Robot vacuums have come a long way since their emergence on the market around 25 years ago. Not only have they evolved from this chunky design into a sleek, flying saucer-esque look, but now they do more than just suck. As more and more robovacs begin to saturate the smart home space, we decided to look into how a $999 robot vacuum stacks up against a $2,500 model.
To test this, we reached out to Ecovacs and asked if we could get our hands on their bestselling Ecovacs DEEBOT N8 and the brand new DEEBOT X1 OMNI.
At $999, Ecovacs’ cheapest DEEBOT robot vacuum isn’t exactly a penny pincher, but you’ll often catch them on sale for hundreds off during mammoth shopping events such as Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday. On the other hand, at$2,499 the X1 OMNI is very, very expensive – substantially more than the cult favourite Dyson vacuum cleaners.
So if you’re thinking about getting a robovac for your household, to help you out we threw the two into a pit and forced them to fight to the death, Robot Wars-style. Okay, not really. Though we did consider it, “obstacle avoidance technology” is a wonderful feature that ruins all of our misguided fun.
Ecovacs DEEBOT N8
- Suction power: 3,200Pa
- Dustbin capacity: 420ml
- Mopping reservoir capacity: 240ml
- Noise value: 67 dBA
- Battery specification: 3,200mAH
Ecovacs DEEBOT X1 OMNI
- Suction power: 5,000Pa
- Dustbin capacity: 400ml (this is internally before it auto-empties)
- Mopping reservoir capacity: 4000ml
- Noise value: 66dBA
- Battery specification: 5,200mAH
Is the Ecovacs DEEBOT N8 better than the DEEBOT X1 OMNI robot vacuum?
Robot vacuums have evolved a long way from the prototypes that were first introduced many years ago and are smarter than ever. Ecovacs has a covetable range of sleek, smooth and futuristic robovacs that are designed to be flaunted in your home. After all, robovacs aren’t quite clever enough to open cupboards yet.
Once you’ve set up your Ecovacs robot vacuums, you’ll get the pleasure of naming your DEEBOT – so I named the X1 OMNI “Sebastian” because it is a respectable name for a butler. My partner asked if we could call the N8 “5 Is Alive” from the 1986 film, Short Circuit. I didn’t get his reference, but I obliged him nonetheless.
My first impression as I unboxed both of these robot vacuums? They’re heavy. Well, heavier than I anticipated. The OMNI X1 also comes with what my partner described as a “mini washing machine”, a.k.a its all-in-one OMNI station. It’s a monster, to say the least. The OMNI station is where the robot will take care of all its mopping, self-emptying and drying responsibilities.
Sebastian’s charging station is stunning. Although it’s heavy, it feels sleek and lends an ultra-modern look to your space. If you open its lid, you’ll find two 4L water tanks – one for clean water and one for dirty/used water.
Now the actual robot vacuums. The N8 looks clean with a space-white colour that makes me think of a flying saucer. But beside the X1 OMNI, the N8 looks cheap and plastic-y. The X1 OMNI is chic, modern yet futuristic. When you run your fingers across its dark grey plating, it simply feels expensive.
Aside from Sebastian’s colour, along its bumper it’s got a little camera, which we’ll touch on later.
Winner? The OMNI is easily the better looking of the two.
Floor-mapping and obstacle avoidance
After your robovacs are christened and good to go, they’ll skirt around the house for an hour or so mapping every room. I chose to set up the N8 first and scratched my head in wonder as it floated around in no clear pattern, sometimes going over the same spot multiple times. It even ran out of charge halfway through mapping my two-bedroom apartment, which boggled me.
But when I kickstarted the OMNI, I had the exact same experience. Overall, both took about two hours to complete initial mapping process.
It was interesting to follow the mapping process in the app with each robot vacuum. Both use the same mapping technology, but different generations (the N8 uses TrueMapping while the OMNI has TrueMapping 2.0).
Whenever you hear the term “TrueMapping”, it basically refers to how your robot vacuum scans, maps and plans its most efficient cleaning route. It aims to find the path in your home that is not only the quickest, but the most precise way to prevent any skipped or repeated areas. Its this technology that allows you to set boundaries otherwise known as no-go zones for your robovac to follow or if you want it to clean by room or area.
This is all managed in-app, which can be a fairly confusing experience if you’re new to it. Keep in mind that each vacuum’s Smart Cleaning options are rendered differently in-app. My primary issue with the app is that attempting to fix the rooms by moving the virtual walls felt impossible to complete.
Looking at the N8, it has a simple 2D rendering of my apartment that is quite accurate. In the spots that it has marked, A is the living/dining room, B is the kitchen, H is the spare bedroom and E is the bathroom. I did notice that if you don’t set up your no-go zones, the next time it cleans your house the map might change slightly. But overall, I was pleased with how well it captured the layout of my home.
The X1 OMNI on the other hand was interesting. The map you see on the far right above doesn’t look accurate at all. While the map does change frequently depending on when it completes its cleaning route, the 3D map stays virtually the same and is extremely accurate. The 3D rendering almost nailed my house, save for the second bedroom where it added a random doorway.
What I enjoyed about the 3D map is that you can customise it by putting representations of real furniture in the space. That way your OMNI will know whether to clean under your lounge or avoid the bottom of your bed. I took to it like I was playing some interior design game on a mobile app and was pretty satisfied with the results.
The OMNI can also let you see through its eyes through its video feature. While this is pretty handy if you want to figure out where it is, you can usually check where its hiding if it gets tangled in some cords by checking your floor map. Aside from that, I don’t really see the point of being able to see through the camera. Unless you want to spy on your family or check up on your pets.
