- Mapping: Laser, automatic, multi-level, virtual boundaries
- App control: Ecovacs
- Camera: HD, can be used for surveillance
- Vacuuming: 3 levels
- Mopping: 4 levels
- Voice control: Google Assistant
- Dust container: 420 ml
- Noise level: Max. 67 dB
- Dimensions and weight: Ø 35 x 9.4 cm / 3.5 kg
- Battery life: Up to 3 hours
- Charging time: 6:30 hours
- Web: ecovacs.com
They resemble electronic trilobites as they shuffle around between the furniture with rotating cilia that sweep dust and dirt under the body, to the rotating brushes of the mouth.
This is the first time we at LB Tech Reviews are testing a robot vacuum cleaner, but as the small robots have become self-propelled autonomous computers with brushes, we will cast our nerdy gaze on them. Both to try new toys and in the hope of freeing up more time from housework – for important activities such as movies and good music.
Ecovac’s Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is not just equipped with a name that is far enough for a Spanish nobleman. It also has built-in artificial intelligence that should make it better at finding its way around the home. Four times better, according to the manufacturer itself.
The robot is, like other robot vacuum cleaners, a low-stemmed, cylindrical unit that is low enough to fit under most beds and sofas. Just where the old-fashioned vacuum cleaner has a hard time getting in. Or where you yourself are too lazy to lie on your knees and struggle with it.
The all-seeing eye in the low
Ecovac’s Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is equipped with super-senses that help it find its way around the home. Laser beams measure the distance to walls and obstacles, and microswitches in the “bumper” of the robot detect when it collides with things anyway. An HD camera completes the array of sensors and is also used when the robot in its breaks from the cleaning job pulls on the guard uniform and patrols the home while the owner is at work or on vacation.
Conspiracy theorists may be reluctant to let a Chinese piece of hardware go around and record video. A more practical problem is the camera angle, as the camera works at floor level. In turn, it can move around the house. Unlike a normal, fixed surveillance camera, which also cannot clean either.
Being a smart-home aid, the robot is of course controlled by an app. Here you can see the map of the home, which becomes more and more accurate for each cleaning. One can decide how and how thoroughly different areas should be cleaned (there are three different vacuuming strengths and four degrees of floor washing). And each floor of the house can have its own map.
Like most of Ecovacs’ vacuum cleaner robots, the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI can also be voice-controlled via Google Home, so you can tell Google Assistant to have the robot start vacuuming.
Return to base
The first thing to do once the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is installed and you have registered in the app, is to find a place for the charging station and let the robot get to know the house.
The charging station is the safe harbor to which the robot returns after cleaning (or guard patrol). And although the robot is good at finding its way, even in narrow places, it is a good idea to keep some free space around the charger. The robot must be exactly in place for charging to begin. I experienced several times that it lacked a few inches from being completely in place and either kept trying or gave up with an error message in the app.
Maid service during the holidays
The dust container is 4.5 deciliters. This means that it must be emptied quite often. Especially in the beginning, where unknown territories under beds and sofas are explored.
You can buy a charging station that automatically empties the dust container into a larger garbage bag, which can handle the daily vacuuming of an entire holiday. But it is optional and did not come with the review sample. And even though the Deebot is doing really well on its own, I still would not let it work alone for a prolonged period.
Better than the old vacuum cleaner
I must admit that so far I have been more than skeptical about the ability of vacuum cleaner robots to thoroughly clean. That skepticism has been put to shame. The small battery-powered robot may not have nearly the same engine power as my old-fashioned 1.5 kilowatt Miele. But the rotating brushes are actually far better at getting dirt, dust and dog hair up from the carpets than the manual vacuum cleaner.
Sense of place
The vacuum cleaner robot is surprisingly good at finding its way around. If there is a fairly clear path at its “eye level”, almost 10 cm above the floor, it can map the space in a few seconds. I experienced this when I asked it to thoroughly clean the bedroom after removing bed rollers, tables and more. Here it immediately drew a floor plan of the room.
It is more complicated when the laser does not have a clear “line of sight”. Since my living room also serves as an office and listening test room, there is a changing selection of appliances and boxes. But the robot uncovered the interior terra incognita bit by bit and vacuumed at the same time
“You should tidy up!”
Despite being armed with laser, camera, touch switches and artificial intelligence, there are obstacles that cheat the robot. The dog’s toys were pushed around in front of the robot in snow plow manner. Worse, loose cables were several times caught by the rotating brushes and had to be removed by hand.
After cleaning, the app informed me, politely, that there were wires that should be removed to make the cleaning more efficient. True, but some of the wires belong to other devices that the robot has to make friends with if they are to coexist!
The pragmatic solution is so-called virtual boundaries. You can draw rectangles on the map from which the vacuum cleaner should stay away. It works, but also means that some of the places that are already the most difficult to access have to be vacuumed manually. At least until the robot succeeds in teaching its owner to remove obstacles.
Not for the office
Ecovac’s Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI does most things well, but at one point it had issues that would make it difficult for me to live with it, but which might be irrelevant to others: Wheels. The rotating brushes were repeatedly clamped so firmly between the floor and the wheels of office chairs that it had to be helped free manually.
This is not a big problem if you are present, but troublesome if you are at work – or for that matter on a week’s holiday trip, from which you expect to come home to a clean house.
A computer-controlled, damp cloth
Sometimes, more cleaning is needed than the vacuum cleaner can handle. The Deebot also has a washing function that is somewhat optimistically called mopping. In practice, it’s more like dabbing the floor with a damp cloth, but when the dabbing happens 480 times a minute, it’s still quite effective.
We tried the Pro version of the mop system, which is distinguished by having computer control of the amount of water that drips down on the floor cloth from the built-in water tank of approx. half a liter. The mop function got rid of imprints from dirty dog paws, but had to give up on ingrained dirt. So the mop is more meant to keep clean than to deep clean.
Although the robot is able to distinguish well between carpets and bare floors, the mop function cannot be combined with vacuuming carpets. When the water tank is fitted, shiny floor surfaces are washed and vacuumed – but the carpets are completely avoided.
Some of my experiences are the same that you will come across with most robot vacuum cleaners, while others relate to the extra features of Ecovac’s Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI. It probably takes an advanced AI to find my way around my particular home, and I’m actually impressed that it could! And it performs the task so well that its quiet shuffling around will be missed when the review sample has to be returned.
The video patrolling is a fun feature, but the frog perspective makes usability limited. And as long as the robot is neither available with blue flashing lights or stun gun, it will remain just an observer.