Braun 790cc-6

Braun 790cc-6

The Braun 799cc is probably the best shaver the company has produced yet. Considering their long history of excellent products, that’s quite a statement. But it’s not hard to provide some compelling reasons to believe it.


Basic Design


The Braun 799cc is the latest update to a venerable line of electric shavers. Also known as the 797cc (an exclusive SKU for Target only) or 799cc-6, it has much in common with several other also very good models from the Series 7 line like the 790cc and 760cc.

Whatever you call it, I call it the perfect size. But then, my hands are large. Like the earlier shavers, it sits in the hand comfortably, provided your hands are not too small. This manly unit is not for ladies, nor those with super small fingers.


Head & Foil System

For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the video below to get Braun’s Series 7 shaving technology summarized in under 3 minutes.

“Hey Rictor, After adding the link of the Youtube video, remove this line”

It carries the usual Braun head. It looks a little like an advanced spaceship but less so than some of the Panasonic models, which is larger. No matter the metaphor, that shape has an important function. It lets you get at all the hairs under the neck and around the jawline without a struggle.

If you prefer, you can lock the thing at an angle so it doesn’t pivot dynamically. Most of the time, you’ll want to let the head move freely to get under the chin well.


The individual foil tilt helps, too. You can see this in action by pressing down on a foil to the left or right. They move independently and really dip quite a lot. Here, I prefer the Panasonic design by a slight margin, but there’s no denying the Braun really does the job superbly.

That great performance is in large part the result of something the company calls ActiveLift. Marketing buzzwords aside, that technology helps raise hairs that lie flat, like those pesky ones along the throat on each side of your Adam’s apple.

Last, there’s the company’s OptiFoil design. This pattern of holes helps get short, medium, or long hairs in a single swipe with equal ease. It may be no better than Panasonic’s; it would be hard to measure objectively. But “no better than”, in this case, is a pointless comparison. It’s excellent, period.

The whole thing is driven by Braun’s 10,000 cycle motor. True, here again that number may not be the highest speed on the market. But it’s plenty fast enough, especially given Braun’s vaunted super-sharp blades. They’ve really earned their reputation on that score. Not for nothing do we have the metaphor “razor sharp”, and that’s the situation here. These things are almost the equal of a manual shaver.

For those who really want, or need, to tailor their shave just so… the 799cc has three settings: Extra Sensitive, Normal, and Intensive.  


They do much what the names suggest. For those guys with the toughest beards, you’ll probably set it to Intensive and leave it there permanently.

Wet Shaving Ability

All that is standard with a Series 7 razor. The 799cc distinguishes itself by adding wet shaving to the mix. The other Series 7 shavers don’t have this wet shaving ability.

Every guy has his own style. But I almost always wet shave, even with an electric. Sure, if you’re on your way to a meeting and you’re running late you’ll probably do it dry. I do. But most of the time, I prefer shaving wet.

Whether you opt for a pre-shave liquid or a gel, or just water in the shower, this is the way to get the job done best. At least, that’s true if you want the closest possible shave with minimal razor burn. And there are also the nice added benefits: complete protection around water for your electric shaver and easy cleanup.

Cleaning & Charging

Speaking of easy cleanup, the 799cc also comes with Braun’s well-reputed Clean & Renew maintenance system which also serves as a charging station. Like all of these compact units, they have their pros and cons. In this case, the pros far outweigh the cons, in my view.


The cons are fairly obvious. You have to change the cleaning cartridge after every few uses. That adds to the operational cost of the shaver.

Still, if you’re judicious, it doesn’t have to add a lot. Not only are bulk purchases of replacements cheap on Amazon, you can stretch out the fluid. Just clean it in the holder once per week instead of after every use. Another advantage of the wet shaving feature.

The other downside is pretty minor for most guys: you have to find room on the counter. Luckily, my wife is pretty generous with the bathroom counterspace. It helped when I bought her a makeup holding kit 🙂

The pros are numerous. The most obvious is how easy it is to do. You put the 799cc upside down into the holder, press a button, and walk away. An hour (or less) later and it’s ready for use again. For those in a hurry, there’s a FastClean setting that will do the job to a decent degree in 25 seconds.

