Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Elite Shaver – Panasonic ES-LV81

By Rayy Zar

Panasonic ES-LV81 shaverThe ES-LV81 is Panasonic’s top-of-the-range model, and is priced accordingly – around $600, though you can often find it for nearly half that amount at sites like Amazon. It is the same shaver as the ES-LV61, with the addition of a cleaning system.

According to the company:

Face-Hugging Multi-Flex Pivoting Head – Head motion range: approximately 25 degrees back and forth, approximately 20 degrees left and right. Conforms to neck, under the chin area, and jaw line.

30-Degree Stainless Nanotech Blades – Nano polished 30-degree-angle stainless hypoallergenic blades cut hair at its base for ultimate precision.

Fast, Linear Motor Drive – A rapid-fire 14,000 cycles per minute linear motor drive delivers a faster, closer shave. The fast, linear motor ensures a quick cut, eliminating pulling, tugging and irritation.

Multi-Fit Arc Blades – Five independently floating blades follow the contours of your face, chin and neck for a close and smooth shave.

Automatic Cleaning and Charging System – Cleans, dries, renew and charges the unit automatically keeping the blades sharp and ready for the next shave.

Wet/Dry Shaving – Enjoy the convenience of a quick shave provided by the Panasonic ES-LV81-K Arc 5 Multi Flex Wet/Dry Nanotech Rechargeable Shaver using the dry operation or use wet, with foam or gel, for a smooth shave. Three stainless steel hypoallergenic blades and foils provide comfort and less irritation for sensitive skin types.

It has received many excellent reviews. But not everyone is equally impressed. Wired magazine reviewed four shavers, and said this about the ES-LV81:

As good as this wet/dry is at tackling five-o’clock shadow, it’s better at trimming dollars from your wallet. So is it worth the Bugatti price? No. That’s not to say the handling and performance are lacking. The head pivots on two axes, with a motor cranking 14,000 rotations per minute, to deliver a quick, gentle shave. But the bulky head makes it difficult to see where you’re going, which is the last thing you want when you’re shaving. Or driving. Or both.

At Amazon the shaver has received nearly 100 customer reviews, with an average rating of 4.2 stars. Here is a summary from a four-star review:

* Quiet and Smooth
* 5-blade cutting system works
* Cool looking blue LCD display
* Every feature you could want in a razor
* Fast and effective cutting
* Improved cleaning & drying system

* Crazy expensive
* Awkward ergonomics
* LCD display could be more useful
* Trimmer tends to close when moving “upward” 

And here’s another summary, from a three-star review titled “Like a Mercedes, with Drive-through Car Wash Included:”

– Closer shave than Norelco style rotary shavers
– Wet or dry use
– Switch lock (prevents accidental suitcase-ON)
– Smart charger is fast (1 hour) and energy efficient (zero drain when finished)
– Battery status indicator
– Instructions for hand cleaning with standard soap & water
– Fit and finish is good. Doesn’t feel cheap.

– Large blade area – 1.0″ x 1.6″ – good for straight-aways, awkward on curves
– Automatic Cleaning system – Might not be worth the hassle 
– Lithium Ion battery provides 45 minutes shave time (my Norelco is 30 min.)
– Warranty: 2 years
– Satisfaction Guarantee: 30 days 
– Travel case: vinyl
– Head swivels left-right, up-down (benefit?, prone to breakage?)
– Owner manual: Clear and readable

– Louder than Norelco style rotary shavers
– Expensive
– Consumables are also expensive

* Get the latest price on the Panasonic ES-LV81 Shaver.

Panasonic’s Most Popular Shaver – The Arc 3 ES8103S

By Rayy Zar

Panasonic ES8103S Arc 3 ShaverPanasonic’s most popular shaver is its ES8103S Arc 3 wet/dry model. Though not cheap at $150 – but generally available for considerably less at online retailers – it is a solid, high-quality product with many features.

According to the company:

The ES8103S electric razor is a three-blade shaving system, for maximum coverage and closeness, even on the most difficult parts of your beard. Panasonic men’s shavers feature 30-degree-angle blades, to cut hair at its base for close, accurate precision. The flexible pivoting head allows the shaver to float effortlessly along the contours of your face for a fast shave, especially around your sideburns and the area under your chin. The fast, linear motor eliminates tugging and pulling that can occur with slower shavers, while maintaining peak power right up until the end of the charge.

The ES8103S men’s three-blade electric shaving system with Nanotech blades comes equipped with a travel pouch, hypoallergenic blades and foils for sensitive skin, a pop-up trimmer, and wet/dry cordless operation.

