The new Shark ION W1 cordless handheld vacuum gets big marks for sleek and stylish design. It looks good just sitting on your countertop or shelf. But does it back that up with performance? We were pleasantly surprised at how well this small, lightweight handheld worked. It is powerful for its size and in most instances pickup was good. The recharge time is also very reasonable. In addition, it has a washable filter and is easy to empty. On the downside, the dust canister is rather small and it does not come with a motorized tool which can be helpful when dealing with ground-in debris and pet hair.
Hard Floors & Carpet
Pet Hair Features
HEPA Level Filtration
Power Cord Length
Motor Driven Brushbar
Disclosure: We recently approached Shark and asked for several vacuums to review. They agreed and sent this handheld unit over. Thanks Shark! Also, please note that this in no way affects how we review the vacuum.
Consumer Ratings There are very few of what we would call verified owner consumer ratings at this time - as the table below shows. This handheld vacuum is also still relatively new. We will revisit consumer ratings when there are more reviews to assess. In the meantime, averaging the ratings we found results in an overall score for the W1 of 84/100. This is a fairly good score - not top notch, but quite respectable.
4.4 stars out of 5
Bed Bath & Beyond
4.0 stars out of 5
4.5 stars out of 5
What Are Owners Saying? A thorough review of owner comments along with our own findings and tests have provided the following pros and cons:
PROS - Strong suction for the vacuum size - Very lightweight - Easy-to-empty dust canister - Washable and easy-to-access filter - Charges quickly - Sleek design
CONS - Small dust canister - No wall mount - No motorized brushroll tool - A bit loud - No HEPA filter - Large debris can get stuck in nozzle
Probably the most common comment about this small handheld is the surprising power. Most owners are pleased with the level of suction produced by the W1. Having said that, there are also a few comments from folks stating that the machine did not have the power they had hoped for. We found that the suction was sufficient to handle most of the cleaning tasks we attempted both on carpet and smooth flooring (tile in this case). In our opinion, given the size and weight of the W1, the suction is pertty good. If you want more power you may need a larger machine.
Another frequently discussed characteristic is the vacuum’s light weight. It is indeed a lightweight handheld and it is the lightest one that we have reviewed to date. The weight helps ensure less strain on the arm or wrist and also makes working with the vacuum for long periods easier. In addition, the vacuum is very narrow which allows it to access cramped areas easily. It is especially good for vacuuming vehicle interiors.
Basic maintenance for the W1 is easy and this is something owners appear to appreciate. The dust canister is very easy to empty – just press one button. The filter is easily accessible and it can also be rinsed in water (you don’t have to buy a new one when this one is dirty). In addition, the entire dust canister comes off and can be washed and re-attached.
Folks are pleased with the short recharge time. We have several handheld vacuums and none recharge as quickly as the W1 (although some of our units have larger batteries). This is, in part, due to new battery technology which many manufacturers are now adopting, so recharge times are going down across the board for the most part. Still, there are handhelds out there that continue to have long recharge times – the W1 does not.
The vacuum is also rather stylish. This is kind of interesting as most of the Shark machines we have reviewed or worked with in the past have tended to put more of a premium on practicality and less on presentation. Perhaps this is an attempt to win over some Dyson fans. The vacuum is not outrageous but if Shark was going for stylish it seems to have worked. Many handhelds just don’t look good sitting on your desktop or countertop. This one does.
There have been some comments that the vacuum can get rather warm/hot when you run it for long periods of time. We’ve tested this and it was not the case with our unit. Having said that, it would appear to be an issue for some (admittedly few) owners.
There is also a little grumbling about the small capacity of the dust canister. Indeed it is rather diminutive. If you are doing lots of cleaning you will likely have to empty it frequently. This is sometimes the price one pays for having such a small and lightweight machine.
Like most cordless vacuums there are concerns about the run time. Some feel it is ok while others wish it was longer. It really depends on the duration of the cleaning jobs you intend to do. Those who want to do extended work may find the vacuum run time too short, while those who use it predominantly for quick pick-ups should find it adequate (in our opinion).
