Ecovacs X1 Omni REVIEW
PAT PILCHER has tested his share of great robot suckers but the Ecovacs X1 Omni is easily the most advanced he’s ever put through its paces.
Vacuuming and mopping are two tasks I rate right up there with DIY home circumcision using a blunt and rusty butter knife. Ouch! Vacuuming and mopping may be a necessary evil, but it’s also hours of my life I’m never getting back. At least that was until I got my sweaty paws on Ecovacs latest robot cleaner, the X1 Omni.
There are many different robot vacuum/mopping machines out there, and the X1 Omni sits at the upper end of the market when it comes to price. So, is it worth the extra money? And most importantly, does it do a good job?
As you’d expect, with its premium sticker price comes premium features. To this end, The X1 Omni is literally bulging with goodies! Its AI-obstacle avoidance is outstanding. It has an integrated smart assistant and home security cameras. Then there’s automatic dustbin emptying and a self-cleaning mop system. In short, about the only feature missing from the X1 Omni is a kitchen sink.
When it comes to design, Ecovac put a lot of effort into the X1. They appointed Danish industrial design firm Jacob Jensen Design, who did the X1 out in a slick black-and-silver finish, lending it a hint of Scandi chic. The X1 is a hubcap-sized bot, whose design gives it easy access to hard-to-reach spots such as the underside of beds and so on.
The finish and size of the Omni Station has more than a passing resemblance to the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I say it’s big, I’m not kidding. Measuring in at a sizeable 430 x 447 x 580mm (LWH), it’s bigger than most of the other emptying/charging stations you’d typically get with a robot vac. While it’s no shrinking violet, it is exceptionally well designed and featured. Rather than the robot vac parking itself on a pad by the dust bag holder, the X1 drives inside the Omni station, keeping it out of harm’s way. The Omni station also has a clean water tank, as well as a tank that the X1’s dirty mop water gets emptied into, and a dust bag that the X1 can dump its vacuumed cruft and dust into. The water tanks are accessible by opening the lid on top, while the dust bag is in a pop-out drawer in the front.
Both the clean and dirty water tanks hold four litres of water. Daily use should see the clean water tank needing topping up and the dirty water tank requiring emptying once a week. A nice touch is the accessory storage box which is hidden between both water tanks. It holds two additional mopping pads and a small cleaning brush.
According to the Ecovac blurb, the X1 Omni really sucks. It packs 5,000 pascals of suction – almost double that of the already impressive Ecovac T9. When it came to vacuuming, the X1 did a thorough job. Its round design and twin spinning side brushes meant it captured detritus and reached awkward spots that most conventional vacuum cleaners would struggle with. I was impressed by the amount of grime the X1 lifted out of the carpets and rugs scattered throughout my home.
When it came to mopping, the X1 Omni was no slouch either. After fitting the mopping pads, Yiko (the smart assistant) announced, “Switched to mopping and vacuum mode”. Where many robo-vac/mopping widgets simply drag a wet cloth around your floors, the X1 Omni uses two circular spinning pads. They don’t just wet the floor, but spin, giving it a thorough scrubbing. Most other robot mops have a small tank that you fill with water. Their small size usually means that unattended mopping isn’t possible as the water quickly runs out. Not with the X1. When it detects it is low on water, it’ll trundle back to the Omnistation and fill its internal tank.
When the mopping is done, the X1 dumps the dirty water into a waste-water tank on the Omnistation, which also cleans/dries its mop pads. While other robot mops can empty/refill water reservoirs via their empty station, the X1 takes things a step further by blow-drying its mop pads to eliminate bacteria build-up and odour.
There’s also a carpet sensor. When the X1 is in vacuum only mode, it’ll increase suction power once it detects carpet. When it comes to mopping, it’ll automatically avoid rugs and rooms with carpet, saving expensive rugs from an unnecessary drenching. This contrasts with the Roborock S7 vacuum/mopping bot which lifts its mop when it detects carpeting, allowing it to mop and vacuum in one go.
I was impressed when the X1 announced, “Mopping pads are dirty in the middle of mopping. I’ll return to wash them”. The X1 popped back to the Omnistation, went through the water replacement, mop pad wash, and continued cleaning. Nice!
If the X1 just did a good job of mopping/vacuuming the floors in my house, I’d be totally happy, but there’s so much more. One of the niftiest features baked into the X1 Omni is its security camera capabilities. Using the Video Manager mode on the Ecovac smartphone app, I could remotely drive the X1 around my house and get a first-person, real-time view of my home. This is incredibly handy for checking that you didn’t leave the stove on. If you’re away from home, the X1 also has a built-in mic and speakers. These allow the X1 to perform as a remote-controlled telepresence bot too. Video footage and photos can be captured with the app, which might come in handy for catching burglars or your pet’s goofy behaviour.
The least talked about feature of the X1 is its smart assistant, Yiko. She takes the complexity out of owning and operating a robot cleaner. So far, she’s performed seamlessly with my voice commands. Equally useful, the X1 also plays nice with Alexa. Saying “Okay Yiko” sees her replying, “I’m here”. You can ask her to map your home, do the vacuuming, vacuum a room, or vacuum around a piece of furniture in a room (the X1 can also detect and identify furniture). For anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the complexity of the smartphone app, Yiko makes using the X1 extremely intuitive, giving Ecovac a huge advantage over other robot cleaner brands.
Before Yiko can work her magic, the X1 first needs to learn the layout of your home. This is done using a combination of Lidar (laser radar) and camera sensors, which are branded as “TrueMapping” by Ecovac. The setup works a lot like the tech used in self-driving cars. To start with, the X1 trundled about my home, vacuuming and mopping as it mapped everything. While the X1 initially got stuck a few times, my house was fully mapped several cleans later. I was able to edit the map to name specific rooms and place furniture on the maps. Once this was done, the X1 was now able to pop into a room, clean it and head back to the Omnistation for some juice/dust bag emptying and mop cleaning.
Much of this seamless use comes down to the substantial work that Ecovacs put into their AI-powered obstacle avoidance tech. With the camera and Lidar detecting depth and objects, the X1 learned to navigate around any clutter left on the floor. The number of errors and tangles is now close to zero.
If that’s what is good, there is a gotcha. The Ecovac app can be a little temperamental. For instance, the map editing function refused to divide rooms (for some reason, my study and hallway were mapped as the same room). It isn’t a biggie (I mostly use Yiko to do my bidding), but given the X1’s sticker price, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. This is easily outweighed by the sheer amount of easy to access functionality you get with the X1.
So how well did the X1 clean? I live in a large 3-bedroom villa that has seen other robot vacuum cleaners I’ve tested running out of juice before they finish cleaning. The X1 managed to clean the entire house, taking around two hours. Impressively, its battery never ran low enough to trigger an alert. If you’re in a really large home, Ecovacs says that using the smartphone app to switch the X1 to the quiet cleaning mode will extend its run time. In summary, The X1 is the first robot vacuum cleaner I feel that I can confidently leave unattended to vacuum and mop my home.
The X1 Omni isn’t cheap. Its $2999 sticker price will probably give many pause for thought, but consider this: you get one hell of a lot of vacuum for your money. It can clean your home. It can clean itself. Then there’s its excellent battery life, clever obstacle avoidance, gee-whiz home security cameras and two-way audio plus Yiko, its really clever smart assistant. With all this, it isn’t hard to see why the X1 Omni is the most advanced robot vacuum we’ve ever tested at Witchdoctor, garnering a well-deserved 10 out of 10.
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