Usually, an hour is about right, since it can recharge from zero to full in about 50 minutes. The exact time depends on just how empty “zero” really is. It can alternately be charged using just a cord. Handy if you’re on a business trip and don’t want to take the cleaning system along.

There’s also a quick charge setting that will bring the thing up to snuff enough for about one shave in five minutes. The indicator on the front shows the battery level clearly. The Automatic Voltage Adaptation feature is also nice; it automatically adjusts to different voltages in different countries. Great for international traveler types.

The Braun system uses alcohol and lemon, rather than the proprietary detergent and water solution of the Panasonic. Deciding which is better would get us into a long debate. Suffice to say, this one cleans and disinfects, and smells good besides. That’s what you want in an electric shaver cleaning system.

Like any of these auto-cleaning systems, after that it lubricates and dries the shaver.



The Braun 799cc takes the best of the company’s product and makes it better by adding wet shaving ability. That’s like taking a star quarterback and clearing the field for him. The results are an easy winning score.


Image of Braun Series 7 799cc-6WD CC4 Wet and Dry Shaver 1.4 Pound


Braun 790cc-4

Braun 790cc-4

Not everyone is an “electric shaver guy”. I respect that. But if you are, or are thinking of becoming one, it would be hard to beat the Braun 790cc shaver (790cc-4).


Basic Design


Electric shavers in general, and the Braun in particular, have become so good it’s almost foolish to discuss their basic features. But here goes.

The 790cc, like many predecessors, feels good in the hand. No, I’ll go farther and say this one feels better. It’s solid but not too heavy. 

Granted that’s a subjective issue, but an electric shaver that’s too light feels, to me, too hard to control. I like something with a little heft. 

That being said, this Series 7 shaver is far from massive. Just right, I’d say. It’s slimmer than past models and the grip has a rubber-like section that makes it easy to hold even when wet.


Better still, the body is gently curved, a slight banana shape that continues to the head. That lets it get at the face without you having to bend at the waist continually. That’s a very welcome feature for anyone but especially those who are getting a little older or have back trouble.

Beyond the basics, the Series 7 features a few things to cheer about. If, like me, you’re the sort to cheer about electric shaver features. It may be something of an exaggeration to call them “innovations” but I really like the new controls. Sometimes, subtle changes make a big difference in usability.

For example, the slider switch of the older model has been replaced with a power button that’s actually a button. Hallelujah! Maybe it’s just personal taste but this really fits mine.

The pop-up trimmer now pops out and away from the unit. It has a narrow cutting width, which is just right for me. For you, it may be a little small, but I have a big head (or so my wife says) and I like to get very exact. I won’t tell you what she says about that habit.

The surface is a bit curved so it did take some getting used to. But, once mastered, it’s a lot easier to use to get a precise trim of the sideburns, neckline, and above the mustache.

I’m also very fond of the little slider switch that locks the pivoting head at a particular angle. Some people like to float and others enjoy the feeling of solidity from a stationary head. Now you can have your choice.

Series 7 Shaving Technology

For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the video below to get Braun’s Series 7 shaving technology summarized in under 3 minutes.

“Hey Rictor, After adding the link of the Youtube video, remove this line”

All the usual Braun features are here as well. OptiFoil is really more than just a marketing buzzword. I’m no expert on shaver engineering – though it’s obvious Braun employs some – but this thing really does work. It just picks up more hair thanks to ergonomically sized holes.


The ActiveLift system, another slightly silly name, is even better – at least in my case (and I suspect in yours, too). It lifts up hair that lies flat, like the stuff at the base of my neck, and clips it very nicely. Thank you, Braun. That was my biggest annoyance about electrics for a long time. No longer.

One feature that definitely does deserve the term “innovation” is something Braun calls “Pulsonic Technology”. Again with a dubious marketing name, but in this case it’s fairly accurate. All electric shavers buzz, of course. But this one does so 10,000 times a minute.

According to the theory, it creates little ripples that aid the 790cc’s ability to clip hairs that otherwise wouldn’t stand up perfectly. It really does help give you a closer shave. That’s not theory talking. That’s experience.

The 790cc also has a switch that lets you select any of three shaving “styles”: Extra Sensitive, Normal, and Intensive. I don’t personally notice a big difference whichever mode I choose, but you might.

