Ecovacs Robotics’ newest robot vacuum has a lot going for it. The Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is by far the most powerful robovac we’ve tested, with three levels of suction power to choose from. Better yet, with a whopping three hours of battery life on a full charge, you can set it on its highest suction level and it will still finish cleaning an average-sized two-bedroom apartment with some juice to spare.
It’s also got some very impressive smarts. Not only is it compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control, it also uses artificial intelligence to identify objects in its path and mark them on its map. There’s even a built-in camera that helps it 'see' small objects, like cables, socks or toys.
Thanks to this camera, you can even use the T8 to 'patrol' your home even if you're away. This feature, however, cannot be used while the bot is on a cleaning run. That said, it allows the T8 to double as a security device and lets you check in on your furry friends, or even talk to your kids if they’re not answering their phones (yes, there's a mic option on the app that allows you to send audio messages).
Speaking of maps – Ecovacs has improved its mapping technology, and the T8 is capable of creating and saving a map much faster than any of its older siblings. It can even save multi-floor maps, although you will need to enable Advanced Mode on the app for this.
The T8 is also a mop: it can vacuum and mop hard floors at the same time and will cleverly avoid any carpet (even on its first run) if the mopping plate is attached. However, it's best to keep in mind that it's not as good as a dedicated mopping droid and does a passable job – but it won't remove any stains, not even dusty foot- or bootprints.
The T8's mopping capability could be a key selling point, but it's not as impressive as its vacuuming prowess – it sucked up hair from a low-pile carpet in a single sweep when on its Max+ setting, but as mop on a medium water output setting, we found that the T8 barely made our floor damp and had to crank up the amount of water it used.
On the ultra high water setting, the T8 pretty much matched what we saw with the older Deebot Ozmo 930. It's also supremely easy to set up and use, and taking into consideration it's impressive feature set, the T8 is a clear contender to be one of the best robot vacuum cleaners currently available.
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI price and availability
- Launched in July 2020
- Premium price tag of $799 / £775 / AU$1,299
Ecovacs Robotics announced the launch of the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI in July 2020, and it’s available in most markets from select retailers.
It doesn’t come cheap though – it carries a price tag of $799 / £775 / AU$1,299. While that’s higher than the launch price of the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 930 (which also has a mopping function) in the US and the UK, the Australian launch prices for both models match.
Despite the premium, the T8 is priced quite competitively, especially given its feature set. In comparison, iRobot’s recent Roomba i7 and Roomba i7+ – neither of which have mopping functions or in-built cameras – cost $599 / £649 / AU$1,499 and $799 / £879 / AU$1,899 respectively, while iRobot’s S series bots are even more expensive.
It's worth noting that the Ozmo 930 quickly dropped in price after release, so there’s a possibility that if you wait a while, the same could happen to the T8.
- Similar form factor to older Deebots
- Slightly lower in height than Ozmo 930
- Water reservoir easy to remove and put back
Like all the Ecovacs models before it, the T8 is a generic-looking round bot, featuring a bumper on the sides and a ‘squircle’ protrusion on the top to house some of the vacuum’s sensors. The only other features on the top panel are a single ‘start’ button (which pulses with a dim light while charging) and a discreet flap that covers the bin, the cleaning tool, and the power and reset buttons.
Speaking of the cleaning tool – this was introduced previously with the Ozmo 930, but on the latter there was nowhere on or within the vacuum to store it, and was therefore easy to lose. Thankfully, Ecovacs has created a small niche for the little grey tool making it much easier to find and store safely. However, as before, we found the tool isn't as helpful as it should be, particularly the extremely tiny knife edge that barely cuts away hair that’s tangled around the bar brush. Still, it’s something.
On the front of the T8 is a camera (more on that later) and around the back is a water reservoir made of transparent plastic, which has its own tiny pump housed within – similar to the Ozmo 930 – and is extremely easy to take out, fill up and then put back in again.
Flip the bot over and that’s where all the visible action is – there are two side brushes and a long bar brush, similar to all the other Deebots, and that’s also where the mopping plate gets attached. You don’t even need the manual to identify where it needs to clip in – it’s all very intuitive from the get-go. In fact, you don’t even need to turn the bot upside down to clip on the mopping plate – just lift it slightly, slide the plate under it and it’s easy to line the clips to their niches, then press gently to lock the mopping plate in.
When that's done, the Deebot T8 will verbally announce that the plate has been installed.
That’s not the only thing the T8 will tell you – you’ll hear it say it’s starting a clean, or it’s stuck somewhere and needs help, or that you need to remove the water reservoir, and so much more. The chatty bot will help you along with audio notifications, along with the ones you get on the app. Ecovacs has improved the voice cues as well here. Where the audio notifications sounded extremely robotic in the older models, the T8’s voice cues are a little more natural.
