The new N8+ robot vacuum senses when it hits carpeting and floors, and can mop too
The newest line from Ecovacs is adding a couple of perks to their already solid robot vacuums — a quieter device, plus a way for the robot to empty the dust and debris it collects, all at the same price. The new N8+ is one of two new robot vacuums Ecovacs is debuting today (the other is the N8 Pro+.) But we've been testing the new N8+ for the past week, seeing how the vacuum and mop features stand out, along with the ability for the N8+ to really take care of emptying its cleaning bin on its own.
At $599 this is still a moderately priced robot vacuum, not the most expensive but the not the most budget friendly. Yet with the Auto-Empty Station now thrown in, the combination is one that really makes this a robot vacuum worth considering.
What is the N8+
The Ecovacs N8+ looks much like other robot vacuums Ecovacs has offered in the past, with a similar design as the Deebot Ozmo T8. It's round with a bin that empties from the top, and two brushes that sweep up debris as it moves. You also get a power cord, and the Auto-Empty Station, and added device that allows people to really remain hands off, as the vacuum can remove the dust and detritus it has collected while roaming your space.
The N8+ also works as a mop, and there's a mop attachment, plus a water tank on the front. In the box you get two options to use with the mop — a washable pad and a pack of 10 microfiber disposable pads too.
To get the N8+ up and running, you can simply plug the vacuum in, and push start. But if you want to take advantage of more smart features, from scheduling to creating virtual borders, linking the robot to the Ecovacs iOS and Android app is key.
The app offers a number of unique features you just can't grab from the robot itself. The N8+, like most robot vacuums, goes through and creates a map of your space. You can then create virtual barriers, keeping the robot out of a specific room, for example, set the vacuum power level from light to a max+, and even how often you want the vacuum to clean per day.
To connect to the app, you'll need to connect the robot to your Wi-Fi, then download and sign up for an Ecovacs account. These will then unlock extra features, and also set the stage for linking the robot to smart assistants, so it can be controlled via voice.
Control the Ecovacs N8+ through the Ecovacs appGearBrain/Lauren Barack
I found the vacuum was solid, doing a very good job on picking up dust and even dog hair across my space. The N8+ automatically adjusted to a higher suction level when it encountered rugs in my apartment, and as promised I found that quieter than other vacuums we've tested in the past.
Tellingly, the vacuum did not leave behind dust trails, often from overflowing bins, which some robot vacuums have done. This may be because the robot vacuum can empty its own bin, and so takes care of that in case you forget.
It wasn't the gentlest of vacuums, which means it did do some bumping into items to get a sense of where the robot could, and could not go, as the N8+ mapped. Some robots do a better job, I feel, of reading obstacles in front of it without bouncing off a table leg or couch. The N8+ wasn't brutal, but there was contact. Case in point? I forgot to pick up a phone charger from the floor, and the N8+ returning to its dock brought that charger along with it.
The N8+ Pro, which we did not test, does include a tool called TrueDetect, which uses a 3D light technology to help it avoid items from furniture to cords, so it doesn't bounce into these — or grab them.
The vacuum can run 110 minutes on one charge. For some understanding of what that means in terms of how much the N8+ can clean my entire 1100-square foot apartment was cleaned in 41 minutes. If the vacuum runs low, it does return to the charger so to can complete its cleaning job.
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The Auto-Empty Station is a device that's been around for awhile from Ecovacs, and other brands offer these as well. Typically, though, they can be an added cost as they were when first launching. With the N8+, the Auto-Empty Station comes included. These are a nice idea, with the concept behind them that the robot vacuum can return home, get a charge and have the dust, dirt or whatever it's collected removed on its own, without you having to empty the bin. For some homes, people may need to do that can be twice during a round of vacuuming, especially if there's pet.
Early versions of these kinds of stations didn't always work supremely well. The robot vacuum would struggle re-docking and the station wouldn't always collect everything. Plus, these maneuvers are loud, with the suction to pull out the dust very audible.
With the N8+, we found that most of the time the station worked very well with everything pulled out of the small bin from the vacuum itself. The debris is collected into a vacuum bag inside the main station, which seals so that dust isn't returned to the room. That's not a small feat as anyone who empties a robot vacuum bin knows that often a bit of dust returns to the air as you're tapping them into the trash.
The N8+ station though is still loud, with a decibel level high enough that we could hear it operating from three rooms away through a shut door. That's notable. Keep in mind, though, that the entire process of taking the dust out and suctioning the bin takes only about 25-30 seconds. Even if that happens once a day (in my house, with a large dog, it did) that's not a terrible problem. But it's worth keeping in mind if you're scheduling the robot to clean at night for example, or during the day if you have children napping.
To use the N8+ as a mop, install water in the front water tank, and then attach the mopping plate. You get both a washable mopping pad, and a pack of 10 disposable microfiber pads as well. We tested the microfiber pads and they did a good job, as did the mopping plate as well. We were able to adjust water output from normal to low and high, and the pad picked up that dirt that never really gets swept up.
I wouldn't rely on the mop to really get at something ground into the floor. It goes over the floors fairly lightly and is best used as a daily wipe down rather than something to do a deep clean. Ecovacs says the N8+ uses a kind of technology that can grab 99.26 percent of bacteria. We can't verify this though.
With the mopping plate and the water tank, you're going to need to remove both before you send the robot back to the charging station. (Water and electricity….) That makes mopping a bit less of an automatic function, but it's still a nice feature.
Ecovacs says the N8+ works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and in the past we have been able to link these voice assistants to Ecovacs robot vacuums including the T8 AIVI. This time, however, I could not get either the Google Home or Amazon Alexa apps at first to connect to the N8+, even though I knew, and could see, that the robot was connect to the Ecovacs app and online.
Even more crucially, I had connections through the Google Home app to previous Ecovacs robots I had reviewed, but could not add the new vacuum. I was able to link Google Home, but I had to unlink the Ecovacs account in my Google Home app, and then re-sign in. From there, I was able to add the N8+.
All in, for the robot vacuum and the Auto-Empty Station, you're going to spend $650, which we think is more than a fair price. The company's Deebot Ozmo T8, which we reviewed in November, is the same price but doesn't include the Auto-Empty Station. You can pick it up on Ecovacs.com and also Best Buy, and there will be more retail options in April.
We found the N8+ to be a very good robot vacuum. It cleaned up on rugs and wood floors, allowed you to customize the settings on power cleaning, scheduling and more — and at its best also cleared out the bin inside the robot vacuum through the Auto-Empty Station. The N8+ did a fine job mopping. Robot vacuums are rarely strong moppers, but for some light cleaning, it worked well.
The $599 price tag is an investment. This is certainly less than you may have paid for a robot vacuum plus one of the original emptying stations, but it's still a fair. You can pick up a less expensive robot vacuum, like the Wyze Robot Vacuum but you may not get as many features including the ability to link to Google Assistant and start the robot with your voice. We were though disappointed that the Amazon Alexa connection didn't work for us.
Still, we think this is a good robot vacuum and mop combination, made better for the additional auto cleaning station at this price.
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