Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away review:

A budget vacuum that's full of features

Sawdust/sand

Sand/sawdust, 2.5 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

97
80
91

98
68
77

97
61
67

98
68
60

92
86
59

For this test, I mixed together sand and sawdust and spread it across each floor type. The Shark had some issues with consistency, here. It picked up only 59 percent of the mixture from the low-pile carpet, 86 percent from the midpile and 92 percent from the hardwood. Averaged together, that's a fine score, but what went wrong on the low-pile carpet?

To be fair, the top-performing Dyson DC41 only got 60 percent of the mixture from the low-pile carpet, the Oreck 67 percent, and the Dyson DC50 77 percent. The Electrolux did the best by far, picking up 91 percent of the sand and sawdust. Unfortunately, a lot of people probably need top performance in this category. Low-pile carpets are more common in high-traffic areas where small particles like dirt thrive. Going over the same spot multiple times would take care of this issue. Per our test design, I only rolled over each material twice.

Pet hair

Pet hair, 0.2 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

100
100
100

100
100
100

92
100
100

75
100
100

100
100

CNET's own Katie Pilkington shaved her Labradoodle Lola so we could perform this test. I spread hair clumps of various sizes across both carpets and the hardwood. The Shark picked up 100 percent of Lola's hair from both carpeted surfaces and none from the hardwood. That's because you're supposed to turn off the brush when you're vacuuming on a bare floor. Without that spinning brush to help drive debris inside, you're at a disadvantage. If you decide to be a rebel and use the brush on your hardwood anyway, you run the risk of scratching your floor, but it will pick up everything like it did on the carpets. Say you aren't interested in harming your bare floors -- you might want to opt for one of the Shark's many brush attachments or just use a broom instead.

Human hair

View full gallery
Megan Wollerton/CNET

Nuts, washers, bobby pins

Conclusion

I highly recommend the Shark vacuum to anyone looking for a budget option with very good performance and optimal versatility. It's also a great choice for, how shall I put this, more meticulous cleaners. Since it has so many accessories, you never have to worry about having "that perfect attachment." There's bound to be a brush for nearly every home vacuuming situation. That's quite a feat for a $200 machine. None of the others come close to this level of choice, not even the $649 Dyson DC41 Animal Complete. I think the Shark has earned some bragging rights in that respect.

As nice as that is, I have a feeling that most of those Shark attachments would end up collecting dust in my closet rather than making regular or even semiregular appearances when I'm vacuuming. So, if you too are a more straightforward vacuumer who doesn't want all that extra stuff, the $300 Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean is also an excellent option. It's a more traditional upright that still offers a wand and a couple of brush attachments to suit various tasks -- and it performed a bit better than the Shark. Still, the Shark is a very good vacuum that stood up to the competition, and when you factor in its $200 price, it's hard not to be impressed.

This week on CNET News

 
 

Discuss: Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away

Conversation powered by Livefyre