Top Level Roomba Alternative
Shark ION R85 RobotThe Shark ION R85 is a strong performer with a good battery life and the ability to connect to wifi. Users have the option of controlling this vacuum with their smartphone, or the user interface along the top of the unit. While there is no mapping technology included with this robot vacuum, the Shark R85 does use advanced navigation sensors in order to drive around your home and detect dirt / debris, while also avoiding obstacles. A solid value at this price point.Check Price
- Great for pet hair. The Shark ION R85 has 3X more suction over the Shark ION R75 (aka Shark ION 750) model, its most recent predecessor.
- Variable airflow & suction. This means less debris gets flung across the floor, especially larger debris.
- Still uses the oldest style of boundary marker. The BotBoundary is a physical strip that you have to lay across the floor for every transition you want to block.
- The Shark struggles with thicker carpeting and finer debris types.
Shark ION R85 Design
The design of the Shark ION R85 closely mimics the looks of the older Shark ION robot vacuums. It has a round body with an all black aesthetics.
The interface on top is simple with a large “CLEAN” button, and with two smaller buttons– “Dock” to send the robot back to the charging station and “Max” to operate at max suction.
The Shark ION R85 actually has three different levels of suction with varying degrees of airflow, noise, and cleaning performance.
What about the underside?
On the bottom of the R85 is one central brushroll that is made up of a combination of spiral bristles and rubberized blades. This tends to be more effective for multi-floor cleaning than having just one material.
There are also two side spinning brushes which help to capture debris and pull it into the path of the central brushroll. The side brushes also help to clean corners and edges.
What about the new spinning brush?
The spinning brushes on the ION R85 are a little different than other models. For one, they only have one “arm”, whereas most other brushes have two.
It’s not entirely clear if this has an effect on cleaning performance, but we felt it was worth pointing out.
Another difference is that this brush tends to spin slower than other spinning brushes.
The slower spin helps it to not fling debris around as much, especially on hardwood floors, but could also mean slower overall cleaning times.
Shark ION R85 vs. S87 Base
There are two types of charging bases with the Shark ION R85:
- Standard charger: The R85 comes with one standard charger which has a simple design and is designed to serve as a “home base” when the ION R85 is done cleaning.
- Charger with handheld vacuum: If you like the ION R85, but are also looking for a portable handheld to use in conjunction, you may want to check out the Shark S87. This is a package deal that includes the R85 robot vacuum as well as a cordless, compact handheld vacuum which charges at the same base as the robot vacuum does.
Size and Dimensions
In terms of size, the Shark ION R85 is a little more compact than other models. By comparison, the Roomba i7 is slightly taller at 3.6” and the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is even taller at 3.9” tall.How big is the vacuum?
- Width: 12.8” in diameter
- Height: 3.4” tall
- Weight: 5.51 lbs.
Accessories & Parts
The Shark ION R85 includes the following parts and accessories:
CHARGING BASE | The charging base for the Shark ION R85 is pretty simple and straight-forward. When the battery is low, it will automatically navigate itself back to the charger to juice up.
BOTBOUNDARY STRIPS | The BotBoundary is a little less impressive, in my opinion. This is an 8’ long strip that you’ll need to lay down on the floor if you want to block off sensitive areas. The BotBoundary strip can be cut into shorter lengths or to create additional boundaries.
The Shark ION R85 does not include any extra filters or spinning side brushes with the initial package. However, it’s also less expensive, so that may serve as part of the reason.
Shark ION R85 Features
For the sake of comparison, let’s use that model as as a springboard into figuring out what is new about the R85 model.
Three Levels of Suction
The Shark ION R85 has three levels of varying degrees of suction. Low suction uses a minimal amount of airflow to effectively clean an area.
This is suitable for hard floors like tile or hardwood and the lower airflow helps to prevent debris from blowing around by the vent.
Max suction is better for high pile carpet and uses the maximum amount of airflow. This helps to capture debris deep in the carpet fibers. When running at max suction, the R85 uses 3X more airflow than than the R75 model.
The ION R85 uses Smart Sensor 2.0 Navigation to move about each space and detect obstacles. Unlike Roomba’s top-tier navigation, which moves in straighter, more logical lines, the 2.0 navigation by Shark still has a bit of a sporadic approach.
It zigzags its way across the space, lightly bumping into walls and obstacles and then continuing in another direction until the entire area is clean. For comparison, the ION R75 uses a 1.0 version of the Smart Sensor navigation.
Larger Dust Bin
The dust bin of the Shark ION R85 also larger than the R75 model.
The larger dust bin makes the R85 a nice choice for cleaning up pet hair or high traffic areas from busy families.
While this isn’t necessarily a new feature, it is one that adds to the overall performance of the Shark ION R85.
When connected to a wifi network, you can control your robot vacuum directly from your smartphone, tablet, or even via voice control using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
As mentioned above, we’re a little disappointed that Shark didn’t take the opportunity to update their BotBoundaries.
Comparable models have infrared light boundary markers (like the Roomba lineup) or some even allow you to “draw” boundaries on a digital map directly on your smartphone (like the Neato BotVac D7 Connected).