And there’s a warning indicator on the stand that flashes after 18 months to remind you to replace the foil and blade. Hey, even electric shavers have to have new blades sometime.


Clean & Renew System

Braun has had cleaning systems for several years now but this latest incarnation seems better than even the former very good ones. The base houses a charger and a cleaning solution cartridge space, with appropriate indicators. We’ll take a look at the cleaner first.


Others may prefer the Panasonic design, a fine system no doubt. I personally think the Braun system is so easy to use and so effective I have to give it highest marks.

You place the shaver upside down into the base, tap a button, and walk away.

There’s a light to tell you when the cleaning cycle is complete, which typically takes about 45 minutes. I just wish you didn’t have to press the big “Start” button after the unit has sat idle for 10 minutes to see that status. When the cleaning cycle is done the mechanism shuts itself off.

However, there’s also a Fast Clean option that will get the job done in ten minutes, if you’re really in a hurry to clean it using the system. Frankly, I would just open it up and rinse it off if that were the case. The body is perfectly sealed so there’s no risk of damage. But it’s there if you want it.

The cleaning fluid isn’t actually anything extraordinary. There aren’t any complex chemicals in here, just some denatured alcohol, lemon scent, and a bit of silicone lubricant.

But the clever folks at Braun have figured out how to loosen all the stubble, let it flow into the cleaning cartridge, kill bacteria and freshen things up, and oil the blade all at the same time. That’s pretty keen, at least from the perspective of this technophile and shaver enthusiast.

The one potential downside is the cost of the cartridges. One of the reasons people use an electric is to get away from the need to buy new shaving stuff every month. “Give away the razor, sell them blades” is the marketing call of every manual shaver maker since Gillette’s production of the safety razor. Buying cleaning cartridges tends to undercut the benefit of an electric.

On the other hand, you don’t absolutely HAVE to replace the cleaning cartridge. You can just remove the foil and brush off the blades in the traditional way. That said, the Clean & Renew cartridges are only about $20 per year when you buy in bulk. And, you can use tricks to make the cartridge last longer like resealing it between uses to cut down evaporation.



The charger system and internal battery are one of my favorite features of the Braun 7 series.

The Li-Ion battery has no memory effect so you don’t have to let it go down to zero before recharging. Better still, it charges from zero to full in an hour. Best of all, if the juice is too low you can just charge for a few minutes and still get one shave’s worth of power.

Beyond that, I’m very pleased with some of the changes from the older model. The charge system now is more than just green/red; 6 battery segments on the shaver display show the charge status. Especially handy if you’re on a trip and need to know how much juice you have left. If you forgot the charger you can decide whether you have to skip a shave to get one last one before that important meeting.


The Braun 790cc is so well made, and so effective, it’s hard for me to see how they could improve it substantially. No doubt Braun does and their engineers must be working on the next version right now. Until then, this model is as good as it gets – and that’s very good indeed.


Image of Braun Electric Razor for Men, Series 7 790cc-4

Braun CoolTec CT5cc

Braun CoolTec CT5cc


Basic Design


The appearance of the Braun CoolTec CT5cc is a little deceptive. It looks at first blush like a low-key variation on any of a dozen other models. But this electric shaver is Braun all the way through – innovative, durable, and highly functional.

The CoolTec CT5cc is in fact like many other shavers from Braun, especially a Series 3. With it and the rest of the CoolTec line the company shows again why it remains in the top tier. It does everything you’ve come to expect from them, and equally as well, adds something new.

That new feature is signaled clearly by the name, but let’s hold off for a few minutes on detailing what CoolTec is all about. After all, if the basics don’t work well, this interesting new feature isn’t going to be worth much.

3-Stage Cutting System

At the heart of any electric shaver is the cutting system. That’s where the action is, so to speak. In this case, that action is carried out by a triple action cutting system with components that move independently.

The result is an improved ability to hug facial contours. That’s a big advantage to a guy like me. I’m saddled with a somewhat unusual blend of sharp angles and round corners. On someone with a more average face, the results will be even better.


That close contour hug is achieved in two ways. The 2 individual blade/foil sections float. And there’s an interesting, wave-like cutter foil down the center.

