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Half price robot vacuum hits Aldi Special Buys: Here's our review

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A new ECOVACS robot vacuum is coming to Aldi's Special Buys starting March 9. Photo: Instagram/ecovacsroboticsau
A new ECOVACS robot vacuum is coming to Aldi's Special Buys starting March 9. Photo: Instagram/ecovacsroboticsau

A high tech robot that vacuums and mops at the same time will be among the treasures in Aldi’s centre aisles in this week’s Special Buys - and for a fraction of its regular retail price.

Shoppers who get in quick from Wednesday, March 9, will be able to pick up the new ECOVACS DEEBOT NEO for $399 despite the fact that this piece of cleaning tech would otherwise cost you $799.

For the past three years Aldi has offered an ECOVACS robot vacuum for just under $400, but technology has come a long way in a little while and this model is said to be twice as powerful as its Special Buys predecessors.

People have had trouble getting their hands on one in the past, particularly in busy stores, so if you're keen on taking one home, you may have to join the queues before opening hours as stocks (as always) are limited.

So, is the Aldi ECOVACS DEEBOT worth it?

Robot vacuums come at just about every price range but they differ widely in terms of quality. While this model is retailing at Aldi for $399 as a limited time special, you can purchase it anytime from the ECOVACS website for its regular retail price of $799.

At that price, the NEO is still the cheapest and most basic of the current ECOVACS DEEBOT models, however it boasts some pretty impressive features nevertheless.

The ECOVACS DEEBOT NEO has little side brushes that pick up dust from hard to reach corners. Photo: ECOVACS
The ECOVACS DEEBOT NEO has little side brushes that pick up dust from hard to reach corners. Photo: ECOVACS

It has same laser mapping ability as ECOVACS’ higher end models which allows it to smoothly navigate its way around furniture and accurately map out your home.

It can also vacuum and mop in just one pass, reducing the time you need to keep off the floor for both chores to get done. However, while the vacuuming function is great - it's fast, efficient and gives a really good clean - the mopping leaves a little to be desired as I'll explain further in this article.

How does it perform: We put it to the test

I was lucky enough to try out the NEO ahead of its Special Buys debut and the first thing that surprised me was its speed.

It whizzed across my floorboards, systematically covering every inch of floor space and carefully working its way around furniture.

It’s a round vacuum with little brushes that stick out the sides like whiskers and rotate at high speed to ensure no pockets of dust are left in the corners of your room. When it’s done, it announces that ‘cleaning is complete’ and makes its way back to the charging station for a completely hands-free clean.

Vacuuming is as easy as hitting the ‘on’ button and letting the robot do its thing. If you’re using the app, you can also control it from there and set up virtual boundaries to program it to clean specific spaces. Or, if you hook it up to your Google Home or Amazon Echo, you can use voice commands to tell the robot to start.

There’s no need to lift chairs up off the floor, just leave all furniture where it normally lives and the robot will work around it. You just have to ensure that any stairs to lower levels are blocked off so it can’t fall off the edge, and of course pick up any rogue items from the floor that would otherwise get in the robot’s way.

It’s also best to keep pets and young children out of the room while it cleans.

Thin rugs and carpeted rooms aren’t an issue, and the robot just rolls over the threshold and continues vacuuming. It is able to sense when it’s over a carpeted area and you can hear the vacuum ramp up to better suck up the dust on that surface.

It has the same laser mapping technology as higher end models and you can control it from the app. Photo: ECOVACS
It has the same laser mapping technology as higher end models and you can control it from the app. Photo: ECOVACS

The mopping function

If you want the complete service, that is, a vacuum and a mop, the process is only a tiny bit more involved.

You need to load the robot up with a mopping pad - it comes with 10 single use disposable pads and one reusable pad - and fill the water reservoir, the only other additional step is that when it’s done cleaning, you need to remove the mopping pad and remaining water.

Once the mopping pad is attached, the vacuum automatically switches to vacuum and mop mode and will do both at the same time, with the front half collecting all the dust and debris off the floor, and the back half mopping along afterwards.

I was very impressed with the speed and efficacy of the vacuuming and found it difficult to imagine how a more expensive model could give me a better clean. The mopping on the other hand, left a little to be desired for me.

I have a toddler who regularly leaves suspiciously sticky spots on my floor so I do need a really thorough clean. The robot’s mopping job wasn’t as vigorous as I would do myself manually, but it did offer a superficial clean that was very quick drying and, obviously, required very little effort from me.

The more expensive ECOVACS DEEBOT models, like the $999 T9, include a "high-frequency vibratory mopping system" that's better at cleaning up stains.

Another couple of points to mention is that you can only use water with the mop, not a cleaning solution, and of course, this robot is a vacuum so it’s not terribly quiet.

Unlike my traditional corded vacuum that I can barely hear myself think over, this guy isn’t loud enough to make me raise my voice, but you might need to put the TV up if it’s cleaning in the same room.

Bargain buy

Outside of the upcoming Aldi Special Buys, the ECOVACS NEO retails for $799, so there’s no doubt this half price offer is an incredible bargain.

For $399, your floor gets a great, hands-free vacuum with the option to also do a basic mop. The only things you really need to do are make sure it's charged, and every now and again check that the side brushes are clean and empty the robot’s bin.

That said, if you want to further reduce the need to empty the bin, the NEO is compatible with the ECOVACS auto-emptying station that you can purchase separately for another $399.

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