Ecovacs DEEBOT M88 Review - Perfect on Paper

Ecovacs DEEBOT M88 Review – Perfect on Paper

Ever since the first combination vacuum and mopping robot hit the store shelves, the number of clones has steadily increased. It seems like a great idea: a robot that can vacuum the floors and then mop afterward. The Ecovacs DEEBOT M88 is another in a long line of combo robots.

The problem is that for whatever reason (there are plenty) these robots don’t seem to be able to do both the vacuum and the mopping particularly well. Some are good at one and not at the other, while a few are even worse at both. Is the DEEBOT M88 the exception? On paper, it looks like the best of the best when it comes to robot combo cleaners.

In this article, I will put the specs to the test and find out if the DEEBOT M88 is worthy of a spot in your home. Let’s take a deeper look.

Who is the DEEBOT M88 for?

You may find yourself making several comparisons of various models while making your decision. Let’s see if I can help. The M88 might be for you if:

  • Your home is smaller and clear of obstacles.
  • You want smart home integrations to help control the robot.
  • The floor space is mainly hard flooring with sparse or no carpeting.

Who is the DEEBOT M88 not for?

Not every robot cleaner is going to be a perfect fit for every home. You may find that the M88 isn’t going to work for you if:

  • You have high pile or shag carpeting throughout the home.
  • The floor space in your home is expansive or high traffic.
  • You don’t want to do constant upkeep or maintenance.

Dimensions, Features and Options

To see if the paper stats hold up in the real world I will take a detailed look at the DEEBOT M88. If it holds up, this could be the first, true, combination robot worth buying. I’m not holding my breath. Let’s find out.

Tiny Battery, Low Runtime and High Drain Leave Little Hope.

If you follow my articles here, you know that I love to test the battery first. The battery is one of the most crucial elements of the entire operation. If it isn’t good enough, the robot fails, usually without having to dig too deep into anything else.

The M88 has a lithium-ion battery pack that allows it to be recharged time and again. Depending on usage, the 2600mAh packs can be charged and constantly drained for about 18 months before they start to dwindle in performance.

The M88 has a lot of features that most of the other DEEBOT cleaners do not have. However, the same exact battery pack is still being used. Thi is a red flag to me. More drain on the battery and the same battery cell size. It can’t work out.

It is proven with the runtime claims. The DEEBOT will run up to 90 minutes. This is 20 minutes less than the other low-end models. With as slow as these machines travel over your floors, you won’t get very much coverage per charge.

Deebot M88 can auto recharge, the robot is navigating towards the charging base in this picture.

Luckily, automatic recharge is a thing. The robot will return to the charging dock when the battery level drops to 10 percent. In most instances, this is enough battery power to make it back to the dock. However, there have been more reports of the M88 dying or getting “lost” and not finding the docking station.

Larger floor plans will experience this more than smaller ones, of course. The main problem though is that without sufficient navigation and mapping technology, there isn’t a chance that the automatic resume feature will be added. If the floor isn’t cleaned in a single run, you will have to restart the robot manually.

When the M88 does recharge it takes at least four full hours. To be on the safe side, you should plan for about 5 hours to full. This is a very long charging time for such a small battery. The industry average, by comparison, is about three hours.

For all the negative here, though, the battery does supply enough power to turn the wheels, run the motor, perform the water tank duties and power the sensors. So it does do its job. It would still be beneficial to everyone if Ecovacs installed a 3200mAh battery pack though.

Navigation Is Temperamental And Mapping Is Non-Existent.

Robot vacuums navigate our homes and do their best to avoid getting stuck, running into walls and chair legs and falling down stairs. They do this with a series of infrared or acoustic sensors that surround the robot top and bottom.

The M88 is no different. There are two types of sensors on the DEEBOT M88: drop sensors and bump sensors.

The drop sensors are located on the bottom of the robot. They send out an infrared beam that reaches the floor and bounces back to the sensor to let the robot know there is floor underneath and it is safe to move forward.

