Shark ION ROBOT 750 Vacuum Review
Avg. consumer rating = 85/100
I have to admit when I got the Shark ION Robot 750 I was somewhat dubious about robotic vacuums. I’m kind of old school and am used to upright vacuums, canister vacuums, stick vacuums – that kind of thing. I figured small robotic units were novel and interesting but perhaps not really that useful. I have now changed my tune – somewhat. Indeed the unit will not do the job of a larger manual vacuum but that is not really the intended purpose. This machine is designed to keep your floors “reasonably clean” with “minimal effort” expended on your part, and it does that fairly well.
Reasonably Clean with Minimal Effort?
What does “reasonably clean” mean? Today’s robotic vacuums will not do the deep, efficient cleaning of a larger manual vacuum cleaner. They haven’t got the suction power, the mobility, or the human brain to help them with navigation. But they do pick up the surface dirt/debris. In our case, a visual inspection typically indicates that after running the ION Robot for an hour about 75%-90% of the surface dirt/debris on our floors has been picked up.
What does “minimal effort” mean? Once your area is prepped (more on this later) you simply start the vacuum. All you really have to do is press the “Clean” button and walk away. Or, if you have Alexa or Google Home you will just have to tell the robot to start cleaning. It’s hard to get more “minimal effort” than that. However, like most vacuums there is a level of maintenance required so you don’t get a break there.
There was a time when a decent robotic vacuum was prohibitively expensive but today they are similar in price to that of a good upright/canister/stick vacuum (say $250 – $500). We've seen this unit as low as about $300. This “affordability” combined with better technology and batteries are the driving forces behind the significant growth we are seeing in robotic vacuum sales.
The Shark ION Robot series - models RV700, RV720, RV750, RV755 - is Shark’s first foray into robotic vacuums. We’ve recently noticed that many of the vacuum manufacturers are beginning to put at least some research and development into this area of floor cleaning. We saw Dyson do this last year with their 360 Eye Robot. It seems they have some work to do on that machine (see comments on Amazon) but I have no doubt they will make improvements and have the next generation out soon. Shark’s first robotic implementation is faring somewhat better and consumer ratings are quite reasonable. You can see a table of RV750 owner ratings from some of the top retail outlets below.
|Amazon||4.1 stars out of 5||611|
|Bed Bath & Beyond||4.5 stars ouf of 5||212|
|Best Buy||4.4 stars out of 5||103|
|Home Depot||4.9 stars out of 5||12|
|Walmart||4.3 stars out of 5||3|
There are a total of 941 consumer ratings in the above table and when a weighted average is applied we get a score of 84.7 out of 100 for the Shark ION Robot 750 vacuum.
Owner comments and our own experience with the RV750 have provided the following pros and cons:
- Great for getting under beds & low furniture
- Includes magnetic tape to create “no-access” areas
- Navigates around objects fairly well
- Bumper doesn’t damage furniture or walls
- Mobile app is simple and works well
- Reasonably good at picking up hair
- Audio and App alert if it gets stuck
- Not too loud
- Gets in tight around edges (for a robot)
- Doesn’t do “deep” cleaning
- Limited suction
- Can miss areas or rooms due to random navigation
- Can sometimes take a while to find docking station
- Cleaning path is a bit narrow
- Can take a long time to cover a large area
- Room(s) needs to be carefully prepared
- Hair causes tangling in front brushes
You can read more 750 owner comments on Amazon if you like.
What’s in the Box?
When you buy your Shark ION Robot 750 you get:
- Robotic vacuum
- 1 lithium ion battery
- 9 feet of botboundary tape (creates "no-go zones")
- 2 botboundary tape connectors
- Charging dock
- Cleaning tool
The 750 looks similar to many of the robotic units on the market today (a circular disc a few inches high) and it has dimensions:
Height: 2.6 inches
Width: 12.6 inches
Depth: 12.6 inches
The unit also weighs in at a fairly lightweight 5.5 pounds so it is easy to pick up and move around if you want to.
Preparing Your Cleaning Area
In order to prepare our area we did the obvious stuff like removing cables/wires, picking up any clothing, toys/papers, closing closet doors, etc. Then we turned the machine on and watched it carefully as it navigated the room. Inevitably we found additional areas we needed to “prepare” for the vacuum. In our case there is a 1 inch high ledge of marble, about 5 feet wide, that extends out about a foot in front of the fireplace. The vacuum continually got hung up when trying to climb up onto this. So we used the botboundary tape to cordon that off and that did the job. When the robot encounters the tape it turns away from it.
Also, we found that the vacuum would sometimes get stuck under one of the sofa chairs (the gap underneath slowly narrowed towards the back). We blocked the entrance to the opening which worked. With these things done we now find we are able to run the RV750 whenever we want without any hang-ups.
