Shark Apex Powered Lift-Away AX952 Review
This vacuum has a big bite, but is it worth $400?
Apex (noun): the tip, point, or vertex; summit.
By the name alone, Shark surely had high hopes when the company released the Shark Apex Powered Lift-Away AX952 (available at Amazon for $339.99). This model has all of Shark's high-end features it has put out over the years, most notably DuoClean. While the AX952 performed above average when compared to the Sharks we've tested, the competition keeps it from becoming the apex predator it's aspiring to be. Those looking to upgrade the Shark they already own should check out this model.
What we like
With its DuoClean brush roll, the Apex is a jack-of-all trades. The system, as you may have guessed, uses two brush rolls. The front one is soft, to gather up large debris and polish hardwood floors. The back has more traditional bristles that specialize in getting finer dirt out of carpets.
That front roller is what impressed us the most, though. Our testing includes a mock kitchen floor, deep and short-pile carpet. When it came to debris, nothing could escape the Apex's maw, whether it was macaroni, rice, or pet hair. This was all done without swapping in any of the attachments. So when it comes to crumb catching, the Shark Apex rivals even the most unkempt beards.
While not exclusive to the Apex, this vacuum also has some other nifty add-ons. LED lights adorn the front of the brush head, allowing you to more easily hone in on dirt. And for messes where a full-sized brush head won't fit, you can use the included upholstery brush, dusting brush, crevice tool, or motorized pet tool.
If you're worried that all these do-dads are just more things to go wrong, don't. The Apex is covered by a seven-year warranty.
What you might like, but we didn't
Probably what Shark is most well known for is the Lift-Away feature. Basically, with a touch of a button, the Apex converts from an upright to a pseudo-canister with no wheels. This mode allows you to reach farther, since the upright form cannot clean under furniture. However, the shape of the brush head isn't as svelte as those found on standard canisters, and you still have to lug the motor around. You could purchase the canister caddy, but a $50 price tag makes that option is a bridge too far.
What needs improvement
The Shark is a big vacuum. It weighs 18 pounds, when you load it up with the included attachments and power cord. While that isn't heaviest around, the distribution of the weight all at the bottom makes it feel that way.
With all that mass, you'd imagine that the Apex is very powerful. However, amongst all the vacuums we've tested over the years, it's middle of the road. On average, the Apex picked up 33 percent of the testing dirt on short-pile carpet and 16 percent on high-pile. That's on par with other Sharks with DuoClean. However, the Apex costs over $100 more than the NV800.
Buy or Skip?
Like its namesake, this Shark has found little need to change from its predecessors. The Apex is going to be most appealing to those who already own a Shark, and are looking for a replacement. That's because the Apex lives up to its name, but only when compared to other Sharks. This model has the best the company has to offer.
At the time of this review, the Apex retails for around $400. For that kind of money, you can getting a more powerful and better handling Miele. If you're thinking about switching brands, wait for the price to come down $100, and you've got yourself a bargain.
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