Shark has a clever new vacuum that shines on both carpets and wood floors. The Shark Rocket Powerhead (I received model AH452 to review) is a light and compact vacuum. The brush, motor, filters, and dirt collection are all in the module that rolls on the floor. The stalk and handle really just serve as a place to wrap the power cord and fit the power switch, as well as a holster to accommodate the second brush roll. The most valuable feature of this vacuum is its ability to quickly swap between a traditional carpet brush and a “Gentle Touch” hard floor brush.
This vacuum excels on hardwood floors in a way I have never seen before. For one thing, the brush doesn’t start spinning until the suction motor has fully spooled up. This, together with the motor’s strength and the Gentle Touch brush’s design, completely avoid the “dirt flinging” that I’ve experienced when I run any other spinning brush on hard floors. This allows it to pick up even stuck-on debris. Before, I had to choose between running a powered brush – blowing dust and dirt everywhere – and then going back over the floor with a sweeper to actually pick up all the dirt, or else skipping the vacuum/sweeping and instead clogging a mop with larger dirt I missed scraping up by hand (which will often end up smeared around the floor until I notice it).
The vacuum has two brush speeds, which I would describe as “why bother” (low) and “here we go!” (high). On carpet, the high speed coupled with the suction is extremely effective. However, it is also enough to overwhelm the frontal weight distribution of the vacuum, so on reverse strokes the rear wheels have a tendency to lift off carpet as it tries to suck and claw its way forward. That requires a bit of an adjustment to vacuuming technique. (For the densest carpet you actually have to toggle a switch to reduce the suction.) But in general it’s actually quite maneuverable, no doubt owing both to its low center of gravity and to its pivoting “swivel steering” control arm.
Because of its power and versatility the Shark Rocket Powerhead is now my preferred vacuum for my home’s first floor, which has a mix of hardwood, tile, and carpet. I don’t know if I could make it my only vacuum, because I still need something for edging floors and brushing up high, and because there’s really no way to use this vacuum on stairs. But supplemented with, for example, a suitable cordless vacuum, this makes a great primary vacuum.