Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet Review – Is This Upright Vacuum Worth The Money?

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments | Last Updated: August 14, 2018

Shark NV681UKT TruePet Lift-Away

9

Value

8.0/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

Cleaning Power

9.0/10

Features

10.0/10

Accessories

8.0/10

Pros

  • Excellent carpet and hard floor performance
  • Great for pet hair
  • Powered lift-out cylinder for stairs and above floor cleaning
  • Highly efficient filtration system
  • Quieter than previous Shark vacs

Cons

  • Only 1.1 litre canister
  • Doesn't include Shark's hard floor tool

The Shark NV681UKT Lift-Away True Pet is one of the American company’s flagship vacuum cleaners. It’s a versatile vac with a host of unique features, turbo pet tool and A-rating for filtration – plus Shark claims it provides excellent cleaning performance on all surfaces.

How does the NV681UKT compare to other vacuums, such as those made from Dyson? And is it worth the money? Keep reading our Shark NV681UKT review to find out.

Overview of the Shark NV681UKT

  • Powered lift-away design provides rotating brush bar even when canister is separated from the floorhead
  • Pet turbo tool for removing hair on upholstery or stairs
  • Quieter than previous Shark vacuums
  • Combination of sponge and HEPA filtration
  • On-board tool storage
  • 750W motor to comply with EU regulations

In-Depth Look at the NV681UKT’s Features

At its core, the NV681UKT is a bagless upright vacuum with a hose and several accessories. It has a highly manoeuvrable design, so it’s easy to clean around furniture and other objects, while the lift-away function makes it more versatile than the average upright.

The 681UKT is the updated version of Shark’s 680 series to comply with EU regulations. It has a slightly reduced motor power, but this doesn’t seem to have greatly affected its cleaning performance (more on that in the next section). It’s also noticeably quieter than previous versions – so the EU regulations aren’t all bad!

Aside from the lower power, it’s almost identical to the NV680UKT. Let’s take a closer look at what’s included.

Appearance & Design

Flat designWith its burgundy colour scheme and futuristic design, the Shark certainly looks like a modern vacuum. It’s not the lightest on the market, but the weight of 6.3kg is around average for an upright, and over 1kg less than the Dyson Ball Animal 2.

It has a comfortable rubber grip and handle switch for turning off the brush roll. This is great for quickly switching between carpets and hard floors without needing to manually adjust the brush height.  There’s also a suction control slider if you’re struggling to push it on carpet.

As we mentioned, the NV681UKT is a powered lift-away model. This means the canister can be lifted away from the vacuum, to clean under furniture or on stairs, while still maintaining power to the brush bar. If this sounds confusing, think of it has converting into a cylinder vacuum with a body you need to carry.

This design has several advantages. Firstly, being able to detach the canister makes the Shark much more convenient than a typical upright. It’s great for cleaning under furniture, as you can remove the canister and lay the floorhead flat against the carpet. Another advantage is that you don’t need to balance a bulky upright on the stairs, as you can hold the canister in one hand and clean with the other.

There are several other ease-of-use features. Like most Shark vacuums, the floor head has LED headlights. These help illuminate dust and dirt even in low-light conditions. All the buttons are also single-click for convenience.

A minor complaint is the power switch is located on the body rather than the handle. It would have been more convenient to access all the buttons via the handle. Another issue is that the cable is only 8 metres long. We wish it had a longer cable – 10 metres would be ideal – as the extra cleaning radius is often useful.

Tools & Accessories

The most important tool included with the NV681UKT is the pet turbo tool. This attaches to the end of the hose and provides powered cleaning performance that’s great for getting rid of pet hair on upholstery, stairs and in cars.

Speaking of the hose, the NV681UKT’s is 1.8 metres long and has a somewhat stretchy design. It isn’t long enough to stretch up stairs, which is why the lift-away design is useful, but it’s a reasonable length and helps make up for the 8 metre cable. There’s also the option of detaching the full power wand, which provides a rigid tool for cleaning ceilings.

Aside from the turbo tool, the vacuum includes a crevice/duster combination tool and upholstery nozzle. The combination tool has a sliding dusting brush (similar to recent Dyson models) so it can be converted to an extended duster when necessary.

There’s nothing wrong with Shark’s tools – many brands now use a combination tool rather than a separate dusting brush – but we find combi nozzles to be less convenient. The problem is the duster is located at the end of a long crevice tool, which can make it unwieldy to use in tight areas. The dusting brush also reduces the effective length of the crevice tool as you can’t fully remote it.

Another downside is that Shark has removed the hard floor tool that came with the original NV800UKT. The main floorhead is still effective on hard floors, so this isn’t a major issue, but it was a useful extra.

On the plus side, the tools are easy to fit and are long-lasting. There’s also on-board storage for extra convenience.

Suction Power & Cleaning Performance

Lift away d

With its 750W motor, you could be forgiven for thinking the NV681UKT can’t match the raw suction power of pre-EU regulation vacuums. Cleaning performance is about much more than just suction, however, and the NV681UKT is certainly not a let down – nor is the marginally reduced motor power a problem when cleaning.

In fact, when it comes to versatility, there aren’t many vacuums that can match the Shark. It can easily clean under furniture, stairs, car interiors and ceilings. It also provides excellent performance on carpets, hard floors and pet hair.

This cleaning performance is largely due to the highly effective floorhead. It features a motorised brush bar with stiff bristles, which digs into carpets to remove more dirt (the bar can be switched off for hard floors). It also has edge cleaning along one side, along with a light indicating when the brush bar is on.