Some folks have highlighted that the vacuum struggles on ground-in pet hair. This is not a surprise given that the vacuum has no brushroll. Some handhelds have a built-in brushroll or even a motorized brushroll tool which really helps to pull up ground-in pet hair and debris. In our pet hair test the W1 performed fairly well but it is quite likely that had the hair been more ground into the carpet, pickup would have suffered.
Finally, we would have liked to see a wall mount for the W1. The charging dock works fine but sometimes counter space is at a premium and it is nice to be able to mount something like this inside the closet or another easily accessible (but out of the way) area.
Aside: It is important to understand what a particular vacuum is designed to do when deciding whether or not it is a good fit for you. The Shark ION handheld appears to be a machine designed to sit comfortably on a shelf or counter, or even the floor, within easy reach. It is attractive and sleek so it can be placed in areas of prominence without detracting from the ambience. It is also lightweight and very easy to move and use. As far as cleaning goes it is best for:
- Smaller jobs - Quick pick-ups - Small to medium sized debris
If the ION W1 is used as such you will likely be pleased. We have noticed that for this kind of work it has started to become our go to machine. However, once you start to move outside these parameters you will find areas that challenge the vacuum. If you choose the W1 to do cleaning jobs with lots of debris you may find the small dust canister a concern. If you choose it to do extended cleaning you will likely find the 10 minute run time a bit short. And if you use it on very large debris you may find pickup insufficient.
What’s In the Box? - Shark ION W1 handheld vacuum - Filter (inside vacuum) - ION Charging Dock - Crevice Tool - Multi-Surface Tool - Operating manuals (English, French, Spanish)
The ION W1 comes with two tools: - Duster Crevice Tool - Multi-Surface Tool
The duster crevice tool provides extra reach and is designed for carpet and upholstery. We measured the duster crevice tool at about 5.5 inches. The Multi-Surface Tool is sometimes referred to as the Multi-Surface Pet Tool and can be used for pet hair and large debris pickup on most surfaces.
The ION charging dock has built-in inserts where both of these tools can be stored.
Battery & Charging The vacuum is powered by a 10.8 volt Lithium Ion battery. To charge a fully depleted battery takes about 2.5 hours which is a reasonable time (not too long). You cannot plug the charger directly into the vacuum so you have to place the vacuum into the ION charging dock in order to recharge.
A blue LED light on the ON/OFF button slowly pulses to indicate the unit is charging. When charging is complete the LED light changes to a static dim blue. There are several status codes related to this charging light as can be seen in the table below:
We’ve also noticed that quite a few people ask if they should return the vacuum to the charging dock after each use, or if they should fully deplete the battery before returning it to the charging dock. In the Shark literature we’ve seen that they suggest returning the vacuum to the charging dock after each use.
Run Time We have not found any specifications that indicate run time for the ION W1. As a result we fully charged our W1, turned it on, and used a stopwatch to record the total run time. The vacuum stopped after 9 minutes and 52 seconds. We have seen some owner comments online suggesting they get about 10 minutes of run time so this seems to be about right. The W1 only has one power setting.
We noticed a few comments from owners about the handle getting hot during extended use. We did not experience this, even after 8 or 9 minutes.
Shark states that if the vacuum does get uncomfortably warm you should stop vacuuming and let it cool down. Also, it may turn off on its own if it gets too hot. This is the result of a thermal switch being activated which is designed to ensure the motor is not damaged.
You may be surprised if you put the W1 in the charging dock when it is hot that it does not start charging. This is by design, and the battery will actually not start charging until the machine cools to a more optimal charging temperature.
Cleaning The W1 uses a high-speed brushless motor and we’ve seen reference to this as key to the unit's strong suction. To start cleaning you simply press the ON/OFF button conveniently accessible with your thumb while holding the vacuum. You do not have to keep this depressed. Some vacuums have a trigger that needs to be constantly depressed for the vacuum to stay ON. The W1 is not like this.
