Anyone who knows me knows I have an affinity with robot vacuum cleaners. This is due, in part, to the fact that I hate cleaning. Plus, my four cats are pretty messy (especially at the moment, as they shed their winter coats). A robot vacuum is the perfect machine maid. Especially when it mops, too.
Step in the latest offering from Ecovacs. The Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is quite the bearer of bells and whistles. And so it should be, at $799.99. Care to know what just under eight hundred dollars can bag you in terms of a robovac hybrid? Then read on.
What Does This Thing Look Like?
The Ozmo T8 comes with everything you need to get to grips with grime. Well, floor-based grime, anyway. Obviously, you get the robovac in the box. You also receive the charging dock, two pairs of side brushes, two filters, one washable mopping pad, and five disposable mopping pads. A maintenance kit is included, too, should anything get caught in the side brushes or the roller brush. But what about aesthetics?
Well, Ecovacs haven’t broken form with the Ozmo T8. The robot is circular and black, much like most of the robot vacuums on the market today. The top of the unit features a flap that is used to access the 420 ml dustbin, Wi-Fi button, and there is also a recess for the handy maintenance tool. The rear of the unit features the 240 ml mopping reservoir.
Also on top of the unit is a power button, next to Ozmo’s laser mapping and navigation center. The Ozmo uses this to map out the floor of your home, using the trademarked TrueMapping tech, and avoid obstacles in its path using the Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Interpretation (AIVI) tech. That’s right, the Ozmo can identify a pair of slippers or a wire laid out in front of it and avoid running into trouble!
Around the front is a camera that you use in conjunction with the “Smart Butler” within the Ecovacs Home app. Without giving too much away at this stage, you can see—and even speak—through the vacuum, via your smartphone. More on this later.
The underside of the unit houses the mopping plate (via a simple push ‘n’ click mechanism) when in use. This is removed when charging or just vacuuming. There are also locators for the side brushes to clip into place as well as the vent through which the vacuum sucks debris. There are two chunky wheels, capable of climbing 20 mm, so small ledges won’t be a problem. There is a third, smaller wheel, which is simply for stabilizing the vacuum.
Finally, there are the drop sensors. These prevent your $800 vacuum from launching itself face-first down the stairs, thus incurring damage. It is obviously useful in the event that you wish to clean floors upstairs. Given that the Ozmo can clean three separately mapped floors, you’re likely to want to use this feature. All fairly standard business for the base of a robot vacuum, anyway.
Simple Setup (Eventually)
Setting up is relatively simple, now, although it wasn’t when I first received the test unit. Initially, when I attempted to connect to the Wi-Fi, the Ozmo didn’t recognize that I had a dual-band router. This led to some inconvenience as I then had to split the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and reconnect all of my wireless devices to the internet.
I have spoken to Ecovacs regarding this issue, and I have been informed that the 2.4 GHz band is used as it performs better over distance and through obstacles such as walls. Ecovacs have since implemented a firmware update that allows the Ozmo to connect to a dual-band router without the need for signal splitting. It is this that sets a great product apart from a good one. Having that kind of responsive support will place any brand miles ahead of a competitor that doesn’t action the concerns of a consumer.
With this in mind, setting the device up is simple. Download the EcoVacs app (available for iOS and Android), connect your phone to the Ozmo and the Ozmo to your router, and you’re pretty much ready to go with cleaning your home, once the initial charge has taken place. The first time you set the vacuum off, it will map your floors (you can map up to three levels of your home if you have that many) and walls so that it can navigate your home easily during future cleans. It then sends the map to the smartphone app.
Within 20 minutes, the test unit had carried out an initial clean and had mapped the whole of my downstairs. I say “whole,” but that whole isn’t particularly large. However, I was pleased with how quickly it had gone about its first fact-finding mission around my downstairs floor space. Once your Ozmo has mapped the floor, it should be even quicker carrying out a full clean.
Vacuuming and Mopping
The Ozmo is a hybrid cleaner. That means it can take care of both the vacuuming and the mopping. It does both jobs simultaneously, cutting cleaning time in half. We’ll take a look at how both functions perform as separate entities. Let’s deal with the vacuuming first.