Note: The NV681UKT doesn’t come with Shark’s newer DuoClean floor head. This is found on the 800 series and is designed with two brushrolls for more effective large debris pickup. If your home often has problems with larger debris, such as spilt cereal or cat litter, the DuoClean may be a better choice.

Carpets

One of the best things about the NV681UKT is the excellent carpet cleaning performance. The stiff brush bar fibres dig deep into carpets to remove more dirt and debris, while the motor provides ample suction for both short and long pile carpets.

The only time the reduced motor power is noticeable is when cleaning large debris. It still does a decent job, but you may need several passes to pick it all up.

Hard Floors

The Shark also does a great job on hard floors – and it actually does a better job of cleaning larger debris on this type of surface. It doesn’t “snow plough” cereal or other objects, and you can easily turn the brush bar off to prevent scratching.

Unlike many vacuums, the Shark has enough suction power to clean between floorboards too. It’s not quite as effective on laminate, but it’s no slouch either.

Stairs

When it comes to carpeted stairs, the Shark is one of the best uprights on the market. The Lift Away feature allows you to carry the canister in one hand and use the other to clean. There’s also the option of putting down the canister on each step, as the square bottom means it’s relatively stable. No more balancing a bulky upright on each step!

How does it perform when in Lift Away mode though?

The “powered” Lift-Away mode means you can clean stairs with a rotating brush bar rather than relying on suction alone. This makes a huge difference to cleaning performance – especially on carpeted stairs. You can also use the pet hair attachment if the floorhead feels too heavy or bulky.

Hardwood stairs are trickier, as the lack of a dedicated hard floor tool means you need to be careful not to scratch the surface. The best option is probably the primary floor head with the brush bar switched off, although this is heavier than the pet turbo tool.

Pet Hair

As you would expect from a model labelled as “True Pet,” the pet turbo tool is fantastic for removing both long and short hair from stairs and upholstery. It makes quick work of stubborn hair fibres, so it’s great if you have a dog or cat that sheds.

The primary floorhead is also excellent for removing hair from carpets and hard floors. The LED headlights come in handy, as they make it easier to see clumps of hair (especially if the hair is similar colour to the carpet).

A minor drawback of the pet turbo tool is that it doesn’t come with an articulated joint. This makes it less mobile than the standard floor head, although the smaller design means this is rarely an issue.

Filtration

The primary filter is a combination of felt and foam. Both sections are washable, but they don’t get clogged as quickly as other brands. As long as you clean the filters every 4-6 weeks you shouldn’t notice a loss in suction.

There’s also a post-motor HEPA filter. This is also washable in water, but it doesn’t need to be cleaned as often. Shark recommends washing it once a year to maintain suction.

Is the NV681UKT suitable for allergy sufferers though?

Yes – at least when it comes to filtration. The combination of filters captures up to 99.9% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. In other words, the exhaust air is much cleaner than vacuums with less efficient filters, and most allergens should be removed.

The caveat here is that the Shark is a bagless vacuum. Dust and other allergens can escape when you empty it, which can trigger allergies. For this reason, make sure you empty it outside, and preferably get someone who doesn’t suffer from allergies to do so.

Emptying & Cleaning

The bin of the Shark NV681UKT is 1.1 litres. This is relatively small for a bagless vacuum, so you’ll need to empty it regularly – possibly multiple times during a full house clean. For comparison, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 has a 1.8 litre bin.

Fortunately, emptying the vacuum is a quick process. Shark vacuums have a latch emptying system, so you can just hold the canister over a bin before opening the hatch.

How about maintaining the vacuum though?

Cleaning or detangling the brush bar is easy, as the entire plate can be removed for full access. It’s also simple to open the top of the canister to remove any clogs. Everything comes apart with ease, although some of the connections feel stiff when you first use them.

Price & Competitor Comparison

The Shark NV681UKT has an RRP of £299.99, which makes it one of the most expensive uprights on the market. This price also puts it in direct competition with the excellent Dyson Ball Animal 2.

Is it worth the money though?

Yes, in our opinion. The Shark might be expensive, but it provides outstanding performance on all surfaces. It’s also more versatile than most upright vacuums – including the Dyson – and does a great job of filtering allergens. If your budget can stretch to it, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shark NV681UKT vs Shark NV801UKT – Which is Best?

Both the NV681UKT and NV801UKT come with powered lift-away design, pet power brush and the same motor – so what’s the difference?

The main difference is the NV801UKT includes Shark’s DuoClean floorhead. This combines two unique brush rolls to make it easier for the vacuum to pickup both larger debris and smaller particles.

If you often need to clean larger debris in your home, it may be worth paying extra for the NV801UKT. The NV681UKT is brilliant for most jobs though.

How Does This Model Compare to the Shark NV601UKT?

The NV601UKT is the basic pet version of the 600 range. It has a similar design, including the lift-away canister, but does not include powered lift-away technology. This means the brush bar isn’t powered when in lift-away mode.

Verdict

The Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet is an excellent vacuum cleaner that’s worthy of a place on our list of the best uprights. The range of features, including bright headlights, excellent filtration and comfortable handle, make it a joy to use.

Most importantly, it provides brilliant cleaning performance on carpets and hard floors. The powered Lift-Away technology is also great for cleaning stairs or cars, making it a highly versatile vac.

There aren’t many drawbacks, but we would prefer a 10 metre cord and a larger dust canister. Debris can also sometimes get clogged as the emptying mechanism relies on gravity rather than pushing dust out.

Despite these minor issues, the NV681UKT is a model we highly recommend.

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