If images of power banks spring to mind when you hear the word Anker, then it’s time for a rethink. Having built its business on batteries, the company is now dabbling in a range of new categories, encompassing personal audio, Bluetooth speakers and, inevitably, the smart home.
Earlier this year, we reviewed Anker’s EufyCam – a solid, if pricey, security camera that failed to deliver all of its promised features. The Eufy RoboVac 11S Max sees Anker attack the automated cleaning market. In a world where premium robot vacuums like iRobot’s Roomba i7 can cost well over $1000, Anker’s aggressive $249 tag targets the sweet spot between price and performance. And, unlike many of the budget brands stuffing the shelves of Amazon warehouses with automated cleaners, this is one we all know.
Similar, but suckier
This refresh of 2017’s Eufy RoboVac 11S offers improved suction (up from 1.3 to 2 kPa), but otherwise it’s very similar to its predecessor. That good news for those that love their robot vacuums slim, sleek and unsophisticated but from a navigation standpoint it’s a let-down.
In our review of the 11S last year, we highlighted the RoboVac’s low-spec navigation, which “bounces” the device around your home, cleaning areas at random with a hope and a prayer – but without precision. That model is employed once again on the 11S Max – a disappointment as we see an increasing number of good-value vacuums arrive with room mapping capabilities. However, an array of infrared sensors around the perimeter and drop sensors on the base should ensure the 11S Max doesn’t create too much chaos.
Good news for those that love their robot vacuums slim, sleek and unsophisticated.
In terms of aesthetics, little has changed and we’re happy about that. The glossy black puck, with tempered-glass top and blue highlights reaches to just 2.85 inches in height, ensuring it fits under most furniture. Twin side-sweeping brushes tackle edge cleaning while a combination brush in the centre of the vacuum helps gather dirt and debris. Unlike some budget vacuums which have no front bumper protection, the 11S Max includes a rubber strip to limit scuffs. That said, we found that the top of the bumper scratched easily after just a couple of cleaning runs.
The removable dust chamber is large enough for a couple of cleans unless, like us, you’re cleaning up after a furry cat. A removable dust filter is included in the box alongside two spare side brushes, a cleaning tool and Home Base charger. There’s also a rather snazzy remote, boasting an LCD display and rubberized buttons for setting cleaning modes and more.
No Wi-Fi, no app control: no setup required
Like its predecessor, the 11S Max does not have a network connection or a supporting app. It makes setup very quick indeed. Plug in the HomeBase, place the RoboVac on to charge and wait a few hours for charging to complete. You can expect a full charge to take 4-5 hours and deliver a quoted 100-minute runtime (we managed to eek out a little more in tests).
The missing app control is partially offset by the inclusion of the remote, which looks good and is simple to operate. It offers a basic, daily schedule with support for a range of cleaning modes – edge cleaning for room perimeters, spot cleaning for spills, a 30-minute quick clean and an auto setting.
Quiet running and decent cleaning, but be sure to clear your floors
Like the 11S, this new model boasts whisper-quiet standard suction and Eufy’s BoostIQ feature, which increases power when dirtier floor areas are detected. The new Max setting can be easily toggled, increasing both suction and sound output – the latter is more distracting than deafening, though. As you’d expect, the more suction power you employ, the shorter run time you’ll get from the battery. That 100-minute standard cleaning time will drop right down to a 40-minute blast on Max.
This enthusiastic robot vacuum is quite capable.
Fire it up and the RoboVac will happily get to work, cleaning both carpeted and hard floors in a random pattern. The vacuum’s infrared proximity sensors mostly do a good job of steering the robot around furniture, pausing and turning smartly a couple of inches away from a collision. However, they struggle with narrow or very low-profile objects like lamp and speaker stand bases. In our tests, they were pushed out of position. In the kitchen, pet food trays and bowls were mounted by the robot, so be sure to keep your floors clear before launching a cleaning run.
On upper floors, we experienced no falls down stairs, thanks to the vacuum’s integrated cliff sensors but with no virtual barrier support (or mapping), you’ll need to ensure there are physical barriers in place to prevent the robot straying into areas you don’t wish to be cleaned. Make sure they’re heavy, too – we placed an empty cardboard box between the wall and the side of a sofa to prevent the robot travelling behind and the RoboVac simply shoved it out of the way with repeated bumps.
Productive results with close edge cleaning a hit
As pet owners, we need a robot vacuum to earn its keep and that’s measured in the amount of hair that’s picked up during each cleaning run. We were pleased to see the 11S Max almost fill its dust tray with a tightly packed brick of fur. The new Max mode is certainly productive, but we were also pleased with BoostIQ activation on carpets and even Standard cleaning performance.
While Auto mode will cover your floor plan (with luck) after a few runs, you’ll definitely wish to take advantage of Eufy’s Edge cleaning mode. Here the vacuum did a capable job of hugging the walls around our rooms with good results from those side sweeping brushes. Obviously, you’ll still need to zap the corners from time to time, but once you get into the habit of mixing and matching modes each day, you’ll be pleased with the results.
Compared to pricier, more sophisticated models, life with the 11S Max a little extra preparation and human participation, but this enthusiastic robot vacuum is quite capable. It has no problems traversing different floor finishes and clambering over rugs and, at the end of a cleaning (or the battery is low), it’s smart enough to head back to its charger for a top-up.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S Max is supported by a 30-day money back guarantee and the standard 1-year warranty.Our Take
There are fancier robot vacuums around than the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max, particularly for those on bigger budgets, that offer smart features like multi-room mapping, app control, voice assistant integration and other conveniences. But if you’re looking for basic, automated cleaning on a budget, Anker’s latest model gets a thumbs up from us. Yes, we miss app control, but the included remote is a reasonable backup that easy to get on with (as long as you don’t lose it).
It may take a few runs to provide the comprehensive floor coverage you’ll get from a mapping robot but, importantly, this robot cleans well, with quiet operation, great suction and a compact form factor that ensures it’ll reach those areas often missed by a traditional vacuum.
Is there a better alternative?
The lower end of the robot vacuum market is rapidly becoming swamped with choice but while this is one of the cheapest models around, it still delivers great cleaning. If you’re looking for a step up – in features and price – check out the Ecovacs Deebot 711 which offers mapping, app and voice control, with heavy online discounts available.
How long will it last?
Like all robot vacuums, you’ll need to clean and maintain the 11S Max on a regular schedule to prolong its life. We’re a little concerned at how quickly the front bumper scratched, but that shouldn’t impact the device’s lifespan. A lack of network connectivity means that firmware updates and feature enhancements are out of the question, but we’re pleased to see that even on a budget device like this, you can access and swap out the battery once it reaches end of life.
Should you buy it?
Yes. At $249, this budget robot vacuum offers good performance and great value for money. Keep an eye on Amazon and, knowing Anker, you’ll may well be able to pick it up for less.