Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional with Dust-Away & 2 Microfiber Pads (NV356E) ★★★★★
Rotator Lift-Away Speed (NV642) ★★★★★
There are so many SharkNinja vacuums on the market that it can be difficult to determine which one is the right one. When I purchased Amazon’s Choice Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional (NV356E) on Prime Day, it arrived in the mail with a cracked dust cup. With as many positive ratings as it had, I was extremely disappointed, as well as annoyed because I didn’t want to pack it all back up and drive down to a UPS store just to ship it back. Instead, I called SharkNinja’s support number and the rep was able to send me a replacement dust cup free of charge. It took maybe 20 minutes over the phone, providing serial number (located on the plug) and order details, but overall I was happy with their service (7 days later the replacement part arrived in the mail). But that’s not the point I’m getting at. What I am getting at is what she told me about my model when trying to match the color — apparently, Amazon sells their own special versions of the SharkNinja vacuums. Meaning, you won’t necessarily find them at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, thus complicating the choices even further.
The Navigator NV356E has 4.4 stars on 9,438 reviews, and I’ve been mostly happy with it once I got the damage sorted out. But there are things I like better about the Shark Rotator Lift-Away (NV642), which was released after the Navigator. As a result, it is far less popular with only 35 ratings, leading consumers to believe the Rotator isn’t as good. I’m here to say that is not the case. In fact, Shark improved several things they learned from customers who purchased the older Navigator. I put the vacuums side by side and then tested each feature. Here are the results:
* The Rotator feels a bit heavier. I’m not entirely sure why, but when you hold the units side by side, the Rotator clearly has a larger body. Overall, it’s not a huge weight gap as my scale put it in at only a pound more.
* The power cords are the same length on both. I measured them at around 30 feet, which is nice and long compared to other vacuums I’ve owned — easily lets you vacuum several rooms without having to locate a new outlet.
* The Rotator has a slightly wider motorized floor nozzle. I actually prefer this because it means I can cover more area with each pass. It’s only about 3/4” wider, but I’ll take it as I found the floor nozzle on the more highly reviewed Navigator to be on the small side.
* The Rotator has headlights. I prefer this too, as I have a large walk in closet that is dark in a few areas and I found myself wishing the more highly reviewed Navigator had lights. It’s also good for seeing under couches and chairs, so to me, this is a nice advantage.
* The Rotator has a larger crevice tool. Not only is it thicker with a bigger opening, but it’s about 4 1/2 inches longer. While both vacuums have the Dust-Away hard floor attachment, the Rotator does not come with a pet power brush (the Navigator does). Honestly, I rarely use the power brush (which spins by suction power alone) because it’s a little awkward. Interestingly, the power brush on the Navigator also acts as the upholstery tool whereas the Rotator has a non-powered option for furniture that I personally prefer.
* The Rotator is slightly weaker on power, with 1100 Watts and 9 Amps. The more highly reviewed Navigator has 1200 Watts and 10 Amps. Honestly, I didn’t see that much of a difference. In fact, I had to turn down the suction control on the Rotator when vacuuming my couch as I couldn’t move the upholstery tool due to the strength of suction. Speaking of which, the suction control is a nice feature both vacuums have. It’s basically a plastic ring that opens up holes on the handle so you can deliberately leak some of the suction, thus lowering its strength. Perfect for rugs and such that you don’t want the vacuum to eat. SharkNinja is the first vacuum maker I’ve seen that have this option, and I find it’s actually useful.
* Both vacuums have swivel steering, which sets them apart from many other manufacturers. It basically allows you to rotate the large body of the vacuum away from the motorized floor nozzle so that you can more easily get under furniture and beds. I love this feature, and it works well on both models.
* The Rotator wheels feel more cheaply made than the ones on the more highly reviewed Navigator. Not sure this matters much as they both work fine, but figured I’d put that out there as a note regarding build quality.
* The Rotator has a push button to turn the power off and on, whereas the Navigator uses a switch. I find the button easier to turn off in an emergency. That said, both vacuums have the power button/switch on the pod, rather than the handle (which would be easier to reach for). This is understandable, since SharkNinja designed the pod to be the base and the handle to act as the hose attachment; they wouldn’t be able to put the button there even if they wanted to.
* The Rotator has a single button to release the dust cup, whereas the Navigator requires releasing two clips, one on each side. I much prefer the quick and easy one button release over messing around with clips.
* The Rotator has an easy access “garage door” for the brushroll, which lets you open up the top to remove any string, hair or other debris that wraps around it. Simply open the door, lift the brushroll out by the tab on the left side, and then use a scissors to cut off the sting. This is a nice feature that the Navigator does not have; making a routine task easier.
Overall, I honestly like this Rotator better than the more highly reviewed Navigator. I use it in a home setting, not business, and like it better if only for the added headlights, wider floor nozzle, button release, and easy access to the brushroll. It’s as if Shark took feedback from the Navigator and put the most useful requests into the Rotator. That said, I don’t think you can go wrong with either. SharkNinja makes some really nice vacuums; it’s just a matter of figuring out which one better suites your needs.