Shark’s snappily titled Rotator Lift-Away Slim-Light Mobile NV340 upright vacuum cleaner is a feature-packed upright and lift-off mains-powered bagless cleaner. It’s bold, solidly built and comes with a plethora of tools – albeit with one howling omission. There's no upholstery or stair tool.
It’s noisy and looks to be designed by someone using crayons rather than a pencil, but it picks up very well on a wide variety of floors and the headlight is brilliant. It's rather more affordable than its arch-rival Dyson model, too. It's more bludgeoning Great White than sleek and sophisticated Black-Tip, but this Shark has plenty of bite.
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Here we have the Shark Rotator Lift-Away Slim-Light Mobile NV340. Let’s just call it the Rotator Lift-Away to save valuable web space.
As is usual with Shark cleaners, this model comes packed with features and accessories. It's a powerful upright bagless cleaner that lifts away from the floorhead so you can go mobile – within reach of a mains plug, anyway. Filtration is covered by a basic gauze, two foam filters beneath the bin and a HEPA cartridge filter behind the front grille. All are washable and together deliver a resounding A rating for dust emissions.
In upright form it's not exactly slim and light, tipping the scales at over 6.3kg empty. Yet that does include a good-sized bin, hose, a couple of detail tools on the body and the powered floorhead with its vivid LED lights. The lift-away part simply drops the floorhead, bringing the weight down to a more respectable, if not super-svelte, 4.4kg.
The main floorhead is quite a beast, packing a decent-sized powered brush bar into a 30cm-wide body. The bar doesn’t go to the edges of the head, but air channels in the floorplate should help the edge-cleaning performance. Three coin-turn locks allow the bar to be removed, while two larger wheels and two front rollers should keep it moving freely. There are no blades or soft skid-pads on the floorhead, so running over textured hard floors such as tiles will be a little rough and noisy.
The lift-away tools can be attached directly to the handle section or you can unclip the mid-tube from the body for some extra reach. The Dust-Away hard-floor head has its own extension tube and combines a rubber-bladed suction head with a large, washable floor pad to pick up super-fine dust that suction alone might not.
Smaller tools include a telescopic crevice tool and dusting brush with a handy swivelling head. Uniquely this Shark also comes with a tiny detailing tool on its own micro-hose. Ideal for getting those crumbs out of your keyboard or buffing your knick-knacks, this little tool packs a mighty suction punch. There's a carry-strap supplied for the lift-away section.
All that lot sounds like a storage catastrophe waiting to happen, but the dusting brush and crevices tool fit on the main cleaner, while ther's a cloth bag to keep the rest of your tools together.
One glaring omission is the lack of an upholstery tool. That was clearly going to cause an issue where cleaning the stairs, curtains and the sofa were concerned.
Like most of the Shark cleaners we've tested, being stealthy and quiet isn’t the Rotator Lift-Away’s forte. Fired into life with the powered floorhead running, it measured a solid 83-84dB over our carpeted floor and pushed 85dB over hard floor. The lack of soft pads or blades on the main floorhead mean it's really loud over riven tiles, even without the main brushbar running. Turn that on over hard floors and the noise is painful.
Moving over carpet the Shark feels every bit as solid and purposeful as its sounds. The brushbar ensures it remains fairly easy to move over carpet, but the hefty build, chunky handle and weight all make their presence felt. The pivoting head works well, but it’s quite obvious when you push it back and forth that the head alone is the best part of 2kg.
However, the cleaning results make the effort well worthwhile. This Shark gave outstanding cleaning performance out on open carpet and, despite the rather narrow brush bar compared to the width of the head, reasonable edge cleaning too. In a double pass next to the skirting we could still see the faint light area created by our test mix of baking powder and carpet freshener, but the excellent suction did clean right up to the edge.
Hard-floor cleaning as an upright was no less impressive, even if the operation sounded more like a road drill than a vacuum cleaner. The good suction and the gap afforded under the head by the front rollers very effectively dealt with our spillage of porridge oats, whether the brush bar was running or not.
Pushing the main floorhead on hard floors feels quite rough, but those headlights proved absolutely outstanding at pinpointing dust, debris and tumble-weed furballs.
Switching to the Dust-Away head can be done while the main floorhead remains in place, adding stability while you clean. This is an excellent tool for smooth floors like parquet and laminates. It picks up static dust and fine particles as well as larger chunks (such as our oats) with ease, and gives your surface a buff as it passes. OK, you'll have to wash the pad occasionally, but it's a very effective tool that builds on what just a simple vacuum clean can achieve.
Lifting away for semi-mobile cleaning requires a small wrestle with the chunky buttons and putting your foot on the floorhead. Yet it adds plenty of versatility to this cleaner’s armoury. Pick up the lift-away section and you can reach a whole lot more places, especially high up, although arguably a longer extension tube would offer just the same reach.
Where the lift-away section should really shine is on stairs – but it's been hamstrung in this regard. More on that later.
Powerful suction and a powered rotating brush bar made for excellent pet-hair cleaning over our carpeted floors and rugs. As an upright the Rotator Lift-Away’s floorhead dispatched our test patch of mixed Collie and Labrador hair in under 10 seconds. That would rate as a pass for a cleaner that promised pet-specific cleaning chops.
The Dust-Away head is a little trickier when it comes to pet hair on hard floor. If you approach rogue furballs head-on, the superb suction and well-designed front end ensure all hairs are sucked in.
However, if you tend to take a different line on your back-stroke, the dusting pad traps hairs rather than allows them to be cleaned up. It then drops the odd hair on the forward stroke and the pad needs a de-fluff afterwards. Get your forward-backward motion in line, though, and you'll have hair-free and well-polished floors.
Where the Shark falls short for pet-centric households is in cleaning stairs, sofas and even the dogs’ beds. With no dedicated pet-hair tool or powered hand tool on offer, nor an upholstery tool, you're limited to using the dusting brush, which is pretty ineffectual for picking up hairs, as the bristles are just too soft.
In fact, the lack of an upholstery tool really limits this Shark’s abilities on sofas, curtains and stairs generally. It’s such a silly omission, especially as Shark sells a well-performing wide upholstery tool for under a tenner. As the Rotator Lift-Away is a very reasonable price to start with, this tool would be a great investment and would make the NV340 a much more versatile performer.
With its lengthy 8m mains cable and easy-to-carry lift-away section, this Shark promises to be a star performer on stairs. For access and ease of use it certainly is. Yet, as in our pet-hair test, the lack of suitable tool for cleaning carpeted steps really lets the side down.
The good suction and amazing portability lack for nothing in cleaning power, but focusing all that through the crevice tool meant it took forever to clean a flight of stairs. Switching to the dusting brush didn’t improve the issue as, while larger, it's just too soft and delicate for cleaning carpets.
If you have wooden steps, the brush or even the Dust-Away head – which might be too cumbersome in most cases – might just work for stairs. As it is, the lack of a suitable tool for our carpeted steps means this is a bit of a fail.
The Rotator Lift-Away NV340 is a powerful and versatile cleaner, but not without its issues. Its suction and floor-cleaning results can’t be faulted, but the design lacks finesse and it’s both clunky and noisy to use.
It’s biggest failing is the lack of an upholstery tool out of the box, as without that your carpeted stairs and pet-hair-covered sofas will go unvanquished. Add a tenner to your budget for the one Shark sells separately, though, and the Rotator Lift-Away offers a lot of cleaner for the money.
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A rough diamond of a cleaner, offering power and versatility in a clunky and slightly flawed package.