aNewDomain — In my humble abode, which I’ve dubbed “Chateau Ghetto,” I’m blessed to have a handful of tech gadgets at my disposal. My laptops, smart devices, connected televisions, NFC tags and a few handfuls of other geeky stuff are strewn throughout my tiny home.
I’ve wanted a full-fledged robot since I was a kid, and I would happily add that to the numerous tech objects in my house. But that won’t happen for a while. But, because I can’t buy my very own R2D2 tomorrow, I thought I’d at least try out a robot sweeper. So I set out to review Ecovacs‘ entry in the category. Here’s my Deebot D35 review.
The Deebot D35
The Deebot D35 is a fun-sized robot sweeper, coming in at 16.9 by 13.5 by 5.5 inches. It weighs about 10 pounds, which is mostly due to the 3300Mah battery.
The Deebot D35 feels substantial, which is the first thing you’ll notice. Holding the Deebot D35, you don’t get the sense that it’s a cheap toy. It has a plastic body but it’s bolted together nicely, not like some cheap, snapped-together Samsung smartphone or something …
Now, my apartment has a few tiled floors, which I sweep regularly with an old-fashioned broom. I decided to give the Deebot D35 a “workout,” but I didn’t think it would be too tough of a task to sweep up my minimal tile flooring.
In this test, I encountered the first and maybe biggest limitation of the Deebot D35.
The first run of my kitchen pleasantly surprised me. The Deebot D35 did an excellent job of getting under the cabinet areas with its brushes. Nooks and crannies were no match for the D35, and it gobbled up any debris or crumbs that the ants hadn’t already consumed. I tend to avoid those hard-to-reach places with the traditional broom, so this was a serious perk.
But the duration of the sweeping cycle was a second not-so-pleasant surprise. My tiny kitchen, which has an approximate floor space of 8 by 10 feet, took an hour to clean. An hour!
It’s important to note here that the long sweeping cycle didn’t cost me any time personally. That’s the whole point of a robot, right? All I did was press the start button and proceed to sit comfortably in my recliner to watch the show. The D35 was off and running, scooping up debris and hidden filth. When it was finished with the job, the bot found its charging station and docked itself automatically, which was cool to see. The D35 also has an automatic function that allows it to run unattended based on a desired amount time.
To further test the bot I tossed obstacles in its path during a cleaning session. Its response to the obstacles was pretty average, considering. Lightweight items were just pushed along the floor. Heavier items deterred the robot, forcing it to change paths. But it did successfully change paths.
One of the bigger challenges I found with the D35 was its approach to tile edges. Tiled floor that is adjoined to carpet has sealing and brackets to keep the carpet secure, right? Well, the Deebot would sometimes roll up on the carpet and get stuck without coming back onto the tiled area.
It’s a sweeper, not a vacuum.
The final test for the Deebot D35? A cleaning session of my apartment’s tiny bathroom. My bathroom is just big enough for a toilet, sink and bath tub. There’s no room for much else. You can see D35 on task in my tiny bathroom in the video I shot, below.
My bathroom is small, but it’s loaded with all of my manly filth and objects — i.e., obstacles for the little bot. I even tossed a few things onto the bathroom floor to see how the sensors would react. Sadly, the bathroom entryway was the obstacle the Deebot D35 couldn’t handle. It would roll up onto the edge of the carpet and get stuck, which required me to nudge it back onto the tile. Again and again.
The Bottom Line
The Deebot D35 did an insanely good job in all the cleaning tests, especially the gauntlet. My bathroom floor was swept beautifully. The areas under the cabinets and around the toilet and tub were very clean after the D35 made many passes. More impressive was that the corners along the baseboards were swept up beautifully.
I know how difficult it can be at times to clean the baseboards with a regular broom. The Deebot D35 robot totally rocked the job.
But the job took an hour and 20 minutes to complete. Okay, my bathroom was filthy. Fine. But it’s the size of a man’s shoebox! I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the D35 takes this long to complete a task. My trusty straw broom would be much quicker.
A little research reveals that robot sweepers from most manufacturers run for roughly one hour. The sensors and mapping of the floor do a good job of finding the dirt and the optimal path to retrieve the dirt, but the science behind it hasn’t breached the one-hour completion time. In short, it’s not just the Deebot D35. It’s the current limitation with the technology right now. As I said, if you hate cleaning yourself, you might not mind the long cycle — after all, it’s a robotic cleaner that doesn’t require time on your part. But, forget it if you’re in a rush.
The Deebot D35 is available for $159.99. It’ll be a pretty good value for most people, especially those who want clean floors with no labor and don’t care about the time it consumes. Still, robot sweeping is not for me. I admit to having some struggles with technolust, but at the same time, I need this specific task done faster than a robot will do it. Just hand me a broom, okay?
All images: Ant Pruitt