Maintaining the T8 is also easy – you can see the life of all the accessories in the app and you’ll get notifications when any of them need to be changed. The mopping cloth is washable, and a few spare ones come in the box as well. In fact, there's even an additional water reservoir in the box, along with a spare set of brushes.
The bin inside the T8 is similar to the older models, and is easy to remove and empty. And depending on how large or how dirty the job is, you may not need to empty it after each cleaning run. You should, however, keep an eye on the bar brush, as you will need to remove entangled hair (or fur) regularly.
Setup and app control
- Easy initial setup
- EcovacsHome app is simple and streamlined
- Very fast and precise mapping
Out of the box, the T8 will need to be charged. How long that takes depends on how much juice the new device has when it arrives. For us, it took a couple of hours, but while that’s happening you can go ahead and connect it to your Wi-Fi network via the EcovacsHome app, available on both Android and iOS.
Initial setup for us was supremely easy, unlike the trouble we had with the Ozmo 930, which took us many tries to finally connect. With the T8, it took us just a single attempt to set up, which involved about 7-8 minutes to download the latest firmware update for the T8, install it, connect to Wi-Fi and finally have it showing online in the app. You don’t need the manual either, with step-by-step instructions provided in the app itself.
Once connected and charged, the T8 is ready for its first cleaning run and you’ll be able to select the suction power right away. A standard clean is more than sufficient for hard floors, but if you’ve got pets or wall-to-wall carpeting, we’d recommend opting for the Max or the Max+ option. This does increase the volume of the T8’s hum, but it’s still not as loud as many corded vacuums you get today. On a standard setting, it’s perhaps one of the quietest bots we’ve tested.
After the first run, we’d recommend that you enable Advanced Mode in the settings. Switching this on will save a brand new map, which automatically detects and assigns an icon to each individual room. You can then use this map to perform custom cleaning jobs – cleaning just one room, for example, or starting a whole-house vacuum in a specific room, or even letting you draw a virtual box to clean a specific area. We think Advanced Mode should be the T8’s default, and don’t quite get why it’s an optional feature.
Mapping is perfect and impressively fast. Ecovacs claims that the T8 uses not just laser mapping (like older Deebots) but also direct time of flight (dToF) sensors, which enables it to map spaces four times faster than standard laser mapping tech. It can also detect objects only a millimeter tall from twice the distance as compared to older Deebots.
While the T8 mapped our entire test space within a couple of minutes, that map couldn’t be saved till the bot finished cleaning and returned to its dock. And, oddly, unless you have Advanced Mode turned on, the T8 will remap the whole space the next time it does a run. (It's also unclear why the first map can’t be imported to Advanced Mode when it’s been enabled – but perhaps Ecovacs will figure this out and roll out an update some time soon.)
You’ll also notice that once the T8 is online, a “video manager” appears on the app. Here, you’ll find a live video feed from the T8's built-in camera, although not while it's on a cleaning run.
If you want to use the camera to look in on your pets, you can remotely send the bot to clean a specific location corresponding to where they might be spending their time, or alternatively, there’s a joystick on the video manager for direct control of the T8 too, allowing you to move it wherever you want, just like you would a drone or toy car. (For those concerned about the privacy of that streaming video, Ecovacs offers a full disclosure of where its servers are located so you know exactly where your data is being saved and, as per the disclosure, none of them are located in China.)
The app is also where you can choose how much water is used while mopping, set up a cleaning schedule and keep tabs on the life of the bot’s accessories. Overall, we found the EcovacsHome app easy to use and not once did it glitch out on us during our testing period.
- Quite powerful on Max+ setting
- Mop functionality is disappointing
- Misses edges and corners
For a cordless robot vacuum, the T8 is a powerful little sucker, if you'll pardon the pun. On a Max+ setting, it was able to pull up some strands of hair on carpets in a single sweep in our test space, although it will have trouble if the carpets are quite dirty. As with any robot vacuum, it’s not quite as powerful as corded vacuums from Dyson and Miele and will likely need to do multiple cleaning runs on carpets if you’ve got pets. On hard floors, though, it’s a darn good cleaner.
If fitted with the mopping plate and water is filled in the reservoir, the T8 automatically knows it needs to perform a dual function and will start mopping while it’s vacuuming. Unlike the Ozmo 930, which vacuums an entire space first and then follows it up with a mopping session (which eats into its 100-minute battery life), the T8 does both simultaneously – the vacuuming from the front and the mopping from the back. But, as we mentioned earlier in this review, we found the T8’s mopping function doesn't compare to what you would be able to achieve if you did it yourself.
If your floors are just a tad dusty, the T8 manages fine. But any stains – even light, dusty footprints – remain after the bot has done its job. This, though, is an issue you'll have with any dual-purpose robot vacuum. There's no mechanism yet that allows the mopping plate to 'scrub', so to speak. Despite that, it can manage the job well enough if you don't have the time or energy to do it yourself.