It’s designed to help lift flat-lying hairs, and moves back and forth 130 times a second. To work well, though, that system has to be implemented by good blades.

Luckily, as with many other models in Braun collections, the CT5cc houses super sharp, highly durable steel. That cutting ability is enhanced by something their marketing department decided to call SensoBlade.

Granted, it’s a buzzword but it actually does something neat in this instance: account for real-world whisker growth patterns. Most guys have neck hair that goes one way, cheek hair another, and often some that goes every which way in either area. This feature allows the CT5cc to capture it no matter how the hair grows. Cool.

CoolTec Technology

Now, for the pièce de résistance, as the French say – the most remarkable feature: CoolTec. True, it’s another marketing buzzword but, like the other one, it really does have a function. It actually cools your skin as the shaving head travels over it.


That sounds like marketing hype if I ever heard it but, amazingly, it really works as advertised.

An aluminum cooling strip integrated into the shaver head (next to the center trimmer) and technology they call Thermo Electric Cooling (an acronym that forms the “tec” in Cooltec) work together to draw heat away from your skin during shaving.

The idea is really simple at bottom. It’s been in use in all kinds of applications for decades. Take a piece of heat conductive metal and use it as a “bridge” to shuttle heat from one place where you don’t want it to another where you don’t mind. The heat sink under your computer’s processor works somewhat like that.

Complicated science aside, real-world use shows it does the job well. Thermal imaging techniques can demonstrate visually how well but they’re not needed. Just feel your skin afterward. Reduced irritation, lack of that common burning sensation, and overall a more pleasant shaving experience. Thank you, Braun.


However, there is one potential drawback to this technology. The CT5cc, like any other CoolTec electric shaver, is designed to be used dry. 

No cream, no lotion, no water. For sure, you can use it in the shower. It’s a fully-sealed Wet & Dry shaver, in that sense. And it will work with electric shaving aids. But for best results Braun suggests foregoing them, and I agree.

The head can certainly withstand being rinsed. The cleaning system, which we’ll get to in a minute, clearly does that or you can just use water from the faucet. But the shave itself should be done without any assist.

Personally, that’s not how I use my electric and it may not be your shaving style, either. If you’re looking for reduced skin irritation, and who isn’t?, this could be the way to go. But if you’re a committed wet shaver you’ll want to think twice.


Cleaning & Charging System

Speaking of the cleaning system used with the CT5cc, you’ll be happy to learn it works basically the same, and as well, as any other Braun shaver. You just plop it into the shell upside down and press the button to clean. Charging starts automatically when inserted.

However, though it may work the same, it is new and designed to work with the CTxcc line. It’s not a universal cleaner or charger for just any old Braun shaver. It uses an alcohol-based cleaning cartridge much like other collections.

Cartridges mean an added expense, natch. One lasts about 30 cleanings. You can reduce that cost by rinsing occasionally rather than using the cleaner. Keep in mind, though, that water alone won’t get rid of all the residue. In particular, it performs no anti-bacterial function beyond what mechanical action from the flow will.

To explain, washing your hands helps reduce the spread of germs, true. But that’s in large part because the soap, even when not anti-bacterial, reduces surface tension. The water then easily pushes the germs off mechanically. Here, the alcohol inside the cartridge helps increase hygiene. The other compounds in the solution performs the equivalent function of liquid hand soap. The solution also lubricates the blade assembly.

One nifty aspect of the system is something you can’t even see. At the base of the cleaner cartridge there’s a little grid. That allows hairs vibrated loose to fall to the bottom. That optimizes the cleaning system and keeps cleanser “pollution-free” longer.

And, like many Braun models, this station will charge the shaver while it’s sitting in the holder, whether actively cleaning or not. Nothing special in this respect, though. It still takes about an hour to top it up from zero. It will then provide about 45 minutes of shaving time.

There is a quick charge feature, though. A 5-minute session will add enough juice for one brief shave. That’s handy if you’re rushing off to an appointment and find you’ve forgotten to charge your shaver.


The CoolTec CT5cc carries the highest number of the line but that doesn’t make it top of the line. The other CoolTec models are really the same just with different colors and accessories. That said, it performs as well as a Series 3, with the addition of a cooling feature that feels good and helps reduce skin irritation.


