Versatile Shark vacuum makes Consumer Reports' list of top picks

Consumer Reports
The Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501

(The Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501)

Want an upright that’s also a canister vacuum? You’ll find one rated by Consumer Reports, along with an upright that steam-cleans floors. But as multitasking vacs become a trend, the tests show that some skimp on the cleaning that counts.

Lower prices and freedom from bag changes help make bagless uprights the hottest sellers. Shark’s Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501, $250, has a canister component that lifts out onto a wheeled base and doubles as a handheld vac. Strong carpet cleaning, a swiveling head for easier steering, and an arsenal of tools helped it join the winners’ list. But you’ll find even better vacs for as little as $120, especially for pet hair. And using this model in the handheld mode takes some muscle.

MORE AT CONSUMER REPORTS

You’ll also find Samsung among your canister choices after a long absence from the U.S. market. Consumer Reports tested the Electric Blue VCC88P0H1B, $350, and Champagne VCC96P0H1G, $450, which has more dust-separating chambers inside. But both had dismal suction for tools and were just mediocre at carpet cleaning, still a vacuum’s top task. And small bins make dust capacity minimal for both models.

The tests with almost 700 pounds of sand, wood, flour, cat fur, and other messes found other models that put features before performance. Here are the details:

Oreck’s VersaVac upright

(Oreck’s VersaVac upright)

A combo that doesn’t cut it.

Oreck’s VersaVac upright, $250, has two pads and a plastic frame that convert it to a steam mop. It’s also the brand’s first bagless vacuum and, at 13 pounds, one of the lightest we’ve tested. But it was only middling on carpets and worked better on bare floors with the brush on. Doing that with this model didn’t scatter dirt, but Consumer Reports usually recommends turning the brush off on bare floors, if possible, to reduce that risk. What’s more, the Oreck doesn’t accept tools and lacks suction control and other features you’d expect for the price.

(See also: Dishwasher features that didn't pan out in CR tests)

A name that doesn’t deliver.

Eureka’s AirExcel NLS upright, $100, aced the pet-hair tests and maintained suction as claimed. But don’t take its “excel” moniker too seriously: The bagless vac was subpar at carpet cleaning and emissions, and it ended up far below the humbler Eureka AirSpeed AS1000A, a CR best buy at $120.

A smart feature on a so-so vac.

The Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean EL8807A, $300, has a built-in comb that skims hair from the brush roll when you press a foot-controlled lever. The feature worked flawlessly in the tests; too bad this bagless upright was less than stellar at cleaning carpets and delivering the airflow needed for tools.


HOW TO CHOOSE

Start by matching the type of vacuum to the cleaning you usually do. Uprights, especially those with a bag, do better overall on carpets. Canisters are easier to maneuver, especially on stairs. Here’s what else to consider before you buy:

For allergies, stick with bags.

Emptying a bagless vac’s bin tends to be a messy, dusty process, though changing bags can also raise dust if you aren’t careful. Consider wearing a dust mask and clearing the bin or bag outside if you have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems.

Check the features.

A brush on/off switch protects bare floors and avoids scattering debris. A motorized brush deep-cleans carpets far better than suction alone. Other smart features include manual pile-height adjustment and suction control for cleaning drapes with tools.

Try it out.

Even if you order online, go to a store first. Push, pull, turn, and lift models you’re considering. Check controls and features. And see whether the store will match a lower price you get online.

Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Things You Should Never Buy at Aldi

      Haven't shopped at an Aldi supermarket yet? After steadily expanding its footprint in the eastern part of the country over the past 40 years - the first U.S. store opened in Iowa in 1976 - Aldi is now adding locations in Southern California. There are few shelves, few employees and none of the amenities you've come to expect from the likes of Wegmans or Whole Foods.

      Kiplinger
    • One by one, 3 utility workers descended into a manhole. One by one, they died.

      When a utility worker in Key Largo, Fla., noticed that a section of a paved street was not settling properly, he decided to remove a manhole cover and descend into the earth. Moments later on Monday morning, the 15-foot-deep hole went silent. Sensing the man was trapped, a fellow utility worker climbed into the drainage hole to rescue him. When he, too, stopped responding, a third worker entered the same hole. All three men died, overcome by poisonous fumes underground, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. A Key Largo firefighter who made a desperate attempt to save the men also became unconscious within seconds. The firefighter, Leonardo Moreno, an eight-year veteran of the

      Washington Post q
    • Ex-president George H.W. Bush moved to intensive care; wife hospitalized

      Bush, who at 92 is the nation's oldest living ex-president, has been at Houston Methodist Hospital since Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath, family spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday. Since then, Bush experienced an "acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia" and was sedated for the unspecified procedure, his office said.

      Reuters 13 min ago
    • 6 Types of Clothing No Woman Should Never Wear to the Office

      There is a time and place for everything -- even workwear. Wearing the wrong thing can give not only the wrong idea, but also leave a lasting impression.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Ex-Amazon employee and start-up CEO shares a surprising trick for getting ahead at work

      Manuel Medina noticed that high-level Amazon executives all shared a specific skill.

