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Let's be honest, who really enjoys cleaning floors? It might deliver great satisfaction when you're done, but after all it is still a chore, and it can take up quite a lot of time if you're vacuuming and mopping -- time that could be better spent not cleaning.
Ecovacs' solution for those adverse to boring chores is the Deebot X1 Omni, a robotic vacuuming and mopping system that comes accompanied with an all-in-one Omni station that can self-clean and dry, auto-empty any dust, and automatically refill with water after each cleaning round.
One of the first noticeable features of the Deebot X1 Omni is the size and weight of the Omni station. Even though Danish company Jacob Jensen Design has attempted to create something sleek and minimalistic in appearance -- so that it looks more like "art" and less like a cleaning system -- figuring out where to place it in the home can get a bit tricky.
In the manual, it advises the Omni station should be placed by a power point, it also requires clearance space of 0.5 metres on either side and 1.5 metres at the front, so there is enough space for the X1 Omni to enter and exit the self-cleaning station.
This might not, however, be a problem for users who live in luxurious four-storey mini mansions, much like the home where Ecovacs recently provided an initial demonstration of the X1 Omni for media, but if you live in a smaller space -- like my home, which is a shoebox by comparison -- you might need to think carefully.
I'll admit I avoided unboxing it for a week mainly because it was dauntingly large and when I eventually got to it, the X1 Omni saved me from needing to hit the gym for a deadlifting session.
Looking under the hood of the all-in-one station, the size makes sense as it reveals two four-litre water tanks -- one for clean water and the other used to automatically store all the dirty water produced from cleaning the mopping maps -- plus storage for cleaning brushes and extra mopping pads.
Rounding out the so-called hands-off cleaning experience is the vacuum bag bin housed at the front of the Omni station. After each clean, any dust collected is automatically transferred into the vacuum bag, which only needs to be replaced when it is full.
The other feature worth noting is Deebot's built-in interactive AI voice assistant, Yiko. Ecovacs claims Yiko has been designed to turn the Deebot X1 family from "highly intelligent cleaning tools to truly home service robotics". The idea is that every time you say, "Ok Yiko", the X1 Omni will respond and await specific commands, such as come towards your voice, clean a certain part of the house, or clean around a piece of furniture. But in testing, it took more than a couple of calls in proximity before Yiko responded, making the experience less than seamless.
Thankfully, the Ecovacs Home mobile app gives you all same function controls if it fails. The app also provides access to a saved map of your home, which the X1 Omni creates using its integrated TrueMapping technology. From there, the app can be used to customise the way the X1 Omni cleans, including when and where.
Within the Home app is also the video manager, a handy tool that can be used to tap into the X1 Omni's built-in cameras to view the cleaning action from its perspective, especially when you are out and about or trying to locate it in the home.
The video manager also has a two-way voice function so you can use the X1 Omni as a walkie-talkie with other family members or pets at home, and the option to take photos and record videos. But the question surrounding these three capabilities is: Why? Unless of course, you plan to use Deebot for spying purposes, then go right ahead. Otherwise, it is just slightly creepy. This is even though Ecovacs claims it is "committed to protecting user privacy and security" by integrating security into its software and hardware and adopting encryption. It adds that the Deebot X1 family is also the first robotic vacuum clean to obtain the TÜV Rheinland privacy and safety certificate for both software and hardware.
While the cleaning system might have all these bells and whistles, the real question is: Can it really clean my floors? The answer is yes.
Ecovacs boasts that the X1 Omni features the company's strongest suction power of 5000Pa, which makes it ideal for sucking up dirt off carpet and rugs. The only catch is that you must remember to make it a setting, and be prepared for the noise, otherwise it vacuums at the default suction power of 2000Pa.
For its mopping function, the X1 Omni has two rotating mopping pads located at the rear of its body and relies on pressure and a rotation speed of 180 per minute to mop up stubborn stains, without leaving the floors soaked. The mopping pads do need to be manually removed though when you want the machine to vacuum carpet.
The robot also relies on its upgraded 3D obstacle detection technology to navigate the home more precisely. This is ideal when you have an odd toy or slipper still lying the floor – you will find Deebot will automatically slow down its suction when it detects an object is in its way. While it is smart enough to navigate around larger objects, it may still be a caught chewing up smaller items such as phone charger chords.
Despite its size and questionable creep functions, the X1 Omni will not only help keep your floors clean, but make you think hard about whether your time is worth the AU$2,500 investment.