Shark's Rocket handvac: Ready for liftoff?
Is Shark's affordable Rocket a failure to launch?
What's the most important thing about a vacuum? You might think it's suction, without which no cleaning gets done. Perhaps it's mobility, since a vacuum can only clean where it can reach. Maybe it's price.
Every manufacturer needs to strike a balance between these three considerations, since everyone buys and uses vacuums a little differently. For example the Dyson V8 Absolute handvac weighs just 5.6 pounds, sucks up as much dirt as a vacuum twice its size, but it costs a whopping $599.
So where does the $200 Shark Rocket Complete fit in?
On normal carpet, the Rocket picked up 68% of the testing dirt we laid out for it. That's pretty good considering that the V8 got 88%, and the slightly cheaper Kenmore 10341 suctioned up 67%.
But when we switched over to the kitchen floor area, the Rocket failed to launch. This Shark dropped as much uncooked macaroni and rice as it picked up. We had to bend down and switch to the motorized minibrush to finally get the floor spick and span. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but this Shark is a corded handvac, meaning it should be more powerful than a battery-operated one.
Without a heavy battery, we also expected the Rocket to glide around floors, but it tips the scales at 10.7 pounds when carrying around its best attachments. Those attachments are the Rocket's saving grace, so you'll want them all with you. Our favorite is probably the under-appliance wand which lets you clean under your washer and dryer without moving them.
Overall, we found the Shark Rocket Complete rather middling. Its many attachments can clean a wider variety of surfaces, but other vacuums can pick up more dirt. The Rocket is a decent choice for a lightweight replacement vacuum, but there are lighter, cheaper, and more powerful options out there.
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