Review of a Vacuum for Pet Hair: the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright (NV356E)
A Guest Article
I have owned a couple of high-end and low-end vacuum cleaners and tested a couple more. Call me a vac maniac.
I have never been a big fan of Sharks, but after seeing the infomercials and the neat stunts that this multi-talented upright could carry out – like sucking up eight billiard balls in a row – I had to get one.
After all, I thought, it would be well worth spending a modest price for two vacs in one.
It is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright (NV356E) vacuum – As seen on TV! By now, you’ve probably seen right through those infomercials too.
Finding a Vacuum to Tackle Pet Hair
Being not at all new to the world of pet-parenting, I was hoping for a pretty good vacuum with all this unusual versatility to help me go micro in the war on little Fluffy and Grime. I was pleased to see that if comes with a small rotating brush attachment specially for pet hair.
The shark lift-away had a lot to prove out-of-the-box, since it claims to deliver more suction, and to clean carpets better, than Dyson’s best vacuum.
On the “lower-priced” end, the Shark Navigator vacuum is surprisingly meticulous as a cleaner, and a good vacuum for pet hair. The quality and performance is better than most vacuums in the under-$200 range, and it combines all the latest moving and detaching parts that make a vacuum superbly maneuverable and versatile. But all that remains to be seen.
I like the description in the Shark specifications:
Powerful pet attachments quickly and easily lift pet hair
My Take on the Shark Navigator NV356E
The Shark is a nice household item and pretty much holds its own against Dyson in terms of design, usability, and performance, and it has excellent features.
After a couple of months with Sharky and not just one dirty day – I am thrilled to be reviewing the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright (NV356E) vacuum cleaner; all it’s includes and even what they won’t tell you on TV.
Emisions – Asthma/Allergy Vacuum or Not?
“Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology” – This is just some of Shark’s clever wording used to support claims that the Lift-away Pro is supposed to trap “more than 99.9% of dust and allergens” inside the vacuum and out of the air you breathe.
That is some very charming hearsay for hypersensitive asthmatics and runny noses like mine.
I am a terrible allergic, and I wouldn’t stand for under-performance when it comes to particle emissions – so I plucked out my particle counter to assess the damage. I didn’t exactly get a zero-particle reading at the exhaust, but averages were around 2,000 .5 micron particles per square foot.
If it needs any saying – These reasonably low particle readings make the grade. The Shark NV356E is safely in the running as an acceptable asthma/allergy vacuum.
Even the room (ambient) readings that I took regularly during my vacuuming sprees never exceeded 0.5 microns (still safe). I kept the windows closed and doors barred
The Lift-away is also certified by the British Allergy Foundation.
Any thinkable breaks or leakages on the vacuum are perfectly sealed.
A common flaw in a lot of bagless vacuums is the dust bin fittings. The Shark, on the other hand, is nicely fixed at four points – skintight against the filter casing. This just means even less leakage when the machine is blaring away.
Two Vacs In One
Besides the obviously layed-on-thick suction power show-off in the infomercials – it was the idea of having two vacs in one that won me over.
I just love the ability of this vacuum to convert from a typical upright to a lightweight handheld (or stand-up) portable canister.
Lift-away mode just makes it that much easier to ship-shape tough-to-reach areas like steps and upholstery. Everything between my floor surfaces, upholstery and the ceiling gets covered that much more conveniently: being able to go between upright vacuum and portable Lift-Away – both without any loss of suction.
It couldn’t be easier to configure the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro vacuum cleaner into different cleaning modes to meet all those cleaning needs.
In lift-away mode, the handgripped canister felt pretty lightweight (at 14 lbs) and very easy to carry at first.
Unfortunately, the Lift-Away is not a drag-behind canister, and it doesn’t have wheels. The only wheels are on the powerhead. This means you must bring it with you by lugging it along – and handle it with one hand while the other reaches to vacuum the ceiling-fans. I’ve developed a nice and easygoing lug-and-drop cleaning pattern which works well to relieve myself ever so often of the lifting.
The canister provides better above-floor access.
Combine this with the accessories offered on this incredibly modular machine. It couldn’t be easier to convert the vacuum from upright to canister, extend the wand and add various brush attachments. There’s bound to be a brush for nearly every home vacuuming situation.
Handling in Upright-Mode
Handling the Shark Navigator vacuum is as fluid as having a high-end vacuum in hand. It has the same swivel-steering technology that makes luxury vacs so desirable these days.
Most other budget-vacs are stiff and – instead of being steered – they steer you.
With just a slight press of the wrist, the vac twists and turns into every nook and cranny, around furniture and into smaller spaces. It’s the kind of maneuverability that can almost put the pleasure back into housekeeping.
It’s much less backbreaking to have a vacuum that you can steer with minimal effort. The most daunting maneuvers and your usual side-stepping are reduced to applying just a little bit of wrist-grease.
For a non-luxury vac, this is a big plus point.
The Bottom Line
This budget vac varies in price depending on the current specials that are on offer. But it performs too close to the Dyson DC50 Animal to call. Despite the fact that it’s a much less expensive machine, I say it can compete and hold it’s own against some of the best of ’em.
The very versatile Shark Liftaway NV356E makes for really good value among low-priced vacuums.
Dirt, Dust – even fruity Cheerios and pet-hair are no match. I would, though, be a little too distressed to try it on billiard balls or anything that belongs in a toolbox (referring to comment made earlier).
It’s also a very adaptable land shark that comes with a couple of very useful attachments and accessories. Best of all, you can transition from an upright to a canister vacuum with ease. Anyone looking for a cut-price option that can get household chores done with fair suction power and versatility, should definitely give the Shark a try.
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro can be found on Amazon and often comes with a decent discount. It also carries a 5-year warranty.
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