It has attracted around 1,000 customer reviews at Amazon, a huge number for a men’s shaver, with a high average rating of 4.3 stars. Users seem particularly impressed that – for many of them – it gives a very close shave.

Here’s an excerpt from a four-star review:

I purchased the Panasonic ES8103S and the Norelco 1150x at the same time and this review is a comparison of these 2 shavers side-by-side. I used both shavers for 3 weeks, shaving one side of my face with the Panasonic and the other side of my face with the Norelco. I didn’t switch sides during the test to allow time to adapt to each shaver. Both of these shavers rated nearly the same amongst other Amazon reviewers and were the top-2 rated shavers under $100. 

…Shaving Performance: I found that both shavers did a relatively good job overall. However, the Panasonic performed slightly better on the flat cheek areas whereas the Norelco did slightly better on the curved areas around the jaw bone and neck. I found that the shavers required different shaving techniques. The Panasonic, being a foil shaver, required an up-and-down or side-to-side motion whereas the Norelco, being a rotary shaver, required a circular motion. No matter how I shaved with the Norelco I could not get quite as close as the Panasonic. After some time I did find a technique with the Panasonic that allowed me to shave my neck and jaw bone area as close as the Norelco. I tried shaving both wet & dry and found no difference. I almost always shave dry and I found the Norelco didn’t move as smoothly across the skin as the Panasonic. Overall, I give the edge to Panasonic for a better overall shave.

…In summary, the Panasonic rated higher than the Norelco in all areas with the exception of the warranty. My only real complaint with the Panasonic would be the noise. It is much louder than the Norelco but not so much so that I would return it. Based on my experience, I will be returning the Norelco and keeping the Panasonic.

And a three-star review:

I am sure this works for many people, but it didn’t meet my expectations after using it. I don’t shave my face on a daily basis so I tried to allow sufficient time for my face to get accustomed to the new foil razor. This was the first time I decided to use these due to the reviews promising a more comfortable shave. It is more comfortable, but it also take 3 times as long to shave my face than it has in the past. I have coarse hair so take that into account when reading this…

Easily Cleaned
Awesome Battery Life
Comfortable Grip

Super Loud
Slow Shave

* Get the latest price on the Panasonic ES8103S Arc 3 Shaver.

Panasonic ES-SL41-S Milano Arc 3 Men’s 3-Blade Wet-Dry Shaver

By Rayy Zar

Panasonic ES-SL41-S Milano ShaverPanasonic makes shavers at a wide range of price points. The ES-SL41 is a mid-price product, with three blades, but a weaker motor than some of the company’s other models and a longer recharge time.

According to the company:

Wet/dry washable – enjoy the convenience of dry operation or use with foam or gel for a pampering, silky-smooth shave. 100% waterproof – rinses clean under running water. 3-blade cutting system for a fast, smooth & close shave.

Switch open water shutters to allow water to flow freely through the unit. Shutters allow for an easy, quick cleaning of the inner blades without having to remove the outer foil. Multi-fit arc foil follows the contours of your face for efficient coverage and maximum comfort. 30-degree inner blades featuring nanotechnology cut the hair at its base for a close shave.

The pop-up trimmer is great for grooming your moustache or sideburns. Just pop up when ready to use and tuck away when you’re finished. Convenient carrying holder for storage or travel use. Also protects power button from accidentally switching on. The indicator light glows red while charging.

It has attracted many favorable reviews. At Amazon it has more than 60 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9 stars. The main complaint against it seems to be that it does not give as close a shave as desired by some users.

Here’s a summary from a four-star review:

Wet: This shaver works best in the shower or when wet. You can use shaving cream with it which I highly recommend as it cuts down on shaving irritation and bumps that I seem to only get with electric razors. The result is a smooth clean shave that doesn’t pull at your hairs like some other razors.

Dry: It works well dry but it takes around 3 passes for each area to really get all the hair. I experienced some skin irritation from shaving dry with this razor. Using aftershave helped.

Cleanup: Cleanup is easy as you can totally submerse this thing in water and wash it out.

Cons: If you want to shave in the car or office with this I would warn you about lots of small hairs that fall out of the shaver onto your clothes/desk. After you shave with this you will see a fine residue of tiny hairs on whatever surface you are nearby. If in the car that would mean small hairs on your clothes and in your car.

Note that this shaver won the 2013 Housewares Design Award.

* Get the latest price on the Panasonic ES-SL41-S Milano Arc 3 Men’s 3-Blade Wet-Dry Shaver.

Question for the Ages – Why Can’t We Make a Razor Blade That Stays Sharp Longer Than a Week?

By Rayy Zar

It’s a question that many men have asked:

We can put men on the moon. We can make computers small enough to carry around in our pockets. But we can’t make a razor blade that stays sharp longer than a week?

