Shark NV681UK/T Review Summary
Corded upright vacuum
- Superb on carpet, one of the best
- Excellent hair and fibre removal
- Really easy to handle
- Brilliant filtration system
- No significant flaws
About the Shark NV681UK/T
The Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT are both fantastic models if you are in need of a vacuum cleaner that offers more flexibility as well as powerful suction. The UKT is, of course, the one you want if you are searching for a pet vacuum, but they both work superbly across all floor types and offer smooth handling.
Both of these models feature powered lift away for better and more versatile cleaning across the entirety of your home. For this review, we picked up the Shark NV681UKT for £280.
Quick View of the Shark NV681UKT Specifications
Shark NV681UK/T - Key Differences Explained
There isn’t a great deal that separates these two Shark models, and that’s one of the things that many people find appealing - you only have to pick between basic features as opposed to loads of complex ones.
Firstly, there is one key difference between the NV681UK and NV681UKT – the latter is for pets. This means that it comes with a pet tool so that you can clean their bedding as well as other tough spots without issue.
Secondly, there is a slight colour difference between the two. The UK is a lovely shade of almost cyan blue, while the UKT is a deep and majestic burgundy.
Other than that, there really is nothing else that separates these two vacuum cleaners. The NV681UK/T is the same in terms of power, suction, and design, all with the exception of one additional tool. This is why we chose the UKT as our model of choice for this review - you get the full experience.
Features and Benefits
Cord and Hose Length
Unfortunately, the cable only comes in at 8m. While there are shorter cords out there, there are longer ones as well. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it can be annoying having to switch sockets more frequently. The cable tidy is a great addition though because it ensures everything is packed away nicely after use.
The hose makes up for this, coming in at 1.8m. This is longer than the NV700UK/T, but shorter than the NV681UK/T. It’s still a great length, allowing you to stretch up at least some of the stairs and also provide a greater cleaning radius.
Additionally, it makes above-floor cleaning an easier and more pleasant experience, especially for people like me who can never reach those high dusty places.
Carpets. The Shark NV681UKT performed exceptionally on carpet as well, collecting even the finest debris in just a couple of passes. It was quick and effective, with a superb collection of all the muck that we left for it (as you’ll see in a moment). The brush bar worked tirelessly, and thankfully was not tangled with hair after cleaning.
However, there was something missing from this model - the new anti-hair wrap technology. This is something that can be found on the AZ910UK/T, however.
With this new tech, the comb runs alongside the brushes, providing it with protection from hairs while also ensuring it can still perform an excellent clean on carpets and hard floors.
It’s effective and reliable, and we found that the bristles were completely clear from hair after use. Powerful suction combined with Shark’s bristle guard means that hair is directed straight to the bin instead of being left to get tangled up.
It works in perfect harmony with the comb to separate and remove hair, and the brush bar is easy to clean when it gets dusty.
Our Low-Pile Carpet Test Results
This test involved a 1.5m strip of low-medium pile carpet and 100g of debris that we carefully measured. This debris was chosen to represent the kind of thing you would expect to find in your house, and included flaxseed, chilli flakes, loose black tea, and some chunky cheerios. This mixture was spread evenly across the strip.
The Shark NV681UKT then passed over the area for 10 seconds, collecting debris. The bin was then emptied and the contents carefully weighed to see the percentage that had been collected.
The results were quite good and on par with the NV601UKT, although not quite as good as the NV700UKT.
Our Hardwood Floor Test Results
Hard Floors. with hard floors, I was really pleased. A lot of vacuum cleaners end up snow ploughing large debris, which means that you need to run over the area a lot in order to pick it up. Despite there being no dedicated hard floor head, it didn’t snow plough at all and picked pretty much everything up on the first pass.
Sadly, this model does not feature the DuoClean floorhead, which means that it does not have a dedicated soft roller at the front of the floorhead. I did find that it was not as effective as the other models within the Shark upright range at picking up fine dust because of this missing feature.
In order to test how effective it is on hard floors, we used the same method as the carpet test but with laminate flooring instead. We chose this type of hard floor because it is the most commonly used in the UK. You can see from the table that the results are good, although not quite on the same level as models like the NV700UKT that have DuoClean technology.
Stairs. You can use it in its full upright form because of the stretchy hose. If you have a short flight of stairs, then this is likely to be more than enough. However, you also have the lift away option for better reach and flexibility while you are cleaning.
I found both forms to be really effective, although I still prefer using it in lift away mode.
While the wand can be a little heavy at first, it is surprisingly easy to wield, and you can slip the attachments on the end for simple floor to ceiling cleaning. Reach up high to grab the cobwebs and other dust, as well as your blinds and curtains.
