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Shark Navigator Review: Better than the Rotator Vacuum?

If you’re looking for a good all-around vacuum for under $200, the Shark Navigator Lift Away Professional Upright is one of the best and best-selling available on the market today. It has a well-deserved high rating and truly does a good job on all different types of surfaces including hardwood, bare floors and carpets. It will even pick up sticky pet hair, a big concern for dog and cat owners.

Amazon has the Navigator on sale right now for over 60% off

How does it work for regular use?

One great thing about this top brand cleaner is that it doesn’t shoot out cat litter from a bare floor. This is because you can easily turn off the brush roll so it doesn’t fling particles around. Turning off the brush roll also means it won’t scratch your hardwood floors, a definite plus.

Speaking of small particles, the Shark Navigator also comes standard with a HEPA filter, so you can rest assured that dander, dust and dirt won’t be circulating back into your house. This is essential if you have family members with allergies.

As far as the regular pushing and pulling you can expect to do, you’ll find it’s not so hard. At a weight of only 14 pounds with swivel steering included, it’s easy to turn and steer, and it’s light enough to even carry it up and down the stairs if you need to.

As for noise, it’s not so bad. Most vacuums coming in at under 200 dollars or so are pretty noisy compared with more expensive models. More than one review commented that this one doesn’t feel cheap and is not so noisy, in fact, it’s quieter than many other similar models. While this may not be the reason you buy (or don’t buy) a certain vacuum, it is really nice to know.

What do I get with it?

The Shark Navigator vacuum comes standard with a variety of helpful tools that you’ll find are not only easy to use but quite helpful in getting smaller jobs done. In the box, you get 2 crevice tools (one small 8” and one longer 24”), a dusting brush, a power brush for pet hair and a hard floor attachment with 2 dusting pads (replaces your Swiffer or other dry duster).

What’s the deal with the Lift Away?

The lift away feature is actually a separate canister vacuum that is hinged on the front of the main vacuum. It unhinges, and you can use it independently of the main machine with or without the hose and attachments to clean stairs, windowsills, blinds, and stairs or just get behind or around things that are hard to get at with the big vacuum. This is a great feature, as it really adds to the versatility of this machine.

shark navigator lift awayHow good is it for pet hair?

This bagless pro Navigator overall seems to do a great job on all types of hair, including long human hair and pet hair. It also incorporates a HEPA filter with really helps if you have allergies associated with pet dander or mold.One review we saw said the user has 2 dogs and 3 cats and has no problem sucking it up from area rugs, carpet or hard floors using this powerful lightweight machine. Most every review about pet hair says there is no problem with pet hair getting tangled up in the brush. However, if you have long hair, you may need to clean it out once in a while.

What maintenance is required?

The maintenance for this model is similar to that of other vacuum cleaners in its class. It has washable filters that you will want to clean occasionally (once per month is often enough for average use) to keep the suction going. If you ever notice suction is waning for any vacuum cleaner, this is the first thing you will want to check.

Why are there so many different models?

The different Shark Navigator models are mostly due to what attachments are included, but they are the Professional model and all have the lift away canister vac feature. The NV356E has a standard brush roll (perfect for most users), while the NV370 has a premium brush roll, meaning it has the dust-away attachment for hardwood floors. Some models, like the NV221 and NV350, are out of production as they’ve been replaced with newer models. You can also still get the NV352, but it doesn’t come with all the tools, and the price is nearly the same.

How is it different than the Shark Rotator Vacuum?

These two vacuums are very similar, but the Rotator has a few extras and costs a little bit more. Namely, it is designed for better edge cleaning and deep cleaning of carpets. It also has headlights. All in all, they are both good choices, but if you want to give your cleaning that extra boost and you have a few extra dollars, the Rotator vacuum is a good value. Of course, if you’re on a tighter budget, stick with the Navigator, and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Is there a cordless version?

As a matter of fact, Shark just came out with the new Shark Bagless Navigator Freestyle Cordless Stick Vacuum, model SV1106. If you love the Navigator but don’t want a cord getting in the way, you may want to take a close look at this model.


  • Dust canister capacity: 4.4 dry quarts
  • Power: 10 amps
  • Filters: Washable
  • Power cord length: 30′
  • Cleaning path width: 9.5″
  • Weight: 14 lbs
  • Extension hose length: 6.3′
  • Owner’s User Manual

shark navigator attachmentsWhat’s not to like?

There aren’t too many complaints in user reviews of this inexpensive machine, but one of them is that, much like other vacuums in this class, even the highly rated ones, it tends to suck up area rugs. One way to combat this is to turn off the brush roll when going over your throw rugs, which reduces the suction so it won’t try to eat your rugs.

One other thing reviews state isn’t too convenient is the length of the hose. It works really well if the main unit is near whatever you’re intending to clean, but don’t expect it to stretch too far. For instance, if you have the machine in the bathroom with you, you’ll have no problem reaching up to get the exhaust fan clean. It also works fine for ceiling fans, again, if you have the main unit right under or very close by.

So should I buy one?

If you’re on a budget and need a good all-around vacuum cleaner that has some great versatility and is easy to use, this is one you should definitely consider. While you can compare it and find it lacking when put up against machines for much more money like the Dyson models, it’s a great affordable option. We rate in our top ten because it really is a great value. Amazon currently has it on special for over 60% off.

If you can afford just a little more, the Shark Rotator is a step up from this model. If you want to see what else is available in a similar price range, check out the Hoover Windtunnel 3 Pro Pet, which has a similar price and great reviews. If the Navigator is a little beyond your budget, you may want to take a look at our list of Top 5 Best Vacuums under $200, which has even more options to consider.