No one enjoys vacuum cleaning, so why are we still doing it? Robotic vacuum cleaners have gotten so good — and so much more affordable — that manual cleaning is no longer necessary. I let the Deebot N79S do all my vacuuming for me.

The N79S is an updated version of the best-selling N79. It packs all the same features and the same great design, but now it supports Amazon Alexa. That means you don’t even have to push a button to get it going; you just tell it what to do.

It’s one of the many things that make the N79S one of the best affordable robot vacs you can buy.

I had no interest in a robot vac a few months ago. I had assumed that they were nowhere near as good as a manual clean, and I had already spent hundreds on a Dyson upright that I never used (my girlfriend did the vacuuming). But then I was asked to try out the new Deebot.

I’d never heard of Deebot before, or its Chinese maker, Ecovacs — but I was told the N79 was the best-selling robot vac on Amazon. I went to check it out and discovered thousands of glowing reviews from happy customers. I had the N79S shipped out right away, and I’ve been loving it since it arrived.

The Deebot N79S sucks — in a good way

After charging it for four hours — as the instructions recommend — I put the N79S to work. It randomly zig-zagged around the house, bumping into walls and furniture, and I wondered what all the fuss was about. I decided I’d just leave it to do its thing — then I’d do a proper job with the Dyson later.

Deebot N79S
The N79S has sensors to help it avoid walls and other objects.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

I didn’t have to vacuum again. I let the N79S run until it needed charging again — its battery lasts for about 100 minutes — and then I walked around all the rooms it had cleaned. I was amazed to find there wasn’t a speck of dirt anywhere.

We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an office on the second floor — most of which are carpeted. We also have three kids, so those carpets get pretty dirty. We typically vacuum every other day, but in anticipation of the Deebot’s arrival, we’d left it for four days. There was dirt everywhere.

In the time it took the N79S to run out of juice, it had cleaned every room. It had no problem finding its way around, or getting in and out from underneath the beds. It flicked out the dirt from around the edges of the room and sucked it up, and even cleaned the landing without falling down the stairs.

Deebot N79S
Deebot won’t fall down the stairs.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

I genuinely couldn’t have been more impressed by its performance in standard power mode (there’s also a “max” power mode if you need it). Even without the insane suction power our Dyson has, the N79S had done an excellent job — and it did it surprisingly quietly.

The hardware

Just like the original N79, the N79S sports a sleek, low-profile design. It can get under furniture that offers at least 8cm (3 inches) of clearance, and it packs an array of sensors and a bump guard that read the room and prevent it falling down the stairs.

Two spinning brushes grab dirt from the edges and corners of the room and flick it into Deebot’s path so that it can be picked up by its rotating brush. The dirt is collected in a tray at the back of the vac that’s easily removed and emptied.

Deebot N79S
The N79S gets dirty fast.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

You’ll find youself doing this often. The Deebot picks up an incredible amount of dust along its travels, and its collection tray isn’t all that big. It will beep three times when the tray is full, but I got into the habit of just empying it before every clean

The brushes and filters also detach easily for cleaning and replacing — there’s no need to worry about unscrewing anything. The Ecovacs app for iPhone lets you keep track of the health of these parts and tells you when they need changing.

Ecovacs includes a little tool with the N79S that’s handy for brushing debris out of its brushes and filters, and for cutting through hair that usually gets tangled around the main brush.

The Deebot N79S is smart

The N79S comes with its own remote, but can also be controlled the through app. Both allow you to start and stop the vac, guide it manually, schedule automatic cleans, and send it back to its charger. They also let you choose from four different cleaning modes:

  • Auto: This is the mode you’ll use mode, and the one that I’ve found to be most effective. It sends the N79S to clean every room it can get to. It seems to roam around randomly at first, then focuses on the edges of the room.
  • Egde: If the N79S didn’t clean the edges right the first time, you can use this mode to send it back around the edges of the room. It will still navigate between rooms, avoiding any obstacles along the way; it just won’t waste its time on anything but the edges.
  • Spot: For particularly dirty areas, you can use the spot cleaning mode. Place the N79S down in the center of the dirt, and it will ride around in a circle, slowly increasing its coverage, until the area is clean. It runs for a few minutes, then stops automatically.
  • Room: This is the mode you’ll use to clean just one room. It’s similar to auto mode in that it sends the N79S off to do its own thing, only it won’t move between rooms — it will just clean the room its in. It does a pretty decent job of recognizing where the door is and not going through it.

You can activate auto mode quickly by pressing the button on the top of the N79S itself, or you can control the vac through Alexa using simple voice commands.

Alexa setup is fairly easy and takes less than a minute; you simply need to activate the Ecovacs skill and sign into the account you created inside the app. Once your Deebot is connected, you can say things like, “Alexa, ask Deebot to start cleaning.” I’ve found Alexa controls to be perfectly reliable.

Preparing your home for Deebot

Because the Deebot controls itself, there are some things you should take care of before using it. Obviously you should pick up anything small that you don’t want it to suck up, but you should also ensure there are no cables or shoes (it sucks up laces) lying around that will jam its brushes.

Deebot N79S
Deebot seamlessly transfers from carpet to hard floors.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

You may also need to pick up rugs. I’ve found that Deebot cleans and navigates over short-pile rugs just fine, but long-pile rugs and those with tassled edges are not suitable for cleaning. The N79S gets stuck on them and beeps until you save it.

You should also ensure that Deebot doesn’t roam wet floors.

When you use the N79S in a new area, it’s a good idea to follow it around for a little while to see how well it copes with its surroundings. You may find there are locations it struggles with and you need to make some adjustments or move certain things out of the way.

The Deebot won’t always find its way home

I’ve only had one real issue with the N79S in the month that I’ve been using it, and that’s with charging. The vac ships with a charging base that sits on the floor, and Deebot should find its way back to it by itself when you tell it to charge, or when it’s battery is too low to continue cleaning.

Deebot N79S
You’ll be emptying the Deebot a lot.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

I’ve found that my N79S really struggles to find its way home. At times, it has roamed from room to room for a good 15 minutes without even getting close to the charger. And sometimes, even when it gets there, it takes ages for Deebot to actually dock itself properly.

I’ve ended up picking the vacuum up and putting it on the charger myself more times than it has successfully found its way back. Perhaps that’s because of the placement of the charging dock — I am going to try moving it — but I noticed other users have reported similar issues.

Every home needs a Deebot

Despite the charging problems, I couldn’t be happier with the N97S. Its performance has been outstanding and I’ve been using it almost every day. The only time we pull out the Dyson now is to vacuum the stairs and areas the Deebot cannot reach.

The N79S has changed the way I think about robot vacs; they’re not the useless gimmick I expected them to be. Every home should have a Deebot — and every home can have a Deebot. At just under $250 on Amazon, the N79S is affordable, and well worth the money.

Buy from: Amazon — $249.98



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