Review: Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni and T20 Omni - what we love and what still needs to improve

Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni and T20 Omni released in New Zealand.
Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni (L) and T20 Omni (R). Photo credit: supplied

Daniel Rutledge reviews the Deebot X2 Omni

The latest flagship robot vacuum from Ecovacs marks a vast improvement over an older model I reviewed earlier this year, the N10 Plus.

The X2 Omni a highly advanced piece of kit and is about as expensive as any vacuum of any sort I've seen in New Zealand - launching at a cool $3000.

Is it worth that price? I've been using it for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts.

My favourite thing about the X2 Omni is how it cleans its own mopping pads, meaning I don't have to. I don't even need to touch them.

That was an issue not only with the previous Deebot I reviewed, but also the recent Submarine wet-head vac from Dyson.

The X2 Omni has a base station in which it recharges, which also includes a self-emptying dustbin and two water tanks - one for clean water and one for dirty. There it heats the water to wash the mopping pads and also uses hot air to later dry them to reduce bacteria and mould.

The Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni and its base station.
Deebot X2 Omni and its base station. Photo credit: supplied

As for how well it actually mops the floor, well, it's the best I've had from a robot. These pads do actually scrub the floor, rather than just wipe it. But you're not supposed to put cleaning liquid into the machine and the water it uses isn't hot when it's washing the floor, so it still doesn't feel as complete a clean as you'll get using more traditional methods.

But it sure is nice setting this thing to go from the app and having it drive itself to the kitchen, do all the mopping, and then head on back and clean its own mops while I've been on the couch the whole time.

Speaking of it driving around my home, another feature that's fun to play with is the onboard cameras. They can feed live video to the app that you can watch from anywhere with an internet connection. While away visiting relatives for a weekend I had great fun remotely piloting the X2 via the app to play with my home-alone cat.

The square shape is great for cleaning right to the edge of walls, although this doesn't appear to work quite as well as Dyson's 360 Vis Nav, which isn't in Aotearoa yet, but I saw in action in Singapore this year.

The X2 Omni is said to pack 8000pa of suction power, which is fairly mighty for a robot vac and did a great job on my carpets. The mopping pads lift 15mm when it's on the carpet, which means it can alternate between that and hard floors and not get your carpet wet.

Improvements have also been made to the brains of this thing, allowing it to create better maps of your home and affording more functionality with them. There's a 3D map option that includes furniture in the rooms, but these were not very accurate in my place - some objects weren't picked up or seemed to be mistaken as walls, while others were displayed facing the wrong way or as the wrong thing.

Still, the 'drag and drop' feature is fab for when you want to clean a specific part of the floor via the app, rather than picking up the vac and physically dropping it somewhere. You can also tell it to clean under a bed or couch, specifically, which are great features and make this a handy companion to stick vacuuming if you want as clean floors as possible.

Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni square shape cleaning up to edge of wall.
The Deebot X2 Omni's square shape allows cleaning right up to the edge of walls. Photo credit: supplied

It's easier to edit rooms, conjoin rooms together, set up boundaries and other stuff via the app, which all pushes the Deebot experience closer to the ultimate hands-off convenience robotic home helpers I dream of. But we're definitely not there yet.

Other issues I had were with the voice controls being generally unresponsive to what I was saying, so I gave up on that fairly quickly, as the app worked fine instead. For all the AI improvements promised with the X2 Omni though, I was disappointed with its self-navigation ability and how often it did things like move about in the same spot for a while before getting going.

It's also supposed to identify hazards like something left on the ground and avoid them, but twice it got caught up on the bottom rung of a clothes-horse. Rather than avoiding this, or conquering it and moving on, it went into error mode and couldn't move without me physically handling it.

Over time, as it continuously moves about a house, it's said to keep on learning and get better at understanding the layout and patterns of where obstacles will likely be, but I can't comment on that having only used it for a brief period.

Now about that brutal cost and whether or not it's worth it. I'll say of all the robot vacuums I've used in my home, this is the best yet. It does a great job of mopping hard floors and vacuuming carpet, with plenty of handy features in its app.

But Ecovacs is now seemingly churning out lots of robot vacs each year, each of them with improvements over the previous models. There are definitely ways this one could be improved  upon and will be soon, I would say - so for me I'd likely hold off investing the $3000 to see if there's an X3 Omni next year that's even better.

For many people though, this will definitely be good enough and as they sit on the couch watching TV and controlling the X2 with their app, it'll be worth every penny.

The Deebot T20 Omni and base station.
The Deebot T20 Omni and base station. Photo credit: supplied

Lana Andelane reviews the Deebot T20 Omni

If you're after a robotic vacuum cleaner in the hope it'll make life that little bit easier, Ecovacs' Deebot T20 Omni could be a game-changer - or the kind of game that makes you tip the table in frustration. Let me explain.