Cleaning - Different Sized Debris on Carpet Cleaning performance on small to medium sized debris on our short pile carpet was good. The unit also has sufficient power to pull up larger debris - like fruit loops – but should you get fruit loops that are a little too big they may clog the vacuum suction channel. The W1 does not have a large opening for debris. We’ve seen fruit loops do this on some other handhelds as well.
Cleaning - Bare Floor Suction is sufficient to do basic cleaning of smooth flooring. In the video below we do a quick pickup of smaller debris on a tile floor.
Cleaning - Pet Hair We tested the W1 on ground-in pet hair on medium pile carpet. We also compared the performance to that of a different handheld that has a motorized tool with a brushroll (we are using the handheld component of the Dyson V8 with the mini-motorized tool - a substantially more expensive vacuum). Frankly we were surprised that the W1 performed as well as it did. However there is no doubt that for more ground-in dirt/debris a tool with a motorized brushroll will do better deep cleaning.
Cleaning – Edges & Cramped Spaces The W1 is useful for cleaning up tight against baseboards and in cramped areas. We used the crevice tool and picked up chili flakes that were right up tight against our wall. It did a decent job although it is rather slow going.
We also note that with the addition of the crevice tool, the vacuum has very good reach which helps it get into narrow/tight areas. This machine would be especially useful in a vehicle as it can reach under the seats, into corners and along edges.
Dust Canister A slider just above the power button can be accessed with your thumb and it opens the dust canister. It kind of springs open so you have to be ready for that or you may fling some debris around. The dust canister is rather small at only 0.08 quarts so if you have lots of material to pick up expect to empty the canister repeatedly.
You can also completely remove the entire dust canister very easily. After opening the dust canister there is a small orange tab near the hinged end of the dust canister. Simply push this tab in and the entire canister pops off. You can clean it with soap and water if you wish. When it is completely dry it is easily reattached.
Filtration The filter is easy to access and to clean. It is accessed by first opening the dust canister then pushing the entire filter holding assembly forward. The assembly comes out and you can remove the filter from within.
The filter is rinsable in water and Shark suggests cleaning the filter about once per month. You should also occasionally lightly tap the filter over a dust bin to remove loose dust/debris. In our short use of the vacuum we did notice that the filter does get dirty fairly quickly so one would want to stay on top of this.
We have seen this sometimes referred to as a HEPA filter but to the best of our knowledge this is not a HEPA filter. No Shark literature refers to this as a HEPA filter. There is also nothing written about this handheld having a sealed system. It likely does not. You can read about HEPA filters and sealed systems in our HEPA filter article.
Noise The W1 is a little louder than we expected. We measured the noise output in peak decibels by placing a digital sound level meter 3 feet in front of the vacuum. The peak decibel reading was 75.9. Our reading for the Dyson V6 was 73.7 and the Dyson V7 69.3. The W1 generates a bit of a high pitched noise.
Weight & Ergonomics This is unquestionably a light handheld vacuum. At only 1.4 lbs it is the lightest handheld we have. It is easy on the wrist and arm.
We like that the ON/OFF button and the dust canister release button can both be easily accessed with your thumb while you are holding the vacuum by the handle. This design makes the unit quick and easy to use.
The handle may be a little thick for some users. It fits my hand just fine but we have read some comments from people with smaller hands saying that the handle feels a bit large and can be hard to grip for long periods of time. We gave the W1 to someone with small hands to work with for a while and they said the handle was fine for them. Perhaps it is just a personal preference thing. The image to the right shows my hand holding the vacuum handle.
Warranty The Shark ION W1 carries a 2-year limited warranty. You can see a copy of the warranty here.
Vacuum Cleaner Manual The manual for this vacuum is really more of an 11 page pamphlet. The machine is fairly simple though so it doesn’t need extensive documentation. The manual covers material such as “what’s in the box”, “charging the battery”, “using the vacuum”, “emptying & cleaning the dust canister”, “cleaning the filter”, “troubleshooting”, “battery removal and disposal”, and “warranty”. You can see a copy of the manual here: Shark ION W1 Handheld Vacuum Manual
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I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer who loves to review vacuums, and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.
I strive to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide a score for each and every vacuum I investigate. My goal is to help you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.