Shark Vertex AZ2002 Vs. Shark Navigator ZU561 – Premium or Budget?

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In this comparison, we’ll see how the latest Shark Vertex AZ2002 compares with the Navigator ZU561.

The Vertex is Shark’s top of the line upright vacuum and sells for a premium price. On the contrary, the Navigator is a mid-range upright model for folks looking for a powerful yet affordable vacuum.

So let’s begin.

Quick Overview & Verdict

Here’s a quick overview of both models and a summary of this comparison.

Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Upright Vacuum

The Shark Vertex AZ2002 is a great upright vacuum with superior cleaning performance across many floor types. Its innovative floor head with PowerFins shows a flawless pickup ability without any hair wrap issue. Besides, the powered lift away feature makes it a powerful tool for whole-house cleaning. But, all this comes for a premium price.


Shark ZU561 Navigator Lift-Away Speed

The Shark Navigator ZU561 has an above-average performance on bare floors and low-mid pile carpets. Due to a better suction seal, it picks up most of the debris up to medium size but fails to get the large-sized bits off the floor. The Zero-M brushroll is very good at removing hair wraps, though not perfect. The lift-away mode makes it somewhat versatile but not as good as the Vertex. And it comes in a budget price range.

Comparison Between Shark Vertex And Shark Navigator

Raw Power – How Good Do They Suck!

The Vertex has a 1350 watts motor that generates an incredible suction of 104” of water lift and 105 CFM of airflow at the hose. With these numbers, the Vertex is the most powerful vacuum in Shark’s upright models.

On the other hand, the Navigator has an 800 watts motor that outputs a suction of 78” of water lift and 65 CFM of airflow at the hose.

It’s apparent that the Vertex has way more suction than the Navigator, but that doesn’t mean the Navigator is a terrible vacuum for your needs. 

We’ll discuss how each stands in cleaning performance, but before that, let’s go through another crucial feature – the floor nozzle.

Floor Head Designs

The Vertex comes with a new floor nozzle design. It’s a DuoClean head with PowerFins. As a traditional DuoClean head, there’s a soft front roller and a larger back roller with silicone fins.

DuoClean PowerFins Floor Head
DuoClean with PowerFins Floor Head – Shark Vertex

As per Shark, this is more effective in picking up dirt and debris as compared to standard bristle brushroll. Shark says the PowerFins make a non-stop contact with floors, unlike bristles rollers that leave gaps in their cleaning path.

In contrast, the Navigator has a single roller in its floor nozzle – a conventional bristle brushroll.

Shark Navigator ZU561 Floor Head
Standard Bristles Floor Head – Shark Navigator

Now, let’s dive into the cleaning performance of each vacuum.

How Do They Perform In Real Cleaning Jobs?

Hardwood & Bare Floors

Due to its DuoClean floor head, the Vertex shows outstanding performance on hard floors. The soft front roller picks up any debris that it touches – fine dust, sand, fruit loops, large piles of cheerios – you name it.

Moreover, the soft roller also buffs the floor, giving them a polish look.

The Navigator, with its single bristle roller and suction seal design, is very good at picking small to mid-size debris. It readily picks heavy sand from bare floors and also cleans crevices in 2-3 passes.

Unlike the Vertex, the Navigator fails to pick large debris and piles of a big mess due to the lack of a soft roller. However, you can use the easy to release wand to get those oversized bits.

Though the DuoClean head is a must-have for the bare floors, there’s a drawback to it. Overtime debris gets stuck in between the two rollers, which need periodic cleaning, if not the floor head shutoff due to blockage.

Carpet & Area Rugs

The Vertex beats the Navigator in carpet cleaning as well. The flexible silicone fins roller, in combination with a lining of bristles, agitates the carpet fibers to loosen deeply embedded dirt and hair, which is then sucked by the tremendous suction. 

The Shark Vertex shows a better deep clean performance than the Shark Apex – its closest competitor. However, it’s still not 100% perfect at deep cleaning carpets.

The Navigator shows an exceptional pickup ability for low to medium size debris. For larger debris, it fails to get them as on hard floors. So again, you will have to pull out the wand.

navigator zu561 carpet cleaning

In deep cleaning carpets and rugs, the Navigator doesn’t compete too closely with the Vertex, but it doesn’t fall far behind either. With a better seal and bristle roller for agitation, it shows the best deep clean performance for the price.