We also found that, in testing on matte porcelain tiles, the T8's medium water output setting was just not sufficient for even an easy mopping job. We had to set it to its maximum water output level to see any before-and-after difference.
Ecovacs claims that, as a mop, the T8 can eliminate “up to 99.26% of bacteria”, which sounds great in the current coronavirus circumstances, but the company doesn’t specify whether it's OK to add cleaning solutions to the water reservoir. Nothing is mentioned in the manual and we weren’t brave enough to try. Without that, we’re not sure how the T8 can be so effective, particularly since the mopping function is just barely usable.
Another thing to keep in mind is that although the T8 can identify and move around small obstacles, it’s still best to pick up objects off the floor before a cleaning because no matter how proficient the T8’s obstacle avoidance is, it can still get entangled in cables or suck up a sock or toy.
If there are things that can't be removed, the T8 is thankfully able to drive over obstacles up to 20mm high, and easily crossed over a metal threshold separating the shower area from the rest of our bathroom in testing.
What the T8 does differently from the Ozmo 930 when used as a mop is completely avoid carpets, period. Where the Ozmo 930 would go over carpet and hard floors alike while the mopping plate was attached (and water was in the reservoir), the T8 sticks to the hard floors only. In our test space – which consisted of a bedroom with wall-to-wall carpeting, a living and dining room with tile floors, plus a study with tile floors – the T8 stopped the moment its side brushes moved onto the carpet at the bedroom's threshold and promptly went back to cleaning the living and dining areas.
The only way to make sure the whole space was vacuumed was to run the T8 first without the mopping plate, then attach it back on for a second run immediately after to get the floors mopped which, to us, seemed a little inefficient. That said, there was plenty of juice left in the battery for at least another couple of consecutive runs if necessary.
- Doubles as a security camera
- Handy if you have pets at home
- Driving can be controlled remotely
As mentioned earlier, the T8 also has a camera onboard that let’s it 'see' what’s in its path. And that feed is available in real time on the app. Not only can you watch where it’s going, you can record footage or take a snapshot, and even talk to people in other rooms.
For the sake of security, Ecovacs has locked the video manager with a four-digit password, which you'll need to set up and subsequently enter each time to gain future access.
The T8 can be driven remotely like a toy car, so if you need to take a quick look at anything while you're away, then you can guide the T8 around the house. Once done, you just need to close the video manager and you can choose to send the T8 back to its dock (which it will do with no help from you) or leave it where it is in case you want to check something at a later time.
The usefulness of the video feed isn't just restricted to spying on pets, either – you could also use it to tell your kids to get on with their chores while you’re at work, and even keep an eye on how they’re getting on cleaning their room (sorry, kids).
And since it’s able to move around the house, you can use it as a roving security camera as well. You’ll find a 'patrol mode' option on the video manager of the app, and you can use this to drive the bot around or set up scheduled 'patrols' of your home. You can choose a specific spot on the saved map, and the T8 will head to that exact location. If desired, you can then move it around bit by bit using the joystick controller on the video manager.
However, you need to keep in mind that you’re seeing everything from floor level, so unless someone is a decent distance away, you’re not going to be able to see their face. Still, it’s a handy feature to have.
Should I buy the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI?
Buy it if...
You’re looking for an innovative, powerful and intelligent automated cleaning solution
The T8 has a lot of features that you’re not going to find on competitive models. Few robot vacuum cleaners offer this much suction power, not to mention its three-hour battery life and the intelligence to avoid small objects on the floor. And there aren’t any competitors that will also provide you with a video feed of what’s happening around them.
You really want a robot vacuum
It’s easy to argue that robot vacuums are a luxury item. That said, they can save you time and, unlike many older models, the T8 is actually powerful enough to do a decent job on carpets and rugs as well. So this one is truly worth considering.
You need a spy at home
It’s hard not to harp on about the T8’s camera and it’s 'patrol mode'. Admittedly, it’s not a complete security solution, but it's not really designed to be. It’s a handy feature to have... but something your kids may not thank you for, if you use it to check in on them.
Don't buy if...
You’re on a budget
The T8 isn’t cheap. If you’re looking for a more affordable 2-in-1 robot vacuum cleaner, we’d recommend the Ozmo 930, the Roborock S6 MaxV or the Roborock S5 Max. But you aren’t going to get the same set of features with any other model.
You need a dedicated mopper
While the T8 is an impressive vacuum, it’s not as great a mopper. If you need something better, then we’d suggest getting a dedicated robot mop like the iRobot Braava Jet m6.
You need a deep clean
No robot vacuum has the power of a traditional vacuum cleaner. So if you’ve got wall-to-wall carpets, you’re better off getting a corded vacuum, especially if you have pets.
First reviewed September 2020