You can speak to friends through a call feature, record footage and capture photos, but it just feels like more of a fun bit of fluff than something that can aid actually the cleaning process.
Both DEEBOT robot vacuums are fairly good at avoiding obstacles and barriers. Out of the pair, I noticed that the N8 tended to tap its bumper against things like walls and furniture to find its way around. Meanwhile, the X1 OMNI would drive towards obstacles but stop at about a hair’s breadth away. However, this only happened most of the time.
The main difference is in the technology they use. The N8 uses infrared sensors to avoid obstacles and is meant to use its bumper bar to find its way around. The OMNI, on the other hand, has a built-in AI component that utilises 3D sensing technology and its front camera to assess the size of potential obstacles and prevent collisions.
That doesn’t mean the OMNI is perfect. It will still bump into a few things, especially if you’ve rearranged the furniture in your home or it comes to any raised surfaces.
One thing I have to note is that both robots really struggle with avoiding raised edges. There are two spots in my apartment – the doorways of the kitchen and bathroom – where the tiles are about two inches high. Every time each robot approaches these areas, it very determinedly tries to climb over the edge and will do so for a good five minutes before it gives up.
If I interrupt and move the robot vacuum to another part of the house, or even just give it a boost so it can reach the bathroom and kitchen, it tends to just take itself out like a brat. “I wanted to do it myself,” Sebastian communicates by immediately zooming out of the back corner of the kitchen. So much for scrubbing my tiles.
Despite my best efforts, the DEEBOT robot vacuums ended up damaging themselves thanks to this stubborn streak. While you won’t notice it unless you hold up either robot vacuum to the light, both have scratch marks against their bumpers. While this doesn’t impact the N8 or the OMNI’s ability to get around and detect other obstacles, it’s a little disappointing both still lack the intelligence to quit while ahead.
The last thing I want to add is that neither robot knows how to avoid electrical cords or any type of rope on the ground. If you decide to schedule a clean ahead of time, make sure you complete a sweep of the house and move anything you think might get caught in its wheels to higher ground. My cat, for instance, loves to drag around shoelaces that sometimes get caught in the wheels. Don’t be like my cat.
Winner? The X1 OMNI.
Suction, mop and self-emptying abilities
Both are gloriously good. Part of me had to look really closely to see a difference. If we look at both of their descriptions, the Ecovacs DEEBOT N8 offers a standard 2,300Pa of suction force, while the X1 OMNI offers a whopping 5,000Pa.
If you observe them at the same time, the robot vacuums both leave visible suction tracking marks along the carpet that are near identical. Even though there are technical specifications that declare the difference, it was still pretty hard to tell.
The OMNI X1 was less likely to miss any fur or crumbs that were on the ground, so I’d say that decides the winner.
The best part is that the OMNI X1 is ridiculously easy to empty. Since it automatically empties itself after each cleaning cycle into its OMNI station, you only need to throw its internal dust bag in the bin whenever the app reminds you to. There’s zero mess and no chance of dust getting up your nose.
The N8 on the other hand is not as simple. You’ll need to flip it onto its back, pull out its lever and remove the dust bin entirely. You’ll then have to shake it over the bin to free those trapped dust bunnies before putting it back together. It’s a lot more complicated than what you experience with the OMNI, but with a few goes, it’s not as difficult as it might be on your first try. The app will also alert you every time the bin gets full so you can remember to empty it.
I will note that the N8 does have a compatible auto-empty station that is sold separately for $249.99. You don’t need one, but it’s pretty handy if you suffer from seasonal hayfever and allergies.
In the month that I’ve been reviewing both of these robot vacuums, the Ecovacs DEEBOT N8 filled up after about a week and a half of use. Meanwhile the OMNI has yet to ask for a new dust bag.
Winner? The OMNI X1.
As for mopping, I have to admit I wasn’t impressed by either. Even on its heaviest flow setting, the N8 left an almost n0n-existent stream of water behind as it scrubbed the kitchen. There was no point capturing it on camera, you wouldn’t be able to see it. Ideal, if you want some quick drying job, I guess.
I expected the DEEBOT X1 OMNI to mop better, but it didn’t. It left a lazy low dose of water in its wake and barely scrubbed at the floors. My take? You probably won’t find the mopping feature as useful if your home is predominantly carpeted like mine.
On the plus side, the OMNI will dry the mopping pads once it returns to its self-emptying station. The N8, unfortunately, leaves that responsibility to you.
Winner? In this case, it’s X1 Omni, but only just. Points for a slightly more visible trail of water.
At a retail price of $2,500, it’s hard to justify getting the OMNI X1 unless you feel personally inconvenienced by dustbin emptying. Keep in mind that you will regularly need to purchase more dust bags which cost $29 for a set of three. Over time that cost can add up, so make sure your budget can handle it before taking the plunge.
The N8 on the other hand is $999. While that’s already more expensive than a Dyson with less than a quarter of the suctioning power, as an older model it’s on sale most of the time and can be as low at $499.
If you want a robot vacuum that will tidy the place up and don’t mind manually emptying its dust bin, it’s hard to knock its more affordable price tag.
Winner? The Ecovacs DEEBOT N8.
Do I even need to say it? It’s obvious that the Ecovacs DEEBOT X1 OMNI goes above and beyond what’s currently in the robot vacuum market. Yes, the price tag is steep but the convenience sets the standard for future robot vacuum generations.
Admittedly, it has a lot of bells and whistles that you may not need or find useful. If you think you can live without the extra technology, then you might as well go for the N8. The suction will do the job pretty well and is great for cleaning up after a certain furry friend that sheds all over the house.
But if you want a completely hands-free experience with little cleanup, then the X1 OMNI is worth the money.
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