The ECOVACS Deebot R98 is a robovac – those cute little robots that vacuum your floors as they go, occasionally bumping up against things and scaring pets for great Instagram videos. It’s also marketed as great with pet fur, which is why of all the people in the office who wished they wouldn’t have to sweep and mop for a week for this review, I got to do it.

*cue evil laughter.

The EOOVACS Deebot R98 arrives in a dauntingly large cardboard box that is thankfully lighter than it looks, housing the robovac and it’s charging station with a couple of accessories and of course, the instructional manual. The charging station comes complete with it’s own removable handheld vacuum unit that also functions as the container for all the dirt picked up by the R98 as it cleans, making it an extremely useful all-in-one package that will allow you to manually get at hard to reach spots, and even comes with an extension. Nifty.

The initial setup is pretty painless – after setting up the charging station, you can download the ECOVACS app (available on the App Store and Google Play Store) to sync with the R98, allowing you to track its cleaning progress, set automated cleaning times, or view detailed logs of its activity. While it did take a couple attempts to sync the R98 to my iPhone, it eventually did and proved to be a fairly reliable way of keeping track of the robovac while at work or at some social obligation or the other.

I’m happy to report that the R98 works as advertised with pet fur. My dog, a Labrador-Golden Retriever mix, sheds uncontrollably every day throughout the day, and for the week I had the R98, the floor was fur-less and shiny, though the presence of the robovac was quite the perplexing existence for my dog, who otherwise just observed it – unless it started bumping up against her. It’s also capable of mopping your floor via a plate and cloth that come with the unit to be attached to the bottom of the R98, and while you’ll want to put in elbow grease for the more stubborn stains, it more than does the job.

Dog meets Deebot.

A post shared by Scott Ng (@scottarc) on

Another note – the collision detection of the R98 only seems to properly sense solid and/or tall objects as impassable, and often bumped up against chair legs and the like, though the mapping feature did eventually learn where all the obstacles in the room generally were, and for the most part performed smoothly. However, if you’re going to let the R98 do the bulk of the cleaning, you’re still going to need to pick up some of the larger pieces of debris – lighters, for example – because the R98 does tend to get caught up and unable to roll over the object, causing it to somewhat hilariously call out for assistance.

Oh, and keep it clear of your Internet cables. Twice while unattended it managed to somehow detach my LAN cable from the modem, and just kept on trucking like nothing happened. You’ll know when this happens when you suddenly can’t get any updates on the app!

The handheld unit is a very useful add-on. The R98 can’t reach tight corners and definitely can’t climb your walls to suck up cobwebs, so the handheld vacuum becomes quite the compliment to the R98 itself and boasts some decent power. You can also use this to vacuum your pet if it lets you.

Overall, I was truly sad to see the R98 go – it’s the most useful device I’ve had in a while, and definitely made life better for the week. While it’s an enemy to stray cables, the R98 proved to be more than worth the dollar it goes for, and pet owners everywhere who have to sweep up fur daily will love having it around. While some things still need to be done manually, the R98 handles 98% of the process on it’s own – making life at home that much more relaxed (and occasionally, amusing). The ECOVAC Deebot R98 retails at RRP RM3,799.

Bonus footage: Dog likes being vacuumed.

Usually, she doesn’t like the sound of vacuums.

A post shared by Scott Ng (@scottarc) on

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