The Trifo Ollie is a robot vacuum of two halves. It is a great little cleaner, with strong suction and a clever fur- and hair-removing cleaning head, but its navigation and software proved unreliable during our testing period.
Trifo is a budget-friendly robot vacuum brand, founded in the United States. It sells several robot vacuum models, of which the Ollie is a mid range option. If you’re in the US, you can buy Ultra (with a mopping function) or Pet versions of these models. In Europe, you can opt for Standard or Pet.
Pet models come with a pet hair extractor accessory, air freshener capsules and a laser pointer that clips on to the robot’s side.
We’re reviewing the Ollie Pet.
Design and appearance
Low profile at 8.5cm
Powerful 4,000PA suction
Two-hour battery life
The Ollie Pet has a distinctive plectrum-shaped gold lid. In fact, it’s not a plectrum at all, but a Clover or Trifolium leaf, from the plant which inspired the brand’s name.
According to the Trifo website, Clover is a useful plant and the Trifo vacuums are useful robot vacuum cleaners – okay, the analogy isn’t entirely clear to us either, but we liked the fact that it isn’t a featureless dinner plate like so many of its rivals.
At around 8.5cm from the ground, the Ollie is extremely low profile, making it a good choice for those who have furniture with a low clearance height. Still, we’d advise you to measure up before you buy. If it’s a close call, it may be better to have a robot vacuum that can’t get under your sofa, rather than one that gets stuck every time.
Lift up the Clover-leaf lid and you can access the robot’s 600ml bin. It’s not a bad size at all, but you’ll still need to empty it somewhere between every other day to once a week, depending on how much dust and hair it’s picked up.
The Ollie Pet has powerful 4,000PA suction, which is good for any robot vacuum, let alone one at this price point. You can use it on carpets of up to 2cm depth but bear in mind that it will only pick up surface debris and hair. You’ll still need to get an ordinary vacuum cleaner out to deep clean your deep pile. On hard flooring it is excellent and will take over all your regular vacuuming.
The Ollie Pet has a maximum battery life of two hours and it needs up to three hours to fully charge. This running time should be ample for most homes.
In the box, along with the robot vacuum and a manual, you’ll also get a compact black charging dock and a white power cable – a perplexing choice as a black cable would have been more aesthetically pleasing. The dock is small enough to be hidden away at the back of a sofa.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
As this is the Pet model, you’ll also get the pet hair extractor, which is a cleaning head that can be used in place of the standard rotating brush.
All you need to do is swap the standard one out for the pet-friendly one and the robot vacuum will be optimised for removing pet hair. It allows the Ollie to make the most of its suction and means that there’s no need to cut hair from the brush roll.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
This in itself is a really good reason for pet owners to buy the Ollie. But it’s not a perfect fix if you have carpets – you’ll still need to vacuum them for a proper clean.
However, the nicest thing we can say about the rest of the pet-friendly add-ons are that they’re unnecessary. There’s a laser pointer that attaches to the robot vacuum for your pets to play with, which superficially seems like a fun idea, before revealing itself to be quite a bad one.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
First off, do you really want to train your pet to pounce on the robot vacuum? That’s surely going to end badly for one or the other.
And laser pointers can damage your pet’s eyes, so we really wouldn’t advise clipping one to a robot vacuum and letting your pet go off and play with it – especially as the pointer is easy to knock off.
Even stranger is the fact that the laser pointer attachment comes with some powerfully lemon-scented cartridges and a slot to clip one in. If you wanted to fragrance your room, it would seem to make more sense for this to be in or near the vacuum’s dustbin, or at least somewhere within the vacuum’s air flow system.
But at least this way you can relegate the whole attachment to the storage box, where it can be safely forgotten.
How it performs
Noisy (70dB) robot vacuum
Mapping refused to complete during our testing period
On paper, the Ollie Pet has everything you’d want from a robot vacuum at a reasonable price point, making it a tempting choice. But during our testing, it was a slightly different matter.
The first issues materialised during set-up. Connecting was a bit more of a hassle than with rivals, at least in our experience. As you’d expect, you download the free to use Trifo app (available for iOS and Android) and go from there.
The app itself is simply designed and easy to use, with just the information and functions you need. You can schedule cleaning, see how long before you need to replace the brushes and filter, edit your map and see a display of the cleaning time and battery life.
The Ollie is also Alexa-compatible – so you can opt to start cleaning with a voice command.
The final step in the set-up involves the robot using its camera to read a QR code from the phone screen – which isn’t as straightforward as using your phone screen to capture a QR code on a robot. It involved a fair bit of crawling around on the floor and a couple of attempts before the robot was able to read it.
Once it was ready to go, one thing became abundantly clear. This is a noisy robot. Trifo says it’s as loud as 70dB when it’s at work, which is the same volume as a washing machine.
But the noise doesn’t stop when it’s docked and charging. Even then it makes a high-pitched whine that’s irritatingly audible in a quiet room.
As soon as it was charged, it was ready to go. During its first clean, it’ll also make a map, which you’ll then be able to save and edit, adding no-go zones.
Unfortunately, after sending it out to clean twice, we couldn’t save the map. And the map itself had gone badly wrong, with overlapping walls. We contacted Trifo, who asked us to delete the map and start again.
But even after a complete reset and the creation of an accurate map, the editing function still didn’t work.
We also found that the Lidar navigation was idiosyncratic at best. Sometimes it worked perfectly, and the robot stopped a centimetre short of a piece of furniture, turned and vacuumed neatly alongside it. At other times, it seemed to navigate by headbutting into various pieces of furniture and ricocheting off.
On one occasion, it drove into a wall in a section of the room it had already mapped, paused, backed up and did it again. We filmed it repeatedly smacking into the wall for around a minute before we had to intervene. Incidentally, we sent a 30-second video clip of this to Trifo when we contacted them about the mapping issues, but they didn’t address this aspect of the problem.
As an additional feature, the Trifo Ollie has an onboard camera, so you can view the live feed to check in on your pets and your home when you’re away. By this point, you won’t be surprised to hear that we had problems with this function as well, although when the camera worked, the image quality was good.
Price and availability
The Trifo Ollie is available in the US from Amazon and Walmart, and in Europe direct from Trifo. It is competitively priced for its cleaning power and feature set – especially if you buy it when it’s on sale, which seems to occur regularly.
In some respects, the Trifo Ollie is very good value. In fact, if you have pets and you pay less than it’s MSRP/ RRP, we imagine you’d be more than satisfied with its cleaning performance. It does a brilliant job on pet hair, as well as general dust and dirt. The fact that you won’t need to remove hair from its roller makes it even better for pet owners.
But during our test, we found the navigation to be quite literally hit and miss and the rest of the smart features erratic, making it hard to recommend.
If you’d like to see more robot vacuum options, have a look at our round-up of the best robot vacuums we’ve tested.