The Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro gets a robotic vacuum cleaner down to $599. However, it’s also a robotic cleaner with personality, even if it’s one that feels like it’s trying to end its life.
This is the story of a robot named “Cleanup”.
Officially, he was the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro, but when you live with an infant, everything robotic gets a name, including the robotic vacuum cleaner. Especially the robotic vacuum cleaner.
Cleanup is a flat disc of a thing, with the circular robot vacuum cleaner partially resembling the Roomba that everyone always connects robot vacuum cleaners with, though this was clearly no Roomba. While the first generations of robo-vac sweeped and moved dust and hair and stuff to the side, the Deebot U2 Pro named Cleanup was capable of moving the dust and residue into the the line of the built-in vacuum, and sucking it all into a container you could easily remove and empty.
As it worked — as he worked — Cleanup quickly became a member of the family. He was the family member that took care of the floors, all while we worked the other chores. He sweeped and vac’d and did all the things we might normally wish a vacuum to be used for, occasionally trying to eat the infant’s toys and shoes, as well. Sometimes succeeding.
And he also tried to commit suicide. Repeatedly. Sometimes nearing success so well, it’s hard to imagine that the makers hadn’t endowed this thing with some form of aggressive life-ending sentience.
So this is the story of “Cleanup”, the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro robotic vacuum cleaner, and what he can do, how he works, and how often he tries to hurtle himself off an edge. Spoiler alert: it’s more often than you might think.
What is the Deebot U2 Pro?
Built for homes both with and without pets, Ecovacs’ Deebot U2 Pro is one of the recent iterations of robotic vacuum cleaners from a brand that specialises in them. It’s all in the name of the company: Ecovacs.
The Deebot U2 Pro is one of those, armed with two sweeping brushes at the front with brush dust and hair and other flood-based residue particles into the line of fire for a mouth underneath, which rolls the gunk into his mouth and sucks it into the tank inside. It’s a little like a robotic stingray for land, where the mouth is on the underside, and the robot rolls around your home looking for things to eat.
Ecovacs’ Deebot U2 Pro can be triggered by pressing a button or by using an app, and it can even be connected to smart assistants, too, starting to work simply by calling it out.
What does the Ecovacs Deebot U2 robotic vacuum do?
However you end up making the Deebot U2 Pro do its job, it’ll typically roll back and forth in bit of a long and drawn out march, rolling through your home line by line.
It’s a little like a forensic search in a field, except the vacuum will work out where the edges are and pace forward as long as it can, and then move a little to the right before rolling back the other way. It can also stick to the edges and go around in around in one spot cleaning, but typically, it’ll do this grid thing, working your floor row by row, line by line until it moves on.
The Deebot U2 Pro will keep doing this until it has cleaned up your room and moved onto the next, or until it gets stuck or falls over, whichever comes first.
Does it do the job?
It can also work as a mopping device if you replace the vacuum compartment container with a mopping one, using water to clean the floor, but missing out on something that could do a proper cleaning job. As such, detergent and chemicals aren’t recommended here for use in the Deebot U2 Pro, just water, so you’ll get some mopping done, though not necessarily cleaning as such.
However the problem with the Deebot U2 Pro isn’t that it doesn’t do the job, because it does. It’s a pretty effective little floor cleaner, and it’s hard to say a bad thing about how it cleans.
But it’s really easy to poke fun at how often the Deebot tries to end its life. Repeatedly. Over and over again.
It’s like that clumsy family member everyone knows about, and has to keep calling out for. As in “oh no, what’s he done this time”, followed by a long drawl of “what nowwwwwww”.
It was a good thing we’d named the Deebot, treating him like a real person, because with the amount of times we’d sigh and just say his name with a sort of vent of frustration, it became overly comical. As if to say “what’s he done now?”
