Review: Control this Robotic Vacuum with Alexa or an iOS App

While others may have more name recognition, Ecovacs is a strong contender with nearly a dozen different models to meet the needs of specific customers. They sent me their most popular model, the DEEBOT 500 ($259.95), to try. For me, with primarily hardwood flooring, it works well. This particular model travels somewhat at random, stopping at walls and other obstacles and changing direction, but Ecovacs has more advanced models that can be programed via the app based on your floor layout.

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The DEEBOT 500 lasts for nearly two hours before it needs to be recharged, and magically, if finds its charging station automatically then charges itself. So that's one less thing to worry about. I wish my iPhone and Apple Watch could do that! The battery life is important, because this model works at random. Just keep the charging dock in an open area, to improve docking success. You can also use the included remote to tell the vacuum to go home and initiate recharging. The remote can also tell the DEEBOT which direction to go, pause or switch between spot and edge cleaning. 

I love that, in addition to the app, the DEEBOT can be controlled by Alexa, (via Wi-Fi) as well as the included remote control (which looks a bit like my Logitech Harmony Express remote, so I have to be careful!). But I tend to use Alexa for as much as possible, anyway. It even looks like an oversized Amazon Echo Dot! It's not 100 percent automated. You have to empty the dust bin of course. And eventually, you may have to replace the filter or brushes, depending on usage.

Ecovacs has so many models that it's hard to choose which model to get, as some of the higher end units offer water-based mopping, as well as carpet detection, and longer battery life. The good news is that the website offers a comparison tool and a filter so you can restrict items if you have carpets, desire mopping, etc., to find the right model(s) for you.

Also, keep in mind that, if you have pets, they might be disturbed or even threatened by any robotic vacuum cleaner, as my small dog is. But I try to keep her in another part of the house when using the cleaner.

Pros

  • Nearly two hours of battery life
  • Automatically recharges itself using docking station
  • Controlled by iOS app, Alexa, or remote control
  • One of many varieties offered

Cons

  • Random mapping versus app-based
  • Higher end models offer water-based mopping, carpet detection, and longer battery life
  • Might disturb pets

Final Verdict

The DEEBOT 500 from Ecovacs, or one of its brothers, should be able to keep your floors clean; just choose the right one.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.