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Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Review

If you are searching for a new vacuum on a budget, then this is a great bet
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional
Credit: Shark
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $200 List | $199.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Good price, cleans carpet very well, picks up pet hair with ease
Cons:  Not particularly impressive at cleaning hard floors
Manufacturer:   Shark
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Apr 30, 2018
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Carpet Cleaning - 35% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Handling - 20% 7
  • Hard Surface Cleaning - 10% 6
  • Pet Hair - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is one of our all-time favorite vacuums and a great value option. This model does an exceptional job at cleaning up all types of messes from soft flooring, even picking up pet hair with ease. It is particularly easy to use, handles great, and is extremely convenient to clean with, especially due to its Lift-Away feature. The Navigator didn't quite do as well as some of the top models on hard floors, but still delivered a solid performance that was above average compared to the rest of the group. All in all, this is an excellent choice if you want a vacuum that does a great job across the board and you're shopping on a budget.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award   
Price $200 List
$199.99 at Amazon
$180 List$88 List
$79.99 at Amazon
$200 List
$157.32 at Amazon
$73 List
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Pros Good price, cleans carpet very well, picks up pet hair with easeExcellent at cleaning up pet hair, solid cleaning performance across the boardInexpensive, great for pet hair, solid carpet cleaningGood at cleaning up pet hair, lightweightInexpensive, maneuverable, solid at picking up pet hair
Cons Not particularly impressive at cleaning hard floorsShorter reachLackluster at cleaning hard floors, so-so ease of useMediocre at cleaning hard floors and carpetDoesn'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 betThis vacuum is a great value, performing well across the board and retailing at a great priceIf you are shopping on a particularly tight budget for a new vacuum, this is a good optionFeeling a little let down by the infomercials, this vacuum didn't do very well in our tests at allThis 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%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
3.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
Handling (20%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Hard Surface Cleaning (10%)
6.0
6.0
3.0
4.0
3.0
Pet Hair (10%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Shark Navigator Lif... Shark Navigator Deluxe Eureka PowerSpeed Oreck Commercial XL Black+Decker AirSwi...
Vacuum type Upright Upright Upright Upright Upright
Model Number NV356E NV42 NEU182A XL2100RHS BDASL202
Bag Type Bagless Bagless Bagless Bag Bagless
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
Swivel Head Yes No No No Yes
Carry Handle Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Soft Bumper No No No Yes No

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.

Performance Comparison


The Lift-Away Professional combines great performance with an...
The Lift-Away Professional combines great performance with an excellent price, making it a fantastic option when shopping on a budget.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


Carpet Cleaning


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 got most of the rice in a single pass, with only a...
The Navigator got most of the rice in a single pass, with only a light cleanup pass required to get the floor totally clean.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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 left a bit of residual flour behind, even though the...
The Navigator left a bit of residual flour behind, even though the floor looked totally clean.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

The Navigator handles most messes on carpet with ease.
The Navigator handles most messes on carpet with ease.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The selector switch allows you to turn the rotating brush on and off.
The selector switch allows you to turn the rotating brush on and off.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The Navigator Professional is one of the easiest and most convenient...
The Navigator Professional is one of the easiest and most convenient to use vacuums that we have tested.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Handling


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.

The swivel head makes this vacuum very maneuverable.
The swivel head makes this vacuum very maneuverable.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

There was tons of flour left behind after the Navigator made its pass.
There was tons of flour left behind after the Navigator made its pass.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

The Navigator isn't amazing on hard floors, but it still does an...
The Navigator isn't amazing on hard floors, but it still does an above average job.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Pet Hair


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.


Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

This vacuum does an excellent job of cleaning up after your furry...
This vacuum does an excellent job of cleaning up after your furry friends!
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

David Wise and Austin Palmer