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CES 2018

A Knockoff Roomba Forever Changed My Life

The life-changing magic of becoming a robot vacuum owner.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

Image: Ecovacs

In several showrooms and conference centers all over Las Vegas, tech companies large and small are hawking the latest and greatest wall-sized televisions, VR headsets, and exercise bike/computer desk hybrids. CES is full of stuff that won’t get released before its manufacturer goes out of business, stuff you probably don’t need, and stuff that’s slightly better than last year’s stuff.

As you may be able to tell, I don’t buy a lot of gadgets. But in honor of CES, I would like to spend a moment geeking out about the ECOVACS DEEBOT N79 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with Strong Suction, for Low-pile Carpet, Hard floor, Wi-Fi Connected, a Roomba clone I bought on a whim six months ago for $199.98 but that I told my friends I paid $100 for because it seemed less embarrassing.

They say your life truly changes after you have a child, and now I get it. Deebot is by far the best purchase I have made in, I don’t know, 10 years? Ever? As you might expect, my circular son has made my apartment cleaner, but more importantly he made me a more thoughtful, respectful, and centered person.

Deebot has trained his owner to be less of a slob, which is a feature above and beyond what is promised in the instruction manual

Why Deebot is better than a regular vacuum

Like a mop or a dishwasher, a vacuum cleaner is inherently a chore-related object, of which I have little to no interest in wasting my time with. Deebot is different. Deebot is not sentient but he does things that sentient beings do, such as move on his own and scream when intractably wrapped in cords. As such, I feel particularly guilty when I leave Deebot sleeping for too long in his dock-bed; I make sure he gets free roam of the house at least a few days a week, which means I now vacuum infinitely more times than I ever did at my old place.

Deebot trains its owners to not be slobs

The good news is that Deebot is adept at picking up dust and crumbs and, like, shit you want to vacuum; the other good news is that he gets stuck on blankets, cords, and pillows and indiscriminately bumps into fragile or messy objects such as glasses of water, beer cans, and plates. This means that I have to tidy up my apartment prior to using Deebot, thus fulfilling one of the main purposes of purchasing a robovacuum—making my apartment a better place to inhabit.

That Deebot has trained his owner to pick up after himself has made me a better roommate, a definite plus for what is supposedly only a vacuum.

In reviews, Deebot’s poop smearing is pitched as a negative trait

The common arguments I hear against robot vacuums are bad

Reviewers tend to complain that Deebot has a propensity to smear errant pet feces all over the floor. In these reviews, Deebot’s poop smearing is pitched as a negative trait, to which I say: Perhaps the flaw lies in the pet owner who does not clean up indoor dog shit and not the robot vacuum, which merely seeks to inform them of their shortcomings.

I’ve seen also seen the argument that you have to empty the dust canisters of robot vacuums pretty often. This means that A) the robot is picking up a lot of dust! That is good! and B) some people think its preferable to do the actual vacuuming themselves rather than spend two seconds emptying a canister after a ROBOT DID THE CHORE FOR YOU. What a world.

Deebot is persistent but dumb

Unlike some models of Roomba, Deebot does not map the inside of my house. This makes Deebot pretty slow at cleaning my entire apartment, but it also means Deebot is not a surveillance risk or a snitch. Deebot diligently vacuums until he is tired (usually long enough to vacuum the entire apartment) and then returns to bed. If you are wondering about the "Wi-Fi" aspect of Deebot, well, I do not use it because I do not feel like it's that much of a burden to tap a button on Deebot's head to activate him.

Deebot is not part of the military industrial complex and does not cost a small fortune

Did you know that iRobot, the company that invented the Roomba, began as a military robotics company (it sold the military part of its company in 2016)? Did you know that some Roombas cost like $900? Deebot is a pacifist.

Deebot can vacuum the couch

I took this harrowing video the other day after asking Deebot to perform some high-risk vacuuming. Though I just called Deebot dumb merely one second ago, he does clearly have some self-preservation sensors that are p. cool.

Deebot is a conversation starter

Though Roombas have existed for a very long time, I have found that owning a robot vacuum is still kind of a novelty that visitors will ask about and is good for at least 30 seconds of conversation. Mainly, people want to know, “Is the Roomba good?” to which I say, always, “HIS NAME IS DEEBOT, and, yes.”