What is the Shark NV680UKT?
The grandiosely titled Shark Powered Lift-Away True Pet NV680UKT is the brand’s flagship bagless cleaner and has a list of features as long as its name. It’s both an upright and a cylinder model, with a lift-out pod for more portable cleaning, or to allow the main floor-head to get beneath the lowest of furniture.
You get an array of tools, an easy-to-empty bin and anti-allergen HEPA class filtration, as well as Shark’s innovative Dust Away hard-floor cleaning tool. Also included is a small turbo-brush to clean up stubborn pet hair in the trickiest of places, and the vac boasts an impressive A-rating for energy, filtration and carpet cleaning.
So does it work as good as it sounds?
Shark NV680UKT – Design Accessories
The box in which the Shark arrives may not be huge, but every inch of it is packed with accessories. You’re presented with a bewildering array of parts and pieces; it’s just as well the instructions are clear and easy to follow.
The cleaner itself is in four key parts: the main lift-away motor and bin, the floor-head with its electronic rotating brush and the main wand, in two pieces, which doubles as the handle when used as an upright. The floor-head sports an array of front-facing LED lights to seek out dust in the darkest corners, a flexible neck for easy steering and two rubber shod wheels that roll smoothly across the floor. Underneath, a plate can be removed with two coin-slot clips for easier cleaning of the brush bar too.
Whether or not intentional, the main lift-away section of the Shark is quite retro in its looks. The colours, boxy style, chrome trim and grilles feel a world away from the modern curvy European designs we’re used to.
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That said, there’s no dismissing the Shark’s form and function, with solid-feeling clips for access to the washable HEPA and motor filters, as well as a rubberised carry handle. The bin itself is rather smaller than it looks from the front, offering only a 1-litre capacity, yet it’s easy to unload since the dust area is accessible from the top and bottom.
Handily clipped on the back of the main unit are a pair of dual-purpose tools for use with the hose and wand. These are a combined crevice tool/dusting brush, and stiff bristle brush/upholstery tool. All are of a good size and feel robust enough.
On our sample, the pivoting neck of the brush/upholstery tool was particularly stiff. Although it began to loosen with time, it still had to be moved by hand rather than steered with the wand.
A small turbo-brush is supplied for more serious spot cleaning of carpets, and it’s a great tool. Its transparent top allows you to see if the brush bar is getting tangled up with debris or pet hairs, and it splits in two for easy cleaning.
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Last, but by no means least, is Shark’s unique Dust-Away hard-floor attachment with microfibre cleaning pad. This good-sized pivoting head can be swapped for the main upright floor-head and uses a wide-mouth vacuum inlet in front of a soft polishing cloth.
The idea is that big particles will get vacuumed up while fine dust on delicate surfaces, such as softwood parquet, are picked up by the cloth. The cloth can be washed and replacements are available when it wears out.
Shark NV680UKT – Cleaning
With so many options and tools available with the Shark NV680UKT, it was difficult to know where to start. Fully assembled with the standard rotating floor-head, the Shark is a competent and powerful upright cleaner, with its pivoting head making navigating around the house a breeze.
The headlights work exceptionally well for spotting larger bits of dirt and dog hair tumbleweed, and the machine as a whole doesn’t feel too heavy in the hand – despite tipping the scales at 6.5kg with the cable. The fact that you can lift off the main body and continue to use the head and handle means it will get you under furniture even if there’s only a 10cm gap.
The motor has a single full-power mode, drawing around 850W on suction only and up to 950W in use with the brush bar running on carpet, delivering plenty of suction power to the head or tools. While the NV680UKT doesn’t have the sheer carpet-lifting suction of the more powerful uprights we’ve tested, out on open carpets the results are very good indeed.
Simple air channels at the side of the floor-head work well when getting up close to skirting boards, and the Shark turned in superb results in our edge-cleaning test too.
Eighty-one decibels of noise is about average for a modern cleaner, but that measurement at ear height over carpet is a good couple of decibels quieter than stated on the energy label.
A chunky and positive feeling thumb switch on the handle turns off the beater bar for use on hard floors, and once again the Shark performed brilliantly. A single pass over spilled porridge oats gave a clean sweep, with no particles pushed away or missed, and there was plenty of suction to pick up bits in the tile grooves.
Since there’s only a thin line of soft bristles on the base of this head, we wouldn’t recommend it for use on more delicate hard floors. But here, the Shark’s Dust-Away head comes into play.
Switching heads is straight forward – you’re ready to go in only a couple of clips. The main vacuuming inlet on the Dust-Away tool is wide and at the front of the head to pick up larger dirt, which it did well. However, it’s isn’t as good at lifting particles from tile grooves and cracks as the main floor-head – but this is more than made up for by the cloth part.
This glided across our soft-wood parquet floor and picked up even the finest of dirt, such as talcum powder residue, that simple vacuum pressure alone would have left behind.
Equally good results were had with the Shark’s add-on tools. Attached to the short handle and tube or using the additional extension tube, the turbo-brush is excellent for getting into corners and picking up pet hairs.
The stiff bristle tool was handy for a variety of jobs where a bit of agitation is required to shift and coax stubborn dirt. If the pivoting head on this tool had been easier to move while it was being used, it would have been a real star performer. For vacuuming curtains or rugs with tassels likely to get sucked into the tools, there’s a chunky air-release slider on the handle that works a treat.