Easy to assemble
High-capacity dust cup
Can’t go under low furniture
Canister is wobbly and tips over easily
The Shark Navigator NV356E is a 2-in-1 vacuum, meaning you can use it in upright mode or with the canister detached to get into hard-to-reach places. With complete seal technology and a HEPA filter that traps 99.9 percent of allergens, it’s a great choice for allergy sufferers. We put the Navigator NV352 to the test to see how well it it could tackle the mix of hardwood floors and area rugs in our household. Read on to see if this vacuum was a solid performer on both surfaces.
Setup Process: Easy to assemble, but instructions are misleading
The first great perk of the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is that it’s easy to assemble. Once out of the box, we had the vacuum put together in less than ten minutes. The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and include diagrams to help you identify each part and see how they attach to one another.
We did encounter some confusion about which accessories were included, though. The Owner’s Guide supplied with the vacuum is actually intended for another model (the NV355 series), which comes with a few more accessories. As we were initially reading through the instructions, we got nervous because we thought we were missing two pieces. However, after consulting the Quick Start Guide for this particular model, we realized the NV356 does not include the Hard Floor Hero or the wide upholstery tool.
Performance: Powerful and versatile
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional has powerful suction and proved very effective on both hardwood floors and area rugs. We used the vacuum on various surfaces throughout our home and were very happy with the results. To see how well the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional performed, we began by using it in the highest traffic area of our house—the area rugs in the front hallway, where a lot of dirt and debris gathers. The vacuum did an excellent job of removing the dirt and we were very impressed by its performance.
We used the vacuum on various surfaces throughout our home and we were very happy with the results.
After vacuuming the main floor, we detached the portable canister so we could clean other areas in the house. The crevice tool, which has a narrow suction tube, worked great in tight corners and hard-to-reach areas such as windowsills and furniture ledges. For upholstered household items that are more delicate—like lampshades, window blinds, and drapes, the dusting brush did an excellent job. Since it’s ideal for pet hair and ground-in dirt, we also tried out the pet power brush on the stairs. Our dogs shed pretty minimally, but we still find our fair share of fur, particularly on the stairs which they climb frequently. The small tool had incredibly powerful suction and picked up every dirt particle and loose hair we spotted.
You can also also detach the canister and still use the vacuum in upright mode. This configuration is ideal if you want to vacuum under furniture. However, when the canister is detached, you can only use the vacuum in bare floor mode and the rotating brush can’t be activated when the canister is detached. While the vacuum may effectively clean under furniture on hardwood floors, we found it lacked the necessary suctioning power to clean up all the dust and dirt under furniture on carpets.
Design: Great form and function—just a few caveats
This vacuum can be configured into three cleaning modes to target all areas of your home. There are two separate settings on the vacuum—position “I” for bare floors and position “II” for carpets and rugs. When the vacuum is on the second setting, a rotating motorized floor brush will help agitate ground-in dirt, debris, and pet hair. A green light will illuminate to indicate that the brush is on. If there is a jam or blockage in the motorized brush, the light will turn red to notify you that there is a problem.
With the push of a button, you can remove the canister and use it to clean hard-to-reach places. The vacuum comes with three helpful accessories: a crevice tool, dusting brush, and pet power brush. These accessories can be attached to either the extension wand or the handle, depending on how much reach you need. The extension wand will give you more reach, so you won’t have to move the canister around as much. The hose on the handle provides more flexibility, allowing you to maneuver better in tight spaces, but you have to remain closer to the canister.
One thing we didn’t like about the design is how wobbly the canister is, especially on hardwood floors.
One of the vacuum’s biggest advantages is its high-capacity dust cup—an impressive 2.2 dry quarts—which is almost double the capacity of other Navigator Lift-Away models. This means you don’t have to empty the vacuum as frequently. Because this vacuum is slightly larger than comparable vacuums, it’s naturally a bit heavier, too. The vacuum weighs 13.7 pounds when fully assembled, and 8 pounds in handheld mode. Overall, we found it fairly easy to maneuver.
One thing we don’t like about the design is how wobbly the canister is—especially when used on hardwood floors. When we were using the extension wand with the various attachments, we put the canister on the floor and it was constantly rocking back and forth. It even tipped over a few times. In fact, one of the most common complaints amongst users is that the vacuum is prone to tipping over. We suppose this is one drawback to its lightweight design.
Another minor inconvenience that might be considered a design flaw: There are mounts for the crevice tool and the dusting brush right on the vacuum cleaner, but not for the pet power brush. We found it odd that you have to store just this one piece seperately.
Price: A high-quality vacuum for a reasonable price
Retailing for roughly $200, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is one of the best mid-range Shark vacuums on the market. Though it lacks some of the advanced features available on more expensive models, it still delivers powerful suction and a variety of cleaning modes for an affordable price.
Competition: Plenty of good options, depending on your budget
Shark APEX Upright Vacuum with DuoClean AZ1002: Shark vacuums are available at a variety of price points. If you’re looking for a vacuum with a few more bells and whistles, a more expensive model is worth considering. Retailing for $300, the Shark APEX Upright Vacuum with DuoClean (AZ1002) comes with a much steeper price tag, but it has the ability to go under low furniture for more thorough cleaning. Unlike a mid-range vacuum, the APEX can also maintain its full suctioning power when its canister is detached, so you can clean under furniture just as effectively on hardwood or carpet. It also comes equipped with some advanced technology, like a self-cleaning feature that automatically removes hair from the brushroll.
Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum NV352: If you’re looking to spend less, the Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum (NV352) is an affordably priced model with many of the same powerful cleaning features. It, too, can be configured into three positions to clean all the different areas and surfaces of your home. It also includes a fair amount of accessories to target stairs and pet hair. The Navigator NV352 does have a much smaller dust cup capacity—1.2 dry quarts versus the Navigator Professional’s impressive 2.2 dry quarts—so it will need to emptied a lot more frequently. The cord is also 5 feet shorter which makes it a little trickier to maneuver in large spaces.
A great pick for a mid-range vacuum.
The Shark Navigator NV356E is a powerful vacuum and its overall performance is pretty stellar. The final decision all boils down to your budget and your specific cleaning needs. You could spend more and get a vacuum with a few more bells and whistles, or, you could go with a cheaper model and you might be just as content.
- Product Name Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional
- Product Brand Shark
- MPN NV356E
- Price $249.99
- Weight 13.7 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 25.9 x 16.2 x 13.6 in.
- Color White and silver
- What’s Included Handle with stretch hose, floor nozzle, extension wand, accessory holder, portable Lift-Away canister, 8-inch crevice tool, dusting brush, pet power brush
- Warranty 1-year limited warranty