Shark Stratos Review
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|Pros||Nearly perfect hard surface cleaning, excellent carpet cleaning performance, good handling, lift-away feature||Great at pet hair, excellent cleaning abilities, easy to use||Easy to push and pull, lift away feature||Good price, cleans carpet well, picks up pet hair with ease||Inexpensive, great for pet hair, solid carpet cleaning|
|Cons||Extra pass needed for low pile test||Pricey||Struggles with cracks||Not impressive at cleaning hard floors||Insufficient on hard floors, so-so ease of us|
|Bottom Line||Wonderful handling and superior performance make this a great vacuum for anyone||This model removes most stubborn debris in just one pass and beats out most competition||This affordable and easy to use vacuum makes you feel like you can clean for hours||If you are searching for a new vacuum on a budget, then this is a great bet||If you are shopping on a particularly tight budget for a new vacuum, this is a good option|
|Rating Categories||Shark Stratos||Shark Vertex||Shark Navigator Lif...||Shark Navigator Lif...||Eureka PowerSpeed|
|Carpet Cleaning (35%)|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Hard Surface (10%)|
|Pet Hair (10%)|
|Specs||Shark Stratos||Shark Vertex||Shark Navigator Lif...||Shark Navigator Lif...||Eureka PowerSpeed|
|Water Suction Gauge||94 inches||86 inches||72 inches||72 inches||48 inches|
|Model Number||AZ3000W||AZ2000W||NV352||NV356E S2||NEU182A|
|Vacuum Head Width||12"||12"||11.25"||11.25"||13.25"|
|Measured Brush Width||9.5"||10"||9"||9"||10.5"|
|Measured Weight||16.8 lbs||16.8 lbs||13.6 lbs||14.8 lbs||10.5 lbs|
|Variable Suction Control||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Brush On/Off Switch||Slow||Slow||Yes||Yes||No|
|Measured Power Cord Length||29.5'||29.5'||24.75'||26'||23.75'|
|Measured Noise at Arms Length||75 dBa||75 dBa||73 dBa||73 dBa||76 dBa|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shark Stratos excelled and outperformed the majority of models across each one of the tests. Not only did the Stratos earn high marks across some of our biggest challenges, but it did an exceptional job in tests that prove too difficult, and sometimes impossible, for many other models, and it stands out for its near-perfect performance on hard surfaces.
Our carpet cleaning metric is one of the most critical sets of tests and evaluations for each model and accounts for 35% of the final score of each vacuum. We specifically tested each model's ability to clean a range of messes, including oats, rice, flour, and cereal, and scored their respective performances. Each test is performed on both flat, low-pile carpet and on fluffier, higher-pile carpet to get balanced scores from a variety of typical environments. The Shark Stratos finished these tests with excellent scores based on its impressive performance.
The Stratos does an excellent job cleaning oatmeal, cereal, and flour from low and high-pile carpets. It did a great job sucking up cheerios from both types of carpet, lifting most of it in the first pass, and finishing the job in a second pass. On low-pile carpet, we did notice some of the cereal getting crushed into smaller fragments and debris, but the Stratos picked these up immediately.
On the first pass in our flour test, it left apparent amounts of flour behind. However, unlike many other models we tested that do not add much incremental improvement after a first pass, the Stratos lifted away the remaining flour in a couple of passes on low-pile carpet and a few more passes on the high-pile carpet.
This model didn't do as great a job in our rice tests. On low-pile carpet, it managed to drag a significant amount of rice grains, requiring multiple passes to pick them up. However, on high-pile carpet, it managed to clean around 98% of the rice with a single pass and was able to get the remainder in a follow-up path.
The Shark Stratos finished this metric with stellar results and was only narrowly outperformed by one other Shark model in our carpet cleaning tests.
Ease of Use
After our carpet cleaning tests, we moved on to evaluating and scoring how easy it was to use each vacuum. Accounting for 25% of each vacuum's total score, we concentrated on how straightforward it was to clean along walls, the corners of a room, beneath furniture, and the maximum reach of each upright. We also measured the noise level produced by each model and compared how easy it was to switch between different floor types, such as low and medium-pile carpets and hard surfaces.
The surface transition settings are operated via the handle and let you switch between different types of carpets and hard surfaces. The rotating brush doesn't stop completely on the hard surface setting, but it does slow it down quite a bit.
The Stratos does an excellent job at cleaning right up to an edge, although it is limited in reach to about a ½ inch strip from a wall. The Lift-Away feature makes it easy to clean under furniture and earned it high marks. It also reaches farther than average under our simulated furniture without using the Lift-Away feature.
The Stratos is also relatively quiet for an upright vacuum with such strong suction, and it has a reach of over 30 feet from an outlet — further enhancing and improving its ease of use.
In our handling round of tests, we ranked and scored each vacuum based on pushing and pulling effort, maneuverability, and the amount of effort required to clean a flight of stairs. The three tests together account for 20% of the final score of each vacuum.
The Shark Stratos weighs in at 16.8 pounds, which is about average for an upright vacuum cleaner, and makes it an easy task to clean a flight of stairs. The hose also has a reach of about six to seven steps, making the task that much easier. This vacuum also has a Lift-Away mode, which makes it easy to access hard-to-reach places, or just move up and down stairs.
A swiveling head allows it to make unbelievably tight turns and maneuver difficult obstacles to reach difficult areas and tight corners. The vacuum also does a good job of gliding over carpet and hard floors, although some pushing and pulling effort must be made due mostly to its strong brush and great suction. Overall, the Stratos is an excellent model when it comes to handling.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Just like our carpet cleaning metric, we use the same four types of messes in our hard surface cleaning metric: rice, oats, cereal, and flour. These tests accounted for 10% of the overall score, with the Stratos building on the success of predecessor models and delivering some pretty remarkable results.
The Stratos did a nearly perfect job of cleaning all four messes we threw at it in our hard surface tests. Rice, cereal, and oatmeal proved to be no challenge and were cleared in the first pass. For its superb performance, it earned a rarely attained perfect score for the three tests.
It was only slightly challenged in our 4th test, flour. We use the term challenged loosely here because of the minuscule amount of residue it left behind, deep in the cracks of our hardwood flooring, which it cleaned in a second pass.
For our final test metric, which amounts to 10% of the final score of each upright vacuum, we evaluated how well models did at cleaning up pet hair. In this test, our team distributes five grams of pet hair onto a section of medium-pile carpet. Each vacuum is then scored on the percentage of hair it is able to successfully pick up. The Shark Stratos finished the task with another impressive performance, collecting about 96% of the hair we laid out.
Should You Buy the Shark Stratos?
The Shark Stratos is the best-performing upright vacuum you can buy. So, if you don't have a budget in mind, add this to your cart. It rose above all of our tests and challenges, proving you can not get a better balance of performance and handling from any other model available.
What Other Upright Vacuum Should You Consider?
The Shark Stratos narrowly outperformed the Shark Vertex overall due to its greater maneuverability and superior hard surface cleaning — the Vertex is still the king of carpets. If you have large carpeted areas to keep clean then the Vertex is your first choice. If price is a concern, then the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is a good option as it offers great performance at a significantly lower price than the top models. Of course, if your budget is really tight, you may consider the Eureka PowerSpeed, which offers enough performance to keep a house clean. Just don't expect top-tier performance from this model.
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