REVIEW – If you’re a regular reader of The Gadgeteer, you know that we are regularly offered robotic vacuums to review. Everyone and their cousin seem to be making robotic vacuums. Many seem to suck, and not in a good way. We have carpet in our bedrooms and hard flooring in the rest of the house. For me, a robotic vacuum and robotic mop would be the holy grail of cleaning tools. That and making our eventual robot overlords work for me until they take over is immensely attractive. To solve that, I have a pair of units, one vacuum and one mop, from iRobot – the Roomba and Braava Jet folks. But, that means two devices, and even given that they are aware of each other and can work together, that means it takes upwards of six hours to fully vacuum and mop. We aren’t usually out of the house for that long, so we don’t mop as often as we should.
What if there was a combined unit that could vacuum and mop at the same time? Ecovacs has introduced the DEEBOT T8 AIVI robotic vacuum mop. Even though “T8” sounds eerily like an early Terminator model, I decided to let it take a shot at cleaning Kolb Kastle.
What is it?
The Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI (I’ll refer to it as “T8” for conciseness) is a robotic vacuum and mop. It can vacuum, both vacuum and mop simultaneously, and perform security patrols, providing access to real-time video.
What’s in the box?
- Vacuum with a removable dust bin
- Charging dock
- Power cord
- Two sets of sweeper brushes (left and right)
- Two filters and foam filter (one set installed in dust bin)
- Five disposable mop pads
- One reusable mp pad (installed on the mopping adapter)
- Camera blackout filter
- User manual
- Warranty card
- FCC conformity card
- Quick start guide
- Size (WxH): 353×93.6 mm
- Noise level: ≤67 dBa
- Battery: Li-ion 5200mAH
- Working time: Hard ground: 180 min
- Coverage: 3,000 sq ft vacuuming; 2,000 sq ft mopping
- Charging time: about 6.5 H
- Rated power: 40 W
- Working voltage: 14.4 V
- Model no. of charging dock: CH1822
- Mop water capacity: 240 ml
- Navigation and mapping: camera and laser with intelligent object recognition
- Carpet detection: automatic intelligent
Design and features
If you’ve ever seen a robot vacuum, then you know what the T8 looks like. It’s round with two side sweeper brushes and a top-mounted laser mapping unit.
Setup involves placing and plugging in the charging dock and putting the vacuum on the dock. You also have to install the DEEBOT app and set up an account.
There is also the requisite WiFI pairing. All of that was pretty much standard.
As soon as I fired everything up, I got this:
So, they had updated firmware from the time it was built until I received it. I went ahead and installed the update.
It only took a couple of minutes and worked fine.
Let’s start with the dust bin.
It looks pretty standard. The red lever/switch on the left releases the filter to swing out so you can dump the bin.
The filter pops out to reveal the additional foam filter.
That makes three levels of filtering. First, large dirt is trapped by the screen on the filter door. Then, the foam stops larger dust. Finally, the pleated filter grabs everything else.
The dust bin fits into the center of the unit, under the hinged lid.
Toward the bottom of the photo, you can see the brush/cutter that Ecovacs thoughtfully includes. You can use the brush to assist in cleaning the filter. The cutter, much like a seatbelt cutter, is recessed for safety and can be used to cut hair that gets wrapped around the main brush or sweeper brushes. Toward the top is the red main power switch. You can also see the lid hinge, laser mapping unit, and about half of the power button.
The water reservoir can hold 120ml of water for mopping. Here we see the bottom of the reservoir.
The openings at the bottom are where the mopping plate attaches.
The mopping pad attaches with velcro to the mopping plate. The image below shows the reusable, washable pad attached.
Here we see the top of the reservoir.
The blue rubber item on the left is the cover for the water reservoir.
On top, we see the laser mapping unit and power button.
In front, you can see the camera window and the front of the laser mapping unit.
I still question the wisdom of equipping a mobile T8 robot with cameras and friggin’ lasers, but hey, that’s me! If you don’t like the idea of a robot vac being able to see, Ecovacs includes a blackout window that you can attach over the camera. They do say that covering the camera may compromise cleaning efficiency.
Underneath, we find the main drive wheels, caster front wheel (surrounded by the charging terminals), main brush, and side sweeper brushes. The two gray switches between the wheels are the locks that open the main brush compartment so you can clean the main brush.
On the back end, we see the installed water reservoir.
To start out with the T8, it needs to map out your home. Here is our floorplan for reference.
I put a red dot where the charging station is located, just off the kitchen in the dining area.
The first thing I noticed when connecting to the T8 with the app was the busy icon.
It spun for a bit and then came up with the following:
If I pulled down, it refreshed and connected to the T8. But, this “can’t connect” situation happened nearly every time I tried to connect to the T8. A minor inconvenience, but still, an inconvenience.
The T8 displayed an informational message the first time it started up.
I told the T8 to start a smart cleaning session and let it go. The T8 dutifully navigated through the Kastle, finding its way into every room, other than the middle bedroom. During the COVID-19 lockdown, we cleaned closets and have bags of clothes to donate and they are littering the floor, making vacuuming nearly impossible. We had that door closed as it would be unfair to the T8 to have it attempt anything in there.
When it was done, the app showed a map that was created during the cleaning session. I placed it next to our floorplan for reference.
Let’s just say I was impressed. Not only did it map out the entire house, except for the closed bedroom, but the camera also looked out into the lanai. The lanai is a step-down and closed off with sliding glass doors, but the camera could look through the sliding glass door and mapped it out reasonably well. The map also included some odd shooting-out areas from the front bedroom and lanai. Not sure that that was all about.
