Somehow, the X1 Omni developed a pretty accurate map of my home in its first pass. It took 120 minutes to clean about 570 square feet, and the battery was almost dead when it straggled back to base, all tuckered out, but it got the job done!
I was also surprised that saying “OK Yiko” actually worked. I was skeptical, given that Apple, Google, and Amazon all amass tremendous amounts of language processing data and still fail. I suppose it helps that there are a limited number of commands you can give to Yiko and “OK Yiko” is a surprisingly distinctive wake phrase — though I wish you could alter it in the app.
In fact, “OK Yiko” is a much easier way to command the vacuum, much better than navigating Ecovacs ’surprisingly opaque app. (I should note that the app was in beta when I tested it.)
The only aspect to the X1 Omni that gives me a pause is the video feed. I really, really dislike the idea of giving any autonomous robot the ability to view and record your family in their most intimate moments. Ecovacs notes that the X1 Omni is the first robot vacuum to meet the TÜV Rheinland privacy and security certification; TÜV is an independent, third-party organization that certifies devices to meet the specifications of ETSI TS 303 645, which is a prominent internet-of-things security standard.
For example, you can protect the video manager with an additional security number, and Ecovacs encrypts the data as it passes to the cloud. However, the company does not offer basic protections like two-factor authentication.
I also question the utility of taking up valuable onboard space with a speaker and microphone. It’s convenient that the mapping function can pinpoint trouble spots in your house and let you look at them through the robot’s camera — especially when it’s lost. It’s much less useful to be able to talk through a robot vacuum.
In an especially creepy move, I rolled the vacuum up to my daughter as she played with her iPad on the couch. “Hi, baby,” I said.
She looked at it dubiously, as I looked up at her from the vantage point of her feet. “Mommy?” she said, and got down on the floor. “Is the robot vacuum talking?”
“Yes,” I said. Then I switched the camera off and returned the vacuum to the cleaning station. I really don’t see the potential of very many heartwarming moments here, unless The Lives of Others is your idea of a romantic film.
I See You
Of course, many robot vacuums have onboard cameras, including my favorite iRobot Roomba J7 +, which takes pictures of obstacles around your house that you can check in the app. However, its camera is aimed downward at obstacles, not upward at your feet — or worse — children. I don’t think paying extra so you can talk to your family through your vacuum is a particularly good use of money.
There are other dedicated robot pugs — most notably iRobot’s Braava pugs. But the X1 Omni’s cleaning process is much more thorough than the Braava spray-and-wipe system, and it’s much less expensive and less complicated than buying two separate products and linking them together. I do wish Ecovacs recommended cleaning solutions you can buy in the US, but the company has cleaning solutions available in other markets, and hopefully those will be here soon.
If you live in a household where small people get your kitchen floor conspicuously dirty every day, the X1 Omni is pretty much a godsend. It’s amazing that I can quickly and easily mop the kitchen floor in the time it takes to brew and sip a cup of coffee. However, if the idea of a camera creeping on your kids gives you the heebie-jeebies, I completely understand. You have many other options.
Check out our full list of the best robot vaccums.