Design and build
Ecovacs Robotics’ latest autonomous floor cleaner looks pretty much like most other Deebots in the Chinese company’s cleaning arsenal. It’s a generic-looking, yet smart, round robot with a distinct circular protrusion on the top that houses the Deebot 900’s laser mapping sensors.
Like most round robot vacuums, including the Deebot Ozmo 930 and the Deebot N79S, the Deebot 900 has a front bumper that protects the droid when it’s bumping into walls and furniture. The bumper, like the other Deebot models, has a little give, providing ample shock absorption. Although we have to say that the sensors on the Deebot 900 are excellent – more often than not, the robot slows down as it approaches an obstacle while doing its rounds and the bump barely has any force to cause any damage.
On the top face of the droid is a single Auto button which, when pressed, begins a standard clean (more about the types of cleaning later). This button sits beside the Wi-Fi indicator LED, and both pulse gently with a soft blue light when charging, exactly the way it is on the more expensive Deebot Ozmo 930.
Like the older model, the Deebot 900 has a top lid which protects the rather small 350ml dustbin, which is easy to slip in and out using a plastic handle. The removable HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attached to one wall of the bin is washable, but you’ll need to make sure it’s completely dry before using it again. An additional filter and bin are provided in the box.
The undercarriage of the Deebot 900 is nearly identical to the Deebot Ozmo 930 as well, with the exception of the latter’s mopping plate of course. There are two detachable circular, three-pronged side brushes which push dirt from the edges of the room towards the central long bar brush under the droid.
The bar brush is meant to be used when vacuuming carpets – it sweeps up dirt but is also good for brushing hair and pet fluff off the fibres of a carpet. This, however, leads to plenty of tangles on the brush, but thankfully the brush can be removed for a clean. In fact, Ecovacs recommends the droid to be used without it (called direct suction) when used for dry spills on hard floors.
Speaking of tangles, the Deebot 900 comes with the same little cleaning tool that the Ozmo 930 did. The difference here is it's hidden away in one of the accessory boxes, so you'll need to dig around to find it. It would have been great if Ecovacs had created a niche under the lid for the tool, like in the older Ozmo 930.
In terms of its, well, vital statistics, the Deebot 900 measures 33.7cm (13.27 inches) in diameter and 9.5cm (3.74 inches) in height, and weighs 3.5kg.
The Deebot 900 is, on paper, able to get across thresholds or barriers up to 18mm (0.17 inches) in height. So if you’ve got thresholds around the house that are about an inch (25mm) high – like we did in our test space (described below) – the Deebot won’t enter and the room won’t get mapped. Picking up the droid and placing it back on the ground is an absolute no-no; it will result in the droid getting confused and the map resetting or producing errors. The Electrolux PUREi9, on the other hand, is able to climb up to 22mm in height, clearing most thresholds and easily making a beeline for the garden if your backdoor is open.
Like most robot vacuums available today, the Deebot 900 also comes with a charging base in the box, which you’ll need place near a power socket with 0.5m free space on either side of it. It’s a simple dock with two charging plates, a front wall that keeps the Deebot’s bumper in place, with cable management hidden behind the wall.
It took all of 10 minutes to get the Deebot 900 out of its box, get it set up in place on its charging station, download the app, connect it via Wi-Fi and link it to our Google Home. It was a seamless process, with not a single hiccup.
Before the Deebot can have its first run of the place, you’ll need to give it a charge. While this is happening, you can download the Ecovacs app available for both Android and iOS and complete the setup.
The app is the droid’s control center, so you won’t ever need to use the Auto button to start it. In fact, the only time you need to go anywhere near the robot vacuum would be to empty the bin or give the main brush a clean.
The app will lead you through the step-by-step process of connecting the Deebot 900 to your home’s Wi-Fi network and, then, to the app itself. Once connected, you’ll see that the Deebot 900 shows up as ‘online’ on the app. Tapping the name of the droid will take you into the main page from where you can pretty much do everything.
If your Deebot has finished charging, you can either press the physical button on top of the droid or tap the Auto option on the app’s home page to begin the bot’s first mapping run. As the Deebot moves along, a live map will appear on the main page with the real-time position of the droid clearly marked. Ecovacs says that each clean will update the map, so if you’ve got something (like a bag or box) lying on the floor the first time round, the bot may move around it then, adding an obstacle to the map, which will disappear if the item has been moved the next time it does a clean.
Ecovacs has never disappointed us with its navigation technology. Where the Electrolux PUREi9 moved around like a lost puppy, the Deebot Ozmo 930 and the Deebot 900 both impress in the precise way they move through a space.
Before the Deebot 900 begins its first (or any subsequent clean), you will hear a “I’m started to clean” voice notification from the droid. Similar notifications can also be heard when the vacuum has finished a clean and heading back to its dock, or when it needs a recharge.
Our test space consisted of a two bedroom, two bathroom plus study apartment and open-plan living, dining and kitchen, and the first clean was enough for the Deebot 900 to precisely map the area. However, the threshold to each bathroom is about an inch high, and the robot vacuum was unable to enter, although it did recognise there was another room beyond the door, adding those spaces to the live map.