If the beam doesn’t bounce back within a certain amount of time, the robot interprets this as a ledge or cliff and won’t move forward, thus avoiding the fall. The sensors work well in this regard with one exception: they are only on the front half of the machine.

When the robot has to back up, it doesn’t sense the ground below it. This leads to the robot getting high-centered on ledges and thresholds that may be too high for it to climb when going forward. The instances of this occurrence happening are reported more with the M88 than most other robots.

Deebot M88's bump and drop sensors.

The other sensors, the bump sensors are a mixture of infrared and acoustic. They send out their signals listening and “seeing” obstacles and object that lie in front of the robot. If an obstacle is detected, the robot slows down and may gently bump into it to see if it can be moved.

If it cannot, the robot will try a different path around. The path it takes is fairly random and sporadic. Even with Ecovacs best efforts to make the M88 navigate in a more human-like pattern, the robot still seems to go wherever it wants, when it wants.

At times, this means some areas of your floors (specifically the baseboards and edges) get cleaned twice or more while other areas of the floor are missed entirely.

Because there isn’t a mapping feature, the robot doesn’t ever learn your home or the layout of your floor. Instead, each venture out is a new experience and if you run it often enough the entire floor will get covered.

The problem is we don’t want a robot that has to be run multiple times just to cover the entire floor. It would be much better to have the robot clean the entire floor with one pass than multiple passes that may or may not cover everything.

More Floor Types Are Able To Be Cleaned With The M88, But Does It Actually Clean Them?

One of the biggest downfalls of entry-level or budget-friendly robots is that, overall, they don’t clean very well on carpet.

The M88 set out to change that. The motor has two high-speed settings to switch between 800ps and 1000ps suction. The rotating soft bristle brush agitates carpets and sweeps hard floors. It also has two side brushes that collect debris from just outside the robot body and pushes it to the middle to be collected.

What this translates to is a robot vacuum that can sweep hard flooring and clean carpet. Not all carpet, though. Low pile carpet will see the best clean while medium pile carpet will have signs of attempted cleaning. If you have high pile carpet, shag carpeting or thick rugs, you may need to give the M88 a pass.

Hard flooring, however, will get a pretty decent cleaning. The brushes will sweep and vacuum the dirt, dust and debris from all hard flooring. This includes tile, laminate, vinyl, hardwood, softwood, slate, stone and granite.

With the M88, you also have the ability to mop hard floors. You remove the dirt collection bin, install the water reservoir and put the mopping pad on the bottom of the robot.

The robot will run around your floors, keeping the mopping pad wet and mopping up as it travels. You will find that the dirt and debris get collected on the microfiber pad pretty quickly. It is advised to run the vacuum over the flooring before mopping.

The downside here, once again, comes from the size of your floor space. The collection bin is only 0.38L and the water tank will hold 0.3L. If you have large floors, you will need to empty or refill the respective tanks frequently. Often in the same cleaning cycle.

Smaller floor plans will benefit the most from the M88 as it will be more likely to need less monitoring and maintenance to finish the job.

The Controls Are On Par With Industry Standards, Finally.

Controlling your robot should be simple, intuitive and even fun. Ecovacs has a history of not integrating fully with smart home technologies. Local controls and a remote control are the normal methods of programming and using their robots.

The M88 adds wireless communications which allow for more types of control.

The local controls are very simple: A single button marked “Auto.” This button will undock the robot and send it on its way to clean your floors. The automatic mode will use the previously set mode to clean. So, for example, if the last time the robot was out you set it to clean the edges only, when you press the auto button, it will do the edges again.

The remote control offers a bit more customization. You have the Auto clean button at the top which, as with the Auto button on the robot, will send it off to clean using the last set mode.