The Ozmo T8 is a great vacuum. While there are no published power ratings, it is powerful enough to lift dirt from my laminate floor without even breaking a sweat. Cobs of cat hair, cat litter trail, and any other detritus are lifted from the ground with ease by the powerful motor. It even manages to pick up the odd wet cigarette butt that can sometimes find its way into the home via the sole of a shoe.
The 420ml dustbin is an ample size to collect any filth that has built up between cleans. I found that the Ozmo lasted around a week without me having to empty the dustbin, which is excellent as it reduces the number of times I need to interact with the device. Even if it does fill up, an alert from the app will notify you so you can empty it.
Overall, the vacuuming capabilities of the Ozmo T8 are great. As with most circular vacuums, it struggles a little with getting into corners. This issue is largely negated by the ample side brushes, but they don’t swipe everything into the path of the vacuum and so you will possibly be left with the odd corner crumb or two.
There are three vacuum settings: Standard, Max, and Max+. It should be fairly obvious that each represents an incremental rise in suction power. Standard suction is fine for lifting dust and light debris. Max ups the ante a little, picking up larger particles and even the odd wet item that is stuck to the floor (such as a dropped and trodden-on salad leaf, which happens with alarming regularity in Chez Knight). Max+ will pick up heavier larger debris and is awesome for cleaning the carpet upstairs. It lifts cat hair straight out of the pile, which is great when you’ve got four of the little critters shedding all over the house.
Now, mopping. There is a problem across the board with vacuum/mop hybrids. That problem is the mopping plate and the pressure required to actually mop a floor. See, current models (I’m not aware of one that doesn’t do this) simply allow the mopping plate and pad to sit on the floor. It isn’t “pushed” into the ground in any way, it simply glides over the surface.
When you think about manually mopping, do you lightly swish your mop over the floor? Unlikely, as that is ineffective. You put a little bit of elbow grease into the task. That way, you can ensure that, once you have vacuumed, you can get up any dirt that has been worked into the floor and, importantly, remove any bacteria that is chilling in your crib.
I don’t particularly want to go around and check that an $800 vacuum/mop is doing 50% of its job properly. That takes away the whole point of autonomous cleaning. As I say, though, this is a problem across the board and not specific to the Ozmo T8.
The mop also has several settings, but the differences are fairly minimal, I found. They range from low, through to medium, high, then ultra-high. I could tell the difference between low and ultra-high, as there was clearly more water present on the floor after the Ozmo had passed over it. This is fine as I prefer a “wetter” mop anyway. But I could barely tell the difference between the low-to-medium settings, or the medium-to-high settings, for example.
You are also advised not to use cleaning fluid in the water. However, I did because I wanted to fill my house with a clean aroma. (Midnight Blooms, in case you were wondering.) I didn’t notice any negative effects over the month that I have tested the device, but I can’t comment on what the cumulative detrimental effects are, as there hasn’t been any yet. It still works fine. However, this is an $800 robovac, so I don’t advise you to follow my lead on this one.
So, we’ve dealt with the vacuuming and mopping, but how does it generally perform? Well, Ecovacs claim a 3-hour battery life, but I’m guessing this depends on the settings used, as I managed to get 110 minutes out of the device on a single continuous run. I will point out, however, that this was using the Max+ setting for the vacuum and the Ultra-High setting for the mopping.
I find the mapping brilliant, as it allows you to set virtual boundaries (more on that when we discuss the app). This makes the whole operation a lot more efficient. You don’t have to keep an eye on the Ozmo as it careers into the pile of wires below your home theater stand for a good old chew, because that simply doesn’t happen with the virtual boundaries in place.
So, in summary, vacuuming is great. Mopping is OK, but you would have to do a “full strength” manual mop once a week to get the real grime out. With this in mind, the Ozmo is excellent for every day, swift cleaning to keep on top of any build-up.
If the vacuum didn’t have multiple features such as smart-mapping and navigation, plus all of the virtual additions the app adds to the package, I’m not sure the $800 price tag would be justified. I mean, yeah, it vacuums great but, unfortunately, the mopping mode is just … well … kinda “meh.” The mopping function, which is the same across all smart hybrid vacuum/mop tech, hasn’t been improved on here, really. Just replicated.
The Smart Butler
One of the cool features that this robovac boasts is the Smart Butler mode. This is accessed via the app, but we will talk about what it does separately, here. Essentially, you combine the app with the camera and speaker at the front of the device in order to see what is going on around your home and talk to anything present that has ears.