      CNBC
    • Sasha Obama Catches Some Sun in Miami (61 photos)

      Following their European tour with First Lady Michelle Obama earlier last summer, the first daughters are bringing their chic sense of style to the streets of NYC for a father-daughter weekend with the President. Since moving into The White House eight years ago, Sasha and Malia Obama's style has transformed along the way. Click through for a look back at the teenagers' best fashion moments over the years. From Harper's BAZAAR

      Harper's Bazaar
    • Kate Gosselin's Strict Demands: Pats Down Her Kids After They Visit Jon Gosselin (EXCLUSIVE)

      In the new issue of In Touch, sources reveal shocking new claims about how Kate Gosselin treats her eight kids. While the kids seem to be living it up during their TLC show Kate Plus 8, when the cameras aren’t rolling the fun stops. From constant surveillance and endless chores to regular pat-downs and strict edicts about what they can and can’t wear while visiting their dad, Jon Gosselin, the Gosselin children, claims an insider, “are prisoners in their own home.” (Photo Credit: Getty Images) Kate is especially unyielding when it comes to the kids visiting their father. “Kate says no clothing or belongings can be brought from her house to Jon’s house, so the kids arrive for visitation [at Jon’s]

      In Touch Weekly q
    • Chelsea Clinton on life after the election

      (CNN)Chelsea Clinton has kept a low profile since her mother's election defeat in November. "Everything we believed before the election, we still believe," she said. "Use those emotions to engage and organize and advocate to protect and advance what you think matters most," Clinton said. Clinton added that the work can start close to home.

      CNN q
    • Teacher Pregnant by Student Gets 10 Years in Jail

      Alexandria Vera, 24, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated sexual assault of a child and was hoping to avoid prison and just get probation.

      Cosmopolitan
    • Boeing has an updated F-18 in the works — here's how it's 'comparable' to the F-35

      President-elect Donald Trump caused a genuine uproar in the combat-aviation community when he...

      Business Insider
    • ‘Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller Wants No Jail Time In Fraud Case; Feds Disagree

      Just two days before the first part of Abby Lee Miller’s sentencing in her multi-million dollar fraud and illegal currency import cases, the Dance Moms host is insisting that the hiding of over $800,000 was all because she became too famous too fast. Miller is also saying she never hurt anyone, she’s been humiliated publicly and she doesn’t deserve to be put behind bars –  though the feds really don’t see it that way. “Ms. Miller respectfully requests that the Court impose a non-custodial sentence after considering her acceptance of responsibility and the nature and characteristics of her conduct and her life,” say Miller’s lawyers in a sentencing memorandum submitted in federal court on Tuesday. “Indeed, upon proper analysis, Ms. Miller submits that a sentence of probation would be entirely consistent with the advisory Sentencing Guidelines,’ the paperwork by Robert Ridge and Brandon Verdream of Pittsburgh firm Clark Hill asserts.

      Deadline Hollywood q
    • This Is What a $250 Million House Looks Like

      As a glut of mega-homes hits the L.A. market, developers are taking it up a notch.

      Bloomberg q
    • Steve Harvey Confronts Seth Meyers About Those ‘SNL’ Impressions

      Steve Harvey Confronts Seth Meyers About Those ‘SNL’ Impressions

      Superfan TV
    • Teen Abducted as a Newborn, in First Interview, Defends Alleged Kidnapper Who Raised Her

      ( function() {var func = function() {var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-bbba73581ee368ad45b1eb1c509f4cea-587f827e3ecd7');var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-bbba73581ee368ad45b1eb1c509f4cea-587f827e3ecd7');if ( iframe_form && iframe ) {iframe_form.submit();iframe.onload = function() {iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( {'msg_type': 'poll_size','frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-bbba73581ee368ad45b1eb1c509f4cea-587f827e3ecd7'}, window.location.protocol + '//wpcomwidgets.com' );}}// Autosize iframevar funcSizeResponse = function( e ) {var origin = document. ...

      People
    • 10 Exercises That Will Take Inches From Your Waistline

      Looking to make some serious reductions to the inches on your waistline, and ultimately lose weight? These exercises will get you started.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • This extremely tiny apartment is going viral because it’s so well-styled, and we’re obsessed with it

      If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that size doesn’t matter — at least, not when it comes to homes. Giant…

      Hello Giggles
    • Donald Trump reveals his 2020 campaign slogan ...

      Donald Trump hasn't even taken the oath of office yet for this first term but already is beginning to plot his re-election.

      CNBC
    • Why Shahs of Sunset’s Reza Farahan Begged Producers to Cut One Scene to Save His Life

      Reality TV is not often a matter of life and death, but in the case of Shahs of Sunset‘s Reza Farahan, there was one instance where he felt it was. Speaking at the NATPE Television conference in Miami, the real estate agent and Bravo star detailed an instance where he begged producers to cut a scene — and they complied. “Once I said something about Ayatollah Khomeini,” the real estate agent recalled of the moment.

      People
    • North Korea's Kim Jong Un Is So Fat He Might Have Hurt His Ankle Again

      Kim's leg injuries have been linked to obesity in the past and recent pictures show the Korean leader appears to have put on extra weight. 

      International Business Times
    • Soulja Boy Dumps Floyd Mayweather As He Announces He's Fighting Chris Brown In March

      Soulja Boy is either really hurting for cash or he really hates Chris Brown with a burning passion. Big Draco just announced that his boxing match is no longer being promoted by Floyd Mayweather because they’re not moving quick enough to get the fight going. Soulja Boy took to Twitter and voiced his displeasure working with Money May while also revealing the big Soulja Boy vs. Chris Brown bout is going down this March.

      UPROXX