Below this, you have the directional arrow buttons surrounding the start/pause button. Pressing the start pause will resume a cleaning or pause a cleaning cycle. The directional arrows will allow you to steer the robot for specific path cleaning manually.

Underneath these buttons is a row of three mode buttons. The leftmost button is the Edge Mode. Pressing this button will send the robot to the edges of the room where it will hug the baseboards while cleaning them and the corners. Once complete the robot will return to the charging dock.

In the center is the Home button. This button will send the robot back to the charging dock. You should note, that if the robot is currently cleaning, you will need to press the Pause button first.

On the far right is the Single Room button. This will force the robot to clean a single room with a 380 square foot diameter. Once the area is clean, the robot will return to the charging dock.

At the bottom of the buttons is the Wireless Syncing button. This is used to link your robot to the wireless network in your home and allow you to use the mobile app for control.

The mobile app is a free download from Ecovacs and will give you the same controls as the infrared remote, plus the ability to do a little more.

Aside from all the same buttons as the remote, the app also allows you to select two new options: spot cleaning mode and motor speed.

Spot Clean will put the M88 in a spiral pattern concentrating the clean in a three-foot diameter area. Once the cleaning is complete, the robot will return to the center of the spiral and wait there.

Motor speed allows you to change the power and rotation of the motor, increasing suction power. Pressing it once will increase the motor to 1000ps suction. Pressing it again will lower the speed and the motor will create about 800ps suction.

You should be aware that while the higher motor speed will pick up more dirt and debris, especially from carpeting, it will drain the battery much faster.

The mobile app will also allow you to see the cleaning status and the battery level. You also get one other feature: scheduling.

You can create a daily or weekly cleaning schedule for the robot. The best part is that you don’t even have to be home. As long as the robot is synced to your wireless network, you can be at the office and create a schedule for cleaning.

This works much the same as setting the alarm on your phone, selecting the date and time for the robot to get to work.

Because of the wireless communications, you can also connect your DEEBOT M88 to smart home integrations. The M88 is Amazon Alexa enabled as well as Google Home ready. You can use the mobile app to give a name to your robot and then use voice commands to control it.

Once the robot is synced with the smart home items such as the Amazon Echo or Amazon Dot, you can say things like “Alexa, tell [robot name] to start cleaning.”

Voice commands are easy to use, though unlike the mobile app, you need to be home to use them.

Specifications Chart

Allow me to give you a visual aid and show you all the features the DEEBOT M88 has (or is lacking).

Ecovacs DEEBOT M88
Dimensions 13.4×13.4×3.1 inches
Weight 9.25 pounds
Battery 2600mAh lithium-ion
Runtime Up to 90 minutes
Recharge Almost 5 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes
Automatic Resume No
Filter High-efficiency
Collection Bin Capacity 0.38L
Water Reservoir Capacity 0.3L
Navigation Sensor Based
Mapping No
Wireless Communications Yes
Bluetooth No
Mobile App Yes
Voice Control Yes
Remote Control Yes
Local Control Yes
Side Brushes 2
Extraction Method Rotating brush roll or suction port
Scheduling Yes
Floor Types All hard floors, low and medium pile carpet
Drop Sensors Yes
Bump Sensors Yes
Dirt Detection Sensors No
Dry/Damp Mop Yes
Wet Mop Yes
Containment No
Warranty 1 year

Alternative Options

If you find that the DEEBOT M88 isn’t the right model for you, or perhaps you want to compare it to other robots, here are a few alternatives to consider.

bObSweep PetHair Plus

The originator of the combination robot cleaners is still one of the most reviewed and purchased vacuum and mopping robots. You will get a similar cleaning on carpets with the PetHair Plus as you do with the M88, though there isn’t a wet mop option.

Instead, you will have a microfiber pad that will work similar to a Swiffer. You can soak the pad in water or cleaning solution for a damp mop, though there isn’t a water tank for a wet mop option.