It will also show you indicators on the map where it encountered obstacles. It will identify shoes, cords, and such with different icons and ask if you want to reclean those areas once you remove the obstacles. That’s all part of the AIVI intelligent navigation system. Nice.
I dumped the dust bin, and wow – I was impressed.
We had vacuumed recently and yet, the T8 picked up serious dirt. The suction automatically adjusts when it transitions from hard floors to carpet. It increases suction on carpeting and drops it back down on the hard floor.
Once the T8 maps out your house, it divides it into zones. You can then use these zones to target cleaning jobs.
You can use the map to define no-mop areas and virtual walls where the robot will not enter. I defined mopping in area A first, G second, and L third. The red lines are virtual walls under the piano, under my desk, and across the lanai entry so the T8 won’t try to enter there. You can also combine the automatically created zones or divide one into two. The combining worked well. Dividing was more difficult and hit or miss on whether it actually worked.
You can also define areas to be cleaned by drawing boxes on the map.
Another thing to note on the map is the difference in textures. The white lines show the current or most recent cleaning jobs path. If you look closely, you can see light diagonal lines in some areas. This is where the T8 identified carpeting. It identified the bedroom carpeting as well as the small throw rugs we have in front of the stove, refrigerator, sink, front door, and lanai entry Pretty cool. You can also define multiple maps for different floors in your house. That isn’t an issue in my Florida single-floor Kastle.
The app allows you to view messages that are generated during cleaning like a full dust bin.
You can also view other notifications here like reminders to replace brushes.
The app gives you access to the various settings for your robot.
Advanced settings include options to rename the robot.
The video manager gives you access to the robot’s camera.
You can watch live video as the robot cleans, talk over the robot’s speaker, capture photos or send the robot on a security patrol. You can also manually control the robot, cruising around your home. I tried it and sampled the video.
Controls are very basic, but you can drive the robot around. After I did, the robot seemed very confused. I looked at the map and this is what I saw – I put it next to my floorplan for comparison.
The area circled in red is essentially my actual floorplan. I can’t explain how the robot added all that extra square footage, but wow – did it screw up the floorplan. It seemed to flip part of the floorplan as it put the front bedroom off the back of the house. It was just plain weird.
I looked at Ecovacs’ support forum and found numerous comments about this issue. The bigger issue to me is that I saw exactly zero replies from Ecovacs support to the questions. Some of the questions were a couple of months old. It seems that Ecovacs ignores their support forum.
While writing this review, I got another firmware update. Once I applied that, the map reverted to a more accurate map of our floorplan, so I’m hoping that issue is fixed.
I tried mopping next. When I connected the mopping plate, the robot recognized it and popped up the following.
Mopping involves running around the floor, funneling water out, and dragging the pad behind. I was not terribly impressed with the mopping performance. Here, you can see the damp area after the T8 glides over.
Ecovacs mentions an oscillating mopping accessory that is purported to significantly improve mopping performance, but that accessory is not yet listed on their website. Speaking of accessories, Ecovacs also talks about a docking station that also offers automatic emptying of the dustbin, but that is also not yet available. I really was excited to test this because of those optional features. Again, questions about availability on the Ecovacs support page went unanswered.
During mopping, the T8 got itself such under our piano and couldn’t get itself unstuck. I was hoping that this was going to replace our Braava Jet robotic mop but based on its current performance, I can’t make the change. If they ever offer the oscillating mop accessory, perhaps the answer will change.
One positive is that it does vacuum at the same time it mops, so for the hard surface area, it will be a single cleaning pass that handles both vacuuming and mopping. Ecovacs claims that this will remove 99.26% of bacteria. It does intelligently avoid carpeted areas while mopping.
I tried a security patrol to see how the T8 handled driving around, showing real-time video of the Kastle. It seemed to be especially fascinated with our lanai, behind the sliding glass doors.
This is a somewhat lengthy video, showing an attempt at patrolling.
You can see 12 seconds in where it seems to get confused with the sliding door to the lanai, and again at 5:40 where it again, gets locked into the sliding door. It focused on one part of our home while ignoring the rest of the home. I eventually canceled the patrol.
What I like
- Relatively quiet
- Fairly fast
- Excellent suction
- Vacuums as it mops so you don’t have to vacuum first
- Excellent filter
What I’d change
- Slow to connect to the unit from the app
- Maps seem to go crazy – requires continual remapping – may be fixed with the latest firmware update
- Gets confused more easily than you would expect with its AIVI tech
- Improve the zone dividing interface
- Modest mopping performance – may be improved with pending accessories
- Have promised accessories available
- Respond to forum questions on your website
I wanted to write a review raving about the T8 and its cleaning abilities. Alas, I am forced to accept continued compromises from robotic cleaners. On the positive side, the T8 is way faster at vacuuming than my Roomba 960. It also seems to extract more dirt from the carpet and is much quieter. That’s all good. I am very interested in the self-emptying base, but there is no information on the Ecovacs website, so who knows if that’s ever coming.
On the mopping side, it is not as good as the Braava Jet m6. The Braava Jet sprays water and then drags the mop forward and backward over the area. The T8 just drags a damp mop over the area. You can tell it to clean multiple times, but that will take a lot of time. But, it does vacuum and mop simultaneously, so because of that, we will mop more often, and that’s good. I am hopeful that the optional oscillating add-on for the mop will improve performance, but Ecovacs has no information about when it may be available and for two months, hasn’t responded to any questions on their support page. That in itself is concerning.
Overall, I can recommend the Ecovacs OZMO T8 AIVI as a cleaning solution. It’s a great vacuum and a somewhat capable mop. If you’re OK with a terminator-named, laser and vision equipped robot having the run of your house, I’d give it a shot. If your last name is “Connor” and you hear “Hasta la vista…”, run!