Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Review
Pros: Good price, cleans carpet very well, picks up pet hair with ease
Cons: Not particularly impressive at cleaning hard floors
Compare to Similar Products
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional
$199.99 at Amazon
|$180 List||$88 List|
$79.99 at Amazon
$157.32 at Amazon
|Pros||Good price, cleans carpet very well, picks up pet hair with ease||Excellent at cleaning up pet hair, solid cleaning performance across the board||Inexpensive, great for pet hair, solid carpet cleaning||Good at cleaning up pet hair, lightweight||Inexpensive, maneuverable, solid at picking up pet hair|
|Cons||Not particularly impressive at cleaning hard floors||Shorter reach||Lackluster at cleaning hard floors, so-so ease of use||Mediocre at cleaning hard floors and carpet||Doesn't clean hard floors or carpet very well|
|Bottom Line||If you are searching for a new vacuum on a budget, then this is a great bet||This vacuum is a great value, performing well across the board and retailing at a great price||If you are shopping on a particularly tight budget for a new vacuum, this is a good option||Feeling a little let down by the infomercials, this vacuum didn't do very well in our tests at all||This cheap vacuum isn't terrible, but there are far better options for the same price|
|Rating Categories||Shark Navigator Lif...||Shark Navigator Deluxe||Eureka PowerSpeed||Oreck Commercial XL||Black+Decker AirSwi...|
|Carpet Cleaning (35%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Hard Surface Cleaning (10%)|
|Pet Hair (10%)|
|Specs||Shark Navigator Lif...||Shark Navigator Deluxe||Eureka PowerSpeed||Oreck Commercial XL||Black+Decker AirSwi...|
|Cleaning Path Width||11.25"||11.25"||13.25"||12"||12"|
|Measured Brush Width||9"||9"||10.5"||9.5"||11"|
|Measured Weight||14.4 lbs||15.9 lbs||10.1 lbs||10.5 lbs||9.4 lbs|
|Variable Suction Control||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Brush On/Off Switch||Yes||Slow||No||No||No|
|Measured Maximum Reach||31'||27'||25'||37'||20.8'|
|Measured Power Cord Length||30'||25'||24'||35'||20'|
|Automatic Cord Rewind||No||No||No||No||No|
|Measured Noise||73 dBa||74 dBa||76 dBa||79.5 dBa||75.4 dBa|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Navigator Life-Away does a fantastic job at cleaning soft floors and picking up pet hair. It is among the easiest to use and handle that we have encountered. If you are shopping on a budget or mainly focused on soft floors, this is a great option.
This is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of a vacuum cleaner, and as such is our most heavily weighted metric at 35%. We used a handful of different types of debris — flour, Cheerios, rice, and oats — on both low-pile and medium-pile carpets to test the carpet cleaning competency of each vacuum.
For the first assessment — rice — the Navigator delivered an excellent performance. It collected almost all of the rice, including the fragments and the dust, from low-pile carpet with only two passes. We noticed, however, that the brush head isn't quite as wide as some of the other models, so it does take slightly longer to clean an entire room. This vacuum also did very well with fluffier carpet, though it took 3-4 passes to adequately clean all of the rice from the carpet.
The Navigator continued its good performance into our flour collection challenge. It got the vast majority of the flour from both flat and fluffy carpet, leaving it visually clean. However, we discovered a decent amount of residual flour left in the carpet on closer inspection, especially on the flat, low-pile carpet.
The Navigator finished out this metric with a solid performance in our final two cleaning tests: cereal and oatmeal. It got most of the Cheerios with two passes over the flat carpet but did require a third pass to get a handful of leftover fragments from when it crushed up the cereal. It performed a bit worse on the fluffier carpets, taking multiple passes to successfully clean up all of the Cheerios, mainly due to the fact that it kept pushing them around, rather than actually sucking them up. The Navigator did very similarly in the oatmeal collection challenge, but it pushed them around less on the fluffy carpet.
Ease of Use
Next, we ranked and scored each vacuum on how easy it was to clean under furniture and along the edges of a room, as well as assessing maximum reach and noise levels. Additionally, we also awarded points if the vacuum had different modes for different types of flooring. The Navigator Lift-Away again delivered a very good performance.
This appliance cleaned in very close to the edges and corners of a room, only leaving a tiny bit of debris behind in areas that it couldn't reach. It cleaned decently well under furniture, reaching about 9" under our simulated sofa. The maximum reach is average, reaching roughly 31' away from the outlet where it is plugged in. The Navigator is also on the quiet side for these products, only registering about 73 dBa on our SPL meter. It didn't emit any particularly high-pitched or other irritating tones.
Unfortunately, this vacuum lacks different modes for different types of floors. This is something that most other models have and allows you to select between flat carpet, fluffy carpet, and hard floors. However, it does allow you to turn the rotating brush on and off when switching between hard floors and carpet.
For our handling metric, we evaluated how maneuverable each product was, as well as how easy it felt to push and pull. We also looked at the ease of cleaning a flight of stairs. Together, this trio of tests accounts for 20% of the overall score for each product.
This vacuum has an accessory hose that you can detach and use to clean a flight of stairs, though it doesn't have the longest reach, only able to clean about 7 steps at a time. However, this isn't a huge issue, as the Navigator isn't particularly heavy, weighing in at just 14.4 lbs.
This vacuum is exceptionally maneuverable, having a swivel head that makes it very easy to navigate quickly and easily around obstacles while cleaning. It also only takes a mild effort to push or pull, allowing you to clean your floors quickly and easily, without adding in an unwanted workout.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Similar to our carpet cleaning metric, we used a variety of different debris types to quantify the cleaning performance of each product. However, this metric is only worth 10% of the final score, as the vast majority of users will primarily clean carpet with a vacuum. The Navigator again did well, though not quite as well as it did at cleaning carpet.
This vacuum started off with a strong performance in our rice collection test, collecting all of the rice in a single pass. We used the bare floor option for all of these tests, so the main brush does not spin. It did almost as well at collecting oatmeal, though it required a quick cleanup pass to get a few stragglers. However, weren't terribly impressed with the ability of the Navigator to clean up flour from hard floors.
It got most of the flour in two passes, but the wheels collected a decent amount of that and tracked it across the floors as we continued to vacuum. It also failed to extract any of the flour that fell in the cracks between boards, even after a multitude of passes. This model also struggled a bit at collecting the Cheerios, tending to push them around when going forward and crushing them up when going backward, making an even bigger mess in the process. This type of scenario would be better served by a broom.
For the remaining 10% of the total score, we evaluated and ranked how each vacuum did when it was tasked with specifically collecting pet hair. We used hair donated by a local groomer and spread out 5 grams of hair on a section of medium-pile carpet, pressing it in. We then measured how much hair each vacuum collected. The Navigator dominated this test, collecting just a fraction under the entire amount.
The Navigator Lift-Away is an all-around excellent vacuum that retails at an even better price, making it one of the better values that you can get when shopping for a new upright vacuum.
While the Shark Navigator Life-Away doesn't do amazing at cleaning up fine debris from hard floors, it still performed above average compared to many of the other vacuums we reviewed. Apart from this minor flaw, this vacuum delivered a notable performance in practically every other test, making it a great choice on its performance merits alone. On top of that, it retails for a great price — significantly less than some of the other top models — making it a solid choice when shopping on a budget.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer