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Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: Meet the robot vacuum cleaner with a mop

Our Rating 
inc VAT

Packed with features and does a reasonable job for the money

Pros 
Plenty of features for the money
Doesn't get gunked up too easily
Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control
Cons 
Doesn't get into the edges of your room very well
Mop is ineffective
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It’s an alarming fact, but robotic vacuum cleaners now appear to be mass market products. So much so that manufacturers are struggling, seemingly, to make their products stand out. Take the Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro.

Like so many others, it’s a low-profile disc with motorised wheels that will bumble around your rooms autonomously, sucking up dus as it goes. But this is no ordinary robot vacuum cleaner. Root around in the box and you’ll find an unusual attachment: a water reservoir and a microfibre cleaning cloth. Yup, this little fella will mop the floor for you as well as vacuuming your carpets.

READ NEXT: The best robot vacuum cleaners you can buy – our pick of the best in 2017

Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: What you need to know

That’s unusual, but at the end of the day you’re going to want to use this to clean your carpets as well, and the M81Pro looks well equipped to do that.

It’s a mid-priced robot vacuum cleaner that can be controlled either with a remote control or via an app on your smartphone. It’s circular in shape, low enough to slide under sofas, beds and coffee tables, and it guides itself around your rooms using a combination of infrared and physical bumper sensors.

It isn’t particularly sophisticated and its cleaning power is mediocre, but it makes up for this in part with its reasonable price, innovative mop attachment and ease of use.

Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: Price and competition

There’s no doubting that the Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro is good value for money. It costs £249 and it’s packed with features. It’s less than half the price of the excellent Neato D5 Connected and almost a third of the price of the Dyson 360Eye, yet it doesn’t suffer too badly on the features front.

For closer to the price of the M81Pro you can buy the non-Wi-Fi version of the Neato – the D85 – but that’s still £500. Our current pick in the mid-range is the Miele Scout RX1, which currently costs around £330. It’s less powerful than the Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro, though, and doesn’t have the Wi-Fi connectivity.

Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: Design and features

On paper, the M81Pro looks pretty impressive, then. Its reasonably powerful for the money, at 40W, it has a decent run time of two hours and its low-profile means it’ll clean beneath sofas and beds pretty easily.

It comes with a remote control with an LCD display, which can be used to schedule cleaning and select the vacuum cleaner’s various modes, or you can pair it up with your smartphone and drive it from there.

This means you don’t have to be in the same room to start cleaning and the robot’s forward-facing infrared and bumper sensors handle object avoidance, while four downwards-facing sensors prevent the Deebot from falling down the stairs.

Cleaning is carried out by the combination of a 150mm-wide rotary brush that sits centrally between the two main drive wheels and a pair of horizontally spinning brushes in the nose, which sweep dust out of the corners and in from the edges of the room to the main roller.

Dust is dumped into a 0.57-litre bin, which is about average for this type of vacuum cleaner (it’s larger than the Dyson 360 Eye’s and smaller than the Neato Botvac D5 Connected’s) and this is easy to access and empty. Flip open a panel on the top, pull it out with the handle, unclip the HEPA filter door and it’s just a simple matter of shaking the fluff out into a bin. There’s also a bladed cleaning tool under this flap, which makes light work of untangling hair from the roller and crud from the filter.

That’s not all, though. In addition to the traditional brush fittings, the M81Pro also comes with a “mop” attachment. This isn’t particularly sophisticated – it comes in the form of a shallow reservoir you fill up with water and a microfibre pad that attaches beneath it via a series of Velcro tabs – but it is something different and has the potential for lifting that little bit extra dust from your floors.

Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: Performance

The Deebot M81Pro is nothing if not thorough. Pop it in auto mode, and it goes into overdrive, scuttling around the floor in seemingly random patterns, going over the same area of floor over and over again.

Every time I set it going it always needed emptying at the end of cleaning – its 40W motor should ensure it picks up a little more than the 23W Miele Scout RX1 – and I was impressed at how little declogging it needed. In my house, with two long-haired young girls and a shedding cat, it coped admirably.

It bumbles its way around most rooms successfully as well, its drop sensors prevent it from catastrophic falls and if you have the charger in the same room, it finds its way back home automatically.

It isn’t perfect, though. It doesn’t seem to cope particularly well with door thresholds, even low ones, so I’d recommend confining it to one room at a time. It quickly picks up unsightly scuffs and marks and it doesn’t hug skirting boards particularly closely.

The roller brushes beneath are quite soft and often leave larger particles behind, while the edge brushes are pretty useless at cleaning close to your skirting boards and into the corners of your rooms. On carpets, they’re not strong enough to dig down into the edges and they’re not long enough to fully reach into the corners either.

Considering the main roller brush is so narrow, this is a problem, particularly for cleaning narrow spaces such as hallways, so you’ll need a handheld cleaner to finish the job.

As for the mop attachment, let’s just say I’m not convinced. All it seems to do is smear water around the floor. It picks up some extra dust and dirt, but if you have anything remotely approaching proper muck you’ll need a proper mop.

Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro review: Verdict

The Ecovacs Deebot M81Pro isn’t the best robot vacuum cleaner we’ve come across. It has a decent range of features, it’s easy to use, easy to maintain and if you use it often enough, it’ll do a decent job of keeping your carpets clean.

For £250 the M81Pro isn’t bad and it does squeeze in a lot for the money, but do bear in mind that the narrow roller and ineffective edge brushes will require you to do a little extra legwork. If that bothers you and you have a bit of extra money, I’d encourage you to stump up for a Neato instead.

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