Shark Ion Robot 720 Review - A Solid Entry-Level Vacuum

Shark Ion Robot 720 Review – A Solid Entry-Level Vacuum

Perhaps you are thinking about bringing a robotic vacuum into your home. Maybe you have seen the commercials or have a neighbor that has one. So you do a little research online only to find you have more choices out there than the old lady down the road has cats. The Shark Ion Robot 720, is just one of those choices.

In this review, I will cover the Shark Ion 720 in depth to find out the strengths and weaknesses of this vacuum. By the end of the article, you will have a better understanding of its capabilities and can then decide if it is a good fit for you and your needs.

Who is the Shark Ion Robot 720 For?

This little robot vacuum isn’t for everyone. Is it right for you? It could be, if:

  • You don’t need wireless communications to control the robot.
  • You have mainly hard flooring or low pile carpet.
  • You want a reliable cleaning machine with a lower cost than the top-end models.
  • You want to be able to schedule cleaning cycles for days in advance.

Who is the Shark Ion Robot 720 Not for?

The Ion 720 won’t be a good fit for a lot of people. In particular, it’s not a good match for those that:

  • Have medium to high pile carpeting.
  • Need a vacuum that will resume cleaning without being told, after a recharge.
  • Want to use wireless communications and voice control.
  • Don’t want to be responsible for constant maintenance to keep it running smooth.

Dimensions and Features

Let’s take a look at what is going on under the hood of this mighty little vacuum. Knowing what the features are and can do or can’t do will go a long way to helping you make your decision.

The Battery Has Some Limits And Is Industry Average

The Shark Ion 720 uses a lithium-ion battery pack. This is a step up from the nickel-metal hydride batteries. Lithium-ion batteries charge faster, hold a charge longer and have a general overall longer lifespan of recharge cycles.

From dead to full charge the 720 will take about three hours to charge. In the industry, this is about average. Some are faster; others are slower. What the Ion 720 will do though, is recharge itself.

The docking station should be easily accessible and on a flat, level hard surface such as a kitchen floor. When the battery discharges to around 15 percent life remaining the robot will cease the cleaning cycle and make its way back to the dock. It will automatically recharge the battery until full.

The total run time will depend greatly on the size and type of flooring it is cleaning. The less carpet you have, the longer it will run. Shark states that under optimal conditions the battery will last up to 70 minutes.

What you need to know is that you will most likely never see a full 70-minute run. Recharging at 15 percent remaining will take off about 10 minutes of that right off the top. The more carpet you have, the harder the machine works, draining the battery faster.

The complexity of the floor space layout, amount of filter blockage and how heavily soiled the area is all play a factor in the battery runtime total. In general application under normal situations, you should expect a runtime of about 45 to 50 minutes at best.

That being said, the runtime is sufficient enough to fully clean about 1000 square feet. The one drawback is that the vacuum will not continue cleaning after the battery is recharged. You will have to manually resume the cycle with the push buttons on top of the unit or the remote control.

The Remote Control is Handy, Just Don’t Lose It.

Since the Shark Ion 720 is an entry level robot, there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles. You can take complete control of your programming in two ways: locally or remotely.

Locally there are three push buttons on the top of the unit. Using these buttons, you can start the cleaning cycle, send the robot to the docking station or tell it to spot clean. To spot clean, the robot must be manually placed over the area and then turned on. There is no way to tell it where to go to clean specifically.

The other control option is through the included remote control. With the remote control, you can also start, dock and spot clean the robot. However, you can also select cleaning cycles; set schedules see the time and the battery charge level.

All in all, it is a simple remote and a simple robot. The remote control has a little display screen and without it, you won’t be able to do much with the robot. I highly recommend you don’t lose it.

The Ion 720 Can Clean Any Floor Type. Well… Almost.

When it comes to choosing a vacuum of any style, be it robotic or upright, canister or bagged, the one major question is: can it clean MY floors.

The Shark Ion 720 is rated for all floor types. However, this is a tad misleading. There are three major floor types: hard flooring, carpet and stone.

Shark Ion Robot 720 navigating from hardwood flooring to carpet.

I will start with the stone. As long as the stones are even, flush and sealed, the vacuum will have no trouble cleaning them, even over wide gapped and grouted areas.

If they are uneven, raised or heavily textured, they will still get clean. However, the brush bars may wear out sooner than you like. You should keep an eye on the wear and tear of the brush bars with this flooring type.

