If you want a robot vac that cleans your home well, you might want to skip this one. The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 900 got a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 39% in our lab test and ranked second last for performance. While its Aldi sale price is attractive (it usually sells for double), our experts have found far better models for about the same kind of price, so it's worth shopping around.
In big news for bargain hunters, Aldi is selling the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 900 robot vacuum cleaner on Saturday 5 September as a Special Buy for the heavily discounted price of $399. It's available for a limited time only, while stocks last.
The idea of someone else doing the cleaning for once sounds enticing, but is this a bargain worth snapping up? We turned to our lab tests to find out.
What our experts say about Aldi's Ecovacs robot vac
The news isn't great. Vacuums of any type have one key job – cleaning floors – and this one doesn't do it well. In our product test, this Ecovacs model got a CHOICE Expert rating of just 39%, making it the second lowest rating model in the current range. To borrow a line from Star Wars, this probably isn't the droid you're looking for.
It got a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 39%, making it the second lowest rating robot vac in the test
It performed dismally when picking up dirt from hard floors and carpets, although it was quite good at cleaning corners and edges, detected stairs well and didn't get caught up on tassels on rugs. So if your home is full of corners, stairs and rugs but not any floor, you should do okay.
CHOICE member exclusive: read our full Ecovacs Deebot review
The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 900 came second last in our current test.
What are the pros of the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 900?
One of the selling points of this model is its 'advanced mapping' capabilities – its ability to create 'virtual boundaries' for areas you don't want to clean, and also app control. We don't test the effectiveness of the app control as part our review, but we do look at the mapping capabilities.
Our test expert, Mit Lalich, says that a growing number of robot vacuums that we've seen in our labs now include this type of technology.
This app screenshot shows how the cleaner maps the room.
"Basically, the robot vacuum will create a map of your home, which you can then view on an app," says Mit. "The idea is that it then cleans more efficiently, and you can control areas you may not want it to clean.
"This technology is more effective on some models than on others – generally we find that an area has to be quite unobstructed for you to achieve a good clean with a robot vacuum."
Things that go bump
When reviewing robot vacuums, our testers look at how often the devices bump objects as they find their way around. Good sensors and cameras can help them avoid frequent and/or heavy collisions.
As for this model being sold at Aldi, they say it does hit objects, but only sometimes: "It usually slows down when within a few centimetres of the objects, making light contact."
This model includes voice activation via Google Home or Amazon Alexa, which we don't currently test in our review. Mit says we've only seen one or two models in our labs with this capability.
Should you buy a robot vac?
Although they're convenient, our testing has found robot vacs still have a decent way to go compared with more hands-on stick, barrel or upright vacs you use yourself. Most models generally get lower scores for carpet cleaning and picking up pet hair on carpeted floors.
They also vary widely in price, so you'll have to decide whether to pick a budget model or splurge on a pricier one.
CHOICE household appliance expert Kim Gilmour says, "Robot vacuum cleaners are really only useful for a top-up clean or for light cleaning after you've swept up or vacuumed properly. I wouldn't be looking to buy one as a replacement for a standard vacuum cleaner, or even a stick vac, as these are likely to do a better job, particularly if you have carpeted floors."
Robot vacuum cleaners are really only useful for a top-up clean or for light cleaning after you've swept up or vacuumed properlyKim Gilmour, CHOICE household appliance expert
CHOICE staffer Melanie Stopic says she often finds she's doing as much work as the robot vac when she uses it.
"I bought one thinking it would be a really convenient way to lighten my cleaning load, as I imagined myself switching it on as I leave the house," says Melanie.
"In reality, I've found the opposite. For it to work properly, you really need to ensure your floors are pretty clear – my kids are always leaving toys or shoes around, so before I switch it on, I have to go around the house tidying first, so I find I never really use it."
Aldi Special Buys – top tip
To find out which store has the most stock, here's a helpful hack. Go to the Aldi Australia Facebook page before the day of the sale. Open up a message to the page and type 'Get started'.
The chat box will automatically bring up several Special Buys sales dates. You can then choose the product, type in your postcode, and it will tell you which stores within a 20km radius have the item in stock. We have found it to be a bit glitchy, but hopefully it helps.