Shark Rocket review: Versatile cleaning from the lightweight Shark Rocket

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.4
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Usability: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Useful attachments and decent performance make the Shark Rocket a contender in the field of lightweight vacuums.

The Bad The Rocket's cord is inconvenient and means that you likely won't use it for quick clean-up.

The Bottom Line The Shark Rocket combines adequate cleaning power with a broad array of cleaning extensions into a recommendable, affordable, lightweight vacuum. Only its cord holds it back.

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It's not as sleek or streamlined as the wireless Dyson DC59, but the corded, $179 Shark Rocket features similar attachment options and adequate performance for less than half the price.

While the Rocket never won any of our cleaning tests, it never came in last, either. You might find the cord a nuisance (I'll admit it annoyed me), but Shark tries to make it as easy as possible for you to manage. If you like the look of this handheld-to-stick-vacuum but want to ditch the cord and make more of an investment, you can't go wrong with the DC59. More traditional stick vacuums like the Hoover Platinum Collection LiNX also impressed us, however, and you might appreciate the LiNX's simplicity and consistent performance which was equal to, if not better than, the Shark's.

Design and features
The Shark Rocket is a lightweight, corded, in-hand vacuum. The handheld portion, which weighs 4.2 pounds, includes the bin, the primary motor, and the power cord. The attachments add weight, naturally, but even with the floor nozzle and extension tube connected (arguably the heaviest setup), I still found the Rocket light and easy to handle. The fact that it has a cord is a bit of a nuisance, especially if you're used to a cordless vacuum.

We performed all of our primary performance tests with the floor nozzle and extension tube attachments. The nozzle is 10.5 inches wide and 3 inches tall. This low profile, coupled with the fact that the Rocket will recline almost completely, means that it can reach under furniture easily.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The Rocket has two cleaning modes and a button to switch between them. Mode I is designed for bare floors or delicate rugs while Mode II is best for carpets. The second mode activates the brushroll in the floor nozzle, which agitates the carpet for a deeper clean.

I mentioned the cord being an inconvenience, particularly when compared to vacuums like the Dyson DC59, which features the same basic body style without the cord. Even still, the Rocket's cord is 27 feet long, giving you plenty of lead to vacuum a large room or two smaller rooms. As with full-size upright vacuums, you will have to unplug and replug to move from place to place. On the other hand, you'll never have to worry about draining the battery as you would with a cordless model.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Doubtless an attempt to make the cord less of a nuisance, Shark gives you two options for storing the Rocket: with the hand-held portion detached and hooked onto the base of the extension tube and floor nozzle, or locked into the wall dock. The problem with the wall dock is that it limits your attachment options as you'll still have to contend with the cord. The prongs around which you wrap the cord are located on the extension hose. This means that, if you want to stow the cord neatly with the Rocket in its dock, you'll also need to attach the extension wand. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it does make the Rocket more high-maintenance than similar models such as the DC59, which docks neatly no matter what attachment is in place.

Though this cord may feel clumsy and outdated, you'll appreciate other elements of the Rocket's overall design, namely the wealth of included attachments. You'll find the extension tube, which can be used with different attachments, as well as a floor nozzle, dusting brush, pet upholstery tool, crevice tool, and the Dust-Away tool, which includes a removable, washable microfiber pad. A storage bag keeps everything in one place. The Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away vacuum also came with a wide variety of extras, and we appreciated the ability to use one vacuum for all of our specific cleaning needs. The Rocket takes this concept to a higher level because of its portability.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

This variety of tools is comparable to the Dyson DC59's, but that unit lacks a dusting tool. Shark's Web site also gives you the option to purchase other attachments, such as a car detailing kit or an extension hose specifically designed to fit and reach under appliances.

Usability
When considering the usability of a particular vacuum, bin and filter maintenance factor heavily in our assessment. A latch on the side of the Shark Rocket opens the hatch door to the dustbin. You'll need to manually close it, but the process is anything but difficult. Truly, with regard to emptying the bin, the Rocket's cord causes the most inconvenience. After all, you have to carry the cord with you wherever you take the vacuum, including the trash can.

The cord proved to be the only real annoyance while using the Rocket. That said, the cord's placement, coupled with the vacuum's overall ergonomics, ensures that it will stay behind you, provided you aren't slaloming around your living room. If slaloming is your thing, the Rocket is certainly maneuverable enough for it. When you're using the floor cleaning nozzle and extension tube, the attachment pivots. This makes turning and moving around furniture a breeze. If you're using the vacuum without the extension hose, you'll appreciate the ease with which the attachments snap into place.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

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