Either way, both of these technologies are well beyond physical boundary markers, like what is required on the Shark ION R85 and R75 models.
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The cleaning performance of the Shark ION R85 robot vacuum was above average.
Hardwood Floor Cleaning
The hardwood floor tests vs. the Shark ION R85 robot vacuum were excellent. The vacuum showed no signs of struggle.
Each debris was cleaned up to a level of 100%, leaving no debris on our testing lane.
There was a time when the Shark would bump into the wall and not return to work right away. It was almost as if the vacuum did not register that it had bumped into a wall.
That said, it realized what was going on after a few seconds and would turn around and get back to work.
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Low Pile Carpet Cleaning
The low pile carpet tests were similar to the hardwood floor tests, with one minor bump along the way.
What was the bump in the road?
Rice, kitty litter, and cereal were no problem for the Shark ION R85. On the other hand, the sugar test was a bit tougher for the vacuum to handle.
We noticed that the Shark would drive over the sugar, but not be able to lift it completely up. After letting the robot run its course on our testing lane, we measured that 30% of the sugar still remained in the low pile carpet.
High Pile Carpet Cleaning
The high pile carpet test showed the worst results out of the three floor types.
What was the issue?
This time, both kitty litter and sugar presented problems for the ION R85.
Cereal and rice were not a problem, but the sugar and kitty litter showed slight declines in performance.
This Shark robot vacuum was not able to fully remove the kitty litter on the high pile carpet. That said, it did clean up a total of 95% of the debris.
On the other hand, sugar dropped down from 70% to 66% from the low pile carpet to the high pile carpet. It seemed as if the sugar simply fell too deep for the vacuum to suck up, resulting in more being left in the pile of the carpet.
Usability & Maneuverability
The usability of the Shark ION R85 was quite good. It was quick and easy to unbox and had user controls that were intuitive.
The app is similar to most other robot vacuum smartphone apps. The Shark app allows users to control the vacuum, set a schedule for cleanings, and much more.
Driving around your home
When it comes to maneuverability, the Shark R85 does a fine job. The robot simply drives around your home in search of dirt and debris to vacuum up.
That said, it does also work to avoid ledges, obstacles, and the barrier tape provided by Shark.
RELATED – Shark vs. Roomba, the ultimate comparison.
Shark ION R85 Maintenance
The maintenance of the Shark ION R85 is another thing that really stands out. The maintenance itself is pretty standard.
Replace the filters as needed, keep an eye on the brushroll and side brushes, and be aware of anything unusual with your machine.
After a couple of years, replace the battery and keep up with business as usual.
Whether you need to replace one of these standard parts or something unique (like the front wheel or battery cover), Shark has an expansive stock of replacement parts, ready to ship, and reasonably priced.
Is the Shark ION R85 a good value?
The overall value of this Shark robot vacuum is quite good. The performance is above average and the price is reasonable. This combination creates a well-valued product.
Throughout our performance tests, we saw the Shark ION R85 do a nice job.
There were some small mishaps with sugar, but for the most part cleaning performance was solid.
Usability and maneuverability were other areas where this vacuum excelled.
It is extremely easy to use, whether you’re using the app or controlling the vacuum directly. The maneuverability is just as good, as it does all the driving around your home for you.
It may not really compete with the likes of the Roomba i7+ or Neato D7, but it’s still a solid robot overall.
Shark R85 Specifications
Below you’ll find a complete table listing the important facts and features about the Shark ION R85:
|Floor Type||All (indoor)|
|Returns||Varies by retailer|
Who Should Buy the Shark R85 Robot Vacuum?
The Shark R85 is a simple robot vacuum that could be a good addition to almost any home.
Shark R85 is best if you:
- Want essential features and excellent value: The ION R85 isn’t a bleeding edge robot, but it’s not trying to be. It’s a simple robot with good performance, a great price point, and the primary features most want in a robot (ex. wifi control, scheduling, affordability).
- Want wifi connectivity: With the ability to connect to wifi, this vacuum can be controlled by a smartphone as well as voice-controlled by Amazon Alex or Google Assistant.
- Want an above average performer: The Shark does a fine job of cleaning on all indoor floor types. It’s weakest area is ultra fine debris on carpet. For most debris types it will be fine.
For more information on the Shark R85 robot vacuum, see here.
Why did the Shark ION R85 robot vacuum score the way it did?
- Design – I’m not 100% convinced by the single blade spinning brush, but everywhere else Shark takes a consistient and measured approach that’s on par with the industry at large.
- Performance – Overall, very solid performance. A few hiccups on sugar, but that’s fairly common with robots (especially in this price range).
- Quality – Seems well made (like most Shark produts). Extended tests will help to better determine longevity.
- Usability – Easy and intutive to use. App is a nice extra, as is voice control via Alexa and Google.
- Value – at this price point for these features it’s a really solid value overall.
Solid Performance, Great Value
The Shark ION R85 is an affordably priced robot vacuum with the essential features that most users want. It has wifi connectivity, smartphone control, voice control (via Alexa / Google), and scheduling. During our performance tests we saw above average cleaning. The balance of price vs. performance is right where we like to see it. A solid product and a great robot vacuum for most homes.