Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro review
Quick verdict: The Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro impresses with its pet hair friendly larger dustbin, but has issues with basic navigation that make it a little challenging to use every day.
- Includes mopping functions
- Larger dustbin and "tangle free" brush
- Google Assistant and Alexa compatible
- Gets lost all too easily
- Mopping function doesn't recognise carpets
- Wheel tangles are all too common
Ecovacs' latest robot vacuum cleaner, the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro sells itself as the "pet-focused" robot vacuum cleaner for the budget sensitive buyer. Ecovacs has done some good work in meeting the needs of most pet owners with an optional larger dustbin to collect all that stray fur and fluff, as well as mopping functionality for those… less pleasant pet experiences in your home. However, the lower quality AI does lead to a robot vacuum that gets lost just a little more often than I'd like.
- Wide range of accessories
- Pet-friendly larger dustbin for fur
- Set-up is simple via the Ecovacs app
Having reviewed the significantly more premium Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI just a few months ago, I wasn't too surprised at the general design look or style of the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro. Indeed, the two could almost be mistaken for twins with the same circular shape and size, front-mounted dual mopping and dustbin as default and whisker brushes that pop on and off as needed. Then again, pretty much nobody is selling square robot vacuums, so there's only so much differentiation any robot vacuum maker can engage in.
You do get quite a lot of accessories in the box with the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro, which is a little surprising given its relative budget status. The whisker brooms have to be clipped on, and the same is true for the optional mopping head. While the default bin includes the mop water reservoir, the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro won't actually mop until it recognises that you've added the mopping plate and either the washable mop head or a disposable one.
The in-box goodies don't stop there, because you also get a secondary larger dustbin without the mopping reservoir, and a separate rotary brush that Ecovacs claims is "tangle-free". This is where the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's pitch to pet owners comes in, because the idea is that the combination of that larger dust tray and rubberised brush is a better fit for pet owners who may be struggling with a smaller dustbin when trying to contain their pet's heavy shedding in the summer months.
The process of switching dustbins is pretty easy – you've got to take the dustbin out to empty it anyway so it's just a matter of swapping one for the other – but the inner brush change is a touch more convoluted.
Ecovacs has an entire app-led ecosystem for all of its robot vacuum cleaners, which means that the first step on setting it up was to download the Ecovacs app for iOS or Android and register an account before scanning the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's QR code to get it added to my account. This is also where you can set its cleaning modes, and how you get notified by the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro if you're not within range of its speakers.
The primary reason most folks buy a robot vacuum cleaner is naturally to rid themselves of an often boring chore, but for a pet-specific robot vacuum I figured I had to bring in the big guns.
By the big guns, I mean my cat Nyssa. Here she is.
Nyssa is a lovely, always-indoor cat – because I also love native Australian wildlife and I know what cats are – but she sheds a lot, especially in the warmer months. Sometimes after a heavy brushing session, I come away with enough fur for several spare cats, or at least it feels like that.
So to put the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro to the test, I made Nyssa very happy by brushing her extensively, collecting up the fur and then dropping it all throughout my house for the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro to find. To give it the best chance – and because I figure most folks would default to this unless they needed to mop – I installed the larger 800ml dustbin and tangle-free brush and let it get to work.
Unlike the pricier Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI, the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro uses a more bump-centric model for navigation, working its way by default in auto mode across the floor in largely parallel stripes, providing pretty decent coverage. You don't get an end "map" of where it's been, however, which can make location somewhat tricky if it gets stuck under an obstacle while you're out.
This did happen from time to time, mostly because while the tangle-free brush didn't tend to get stuck, the same can't be said for the basic side brushes, or the wheels. Indeed, the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's wheels were a little more keen to pick up stray socks, bits of knitting and on more than one occasion the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's own power cable into a tangled mess. Getting tangles out of its wheels is a convoluted process; at least with the side brushes you can pop them off easily to deal with any tangles.
Actual pick-up was good on both hard surfaces and carpet, with an optional max power mode if you've got particularly grubby carpets. It certainly grabbed up all the fur traps I laid for it without issue, as well as a lot of dust and detritus that had collected under my sofa. Its bump mapping method did sometimes lead it to miss small areas, but overall its general vacuuming efficiency was good for a robot vacuum at this price range.
The mopping reservoir on the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro measures in at 300ml, which Ecovacs reckons is good for up to 200 square metres of cleaning, but there's a big catch here relative to the last Ecovacs model we tested.
The Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro uses an effectively randomised coverage system for its navigation, which means it has no particular safeguards against spraying water over carpets or other areas that you don't want to get wet. Mopping is with clean water only, and I did notice that the random nature of its coverage mapping meant that some areas ended up more damp than others. Robot mops are still best suited to smaller spills and cleaning rather than anything intensive, and this is still true for the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro.
While I was reasonably happy with the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's vacuuming, there were a few issues that I couldn't ignore. Whether it's a function of its particular suction method or height, it seemed far more prone to general tangles than many previously tested units. That's great for finding those stray socks we all have, but less fun when you head out and put the robot vacuum cleaner on, expecting it to be all done when you get back. Your own floor coverage may vary, but my family's experience with the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro was that it was all too often "hungry" to find something to tangle with, getting stuck in the process.
The other issue with the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's random approach is that it's just not that smart when it came time to head home. Its internal speaker will let you know when the battery is running low, announcing that it's heading home to charge before trying to do so. The issue here is that by my own estimations, it actually makes it home only around half the time. Its base hadn't moved for my entire review process, but I'd often find it heading in the wrong direction until its battery was totally exhausted, or that I'd get a message a few minutes after announcing that it was heading home that it needed help to do so.
Picking up a robot vacuum cleaner isn't some hugely onerous chore. However, if you're not around to do that, your vacuum will be totally flat when you do get home, and you'll have to wait for it to charge up before you can use it again.
- Great battery endurance
- Long charge times
Lower cost robot vacuum cleaners often cut corners when it comes to battery inclusions, meaning that they don't always cover where you want them to before they're out of power. That wasn't an issue for the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro, which ships with a 3,200mAh battery that Ecovacs says is good for up to 150 minutes in standard mode, and understandably less in maximum power mode.
It's a fair assessment of the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's power too, although again that slightly randomised coverage map means that if you set it off in auto mode you'll often see it recovering areas it's already vacuumed as it trundles around. As noted, its issues with finding its own charging base do affect its ability to easily recharge, but for the typical small home or apartments that these kinds of devices are typically pitched at, there's plenty of power here.
The one big downside here is that the inductive charging plate for the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro is in no way a speedy device. A full recharge of the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro takes a hefty 5.5 hours to complete, which again is a bit of an issue if it runs low on power and can't find its way home.
Should you buy the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro?
- Buy it if you want a low-cost robot vacuum with a nice large dustbin.
- Don't buy it if you don't want to be picking it up and returning it home frequently.
So is the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro the sweetest thing or a lemon? It's somewhere in-between, which is rather fitting for a robot vacuum cleaner in this price category. Pretty clearly you can get a better and smarter robot vacuum, but you'll pay more for the privilege.
The best feature of the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro is easily that large dustbin, because it's good not only for pet fur, but also if you're a bit lazy and don't want to empty the dust bin every time you set it off. Robot vacuum cleaners are very much a convenience product, and that level of convenience is appreciated, even if the Ecovacs Deebot U2 Pro's intermittent navigation stupidity isn't always so warmly welcome.
Pricing and availability
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Images: Alex Kidman