In terms of moving around obstacles the robot performs well. It has sensors that assess obstacles (sometimes it bumps into an object then adjusts its path and other times it “senses” an object before changing direction). It understands how to avoid these obstacles and also how to vacuum around them. Most commonly when the robot encounters an obstacle it simply stops, turns, and moves in another direction. But we have noticed some other patterns. In the instance of a post or table leg for example, the vacuum sometimes circles around them cleaning in as tight as it can. Other times it will bump along baseboards or edges doing edge cleaning. We also notice that the bumper is not too hard so it hasn’t marred or dented any of our furniture.
We have run the vacuum up to a set of stairs and were pleased to see that it always sensed the drop-off and promptly turned itself around. This same sensor works for any drop-off and it’s a good thing as we have a room with a ledge that drops directly to floor below. This fall would have likely put an end to the vacuum but the robot carefully navigated the ledge and ensured it did not go over.
We were pleased with the easy transition from carpet to bare floors and back. The robot moved across these transitions with no problems whatsoever. If it hits a high enough transition, like a 1 inch ledge for example, it will sometimes try to crawl up and over it or it may turn away from it (in our case we had to cordon off the 1 inch marble ledge in front of the fireplace). Anything higher than about 1 inch it usually turns away from.
The video below shows the robotic vacuum transitioning from low pile carpet to deep pile carpet and also doing some edge cleaning on a tile surface.
When attempting to dock we found the vacuum takes its time. The vacuum enters “docking mode” when the battery is running low and needs to recharge, or when you manually put it into docking mode (via the APP, Alexa, Google Home, or simply pressing “Dock” on the top of the vacuum). When in this mode we notice that nothing much really happens in terms of getting the robot to the docking station. Rather, the unit continues to move about randomly until – at some point – it gets close to the docking station. Then it recognizes the station and proceeds to dock itself. Depending on the size or layout of your cleaning area this can take some time.
While the unit navigates fairly well, the movements described above pretty much dictate the robot’s coverage of an area. It seems that the vacuum does not have any particular logic that ensures optimal coverage of a cleaning area. For the most part, the vacuum moves randomly and therefore the coverage can be spotty.
We have a main floor area with two smaller rooms branching off. In a 1 hour cleaning session (the approximate run time with a full battery charge) we have sometimes seen the RV750 miss an entire room. The random pattern of movement just didn’t direct the vacuum into the room during that time. Also, when the robot is in one of the smaller rooms we sometimes find ourselves manually removing the robot from the room because it can go around and around without finding the exit.
While this “random” approach to area coverage does work, it is hardly precise and relies on a kind of brute force methodology - everything will get vacuumed IF you run the robot long enough. But that is not particularly efficient. Overall we find that when cleaning our area (about 1000 square feet) during a 1 hour session the RV750 probably covers 75-90% of the floor. This also includes areas that may have been gone over 3 or 4 times as the robot does not know what it has vacuumed and what it has not vacuumed.
The vacuum motors along just fine on bare floors and low pile carpet but we had some concerns that the machine might get hung up on deep pile carpet. We proceeded to try and run it on very deep pile carpet (about 1 inch pile) and were surprised that it continued to move well. Cleaning ability was compromised however and we discuss this below.
The robot also has a "Spot" cleaning mode in which it moves in a spiral pattern for about 10 minutes. We tried this out and it does pretty much as described. We didn’t really find any application for this however. Perhaps others would find it useful if they have a particularly dirty area in the house. For such a small area it is simply quicker to grab a handheld or stick vac – but if you don’t have one perhaps “Spot” mode would be helpful.
The RV750 is designed for carpet and all manner of bare floors. Cleaning on bare floors and low pile carpet is adequate. It will not clean like a more conventional upright/canister/stick vacuum as it simply does not have that kind of power. It will also not pull up much deep down or ground in dust (it doesn’t have the suction or the aggressive brushroll) but it picks up both small and reasonably large surface debris. We ran the unit across a bunch of fruit loops (maybe 8 or so) on low pile carpet and it picked all of them up in one pass. It also performed just as well on a tile surface with the fruit loops.
While the RV750 was able to move well on deep pile carpet, pickup suffered substantially. It was not able to pull up all of the fruit loops we put down. The vacuum just could not get down deep enough into the carpet.
The cleaning path of the robot’s brushroll is only about 5.5 inches. So it takes some time to cover a large area. There are two spinning brushes on the front of the vacuum – one front left, and one front right. These “pull” debris in from a wider area (also corners and edges) and push most of it toward the center of the vacuum path, where it theoretically should get picked up by the brushroll. These brushes are not particularly effective on carpet but they do an ok job on bare flooring (debris is more easily slid along the floor). However if there is lots of debris the brushes also have a tendency to fling it around – not all of it gets pushed inwards to the center of the vacuum path.
The following video shows the vacuum pickup on a multitude of surfaces.
It is difficult for a disc shaped vacuum to get deep into corners. The external spinning brushes help but this is still a limitation of the machine’s design. It simply cannot do as good a cleaning job in corners and crevices as a manual vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool for example. But frankly if you’ve done any research into these kinds of vacuum cleaners you shouldn’t really expect it too. It just isn’t something they will do effectively.