What Cleanup had done, however, was to constantly try to throw himself over the edge. It didn’t matter if it was the edge of a step or the the edge of the balcony; even though the Deebot U2 Pro has bumpers that help it become aware of obstacles and drops, that doesn’t seem to help much at all, and the edges become a challenge for it, as if he didn’t see it, and kept on trying.
You’ll know it when you hear it, often with a large crash as the robotic family member crashes from one small ledge to the floor below.
What does it need?
It’s a regularity, too. The amount of times the Deebot U2 Pro struggled to work on solid ground and stay that way was surprising to say the least.
While our robotic friend handled his main job of cleaning the floor totally fine, he also managed to get stuck so often, it beggared belief. He made his way under the couch easily, and through the rooms of our home, but then he’d inexplicably get stuck under an entertainment unit and throw up an error message on the screen, calling out with an alert.
It’s an all too familiar story when he falls off a step, because even though the Deebot U2 has the sensors needed to point out where a step should be, it would always, always, always go right to the step and crash to the floor below. Sometimes it would be upright, but more often than not, it would be flat on its back, its little weird mouth facing up as if to say “I’ve fallen, I can’t get up, and there’s something stuck in my mouth, please help”.
Cleanup managed to even take it one step too far, nearly throwing itself off our balcony too many times to count. It’s lucky we had so many trees in places, because any further, and it would have fallen in a spot making it difficult to reach.
That’s not a great situation for a robotic vacuum to succumb to, though Ecovacs has a solution: magnetic tape. Set up borders using the magnetic tape, and the vacuum won’t venture beyond those borders.
The problem, however, is that the magnetic tape neither comes with the vacuum in the box, nor is it remarkably cheap. At $49 for three metres, it’s the sort of thing you’d like to expect would have a metre sample in the box, or even half a metre at that. Just a taste, perhaps, to deal with the fact that the Deebot U2 Pro struggles with any boundaries, even the ones that its sensors should be able to deal with.
Is it worth your money?
However, at $599, it does feel as if you’re getting a decent little value, not just because it does a decent job of cleaning and hurtling itself down stairs for comical value, but also because it can deal with pet hair, thanks in part to a larger cleaning tank and a special comb for pet hair.
That’s useful for sure, handy for the beaglier in our home which creates more mess than anyone ever expected, and means the home can remain pet hair free largely without thinking.
Even the battery life is solid, with the Deebot U2 Pro able to work without you really needing to pay attention to it… until it throws itself off something.
If you survive a good two and a bit hours without any calamities, the Deebot will roll its way back to the charging station with ease. If you don’t, you’ll hear a large crash, followed by you shouting out at what that vacuum cleaner has done now. It’s a member of your family, so it’s totally fine. You’re just shouting at it from afar.
Yay or nay?
We wish Cleanup had better sensors and marginally more intelligence so he’d stop trying to commit robotic suicide, but the whole thing became a little comedic in the end.
We’d power him up and our three year old would cheer: yay, the robotic family member was awake, and she could watch him, dance around him, watching him work and pick up lint and hair and dust and such. But then all too often, he’d make his way into a room and get stuck, often behind a toilet or under a TV, and then once you picked him up and hear “I am suspended” only to have you nod and agree, it wasn’t long until he eventually found his way outside for some reason unbeknownst to you, and tried to end his life by throwing himself off the side. It was all too consistent, as if the vacuum knew you had a connection with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and was channeling his inner paranoid Android, only with a marginally more sentient life ending approach. Surreal.
As such, you might call the Deebot U2 Pro dinner and a show of sorts: it’ll make a meal of the dust on your floors, but then also give you a show with a crashtacular ending.
For the price, we’d say it’s worth it, and kids seem to especially enjoy watching it all the same. But we’re very curious if the more expensive Ecovacs models handle obstacles just a bit better than this model, and that might make variants with a higher price that much more compelling, simply because it might mean you won’t have to hear a crash, a bang, and then a whimper, even if that last one comes from you.
We don’t think we could part with him, though. Thanks to our infant, he’s a member of the family now, even if he happens to be the clumsiest cousin ever.