Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Shark Review - This Vacuum Sucks

So, the time came for us to purchase a new vacuum. Our vacuum that we bought on the day after Thanksgiving last year for $35 at Walmart is complete and utter crap. Do Not Buy the Eureka Maxima unless you enjoy rolling a vacuum back and forth for no apparent reason.

Anyway, when I looked at Target to see what they offered, I decided to look up online reviews and see which one is best. What a waste of time. IT is a complete crap shoot choosing a vacuum. All of the good reviews are 1) written after using the item for 5 minutes or 2) written by people who are paid by the company to do so. They sound like infomercials, for real - normal people don't talk like that. A good portion of the reviews aren't even about the product but the store they purchased it from. Yeah.

So, I posted my woes on facebook and received a huge response. Friends were telling me what they had, how happy they were with it, and what surfaces they worked best on. After 3 days of combining online reviews with vacuum rating site (which also sound like they are tipped by the companies) and with my facebook friends opinions, I reached a decision: The Shark Navigator.
I know, I know. I'm cliché for buying something with an infomercial that keeps telling you, "It's amazing" à la Billy Mays, but I could not ignore the evidence in its favor, no matter how dumb the commercial is. I figured I could buy it and give it a try. If it sucks - or doesn't rather - I can return it.

Before I tell you the results of this new machine, I first must let you know the testing conditions:
1) Understand first that my apartment is completely tiled. The only carpet we have is an area rug, and the rug in question has changed several times over the last few months. The rug you see pictured here is just as new as the vacuum cleaner; well, new to us, that is. My dearest Angela is moving to NY next Friday and decided not to take this with her, so she gave it to me :) I just picked it up today and it's so much nicer than any of the other rugs I've had in this space. This one is wool and it is actually plushy, a new concept in this house. Also note: wool carpets shed. Angela informed me when I picked it up that it takes several years before they settle enough to not shed anymore. Anyway, the vacuum needs to be able to work well on tile as well as on carpet of various heights.
2) Also understand the nature of my "only sheds twice a year" dog who actually sheds constantly. He's 14 months old and I'm willing to bet that if I had saved all the hair I have swept and vacuumed up around my house in that time, I could have molded it into at least two Gordo sized corgi replicas. Even when I sweep and vacuum what I think is absolutely everywhere I still get tumbleweeds of hair rolling around. I have no clue where they come from, but they are a constant in my life. I love my Gordo, so I accept the tumbleweeds. So, the vacuum needs to be good at collecting hair, even when I can't see it; and it needs to pull hair off of plushy fabrics. I'm tired of lint rolling my carpet and couches when people are coming over. (Yes, that is what I have had to do.)

So, for this experiment, we will be using my living room with the new/used carpet that has been freshly shampooed:
The carpet needed a vacuuming, Angela even told me that when I picked it up, but just to look at it, it really wasn't that bad. After vacuuming the bare tile floor under where the carpet would go as well as giving the rug a good once over, this is what the tank looked like:

Yeah, it was really full. I unintentionally let it fill about 1/3 over the "max fill" line. This was a good sign. Apparently it can suck out a lot of crap when it doesn't look that bad to the naked eye. Score one for the Shark.

The Navigator also has some very handy features. There are two positions for the on switch: click it once for the bare floor or cleaning attachments, click it twice for carpets. The second click activates the roller brush. This is nice because you won't burn your carpet if the vacuum sits on it while you are using the hose to clean something else. Another perk is the button to remove the tank. This button is right next to the on switch and just makes the whole tank pop out = no clipping anything or lifting a thin plastic door that breaks easily. It came with a variety of attachments, including a dusting brush, a pet hair brush, and a crevice tube. Even emptying the canister was easy and you don't get dirty! You just hold the tank over a trash can and push a release button to make the bottom hatch drop out. I did kind of give it a shake and then I had to take a paper towel and grab some hair that was stuck to the top filter, but it wasn't a big deal.

So, remember, I only vacuumed a 5x7 area of tile and the area rug, and this is what came out of the tank: I felt like a very dirty person, but simultaneously felt the hope of being not so dirty anymore.

In conclusion: This vacuum sucks so far, which in a vacuum is a good thing. I like it. It's small and light with neat features that are easy to use. It sucked well on the tile, not blowing the dirt around but actually sucking it up, and dug deep down in the carpet to remove more dirt than I thought was there. The dusting brush (a personal favorite in any vacuum) worked nicely, and I went on to clean my storage ottomans and lamp shade to great satisfaction. Also, it's not very loud, despite what some of the reviews I found said.Happy as I am with it thus far, I still want to see how it lasts with regular use over several months. So, if you are curious, check back in a while and I will let you know how it holds up. Hopefully this posting helps all you potential vacuum buyers make your decision better than the online info I found on the subject did me. And for those friends of mine who follow my blog and just read through this whole thing only to realize it's not really about our little family much at all, I apologize and promise the next posting will be. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Quarter Down

Well, I am officially a quarter of a century old. We had a fun weekend in spite of other unfortunate events. Justin's grandpa Charlie passed away early in the morning of June 18th, the Friday before my birthday. It was a sad affair, but at the same time, he was miserable for the last several years of his life with pain and frustration from strokes, so we know he is much happier where he is.

So, in an effort to still help me have a fun birthday, we called up some friends and went to the Hard Rock Café for dinner on Saturday night.

They made me stand up in the middle of the Restaurant and everything. It was a lot of fun.
And since we could't just end the night there (I mean we had driven all the way to City Walk), we topped it all off with a night of karaoke at Rising Star, a karaoke club with a full band and back-up singers. You stand on the stage with lights and everything. Most of us submitted our names with random songs. I have to say I was a little disappointed that they didn't call Justin and Shannon's boyfriend Michael up to sing "Hot in Here" like they had requested, but luckily Shannon and I graced our audience with "Wanna Be" by the Spice Girls.

Also, Aimee sang "Hard to Handle" by the Black Crows, which she did very well and very reluctantly I might add :)

We had a blast watching the other patrons sing as well. Our show included a very drunk bachelorette party, a very effeminate male Lady Gaga impersonator, and two female Columbian tourists who spoke almost no English. We will definitely go again, and maybe next time they will let Justin sing his song :)

On Monday, June 21st (my actual birthday), Justin and I had a low key day around town - we couldn't go very far because his grandpa's viewing was that night. So, I requested a photo shoot. We haven't had the chance to go out to a neat place and just shoot off film with our weird cameras in a long time, so I suggested a nearby abandoned sunflower field.

Monday night, after the viewing, Justin took me out to P.F.Changs for a b-day dinner, which was scrumptious.

Also, Justin was very thoughtful and got me a few of the random things I Have been wanting: The Sims 3 Ambitions (I love it, it's my thing, let it go), Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water (to make Moroccan food with), and the Hungry Girl 1=2=3 cookbook :)

So, even though the weekend had a much more important thing to take care of, I still had a great birthday. Here's to the next 25!