I actually found it great fun to make David (my cat, above) think I was calling him from downstairs, then watch the subsequent video coverage of his confusion. (Don’t worry, I paid the price with cat treats; I’m not a complete monster.) However, I can see the application of this if you have a dog left at home during the day. You can use the Smart Butler to either tell them how much you love them or ask them to please stop chewing the 15th pair of expensive Nikes this month.
It also has a security application, as you can patrol your home when you’re not physically there. This is great if you are conscious about people breaking into your home, or if you don’t trust the babysitter. Whatever your reason, an extra set of eyes on the property when you’re not around can’t hurt, and the Ozmo can be those eyes.
A Very Comprehensive App
I have to say, the Ecovacs Home app is great. It is where most of the Ozmo’s additional features are located and operated from. Opening the app presents you with a Home screen featuring your Ecovacs devices (in this case, just the Ozmo). On this screen, you can access any messages your vacuum has sent you (most regularly a “Cleaning Complete” notification). It is also where you’ll find the QR scanner to initially connect your smartphone to the vacuum.
There are a further two options available on this screen. The “Smart Cleaning” option allows you to launch cleaning modes. Once the vacuum has mapped your floor space(s), a map is displayed in this area. With this map, you can carry out an area clean (which allows you to select the order in which zones are cleaned before the Ozmo heads back to charge), an auto clean (in which the robot will clean respective areas starting with the closest and finishing with the furthest away, before going back to the charging dock), and a custom clean (which allows you to designate areas to clean using virtual boundaries and then clean them in an order you specify yourself).
At the bottom of the screen, you have the “start cleaning” icon in the center. The function of this button is pretty obvious. To the right of it, you have the charging icon, which sends Ozmo back to the charging dock. However, it is the icon to the left where the magic happens. This is the map manager and it is excellent.
Heading into map management, you are presented with diagrams of any of the floors you have mapped, plus the toggle for multi-floor mapping that allows up to three maps to be saved to the app. Clicking into any given map presents you with various customization options.
The first is the virtual boundary. This acts as a kind of wall, designating zones where you don’t want the robot to go, or where you don’t want it to mop. This is great if there is a risk it might tumble out of your patio doors or head for those wires we mentioned earlier. You can draw a four-sided boundary, or more of a freeform single line to cut areas off that aren’t square or only have one access point.
The second allows you to edit areas. This is as simple as just merging and dividing them. The third option enables you to label the areas with something other than their default A, B, C, and so forth. So, you can specify, say, “kitchen” and “hallway,” for example.
The final option is delete, which nukes the map ready for a remap, should it be needed. This is handy if you move your furniture around, as the Ozmo will get confused if there are new edges all over the place and furniture legs where there previously weren’t any.
In Smart Cleaning mode, you can also access the Basic Settings, which deals with things like vacuum power and water flow level for the mop, alongside a bunch of other little facets to tinker with. The Additional Settings includes things like a cleaning log and the option to rename your Ozmo to something else.
Is This $800-Worth of Robot Vacuum Cleaner?
Given the additional features, I’m going to say yes. But, only just. Why? Because, primarily, this is a robot vacuum cleaner and mop. It should be able to do both jobs perfectly but, as mentioned, the mopping function leaves a little to be desired. It doesn’t have the elbow grease of its human counterpart.
However, given their willingness to listen, I’m hoping Ecovacs future models will feature a way of pushing the mop pad into the floor just that little bit more oomph. If the brand achieved this then, combined with the brilliantly comprehensive app and the smart technology, plus the excellent vacuuming capabilities, we’d potentially be looking at the best robot vacuum/mop hybrid on the market. I have great hope for Ecovacs, as they continue to develop their awesome cleaning tech.
If you don’t want to spend $799 on a robot vacuum, then there are cheaper options available to see if the lazy person’s clean is for you. If you would like to know whether there is any point investing in this kind of tech, then check out if you should get a robot vacuum or a regular vacuum.
Here’s What We Like
- Great vacuum capabilities
- Smart Butler is a welcome addition
- Fantastic app
- Mapping and navigation are great
And What We Don't
- Mopping isn't thorough or intensive enough