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Shark Rotator with DuoClean Review
Price: $300 List | $199.99 at Amazon
Pros: Fantastic cleaning power, easy to use, easy to handle
Cons: Falls over easily, average reach
Bottom line: Our top recommendation for those that want the best vacuum of them all
Receiving the top score overall, the Shark Rotator with DuoClean earned the Editors' Choice award and the title of best overall vacuum. This model does an outstanding job at cleaning carpet, as well as hard floors. This bagless vacuum is easy to use and handles great, being nimble and maneuverable. In addition, it's also great at collecting pet hair, for those with cats or dogs. All in all, this is a fantastic vacuum and the clear choice for those that want the best.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Performing the best overall, the Shark Rotator with DuoClean outshone models that cost almost double its list price. This model received the top marks across the board, particularly excelling at cleaning hard surface and collecting pet hair. We had a hard time finding flaws with this model, only noting that it fell over easily when using the hose attachment.
To evaluate and rank these products, we bought the top models available and tested them head-to-head to calculate the score. Our testing process was divided into five weighted metrics — Carpet Cleaning, Ease of Use, Handling, Hard Surface Cleaning, and Pet Hair — each with a handful of different tests. Final scores ranged from 0-100, with the sections below detailing how the Shark Rotator performed and how we scored it.
By far the most important metric in our review, carpet cleaning performance accounted for 35% of the total score. We compared the proficiency of each vacuum at collecting flour, cereal, oatmeal, and rice — using both low-pile and medium-pile carpet as test floors. The Shark Rotator tied for the second highest score, earning a 7 out of 10, as shown in the chart below.
The rice collection test was the first thing we tasked these products with. The Rotator did very well on shallow carpet, though it did leave some rice behind on the first pass — something the Kenmore did not. The Shark did get all of the rice after a second pass.
It did even better on fluffy carpet, only requiring a single pass to get the floor suitably clean.
Overall, the performance of the Rotator dropped when we moved on to flour — though only slightly. While it did do exceptionally well on shallow carpet, tying for the top score with the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, it's performance dropped on the fluffy carpet. This model dropped from the top spot to third, with the Miele Compact C1 Turbo, Kenmore Elite, and Bissell Zing besting it at collecting flour.
However, the Rotator regained the top spot in our cereal test. This model had one of the best first passes on the flat carpet, collecting over 90% of the debris, with only a final cleanup pass required to get all of the Cheerios.
This model did even better on the medium-pile carpet, collecting all of the cereal in a single pass without crushing them up. The rotating front brush was exceptionally helpful in this test. The Rotator dropped back into a tie for the runner-up position in our oatmeal collection test, once again bested by the Kenmore. It took two passes to collect the oats on the smooth carpet, similar to the top scorer. However, it took about four more passes than the Kenmore to collect the oats, dropping its score.
Ease of Use
Next, the Ease of Use metric made up 25% of the score, consisting of a handful of different tests. We compared how difficult it was to transition between floor types, clean up close to edges and under furniture, as well as comparing the noise and maximum reach — not including the cleaning hose on the upright models. The Shark Rotator continued its stellar performance, earning another 7 out of 10. You can see how this compared to the competition in the chart below.
The Shark Rotator is one of the easiest vacuums to transition between hard floors and carpet, with a button on the handle that activated the transition.
The brush still spins in the hard floor mode, but the speed is reduced. This model does quite well at cleaning the edges of a room, even handling a tight corner well — exceeding the performance of the Shark Navigator Deluxe.
This model did do exceptionally well at cleaning under furniture. We made a surrogate piece of furniture out of cardboard boxes, modeling the dimensions of an average sofa. The Rotator made it 10.5" without using the Lift-Away feature — a great performance in its own right. However, this feature builds on an already solid performance, making it even easier to clean far under furniture, as shown in the video below.
When using this feature, this model got a perfect score — the best of the upright models, matching the performance of the canister vacuums.
This vacuum has a maximum reach of about 32' — on par with the rest of the group. Even with its exceptional cleaning performance, the Rotator wasn't terribly noisy. We measured the sound levels of each vacuum with an SPL meter, with the results shown in the chart below.
In addition to the meter, we had judges rate the sound level of each vacuum side-by-side. Our panel found this to be one of the quietest models, on par with the Kenmore or the other Shark model, the Navigator Deluxe.
Our Handling metric consisted of rating and ranking each model of vacuum on how easy it was to maneuver, clean a staircase, and the effort required to push or pull it. The Shark Rotator did very well in this metric — making up 20% of the overall score — and tied for the runner-up position overall with its score of 7 out of 10. The chart below shows how the rest of the models stacked up against the Shark and which one bested it.
To assess the maneuvering, we created an obstacle course with various pieces of furniture and cleaned around it with each vacuum, noting areas that were problematic — either entrapping it or areas that it was prone to missing. The Shark performed exceptionally well in this test, tying for the top score in maneuvering overall with the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball and the Dyson Ball Animal 2. In addition, the Lift-Away feature allows you to easily clean all kinds of hard to reach nooks and crannies, highlighted in the video below.
The Rotator did well in our stairs test, though its performance dropped, being outdone by the canister vacuums. This model can almost reach 9 stairs with its hose attachment, topping out just shy at 8.8 before the vacuum needs to be moved. This model is about average in terms of weight, but falls over relatively easy when using the hose. The Shark Rotator also wasn't too difficult to push or pull, only requiring mild effort — definitely less work than the Kenmore, but more effort than the Eureka or Bissell Zing.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Having much less weight than the Carpet Cleaning metric, the Hard Surface Cleaning metric only accounted for 10% of the total score. The procedure was identical to the carpet, with each model being tasked at sucking up rice, cereal, flour, and oatmeal, with each model being graded on the amount of debris collected and the number of passes required to do it. The Shark Rotator did amazingly well, earning the top score of the entire group — 9 out of 10 — for its unmatched hard surface cleaning performance. The chart below shows how the rest of the vacuums paled in comparison to the Shark Rotator's unchallenged abilities.
This vacuum did excellent in our rice test, collecting all of the rice in a single pass. It even collected rice that was spread wider than the brush head, having sufficient power to suck the rice over and collect. We used the hard floor option for these tests, with the spinning front brush proving to be very helpful and effective. This model continued its stellar performance in the flour test, tying for the top score overall. It took about 10 passes, but the Shark Rotator eventually got all of the flour off the hardwood floor — even from the cracks between panels.
Finishing out this metric, the Shark Rotator got all of the cereal and the oatmeal in a single pass in the two subsequent tests.
Accounting for the remaining 10% of the final score, our Pet Hair metric consisted of a single test: Each vacuum had to collect 5 grams of pet hair from a medium-pile section of carpet. The Rotator finished this metric with a strong showing, tying for the runner-up position with its score of 8 out of 10.
This model didn't leave much hair behind at all, collecting 88% of the hair that we spread out — about 8% less than the top performing model, the Shark Navigator Deluxe collected. The Rotator also had some pet hair stuck in the front roller at the conclusion of the test.
While this model isn't an amazing value, its price is relatively palatable compared to the priciest models in the group, costing a few hundred dollars less.
The Shark Rotator with DuoClean is an exceptionally proficient vacuum cleaner at a reasonable price. This model handled everything we threw at it with aplomb, with one of the only cons to this model being that it tipped over somewhat easily when using the hose attachment at its maximum range. This is the best for those that want the very best and one that we strongly recommend.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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