in Reviews, X-Geek

The Evocacs Deebot Orzo 920 robot vacuum

The Evocacs Deebot Orzo 920

My membership warehouse company, Costco, sells both the iRobot models but also the Ecovacs brand. I was intrigued so I brought home the Ecovacs Deebot Orzo 920. What do I have to lose, with Costco’s generous return policy protecting me? I ordered the Orzo 920 online and waited patiently for it to arrive.

The Orzo 920 is almost perfect as far as robot vacuums go, though I’m not sure why is has such a long name (how many brand names does one robot need?). A Chinese model, it nevertheless has clearly-written documentation and labels. The box contained the robot, charging dock, booklet, two HEPA filters and a tool for cleaning the brushes. Instinctively I set up the charging dock and put the robot on it, not realizing I had to flip the red switch on top to actually turn it on.

Modern robot vacuums need Internet access, so I had to go through steps to connect it to my home network. I downloaded the Evovacs app for my Android phone and set the vacuum up to advertise its WiFi signal. Connecting it to the app was simple and quick.

Once the Orzo was charged, I used the app to set it up. The Orzo uses LIDAR laser ranging to map the floors of your home. It maps your home the first time it’s run, after which you can edit the map to divide areas, mark off spots with “virtual boundaries,” and make other adjustments. Different advanced vacuums use different technologies to map rooms (iRobots use a visual camera) but in my experience the LIDAR is tough to beat. It was a treat to watch as the app filled in walls as the robot proceeded around the room. It does an amazingly accurate job figuring out where it is and what the room looks like. I could tell this was not a robot that would ever get lost on the way back to the dock.

One thing I learned right away is that the initial mapping takes longer than a normal cleaning. This may just be my experience but I wanted it to be thorough in its mapping at the expense of deep cleaning the first time. I discovered an option in the app’s settings which allows you to set the vacuum’s power on the “Quiet” setting. This uses far less battery than the normal power modes so I was able to get the vacuum to completely map my floor without having to stop and charge mid-way.

Multiple floors are supported, so once the Orzo had mapped the downstairs I moved the dock and vacuum upstairs and had the Orzo map it, too. Only two maps seem to be in the app so if your home has more than two you might be out of luck.

The cleaning process works well. I can tell a lot of thought was put into it. Once the maps are built, you can specify the order in which the “rooms” the vacuum has discovered are cleaned. The vacuum will proceed through this list in order, usually circling the boundary of the particular room one time before dutifully proceeding to vacuum it row-by-row. In open floor plan homes, the vacuum tends to obsess on these arbitrary boundaries (say, between a kitchen area and a den). So, you might have a simple open floor between your kitchen and den but because the vacuum’s virtual boundary runs through it it will get cleaned twice as often as other parts of the floor. Got it?

The virtual wall feature works well, too. I can cordon off the dogs’ food and water dishes so that the robot doesn’t bump them. I can block off a lightly-used table so that the vacuum doesn’t spend time getting stuck in-between its chairs when it’s likely not to have dust or dirt underneath it. One thing I had difficulty in doing is dividing some rooms in the map. The line used to cut rooms into smaller ones seems very sensitive to position and I basically gave up on it.

The vacuum tracks the strength of its Wifi signal and even maps the access point.

I am impressed with how the Orzo changes vacuum power when it detects a change between carpet and bare floors. Bare floors don’t need as much suction so the Orzo economizes. Nice.

I also like the dual brushes the Orzo sports – it seems to do very well scooping up dirt and objects into the path of the vacuum.

As for the mopping feature, I haven’t tried it and am in no hurry to. The thought of letting a robot spread water around my floor is a bit scary to me. My floor needs vacuuming far more often than it needs mopping, so I find its usefulness to be vacuuming not mopping. That said, in the time since I’ve had the Orzo I am more confident that it knows what it’s doing. It might be time to test this part out.

The only thing I am disappointed with is the smallish dustbin the Orzo 920 comes with. My dogs shed a lot of hair each day and the vacuum needs to be emptied daily just to keep up. If I were designing this, I would’ve used the space on the vacuum devoted to mopping and used it to accommodate a bigger dustbin. Still, if my biggest complaint with a robot vacuum is that it picks up too much dirt I suppose I can live with that!

Since all Chinese businesses are ultimately owned by the Chinese government, now do I feel about a robot vacuum building a map of my home for the People’s Liberation Army? It’s not as bad as you think. The Orzo seems to exchange date between the vacuum and the app and not store it in the could anywhere. On my home Internet router, I was easily able to block access to the outside domains it used to check in and the vacuum continued to operate. There are also open-source alternative firmwares and apps available on Github which can further isolate the vacuum and extend its functionality. I have not tried these yet but I’m happy to know they’re available.

Overall, the Evovacs DeeBot Orzo 920 is a great robot vacuum. It has a clever, easy-to-use app, does an excellent job cleaning the house, and other than needing to be emptied frequently it’s just about perfect. I give it 4.5 our of 5 stars.