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There’s nothing quite as unnerving as a vacuum that doesn’t do its job. As someone who has spent countless hours trying to get every spot and speck off my floors, I know I’m not the only person who has used a less-than-stellar vacuum cleaner that sucks up materials only to spit them out seconds later. And if a vacuum sucks—or, better yet, doesn’t suck—what purpose does it actually serve?
I’ve come to know my fair share of vacuums. I’ve used the apartment-friendly $30 vacuums and the pricey, deep-cleaning $300 vacuums and have found that many of them repeat the same undesirable traits time and time again: spitting out dust and debris everywhere and lasting just longer than their warranty before losing their edge.
I’ve even tried the famed Roomba in my old apartment years ago only to find that the popular robot vacuum struggled with navigation and often overlooked dust, dog hair, food bits, and other materials I’d later have to clean up myself. But robot, AI-driven cleaning technology has never been more innovative, efficient, and up to speed as it is today, and there are way more options out there now than just the Roomba, which is what interested me in trying out the Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL vacuum.
There are several models of the Shark Robot vacuum available, but the latest model, and without a doubt, the most effective yet, is the Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL. Released last year, this Shark vacuum has become the main maid around my house, making it much easier to skirt my responsibilities of sweeping and vacuuming the floors.
Shark AI Ultra Robot Vacuum With XL HEPA Self-Empty Base
$200 off with code: HARVEST200
The set-up of the Shark AI vacuum is incredibly easy, even for someone like me who isn’t the least bit tech-savvy. The Shark AI vacuum comes mostly assembled; all I had to find was a place to plug it in to charge, attach the two suction brushes, and download the SharkClean app to ready my home for efficient robot cleaning.
To control the Shark vacuum, you can manually do so on the vacuum as well as from your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, but I really appreciated the SharkClean app’s ease of use, especially in commanding the vacuum how to clean, when to clean, and where to clean.
On its first adventure around the house, i.e. the Explore Run, the Shark AI vacuum creates a map of your floor plan, which enables you to control how and when the vacuum works its suction magic from there on out. From the map, you can label areas and rooms of your home and create no-go areas (think: tight spaces, inclines (i.e. areas where the vacuum could get trapped), and also identify areas that need an extra deep cleaning through the UltraClean option.
The UltraClean option was especially useful in high-traffic areas of my home that tend to have more debris and dust, such as the kitchen, the front door, the laundry room, and the living room. If you have pets that shed like I do, you can also enable Evacuate and Resume, which commands the vacuum to empty its contents more often. This was especially useful in gathering up all the pet hair on my floors that I tend to miss when I’m cleaning the house myself.
If you don’t want the Shark AI vacuum to clean your whole house, you can also select specific target areas through the Room, Zone, and Spot options in the app. As the name suggests, the Room option lets you select a specific room to clean, whereas a Zone includes high-traffic areas, and Spot literally lets you map out a specific area to clean in the house. I find these area-specific features particularly useful when I have company coming over and I don’t have the time to wait for the Shark AI to clean the whole house before they arrive.
Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL Vacuum Cleaner
$200 off with code: ROBOT200
At $649, which includes the base, the Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL vacuum may seem pricey, but considering that many of the state-of-the-art robot vacuums out there can cost upwards of $1,000, you’re coming out money ahead by investing in this most-efficient Shark vacuum.
What I was most concerned about with the Shark AI vacuum was it potentially slamming into objects around the house, but my fears were quickly dissipated. Perhaps the most navigation-aware and collision-resistant robot vacuum I’ve ever tried, the Shark AI uses a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor to detect obstacles over four inches tall. This allows the vacuum to reroute itself so it doesn’t get stuck in a space or collide with something in its way.
That said, I still went ahead and picked up shoes, moved chairs, stashed away power cords, and put away my kids’ toys to avoid creating unnecessary obstacles for the vacuum. With that, I only noticed it getting stuck twice at an unexpected level change between my kitchen and living room, so I went ahead and mapped this area out as a no-go zone in the app, and I’ve never had a problem with it getting stuck on the job ever since.
What’s most amazing about the vacuum is that I haven’t had to empty the bin where the Shark AI self empties all its debris. In fact, the base holds up to 60 days of trash, so considering all the dog hair, food bits, dust, and God knows what else it’s picking up off the floor, that’s an impressive storage space.
The only drawback I found was that the vacuum was a bit louder than I expected; not booming or deafening by any stretch of the imagination, but not as quiet as I’d necessarily like. But considering that my floors are cleaner and more pristine than they’ve been in years, I’m willing to deal with a bit of extra noise, especially if I’m not the one doing all the cleaning around the house.
- Easy to set up and use
- A self-emptying station that holds up to 60 days of debris
- The UltraClean mode targets debris-heavy areas
- Not as quiet as you’d expect
- Struggles navigating around cords, tight quarters, but that can be solved with no-go zones
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