ILIFE V7S Pro

ILIFE also has a series of combination robots in their V series. The V7S Pro is one of the better options here as it has the ability to clean carpeting as well as hard floors. The other V series robot were rated for hard floors only.

There are fewer controls with the ILIFE series, which means no voice commands. However, the remote control does everything you need it to. If you are looking for a budget-friendly model, the V7S Pro may be worth looking into.

Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930

Staying in the Ecovacs line up, the DEEBOT Ozmo 930 is another true combination robot. It has a larger battery pack than the M88 for longer life and runtimes. It also has smart navigation and will clean your floors more efficiently than the M88.

You also have the same controls as the M88 with a larger collection bin and water tank. The robot is rated to clean a lot longer and cover more floor space, though the price point is higher than that of the M88.

Frequently Asked Questions

I like to answer the questions before you need to ask them. Here I will tackle the most common questions about the DEEBOT M88 and if you still have concerns, feel free to ask in the comments section at the bottom.

Q. Can I remove the rotating brush roll?
A. Yes, you can. The brush roll is interchangeable with the main suction port. The suction port is used mainly for collecting pet hairs and other debris that can become tangled in the brush roll.

M88's rotating brushes is interchangeable with the suction port.

You may also wish to use it on more sensitive flooring, such as marble or stone that has been sealed. The brush roll has the possibility to leave mars or scratches on these surfaces and using the suction port will prevent that.

Note, that when you are mopping, the suction port/brush roll is covered and disabled. You will have to run the robot with one or the other to collect the dirt and debris prior to mopping.

Q. Is the power supply universal?
A. It is. The power supply for the robot is rated for 110v to 240v power. If you have a 110v power outlet, the robot and docking station will plug directly into the wall.

However, if you are in an area that uses 220v, you will need to purchase and use an outlet adapter. You will not be required to use a power reducer or voltage block, though.

Q. I suffer allergies. Will the M88 work with HEPA filters?
A. No. Also, yes. Allow me to explain. The filters used in the M88 are not HEPA certified. If you don’t know, HEPA certification means that the filters have been lab tested to collect particles down to 3 microns in size. The only thing getting through will be bacteria and fungus, which is generally only found in swimming pools or lakes.

In-home allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen and others are all larger than 3 microns. HEPA certification promises that these particles will be captured by the filter.

The M88 doesn’t have HEPA certification. Most of the robots you will see for sale now do not. This doesn’t mean much though. A lot of manufacturers, for whatever reason, are no longer certifying their filters.

They opt, instead, to label their filters as high-efficiency. What this means for you is absolutely nothing. High-efficiency filters will also collect particles down to 3 microns in size, and up to 99 percent of in-home allergens, just like the HEPA certified ones will.

If you suffer allergies and are looking for HEPA filters, you will find some here and there. However, if the label says “high-efficiency” you will have the same protection.

In Conclusion

On paper, the Ecovacs DEEBOT M88 looks very impressive. However, in the real world application, it falls a little short. Cleaning carpet is a struggle, even on low pile carpets and anything over medium piles will be ignored.

Hard floors, on the other hand, will be cleaned pretty well, though there are better options on the market. If you are looking to stay within a certain budget, the M88 is appealing. However, for what you get, I would spend a little more money.

You can get a larger battery, larger bin capacity and a better clean on carpets for about a hundred dollars more. The lack of frustration will be worth it, at least it is to me.

In a Nutshell

If staying on a budget is a priority, the DEEBOT M88 looks like an amazing deal on paper. You can do a lot better for not much more money, though, and it should be investigated further before making a decision.

What I Like

  • Multiple methods of control, including voice commands.
  • High-efficiency filter for allergen collection.
  • Interchangeable brush roll and suction port for various cleaning needs.

What I Don’t Like

  • No mapping, so the robot doesn’t learn the layout of the home.
  • Won’t clean for very long, making larger homes more frustrating.
  • Small collection bin and water tank reservoirs.
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