Whether or not you'll love this machine I believe is highly dependent on the layout, configuration, and aesthetic of your home. If you live in an open-plan, minimalist oasis that seamlessly transitions from room to room - free from pets, children, flatmates, or significant others - the T20 Omni will likely be a godsend. It will map out the interior of your space and effortlessly clean the floors with the click of a button or a simple voice command, allowing you to dedicate your time to more important matters.

If you, like me, live in a smaller space with a more convoluted configuration - complicated by doorways, couches, coffee and console tables, clutter and various cables - your experience may not be so good. While the concept of the T20 Omni, the new generation of Ecovacs' flagship Deebot model, is excellent in theory, the execution, at times, is not.

The Deebot T20 Omni in action.
The Deebot T20 Omni in action. Photo credit: supplied

One major pro is if you want to vacuum and mop your floors in one fell swoop, the T20 will do the job. Yes, not only does it perform these tasks separately, it also does them simultaneously - and independently - giving you more time in your day. This also means less cleaning supplies like mops and buckets cluttering your cupboards. 

But, you might be wondering, how does the T20 transition from different types of flooring? Well, the new spinning, pressurised OZMO Turbo mop is equipped with automatic lifting, which allows the reusable mopping pads to retreat into the machine as soon as its wheels touch the carpet. This will be very handy if you have fur babies, as you'll know for sure it wasn't the vacuum cleaner that left a wet mess on the shag.

The T20 is also equipped with object recognition and avoidance which, in a nutshell, allows it to identify obstacles while its cleaning. It's able to detect when something is in its path and will redirect itself accordingly. However, if you live in a small, relatively crowded space, this object avoidance doesn't always go according to plan.

Our bar stools, for example: I figured the raised, metal bases would be different enough from the laminate wood flooring for the Deebot to distinguish between the two. Whenever I wanted to clean the kitchen, however, the Deebot would attempt to vacuum over said bases - which resulted in it getting a bit stuck. Some might argue that you should clear the space beforehand to avoid confusing the vacuum: I'd counter that my handheld stick vacuum doesn't get confused by bar stools. I can easily navigate the hose around and between the bases without needing to move them.

If a machine is designed to make life easier, I don't see how relocating all my furniture is conducive to this aim. Sure, it vacuums and mops independently; but with its confusion around certain objects - the coffee table being another - I didn't feel comfortable leaving it without supervision, much like a small child bumbling around a space with sharp corners.

Another con is that while it's sleek and modern, the T20's station - which conveniently houses the vacuum, the dustbin, and its tanks for clean and dirty water - is rather cumbersome, which again, isn't ideal in a smaller space. You could potentially conceal it in a cupboard to reduce visual clutter - if a power outlet was nearby, of course - by opening the doors to allow the vacuum to vacate and return to its little home each clean.

Another pro, however, is that the vacuum empties itself each time it returns to its station and the mopping pads are automatically washed and dried with hot water and air. The washing and drying is a pretty noisy process, but undeniably handy. A negative is that it often washed the pads without the mopping function even being used, and it wasn't clear how this could be disabled. With unnecessary water being used, it meant I had to fill the internal tank more often than I should be - or the T20 aborting a mopping mission due to running out of water supply.

I encountered a range of small technical difficulties during my time with the T20, which leads me to believe that for the technologically challenged, the machine could be quite difficult to navigate. Aside from using voice commands, the options and settings are all controlled via the Ecovacs app. It's fairly straightforward to use, but I can see its various features - such as setting up boundaries, dividing spaces, and making cleaning schedules - confounding those who aren't used to an app-controlled appliance. It can also be a bit disconcerting at first when a vacuum starts talking to you.

The Deebot T20 Omni and Ecovacs app.
The Deebot T20 Omni and Ecovacs app. Photo credit: supplied

Due to its round shape, this vacuum also isn't going to be the best at reaching into various cracks, corners and crevices. In a very square kitchen, the circular machine wasn't super effective at getting into the nooks and crannies, leaving a lot of crumbs and debris untouched or swept further into the corners.

There was the same problem with the bathroom: the mopping pads simply couldn't reach the edges of the bath or around the toilet base. Alternatively, a hand-held stick vacuum - or mopping manually - allows you to really get into those hard-to-clean areas, ensuring an overall better result.

All in all, a robot vacuum is meant to make life easier, but I found the Deebot T20 Omni, despite its nifty hands-free tech, just a bit too faffy - especially seeing as it costs a pretty penny at $1999. Whether or not this handsfree vacuum-and-mop machine is worth the fuss is ultimately for you to decide. 

Newshub was supplied a Ecovacs Deebot X2 Omni and T20 Omni for this article.