Hair Wraps – PowerFins Vs. Zero-M

Both vacuums have a self-cleaning brushroll, which means the brushroll auto cleans itself or any hair tangles. An anti-hair wrap brushroll vacuum is essential if you have long-haired family members or pets with long hair.

Although both vacuums have self-cleaning brushroll, they differ in their operations. The ZU561 has a lining of teeth like protrusions behind the roller to untangle wrapped hair and threads. The roller has rubber flaps that aid in this process.

In the case of Vertex, the silicone fins play a vital role in removing hair tangles. However, it’s still not clear how it works.

The good thing is, they both actively remove hair wraps, which is remarkable, as it saves maintenance time and effort.

Versatility – Powered Lift Away Vs. Lift Away

The Powered Lift-Away mode in Shark Vertex provides more flexibility. You can tackle a wide array of cleaning tasks with a single tool.

The Vertex has same powered lift away feature as the Apex.

This feature allows you to attach motorized floor head and tools in the lift-away configuration. Meaning, you have more cleaning strength than suction only tools.

This makes cleaning under bed and furniture a breeze, where an upright vacuum cannot reach.

The Navigator also offers the Lift-Away mode, but it’s not a powered one. Meaning, you cannot use the motorized or tool in the lift-away setting. You are limited to the suction or turbo tools.

However, it also has the same degree of flexibility to clean under the couch, bed, around furniture, etc. but with less power.

Multi-Surface Cleaning Modes

The Vertex has three cleaning modes for different surfaces, which include – Hard Floor, Low Pile Carpet/Rugs, Thick Pile Carpet/Rugs.

The Navigator has only two settings – Bare Floors, Carpet. However, it has an additional suction collar to lower the suction on thick carpet and rugs.

For both vacuum the roller keeps spinning in every setting, only the rotation speed and suction is adjusted depending on the cleaning mode.

For example, on hard floors, the brushroll spins slower while the suction increases and vice versa on carpets.

How Easy Are They To Operate?

Weight & Maneuverability

The Vertex AZ2002 weighs 16.38 lbs, which is average for an upright. But, with the Active Glide technology, it doesn’t feel like you are lugging a bulky vacuum. It glides on the floors with little effort from the operator.

The Navigator ZU561 is on the lighter side for an upright, weighing only 13.4 lbs. Unlike the Vertex, it requires some effort to move it, especially on carpets. Due to its lightweight, you can easily carry it across the rooms.

Cleaning Reach

The Vertex has a 30ft long cord, whereas the Navigator has only 25ft. The short cable decreases the cleaning reach of the Navigator, and you’ll find yourself switching outlets often.

The ZU561 has a 6.6 ft hose, which is over a foot longer than the AZ2002 (5.5 ft). Due to its shorter and stiff hose, the Vertex is susceptible to tip while using a hose. Also, using the hose in lift-away mode is awkward due to less flexibility. In comparison, the Navigator long hose is sufficient for the above floor operations.

Ergonomics

The power button and suction controls are lying on the handle beneath the thumb in the Vertex. With the fingertip controls its ease to switch between settings.

Shark Vertex AZ2002 Controls
Easy to access controls

In contrast, the power and suction settings are sitting in the main body of Navigator. It needs frequent bending for changing cleaning modes. For taller individuals or someone with a bad back, this can be utterly inconvenient.

Shark Navigator ZU561 Controls
Controls on the main unit

Filtration

Both models are fully sealed systems and come with a post-motor HEPA filter. What’s interesting is that the Navigator is one of the cheapest vacuums with fully sealed HEPA filtration.

Final Verdict

If the budget is not a concern for you, the Vertex AZ2002 is the best vacuum you can own. It’s the most powerful upright vacuum in the market. Moreover, the Powered Lift-Away mode makes cleaning the whole house a breeze. It is the best option for larger homes with multiple floor types.

If you are looking for a budget pick, the Navigator ZU561 is unbeatable for its price. It has a considerable performance on hard floors and low to mid pile carpets and rugs. Also, you get a fully sealed HEPA system, which is uncommon at this price range. The Lift-Away mode provides the needed versatility for above surface cleaning.

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