Sunday, 29 April 2018 13:27

Robot Vacuum Reviews: Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 930

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It's less refined than rivals, but the ECOVACS DEEBOT OZMO 930 Vacuum Mopping Robot is much quieter and equally as clean.

We’ve had a top-of-the-line iRobot Roomba 930 in our household for some time. It quickly became part of the family and was given a name: Rosie the Robot. So the similarly-priced, $1300 ECOVACS DEEBOT OZMO 930 Vacuum Mopping Robot had to break an emotional bond to win any favourable review. And it did.

The first major difference between the OZMO and the Roomba is that the OZMO is MUCH quieter. You can’t really be in the same room as the Roomba, especially if it’s on high-suction carpet-mode.

But this brings us to the first issue, the OZMO is noticeably not as powerful. The Roomba will leave a hard-wood floor almost completely clean of any compatible detritus in one pass. However, the OZMO tends to leave a few grains of old cornflake after multiple sweeps.

Another obvious difference is appearance. The refined Roomba looks like highly-polished future technology while the OZMO has a lumpy Wi-Fi module stuck to the top. While we’d like to think this adds some modified, Millennium Falcon-style chic, it doesn’t. It also means that it has a higher, clearance level and can’t get under some of the low slung beds and furniture that the Roomba can. But this is not really a deal breaker.

Neither could mount or traverse our shag-pile rug, but then you’d need a monster-truck version to do that and this would surely come with other compromises.

Another issue is that if you move, the OZMO frequently forgets everything about where it is and where it has been. It frequently bumped up and down the same old channels to get where it’s going. The Roomba is far more intelligent here and adds 3D room mapping to get an idea of where it is.

The Roomba also comes with two limiter devices which create virtual barriers that the Roomba cannot cross – whether it’s a straight line by a doorway or a circular zone near pet-food containers and water bowls. You can set virtual barriers with the OZMO in its partner app (as you can with the Roomba) but this isn’t helpful when it keeps forgetting where it is.

Another issue is that you can put the Roomba over a patch of dirt – say from the shoe of a toddler who recently visited a sandpit, press a spot-clean button and the Roomba will suck it all up in a spiral motion. With the OZMO, you need to do this via the app, but again, it needs to know where it is first.

What could be a Trump-card for the OZMO is its “mopping” function. Here you fill a water tank, add a ‘polishing pad’ and — apparently — the OZMO gently wets the floor and dry-polishes it as it goes. Also apparently, it knows not to try this on any carpet. Setting it up for mopping mode is very easy but detecting what difference it made is initially difficult. Occasionally you get a wet smear on the floor where turning left a mark but the difference is hard to detect. You’d need to be in a very dusty environment for this to be particularly useful. However, we did notice that when it was in mopping mode it would do multiple passes of the room and subsequently cleaned up much of the detritus grains that it missed the first time round. This, added with the dry polish, rivalled the Roomba and perhaps even bettered it – despite taking much longer to get there.

As with all of these machines, its nemesis are cables and dog poo. The OZMO has two spinning fans so it should have a greater chance of getting wrapped in cables. In reality it got caught up less often but we suspect that’s because the Roomba is a bit more thorough and powerful.

Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 930 vacuum mopping robot

All in all it sounds like the Roomba is a clear winner. However, Rosie is still in the cupboard and the OZMO (now named, Catslayer) is still out cleaning our floors. Why? Because despite being a bit less powerful and a lot more dumb, it’s dramatically quieter.

This is less of an issue if you’re scheduling cleaning when nobody’s home, but living in a multi-storey townhouse means that both robots have to be manually taken upstairs and start mapping from scratch occasionally.

The OZMO quietly cleans your floor and though it might do so less intelligently, it still ends up as clean (maybe less clean at first but even cleaner later on). As such, we actually prefer it. However, if you have lots of carpet in your home, then you'll want the power of the Roomba.

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross is a veteran technology journalist who has contributed to many of Australia's top technology titles and edited several of them. He was the launch editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation online Technology section.

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