Hard flooring covers everything from hardwood, softwood, tile, laminate, vinyl, etc. You get the idea. Not stone and not carpet. The Shark Ion is excellent at keeping hard flooring clean and will easily conquer hard flooring without missing a beat.

Carpet is where the rating becomes misleading. Not all carpet is the same. While the Ion 720 is rated for carpet, it is only rated for low-pile carpet. Medium pile, high pile and shag will only cause the vacuum problems. Even medium pile will get tangled and caught in the brush bars. You will have to rescue the robot manually and this causes problems.

If you have carpet that is medium pile or taller, this vacuum simply will not work for you, no matter how hard you try.

Sensors Help Protect Your Furniture and The Robot

There are three types of sensors on the Shark Ion Robot 720: Drop, Bump and Dirt Detection. Each one has a separate job to do. Let’s have a look.

Shark Ion Robot 720 vacuuming up dirt on a tile floor.

The dirt detection sensor does just what the name implies: it detects dirt. Instead of some futuristic beam that seeks out hidden dirt in your house like a homing beacon, it is an infrared light underneath the vacuum that detects the movement and amount of dust and debris in the current area. It will alert the vacuum when that area is clean, which could take several return trips.

The bump sensor is another self-explanatory sensor, but I will explain it anyway: it detects when the machine bumps into things. This is a mixture of touch and acoustic sensors working together. The touch sensors will alert when contact is made and the robot will stop, slow down or change direction.

The acoustic sensors alert the robot when a possible collision is imminent. This is usually walls, furniture, table legs, etc. The robot will slow down and even if contact is made, there won’t be any scuffs or damage.

The drop sensor is a fun one. You might not be able to guess what it detects, but I won’t keep you in suspense. It detects ledges, drops and stairs to prevent the Ion 720 from falling. Any ledge or drop that is over an inch will make the robot stop in its tracks and change direction.

The one problem with these infrared drop sensors is that they don’t get feedback when the signal is sent in to a dark surface. If you have black tiles, or black carpet, for example, the black will actually absorb the infrared beam and not return it. This will send a false positive signal that will make the robot think it is a ledge.

If you notice your robot is not cleaning darker areas of your floor, this may be the reason why. While there is no permanent fix, you can, according to consumer reviews, place a piece of opaque tape over the drop sensors. Just be sure you don’t use the taped robot near stairs or ledges.

HEPA Certified Filters Help Keep Your Home and Nose Clean

The filter in the pre-motor area is a HEPA certified filter. This means that it is capable of capturing particles down to 3 microns in size. As such it is certified to be allergen-specific and will help clear your home of things that can make you sneeze or get stuffy.

Since most allergy sufferers have worse attacks in the home, purifying the air is important. What we don’t often think about is the floor we walk on. Tracking in allergens from outside, settling particles in the floors, kick up allergy-inducing dust with every step.

Our vacuums filter should be a good defense against the allergens in our home. HEPA certified filters assure us of this. Capturing particles to 3 microns in size will prevent up to 99 percent of allergens collected to reenter the home.

You can breathe easier knowing dust, mites, pet dander and smoke are all collected in the filter and not back on your floors or in the air.

Specifications Table

Sometimes we just need a fancy chart to see what everything is all about. I made one for you here.

Shark Ion Robot 720
Weight 5.5 pounds
Clearance Height 2.6 inches
Cleaning Radius 13 inches
Scheduling Yes
Battery Type Lithium-Ion
Battery Runtime Up to 70 minutes
Recharge Time 3 hours
Wireless Communications No
Mobile App No
Remote Control Yes
Cleaning Routines Yes
Local Control Yes
Automatic Recharge Yes
Automatic Resume No
Cleaning Pattern Random/Sporadic
Hard Floors Yes
Carpet Low-Pile only
Side Brushes 2
Containment Magnetic Strips
Navigation Smart Sensor Technology
Drop Sensors Yes
Bump Sensors Yes
Dirt Detection Yes
Filtration Type HEPA
Spot Cleaning Yes
Voice Control No
Extraction Method 3-Stage with Brush Bars

Alternative Options

If you want to compare other vacuums, or you think that maybe the Shark Ion 720 is not quite right for you, you can consider these choices:

Shark Ion Robot 750

This robotic vacuum is identical to the 720 I am reviewing here with one rather noticeable difference: It has Wi-Fi and app connectivity. The Shark Ion 750 does not come with a remote control. Instead, you will utilize a mobile app for scheduling, monitoring and control.

