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.


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.


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

    • Kim Kardashian Concierge Reveals New Robbery Details: ‘They Weren’t There for Jewels’

      ET sits down exclusively with the concierge during Kim Kardashian's robbery, who recalls the terrifying events of Oct. 3.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Hillary Clinton email saga continues as 33,000 erased emails may not be 'missing' after all

      Hillary Clinton just can’t seem to catch a break with her her ongoing email woes. While the consensus was that Clinton’s 33,000 notoriously ‘missing’ emails were permanently destroyed and beyond recovery, newly released FBI notes strongly suggest this might not be the case after all, the NY Post reports. In a May interview with the FBI, an anonymous executive from Platte River Networks (PRN) – the Denver contractor responsible for maintaining Clinton’s private server – revealed that an underling failed to purge all of Clinton’s subpoenaed emails, deleting only the ones he stored in a data file he used to transfer emails to the assistants of the presidential candidate. According to the PRN executive, the democrat’s tech specialist Paul Combetta “created a ‘vehicle’ to transfer email files from the live mailboxes of [Clinton Executive Services Corp.] email accounts.

      The Next Web q
    • Royal feud – why Prince Charles won't allow Beatrice and Eugenie to be pampered princesses

      This question has reportedly left the Queen's two sons, Princes Charles and Andrew, at loggerheads. It also requested that Beatrice, 28, and Eugenie, 26, be granted better accommodation at Kensington Palace – because they are currently tolerating "small" apartments at St James' Palace. The Queen is said to have been "stunned" by her son's proposition and left it to her private secretary Christopher Geidt to sort out.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Tim Tebow answered Stephen A. Smith's dumb question with a riveting inspirational speech

      Hate on Tim Tebow all you want, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most motivational guys in sports — period. On Tuesday he appeared with Stephen A. Smith on First Take and dropped the best speech you’ll hear all week. When he was criticized for taking a long shot at making an MLB roster, Tebow dropped the hammer.

      SB Nation q
    • Family Heartbroken After 4-Year-Old Is Killed by New Dog Dropped Off Minutes Earlier

      The owner reportedly dropped the dog off less than an hour before the attack.

      Inside Edition
    • The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees Are a Disgrace to Music

      Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced 19 nominees for its class of 2017. Five of these nominees will be inducted into the Hall. I am certain many of the Hall’s members and voters mean well, and I have heard nice things about their museum (which I have not visited). But the Hall, as it exists now, is so deeply flawed that it risks not only having a lack of credibility, but also a lack of validity. In other words, it doesn’t just make mistakes; the mistakes seem to be endemic, built into the fabric of the organization. And you know what? Rock ’n roll deserves better. Rock ’n roll (by which I mean any and all manifestations of music-based expression and art, from King Oliver to Tony

      The New York Observer q
    • The Real Meaning Behind Snape's First Words in "Harry Potter" Is Absolutely Heartbreaking

      As if dealing with Severus Snape's death and his sad story wasn't tragic enough, a new revelation about the character has come to light – and it's heartbreaking. A serious Harry Potter fan has developed a new theory around Snape's opening line in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. In the film, Snape, played by the late Alan Rickman, asks Harry, 'Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?' While the complexity behind the Potions question went completely over our heads, it turns out that it was very important to the story. The fan, who goes by the name tomhiddles, decoded the meaning behind the words and was shocked at what it really meant.

      Good Housekeeping q
    • 10 dog puns that will make you smile slightly more than they’ll make you cringe

      We don’t even need a justification for this comprehensive list of dog puns. Usually we start of articles by trying to explain…

      Hello Giggles
    • World Series of Poker player lectures another about being a bully

      Poker is generally a quiet game with occasional banter, but Englishman William Kassouf just doesn’t shut up.

      Sporting News
    • Mom Pictured Holding Syringe While Allegedly Overdosing With Infant Son in Car: Cops

      In the picture, the woman's head is tilted back and her hand loosely grips a syringe.

      Inside Edition
    • Hillary’s 33,000 emails might not be ‘missing’ after all

      For months now, we’ve been told that Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails were permanently erased and destroyed beyond recovery. But newly released FBI notes strongly suggest they still exist in several locations — and they could be recovered, if only someone would impanel a grand jury and seize them. In a May interview with FBI agents, an executive with the Denver contractor that maintained Clinton’s private server revealed that an underling didn’t bleach-clean all her subpoenaed emails, just ones he stored in a data file he used to transfer the emails from the server to Clinton’s aides, who in turn sorted them for delivery to Congress. The Platte River Networks executive, whose name was

      New York Post q
    • Pollster Frank Luntz: The Trump campaign ‘is an absolute joke’

      Perhaps best known as the wordsmith behind many Republican talking points, Luntz had quite a few zingers about Trump, including one about the GOP nominee’s sometimes stilted delivery of prepared speeches. “Stevie Wonder reads a teleprompter better than Donald Trump,” he jested.

      Yahoo News
    • How to Wear Your Halloween Costume Long After October 31 (Really!) (32 photos)

      Halloween costumes are a commitment of time and money — two things that we don’t all have an abundance of. However, there is a way to get two birds with one stone out of the upcoming festivities. If you choose the right costume, you can repurpose pieces of it for real-life wear, long after Halloween is over — saving you time and making an investment in your wardrobe. Ahead, we compiled five items that are commonly used in Halloween costumes, and we’ll show you to wear them way beyond October 31. Follow us on Instagram , Facebook and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

      Yahoo Style
    • Bella Hadid’s New Haircut Just Changed Her Entire Look

      Bella Hadid has the kind of face that looks just as beautiful under crazy runway makeup or interesting wigs—she could probably even wear a paper bag over her head and somehow remain recognizably stunning. But her latest hair update (thick-yet-wispy bangs with longer face-framing sides) just changed her entire look in the most unexpected way. Is it just […]

      The Zoe Report
    • You Need To Read These Stories About Marshawn Lynch From His Former Seattle Teammates

      Just watch his episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls for proof of all of this. The Seattle Times caught up with a few guys on Seattle’s roster and asked for their favorite Marshawn stories. My first week here, we were outside on the field, and I was talking to Justin Forsett.

    • Mama Dog and Her Day-Old Pups Rescued Right Before Being Put Down

      The whole dog family is now happy with a foster mom.

      Inside Edition
    • 'Nothing short of a miracle' how kids survived suicidal bridge fall with dad, police say

      "When the officers found the children -- conscious and alert -- it's nothing short of a miracle, that's for sure," said Captain Christopher Depuyt with the Pequannock Police Department.

      WABC – NY
    • Phil Collins Witnessed Princess Diana’s Affair and 7 More Shocking Revelations From His Memoir

      In his new memoir, 'Not Dead Yet,' Phil Collins shares shocking stories about Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Adele and more — read Us Weekly's top revelations!

      Us Weekly
    • Mother of quintuplets calls out doctors who told her to 'reduce' her pregnancy

      “At the age of 28, I found out I was pregnant with quintuplets. Immediately, my doctor talked to me about selective reduction,” shared Susan Thompson in a Facebook post. The mother of five is speaking out after attending the graduation of her kids who may not have been had she listened to what doctors and specialists initially told her when she found out she was pregnant with quintuplets.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • 69 of Hillary Clinton's Best Style Moments on Her 69th Birthday (69 photos)

      Hillary Clinton is 69. Here are 69 of her best style moments. Follow us on Instagram , Facebook and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

      Yahoo Style