Pets. The pet tool is, as expected, the thing I was looking forward to using most. It was amazing on my dog’s bed, really scrubbing it and leaving it looking fresh from the store. The furniture benefitted too, as did the inside of my car, and the tougher spots on my carpet.
It worked hard to clean the fluffy areas, but I do feel it would have been more efficient, and perhaps more effective, if it were a motorised tool as opposed to a standard attachment.
Our Pet Hair Tests
As we like to test everything thoroughly, we also performed pet hair tests using a five-foot strip of low-medium pile carpet. We took a load of dog hair (still carefully weighed) and combed it right into the fibres. The vacuum then passed over for 20 seconds to see how much it was able to collect, and a window blade was used to spot what was missed. As you can see from the table, the results were spectacular.
|Pet Hair ( Combed in Pet Hair over 4 foot area)||99%|
It has the same filtration as every Shark vacuum cleaner, meaning that there is a large sponge with a rubber seal underneath. This is able to absorb an incredible amount of dust, and while Shark advises that you wash it every three months, I can assure you that monthly cleaning is much more effective when preventing loss of suction.
The HEPA filter is located by the motor, muffling the sound, and also creating a solid seal to prevent dust from getting in. This only needs to be washed once or twice a year, and both filters should be cleaned with water only.
In addition to this, the NV681UKT also benefits from Shark’s classic sealed system. This is one of its most desirable traits, especially for those with allergies or asthma. What this means is that when air goes through the machine, it is only pushed through the filter and then the exhaust for cleaner interior air. Unsealed systems allow the air to escape from every gap available.
Our Filtration Test Results
Using a particle test metre, we checked the environment before the vacuum cleaner was used, and then tested it once more after spending 15 seconds sucking up special international approved dust from DMT. The table below shows you the results of our filtration tests.
|Air Particle Test ( Our rating %)||99.9%|
You can see that the sealed system is certainly meeting expectations and ensuring that dust and allergens are picked up effectively. This ensures a better environment for those who may struggle with allergens so that they can breathe cleaner air.
The Shark NV681UKT comes in at 78db, which is loud but still below the legal level. While it’s not going to deafen you, it also isn’t the right choice if you want to vacuum quietly in the morning before everyone gets up. Still, this is a normal noise level for a Shark upright.
Once you attach the pet tool, prepare for volumes in excess of 89db, which is incredible but for all the wrong reasons. For those with sensitive hearing, this is not a pleasant experience. Thankfully, you should only need the tool for bedding and furniture, so it shouldn’t be attached for too long.
Our Noise Test Results
This test involved us placing a decibel meter three metres away from the main floorhead. We then switched the machine on and recorded the results. You can see the main vacuum cleaner and the pet tool’s results in the table below.
|Noise ( Decibals)||78DB|
|Noise With (Pet Powered Brush)||89DB|
The design of this vacuum cleaner is pretty much the same as most Shark upright vacuum cleaners. It has a slightly boxy build, but remains surprisingly compact. This is a feature I always like to see because storage in my house can be quite tricky at the best of times.
It packs away neatly as well, so there is still room to store other cleaning tools and products around it.
You will find the controls that switch between floor types on the handle, as well as a handy suction valve to give you more control while you clean. However, the power button is located on the body instead of the handle in this model.
It was a little disappointing because I have used Shark vacuums with the power button on the handle and it was so much smoother to use.
There are LED headlights on the main floorhead, which is the same for every Shark, but a little feature that I love. Until you have them, you don’t realise how useful they are for spotting fluff and debris that is hidden around the home and under furniture.
The main body has a rubber grip that keeps the house tidy and in place while you are using it in its standard form, but there is a quick release option to make the process quicker when you decide to use lift away instead. Additionally, the tool holder on the back is great for making sure that you always have them close when you need them.
It uses 750w of energy when running, which is well within the EU guidelines and still provides you with some serious power. Even the floorhead has its own motor, with an excellent 80w to keep the floors clean. It’s amazing how well these lower wattage machines work, as well as the amount of energy that they save.
Our Weight Test Results
The table below shows you the various weights for the Shark NV681UKT, and the reason we perform our own weight tests is because we want you to have the best and most accurate information available.
|Weight (Without Tools)||6.3Kg|
|Weight (With All Tools on Board)||6.7Kg|
The Shark NV681UKT weighs in at 6.7kg with all the tools on board, which is quite heavy. However, when you are using it in lift away mode, it comes in at half that weight which makes it way easier to use. When it is in its full form, you don’t need to lift it at all, and pushing it around doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Plus, without the tools attached it is only 6.3kg.
