with the carpet deep clean test and the crevice pickup test. On the deep clean test, which robot vacuums usually don’t do great at, it only left a little more than half a gram. This is compared to the Neato and the Roomba, which left almost 3 grams.
On the crevice pick up test, it did about as well as others, picking up everything from the eight-inch crevice and just a little from the quarter-inch crevice.
We’ve yet to see a robot vacuum do much better.
Before we move to the cons, we’ll mention some features that we missed in this review.
It has all the usual sensors, including drop sensors. It comes with extra filters, a cleaning brush, the suction only attachment, and a charger. And it does return to the charger automatically after cleaning or if its battery is dying. The unit will also continue cleaning where it left off if the battery dies before it completes its cleaning job. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google assistant.
So as far as negative things about the Deebot 901, the main thing would be that the dustbin, though easier to empty than most, is a bit small at about 1 cup. This is compared to the Roomba’s 1 and 3/4 cups.
Its edge cleaning was good but not great. It was similar to the Roomba in that it did fair but did occasionally leave debris in the corners.
The negative reviews we saw are where people were having trouble getting the vacuum to map the house for the first time. To get all the cool mapping features, like the virtual barriers, to become available on the app, you need to have the robot complete a normal cleaning in its default mode first because it needs to map the whole house before you can start drawing lines.
This can be a problem if your house is too large for it to complete cleaning in the 120 minutes in the low power or if you have a cluttered house where it’s likely to waste time navigating around obstacles.
The fix would be to babysit the robot for its first cleaning and to block off as much as you can with physical barriers or move objects that it’s going to waste time navigating around allowing it to clean as fast as possible. Then, once it creates the map, you can draw all the lines and boxes around those problem areas for the future.
The Ecovacs Deebot 901 is without a doubt the best robot vacuum in its price range and stands up to and even surpasses many robot vacuums that are double its price. Ecovacs is the number one best-selling brand in Asia, number two in Europe, and consistently the number one robot vacuum on Amazon in the U.S. for a reason.