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Shark ION W1 Review

This expensive handheld vacuum is a bit of a disappointment across the board
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Price:   $140 List | $127 at Amazon
Pros:  Compact, does a decent job at cleaning tight areas
Cons:  Expensive, terrible battery life, mediocre at cleaning
Manufacturer:   Shark
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 6, 2019
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#8 of 8
  • Dust & Dirt - 20% 5
  • Tough Messes - 20% 4
  • Hard-to-Reach Areas - 20% 7
  • Battery Life - 15% 2
  • Convenience - 15% 5
  • Pet Hair - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The ION W1 performed quite poorly across the majority of our tests and is definitely not a product that we would really recommend. It is one of the more expensive handheld vacuums we have encountered, yet is exceptionally lackluster when it comes to cleaning. It isn't amazingly convenient to use and has a terrible battery life, though its compact form does allow it to do a decent job at reaching into confined areas. Regardless, it's hard to make a case for the Shark when there are so many other significantly better products that cost a whole lot less.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Shark finished at the back of the group, behind the BLACK+DECKER HHVI315JO42. While the Shark does clean difficult to access areas and pick up pet hair a bit better than the HHVI315JO42, it costs almost four times as much. Additionally, the HHVI315JO42 is also easier to use and cleans up dust, dirt, and tough messes much better than the Shark, all while having a longer battery life.

Performance Comparison

To find out which handheld vacs are worth spending your hard earned money, we bought all the best and tested them against each other so you don't have to. We grouped our tests into six different categories — each weighted proportional to their importance — with the Shark ION's results discussed in the following sections.

Dust & Dirt

Initially, we began by comparing and scoring how well each portable handheld vacuum did at picking up the most common household messes: dust and dirt. These tests are responsible for one-fifth of the final score for the Shark, which did about average in them, earning a 5 out of 10.

The ION took a bit longer than average to clean up all of the flour from the plastic sheet in our dusting test, hampered by its exceptionally small brush. This brush will also leave streaks while dusting, so you have to go over each area multiple times.

The soft bristles on this brush did struggle at cleaning up dirt or mud that had dried in place, with this vacuum doing one of the worst jobs at cleaning the mud from the linoleum in our test.

The soft bristles do let you clean in the corners or on small ledges fairly easily.

Tough Messes

Next, we continued our evaluation of the cleaning skills of the Shark ION by seeing how it did with some even tougher messes, as well as the amount of air its vacuum motor moves. This series of tests also constitutes one-fifth of the ION's overall score and it didn't do the best, meriting a 4 out of 10.

The Shark ION is able to suck up the "Little Bit" mini-wheats without any tool attached, which is about the largest particle type that it can handle and is about average for these products.

The ION did do slightly above average when we challenged it to remove flour from a sample piece of low-pile carpet — like the kind that you would find in a car. The ION removes a decent amount of flour with either the bristle or crevice attachment, though it leaves quite a bit leftover in the fibers unless you really scrub with the bristle brush and do a ton of passes.

It struggled a bit more at removing crushed up oats from the same type of carpet or a couch cushion. It tended to keep sucking down to the couch cushion and left plenty of oat fragments and dust behind. It also left plenty of oats behind on the carpet and would even fling some to the side while cleaning, making an even bigger mess.

We then measured the airspeed each vacuum caused when we attached it to our sealed wind tunnel with an anemometer to compare the air flow. The ION did quite poorly, only registering an airspeed of about 827 FPM — the lowest of the group.

The Shark doesn't do much well  but it is quite good at dusting cracks and crevices.
The Shark doesn't do much well, but it is quite good at dusting cracks and crevices.

Hard-to-Reach Areas

The Shark ION W1 did a little better in this metric, which is also worth 20% of the final score. It received a 7 out of 10, based on how well it cleaned out a sliding window track and on how far it could reach into a 1.25" and 3" gap — similar to what you would encounter cleaning under a piece of furniture or between the seat of your car and the center console.

The ION is great for cleaning loose debris out of the narrow slot of a sliding window, quickly and easily emptying it of all the oats that we had filled it with. It also has a decent reach, able to effectively clean 13" into the 3" tall slot, which is quite far for these products.

The Shark has a surprisingly long reach in larger gaps  but fares poorly in smaller ones.
The Shark has a surprisingly long reach in larger gaps, but fares poorly in smaller ones.

Its reach was reduced in the narrower slot, only able to reach 4" into the 1.25" tall gap — typical for these vacuums.

Battery Life

These handheld vacuums are all battery powered, so our next metric dealt with the maximum runtime you have to clean with. Accounting for 15% of the total score, we awarded points for how long each vacuum stayed on for when starting with a totally charged battery. Unfortunately, the Shark didn't really impress, earning a 2 out of 10. This vacuum didn't even last for 10 minutes, dying after 9 minutes and 45 seconds. However, it does recharge quite quickly for these products, only taking 2.5 hours.


This next series of evaluations dealt with how much of a struggle it is to use each vacuum on a regular basis. Also worth 15% of the final overall score for the Shark, this metric looked at the ease of organizing and storing all the different tools and attachments, the sound and noise level of each vacuum, and the ease of emptying the collection bin. The Shark's performance compared to the rest of the vacuum is quite mediocre, earning it a 5 out of 10.

This vacuum does earn some points by being particularly lightweight, weighing about half as much as most of the other products.

Surprisingly, it isn't that much quieter than some of the other larger products and has a higher pitched whine that can be quite vexing.

The different tools aren't integrated, so some caution must be exercised to not lose them and keep track of them all. It also is super easy to empty the dust bin, as it pops open as soon as you hit the switch.

This is a good thing, as the dust bin is extremely tiny on this vacuum and you are going to have to empty it all the time.

The Shark did decently well with pet hair.
The Shark did decently well with pet hair.

Pet Hair

Our final tests focused on how easily the Shark cleaned up after your furry friends. These account for a tenth of its final score and it did alright, earning a 6 out of 10. We spread out donated pet hair on a couch cushion and on a carpet and assessed how much it picked up to determine scores. The ION W1 got 99% of the hair from the cushion using its upholstery brush — we found this to be far more effective than its standard brush — and the vast majority of it made it into the collection bin without becoming tangled up on the brush. It did almost as well on the carpet, but it left behind a bit more and a decent amount remained trapped on the brush, rather than making it all the way into the collection bin.


The Shark ION is a terrible value, pairing poor performance with a high price tag.


All in all, it's very hard to recommend the Shark when almost any other product is far cheaper and performs better.

David Wise and Austin Palmer