The handle is very comfortable to hold, as well as padded, which make the vacuum a lot nicer to handle as your hand won’t get sore or tired over time. The movement is smooth and flexible, which makes for relaxing cleaning, and actually made it quite an enjoyable experience. It was great at getting around furniture and reacted quickly to my movements.
The soleplate on the head can also be removed for easy access to the base. This means that you can take a good look at the bristle brush that works to collect hair from carpets and really scrub the dirt out.
Unfortunately, you can’t remove it, one thing that I really hope Shark will change in their next vacuum because it’s not just me that finds it frustrating. However, the bar is easy to clean, which is a big plus.
The Shark NV681UKT has powered lift away, which is so handy for getting around the home and cleaning it because you are able to continue using the main floorhead while you clean. However, this one has something else that I really love; flex tech.
The flexible hose means that you can attach the main floorhead to the wand and use it to reach right under your furniture and other hard to reach locations. It’s really handy, and my home felt cleaner than ever by the end of it.
The Shark NV681UK/T also has some excellent onboard storage for the tools that come with it. This is ideal for taking them around with you while you are vacuuming, making them to access when you need them.
The Shark NV681UK/T comes with some excellent tools, each of which are listed below for you.
#1 Pet Power Brush. As I mentioned in the above section, the Shark NV681UKT comes with an excellent pet tool that is effective and superb at picking up hair. It is only available with the pet vacuum cleaner and not the standard UK model.
#2 The 2-in-1 Crevice and Dusting Tool. This nifty tool is perfect for reaching corners and down tight gaps to collect all the debris it can find. The dusting brush is ideal for delicate surfaces and has a gentle touch. It’s a slim and versatile tool that can be used anywhere in the home.
#3 Upholstery Tool. This is the perfect tool for your furniture and car interior. This attaches easily, and also works really well on the stairs.
#4 Under Appliance Wand. An optional attachment, it has a curved design so that you can reach under appliances and other tricky places in order to get all the dirt and grime from underneath.
#5 Car Detail Kit. This is another optional extra, and is great if you need to clean your car on a regular basis. It usually only costs around £25 to pick up, and comes with a whole loads of attachments to make life easier, including a dedicated long nozzle as well as tools designed for cleaning car upholstery and reaching into tight gaps.
Ease of Use and Setup
Building the Vacuum
This is the easiest part of owning a Shark vacuum cleaner. The vast majority of the time, you just need to snap two halves together so that you can get started.
It does have a fantastic and detailed instruction booklet if you do feel unsure or stuck at any time, and it can also help you with some basic troubleshooting.
Emptying the bin
It has a 1.1L capacity, which some find to be on the small size, but I think it’s perfect. It can do my house twice over quite easily, and the emptying process is nice and simple.
On top of that, it’s really easy to clean as well, with hardly any need for your hands to go in there unless absolutely necessary. The bin release button on the main body is also easy to find and clearly labelled.
Shark maintenance is simple, and that’s one of the reasons it’s such a popular brand. There is very little you need to do to look after it, but you do have to ensure that the brush bar is clean and maintained.
To do this, just detach the body from the floorhead, flip the floorhead over, remove the plate, and use scissors to cut off the hair. This should be done regularly to prevent blockages and clogging. We also have a fantastic Shark maintenance and repair guide that you should check out.
As for the filter, this is more simple maintenance. The main filters should be cleaned every three months, but you should be checking them on a monthly basis.
From there, rinse them under cool running water until clean and leave on the side for 24 hours or until it is bone dry. You don’t want a damp filter in your vacuum cleaner, that’s the easiest way to break it.
Like all Shark vacuum cleaners, the NV681UKT comes with a warranty that lasts for five years. This covers things like malfunctions and breakdowns, and the cost of parts and labour is also included in your warranty. This makes a nice difference from the industry standard of one year.
Should I Buy the Shark NV681UK/T?
We hope that this Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT guide has helped you to learn more about what each vacuum cleaner has to offer, as well as which is going to work best for your home.
Both of them have the same features, with the one difference being that the UKT comes with a pet tool.
Some have felt that the bin capacity is small, but 1.1L is a good amount for a sweep around the home (maybe even two). I thought it was pretty adequate personally. I was a little sad that there was no hard floor attachment or duo-clean, but it still did an excellent job reaching around the home and getting rid of pet hair.
The flex tech that is included was amazing for reaching under low furniture, and I swear my house has never been cleaner. Honestly, despite the cable being just a little short for my liking, I still want to give this vacuum cleaner a perfect 5/5. Top marks, Shark!
What did you think of our Shark NV681UK and NV681UKT review? Do you agree with our thoughts on the vacuum, or are there others that you think are better suited to the task? We love hearing from you, so make sure you leave us a message in the comments below.
Last Updated on August 5, 2020 by Gemma Tyler
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.