Shark IQ Robot vacuum with self-empty base review

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REVIEW – When a gadget becomes popular we get offered a lot of those gadgets for review. After a while, it can become a little boring to review yet another one of those gadgets. Robot vacuums are in that category for me right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love using them in my home, but reviewing each new one has become monotonous. How can you make a robot vacuum more interesting and useful? You add a feature that makes them even easier to use like the self-cleaning feature offered with the new Shark IQ robot vac that I’ll be showing you today. Let’s check it out.

What is it?

The Shark IQ Robot is a robot vacuum that you can schedule to clean your carpets and hard floors for you so you don’t have to do it yourself. But unlike 99.9% of the other robot vacs on the market, the Shark IQ Robot dumps its own dirt bin so you don’t have to do it after each cleaning session … at least not for a few weeks.

What’s in the box?

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  • Shark IQ robot vac
  • Base
  • Power cord
  • Boundary markers
  • Instructions

Design and features

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As far as how the Shark IQ Robot vac looks, it looks like a robot vacuum. It’s made of black plastic which I always find to be a strange choice because at least in my house, my robot vacs always end up looking pretty dusty.

On top of the vacuum is a status LED and buttons that you can press to start a manual (instead of scheduled) cleaning session and a dock button to send the IQ back to the dock for charging and automatic dirt bin emptying.

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If you flip the vacuum over, you’ll see the two main wheels and a smaller wheel up front in the center.

You’ll also see the brush. Actually, lots of brushes.

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The main brush has a plate around it with a brush on the edge that helps keep the main brush from getting clogged with hair, threads, etc.

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The actual brush is pretty small lengthwise compared to other robot vacuums that I’ve reviewed. It has yellow plastic fins and brushes that allow you to use the IQ on a variety of floor surfaces like carpet, tile, etc.

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If you look closely, there are two short brushes built right into the bottom of the vacuum slightly forward of the two main wheels. And we’re still not done with brushes!

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There are also two magnetic whisker style brushes that attach to the front of the unit.

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On one side of the vacuum is the power switch.

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And on the back is where you’ll find the removable dirt bin and the port where the dirt is sucked into the main dirt receptacle on the docking station.

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The Shark IQ’s dirt bin slides out from the back of the unit if you want to manually dump it yourself.

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It has a filter that is replaceable.

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What sets the Shark IQ Robot vac apart from other robot vacs is the charging and dirt bin emptying docking station.

Included in the package is a plastic mat that you place on the floor for the charging/dirt sucking docking station.

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This setup doesn’t take up much more floor space than other robot vac’s charging docks, but it does require some extra vertical space.

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When you need to empty the dirt bin inside the docking station, you press the button on the side which unlatches the top part of the bin.

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The bin can hold a few week’s worth of dirt. Of course that all depends on how dirty your floors are.

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This assembly also has a filter to make sure none of the dirt and dust gets back into your house when the IQ is being automatically emptied.

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When the bin is full, you just remove it from the dock, hold it over a trashcan and press the button so that the bottom latch falls opens and the dirt falls out.

Sounds good, but how well does it clean?

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Right now, we’re in a small one-bedroom apartment while our house is having an extensive remodel. The floors in this apartment have low pile carpet in the main living area and bedroom, tile in the bathroom, and vinyl planks in the little kitchen area.

We have our cat Max with us and he is always dropping hair tumbleweeds as you can see in the images above and below.

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I was pretty confident that the IQ would have no problems cleaning the floors since the carpets have no shag at all. So to get started, I set up the dock, charged the vacuum and installed the app.


The Shark IQ app is pretty standard compared to other robot vac apps. You have the ability to set cleaning schedules and choose the cleaning mode from the default of normal, to eco, or max modes.

As the vac cleans your floors, it creates a map. Even after 12 cleanings, the app was still telling me that the IQ was still learning my floors. I found that a little strange given how small my apartment is. But my biggest issue with the Shark IQ Robot vac is that it doesn’t do a very good job cleaning the floors.

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My first red flag was when it continued to miss cleaning up a fur tumbleweed just feet from the docking station. You can see the cat fur in the image above I let that fur stay there for days and each day I would run the vac and it would not pick it up.

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I also noticed that it didn’t pick up larger pieces of dirt like a piece of cat litter (we use pine wood pellets (horse bedding) as litter).

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And just random small pieces of dirt were left on the carpet.

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After just 10 days or so, the app told me that the dirt bin was full and needed to be emptied. I dumped the dirt into a bag and as you can see it’s not all THAT much for 10 days of vacuuming.

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Even after the automatic dirt bin emptying at the docking station, some dirt was left inside the vac’s internal bin.

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A couple of times, the app would alert me to a problem with the vac and I would find a piece of the cat litter lodged in the port on the back of the vacuum.

Some other complaints that I have to include the fact that the vacuum is VERY slow cleaning. It would take an hour or longer to clean my 1 bedroom apartment. On more than one occasion I got tired of listening to it vacuum so I used the app to tell it to go back to the dock and even that took over 20 minutes for it to go back.

The IQ is also very loud compared to other vacuums that I’ve reviewed. Even in Eco mode, it’s annoying to be in the same room/appt with it when it’s cleaning. And when it goes back to the dock to auto empty, that suction noise is crazy loud. You would NOT want to schedule cleanings during the night/sleeping hours, trust me.

What I like

  • Self-emptying dirt bin

What I’d change

  • Suction needs to be improved
  • Cleaning speed needs to be improved

Final thoughts

I was excited to review the Shark IQ Robot vac because the worst part of using robot vacs is having to empty the dirt bins every few days (yes, my life is tough), and with the IQ I wouldn’t have to do that nearly as often. But the fact that this vacuum doesn’t clean well, is slow to clean small areas, and is annoyingly loud has kept me from wanting to use this robot vac any longer than I have to. At this point, I can’t recommend the Shark IQ Robot vac.

Price: $479.99
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Shark.

5 thoughts on “Shark IQ Robot vacuum with self-empty base review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Poor quality and never did “learn “ my floor plan. I have had to revacuum my floor because it does a poor job. Definitely NOT worth the money!

  3. i love my shark. amazed at the size of stuff she picks up(i named her sally). she picks up coins, earrings and all the dog hair my puppy sheds. i clean her up every day before i go to work and she does a marvelous job. i take care of sally then kiss my wife goodbye before i go to work.

  4. I have the other XL model R101AE and I have the direct opposite experience as you. Large floorplan with 5 rooms gets done in one hour, mapnwas created after one run, nothing left on the floors, quietest vaccum I owned so far (I owned 5).

    Doesn’t get stuck anywhere, just works like a robot vaccum should.

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