Also, if you are a stickler for having your carpet have nice straight cleaning streaks in it, the random nature of the robot's movement does not produce this. After a typical cleaning session you can see what our carpet looks like in the image below. This is not really an issue for us as the patterns are not obvious from all angles and it also disappears after a little traffic.
Run Time & Recharge Time
The Shark ION Robot is a battery operated machine. It has a lithium ion battery that provides about 1 hour of cleaning on a full charge. When the battery is running very low, the vacuum will automatically return to the docking station where it recharges. A full recharge takes about 3 hours.
The RV750 is obviously a bagless vacuum so there are no bags to buy or throw away. Dust and dirt are collected in the machine’s 0.1 gallon dust bin. The filter (accessible inside the dust bin) is easy to access and clean. One simply taps off the dust and debris.
Shark has some suggestions for items and their maintenance frequency:
- Dust bin: Empty after each use.
- Main brushroll: Check once per week
- Side brushes: Check once per week
- Dust bin filter: Check once per week
- Front caster wheel: Remove and clean once per week
- Main brushroll: Replace after approx 6-12 months
- Side brushes: Replace when visibly worn
- Dust bin filter: Replace after approx 2 months.
- Front caster wheel: Replace after approx 12 months.
- Brushroll door: Replace after approx 12 months.
- Battery: Replace if you see the "replace battery" light on the robot.
We were a little surprised at the frequency of the “replace” maintenance. Most of the parts are not too expensive but the filter is $9.95 (this is NOT a washable filter) and the front caster wheel is $7.95. Hopefully the battery lasts for a long time because it is $49.95
Most of the daily and weekly maintenance chores are quick and easy. Shark states that the RV750 has an anti-tangle brushroll and, for the most part, we were surprised that it does not get much hair or string tangled around the main part of the brushroll. But we did find tangling at the two ends. Fortunately the brushroll is easily removed which helps when trying to remove tangled up material. We also found the side brushes often needed to be freed from tangled hair/threads. The spinning motion of these brushes is a magnet for getting materials tangled in them.
Sometimes you may have to do some unscheduled maintenance on the vacuum. The robot plays a distress sound associated with different lighting patterns to indicate what the issue is. Some examples are:
Distress sound + “Spot” light flashing = the main wheels are jammed
Distress sound + “Spot” light flashing + “Dock” light flashing = the brushroll is jammed
Distress sound + “Spot” & “Dock” lights flashing alternately = a side brush is jammed
In our opinion the RV750 excels in this area. Controls on the top of the machine are very simple and work as they should. There is a “Clean” button, a “Dock” button and a “Spot” button and they light up when they are in that particular mode.
In addition, the robot can be controlled by a downloadable Shark ION Robot App - Android and iOS. We downloaded and installed the App on our iPhone very easily. Although I should point out that if you have an old iPhone (like me) you could have an issue with the App. The App requires iOS 10 minimum and my iPhone 4S will not install iOS 10. An iPhone 5 seemed to work fine though.
The App allows you to start, stop, and dock the robot, as well as schedule daily cleaning. The great thing with the App is that you can control the vacuum from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection - the office, a coffee shop, a mall, etc. So you can have the robot clean your home when you are at the office or out shopping for example. We’ve used it successfully to start the vacuum cleaning and to send the vacuum back to the docking station. We’ve also tried the cleaning scheduling and it worked just fine, starting the vacuum at exactly the same minute we scheduled it to start. However some folks appear to have struggled with getting the scheduling to work – something we noticed while reading other owner comments. The App also provides a history of what the robot did and any issues it may have encountered.
The RV750 can also be controlled via voice with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. We don’t have either device so we can’t offer any insights into how well this works, but we have read that it requires very specific commands and unless you get these just right it sometimes does not respond. So there has been some frustration with this.
Warranty & Manual
The RV750 is a UL listed product. UL stands for Underwriters' Laboratories, a nonprofit, independent product safety certification organization in the United States. The Shark RV750 also carries a 1-year parts & labor warranty.
You can view the manual here: Shark Ion Robot 750 Manual
The RV750 navigates around obstacles fairly well and the edge cleaning movements are effective. However, coverage isn’t efficient and the vacuum may go over the same area many times while leaving some other areas untouched.
We like that Shark Ion Robot is easy to use, and no-one was more surprised than me at how often I use the App to turn the machine on/off when away from the house. It’s nice to come home to a floor that is mostly clean. The robot picks up most of the surface debris on our tile and low pile carpet floors. On the other hand, it will not replace your main vacuum if you are the kind of person who wants to do a thorough, deep cleaning once in a while. It just doesn’t have the horsepower and it will also not reach into all the nooks and crannies.
In our opinion Shark has made a fair effort at entering the robotic vacuum arena. Could there be improvements? Like most robotic vacuums, yes, certainly. Will their next generation be better? Probably.