This time it is columnist David Lazarus, writing in the business section of the Los Angeles Times. He continues:

It sounds trivial. But the utter lack of progress on the razor front raises fundamental questions about America’s industrial might. Has the sun set on the age of innovation in this country? Is it possible that American ingenuity has met its match in a relatively modest personal-hygiene product used by millions of consumers?

He assumes it’s a conspiracy by Gillette and Schick – who together command a 90 per cent market share for replacement blades – and he interviews a medical equipment maker, Jeff Grant, who says that it would be possible to make a ceramic blade that costs $100 and lasts for years.

Well, that sounds good. An eight-pack of Gillette Mach3 Turbo shaving cartridges — one of the more popular razors — runs $24 at Walgreens. If you figure on changing the cartridge once a week, that would mean spending $156 each year on razor blades. So, yeah, I’d spend $100 for a blade that lasts for two, three or more years.

And that, Grant told me, is exactly why we’ll never be offered such a chance by Gillette or Schick. “They’d sell you one blade and they’d be done,” he said. “It’s a business decision.”

Of course, you do not have to buy your blades from Gillette or Schick. Alternatives include the new Dollar Shave Club, cited in the article.

Or take a look at an article from Time magazine, Get an Edge on Razor Manufacturers: 8 Strategies to Save on Shaving. It suggests sharpening your blade on a pair of jeans, or even on your forearm. Seek out coupons and discount blades. And if all that is still too expensive, try Tip #8 – stop shaving.

Going bearded works for hipsters and pro athletes like San Francisco Giants’ closer Brian Wilson, and there are also indications that men are more likely to respect men with beards. Alas, unfortunately, women tend to find men with beards less attractive than guys with clean-shaven faces. But at least you’ll be saving money on razors!

Philips Norelco HS8420 Nivea for Men Razor

By Rayy Zar

Philips Norelco HS8420 Nivea for Men RazorAs you would expect, this model from Philips Norelco dispenses Nivea lotion onto your face as you shave. According to an official company description:

Nivea for Men conditioner is dispensed through the shaving heads directly onto your skin, moisturizing it while shaving. The conditioner contains Natural Microtec which protects your skin against irritation.

The shaving heads have unique rings with a stretch and lift pattern that contributes to a great shave. They gently follows the contours of your face for a close shave, even in hard to reach areas. You can shave in and out of the shower: Hot water opens your pores resulting in a close shave.

Replaceable cartridge – simply pump the Nivea for Men shaving conditioner from the refill can directly into the Advanced Skin Protection System.

It is a popular product, with more than 160 customer reviews at Amazon, though with an average rating of 3.9 stars, a little below most other Philips Norelco shavers. Some users have complained about the expense and availability of the Nivea refills. Others note that this shaver is not as good as a razor shave.

Here is a useful three-star review that sums up well the pluses and minuses:

This is my first wet razor after using a dry shave electric for a couple of decades. I loved it at first, and I still love the shave it gives. It’s much closer than any electric razor I’ve had before, including an expensive Braun that didn’t last 2 years. The lotion dispensing system gives a great gliding surface which makes it easy to get close and go over tough spots a couple of times without irritation. I’ve also used it with canned shaving cream applied directly to my face as some other reviewers recommended, and it did well too, though losing the convenience of the on-board lotion dispenser. Overall, it gives a great shave and the price is lower than most in this category, so I’d rate it highly for that.

Here’s the bad stuff, though. It seems they’ve gone to extra lengths to make the thing small, and in doing so have sacrificed capacity, both in the lotion reservoir and in the battery life. Using enough lotion to get a comfortable shave will use up the whole reservior in 3 or 4 days. They certainly could have enlarged the reservoir and doubled the capacity and still had a sleek small machine. Also the battery life is a little disappointing. My old Remmington started off with a couple of weeks’ battery life, and I decided to replace it when it got down to 5 or 6 days a few years later. This razor barely does any better than this, needing a charge every week or so. Plus, it charges from a stand rather than a direct connection, so when it gets low and stops dead (the Remmington got slower and slower for a couple of days giving fair warning) you can’t plug it in and keep shaving. I had to dry off and go back to the old machine when it conked out halfway through the shave. And the directions tell you not to leave it on charge all the time as that will reduce the battery life. A bigger battery might have addressed this issue, and a direct plug in charger would have been much better.

It’s a good razor and I recommend it for the shave quality. If you don’t mind frequent refils and charges, it’s good for the price. Next time I think I’ll pay attention to those things before I buy.

* Get the latest price on the Philips Norelco HS8420 Nivea for Men Razor.