You can also pair it with a voice device that is Amazon Alexa enabled, or even Google Home. You can then use voice commands to control your robotic vacuum as needed. Besides this small difference, all other aspects of the machines are the same.

Roomba 690

The Roomba 690 from iRobot is one of the leaders in the economy class of robot vacuums. With full wireless technology, scheduling, programming, monitoring and reports all appear on your cell phone.

The one major difference here is that the Roomba is rated for all floor types, even shag carpet, and it does not have HEPA certified filtration.

If allergies are not a problem and you are okay with a non-HEPA filter, the Roomba 690 might be a solid alternative choice for you. If you have high-pile carpeting, it may be your only choice in the budget category.

Roomba 980

If you want to go out and get the best of the best, iRobot is the industry leader. While every other brand tries very hard to take the top spot, iRobot has not yet yielded the place to anyone. The 980 may be the best robot vacuum ever made. It’s just super expensive.

HEPA filtration, all floor types, mobile and voice communications, reporting, schedules; this robot does it all. It also comes with brushless rollers, which means long hair doesn’t get tangled up and makes maintenance a breeze.

The price is fairly steep, though, so if budget is a top concern, you may not be so inclined to include the Roomba 980 to your purchase list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Allow me to take a moment to answer some of the more common questions about the Shark Ion Robot 720.

Q. How does it handle small items, like toys and tissues?
A. Just like any other vacuum, if it can suck it up, it will. Lego, tissues, small chunk pet food, kitty litter; they will all end up in the collection bin.

Underneath view of Shark Ion robot vacuum sucking up breakfast cereal.

If something is too large and it tries anyway, it may become lodged, tangled or stuck. This will cause the robot to shut down and you will need to free the debris manually. It is always wise to ensure anything in the area is picked up prior to letting the little robot loose.

Q. How does containment work?
A. In respect to the Ion 720, containment is accomplished with the aid of what Shark calls BotBoundary Tape. This is a none foot roll of magnetic tape that you can cut, bend and wrap around areas you don’t want the robot to get close too.

Instead of closing doors or putting up baby gates, you can lay a strip of the magnetic tape across the doorway, connect the power leads and the magnetic field will prevent the robot from crossing.

This is also effective around furniture, pet food bowls, floor lamps or even just preventing access to a certain side of the room. This doesn’t work as well as some of the other containment methods on the market. However, some of the economy class vacuums don’t have containment at all.

Q. I have rugs with fringe. Will the Ion 720 handle the fringe okay?
A. No. It will attempt to suction the fringe which will in turn bunch up the carpet, fray the fringe and get caught in the brush bars. If you have fringe, the best idea is to either pick up the rug and move it out of the way, or to fold the fringe underneath the rug so the vacuum can’t get to it.

Doing this will prevent the fringe from being tangled and allow the robot to clean your rug as you want it to do.

Q. What happens if the collection bin gets full?
A. The world will end. Please keep all collection bins empty as possible at all times, forever.

In reality, what will happen is the robot will either return to the docking station and wait for you to figure out what is wrong, or it will attempt to get to the docking station, fail and shut down in the middle of the floor.

Either way, you should empty the collection bin, according to the manufacturer, after every cleaning cycle.

In Conclusion

The Shark Ion Robot 720 is not a vacuum that is for everyone. It is an entry-level robotic vacuum that is one of the best in its class. However, it does leave a bit to be desired. For instance, there are no wireless communications. You also can only create programs and schedules using the remote control.

However, there are plenty of good points as well. The cost is low, for instance, and the value for the money is quite high. With HEPA filtration you also get cleaner air and floors after a cleaning cycle.

If you are on a tighter budget, still trying to decide if the robot vacuum world is for you, or just need something to clean your low-pile carpet and hardwood floors between regular cleanings with an upright vacuum, then the Ion 720 could be the best option for you.

In a Nutshell

The Shark Ion Robot 720 is a solid option for those looking for a budget-friendly robotic vacuum. Without all the bells and whistles you will have a reliable cleaner that can handle just about anything. If you have high-pile carpet, though, skip it.

What I Like:

  • Simple to use and easy to maintain.
  • Remote features are intuitive and quick.
  • Handles large hard floor spaces quickly and efficiently.

What I Don’t Like:

  • No Mobile Control.
  • Lack of linear cleaning methods as the sporadic style can miss areas.
  • Magnetic containment is almost more trouble than it is worth.
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