Image of Braun CT5cc, Shaver CoolTec Men’s Shaving Kit

Braun LS 5160

Braun LS 5160

The Braun LS 5160, also known in some places as Braun Silk Epil 5160 or Braun Silk & Soft 5160, is a decent middle-of-the-pack ladies electric shaver. It’s attractive and offers a close shave in the shower or on the go.

Basic Features


This ladies shaver is a wet/dry, floating foil, cordless model with a bikini trimmer and other attachments. Beyond that plain description lies a number of fine features and welcome performance.


You can use the LS 5160 in the shower or even rinse the head under the water for easy cleaning. What’s not so obvious is just how well-sealed the body is. It keeps the motor isolated so there’s never any worry about it conking out after a thorough drenching.

Floating Foil

It is pretty much what the phrase says. This shaver is a foil type, rather than rotary. Rather than rehearse the age-old and never-ending battle about which is better, I’ll just assume you’re interested in this type. Just to give away the ending: they’re both just fine. If a particular foil has good blades – as this one does – you’ll be happy with a foil shaver.


True, rotaries have some advantages. But when it comes to closeness with an electric shaver, it’s hard to beat a foil. A rotary can sometimes be better at getting into the smaller nooks and crannies, but a floating head helps a lot to compensate. That’s certainly true here. The head is also rounded on this model, making it relatively easy for this foil design to get deep into those concave areas like underarms.

Soft Strip

There is an integrated SoftStrip, a nice little extra that helps keep the dreaded razor burn at bay. It keeps the skin taut for a smoother shave and helps the foil with the job of lifting hair to get a truly-close-to-the-skin shave. That’s always a problem with electric shavers and it’s wonderful that Braun has tried to address that in such a low-cost model.


The SoftStrip works in conjunction with something the company calls EasyGlide. I’m not fond of marketing buzzwords and there is a bit of that here. But the honeycomb cushion structure does assist the shaver in reducing irritation.

All in all, because of those sharp blades and floating head in combination with the floating longhair trimmer you’ll get a clean shave, whether for legs or underarms. And, because they’re quality components, there’s no uncomfortable tugging or razor rash, when used properly.

3 Attachments: OptiTrim – OptiShave – Exfoliation

That same close shave is obtainable too in those more delicate areas, thanks to the attachable bikini trimmer that Braun calls the OptiTrim. Personally, I prefer a trimmer that’s integrated with the shaver itself. That’s just my natural impatience combined with a certain amount of clumsiness in putting attachments on. Still, at this low price, I can’t complain (too much). It’s certainly easy to make a clean line with this model.

The OptiShave attachment for legs seems quite unnecessary, though. It’s designed to help you shave at the ideal angle, and I suppose if you need that, well ok. But you can do a fine job with the unadorned shaver without any extra help. Still, it’s there if you want it.

This lady shaver also includes a third attachment – a unique skin smoothing attachment that gently scrubs the skin to remove dead skin particles, revitalizing the skin for a smooth, radiant appearance.

Charging System

I probably shouldn’t include the words “charging system” in the section title because there isn’t one. The LS 5160 uses two AA batteries for power providing up to 90 minutes shaving time approximately. I include those words because you can, after all, use rechargeable AA batteries rather than disposables.

That points to something I’m not entirely happy about with this model. I wish it had an integrated rechargeable battery. It’s not just a matter of price. That doesn’t necessarily require a separate charging system, just a particular kind of cord. That said, again harking back to the low price of this model, I suppose if they had to pinch pennies someplace this is a good place.

On the upside, there’s no need to fuss with a charger when you want to take this little lovely on the road. You just pack it and go. If you run out of juice while you’re away you can just pop in a new pair of ordinary AA batteries; no need even to remember to take a cord.

That being so, it would have been nice if Braun included a travel case, even a very simple one. Still, I don’t find it too hard to come up with a cloth or leather bag to slide it into, so it’s not a major drawback.


Ladies’ electric shavers, just like the men’s, range from brutal to brilliant. The Braun LS 5160, is right in the middle of that range. It offers a close shave with little to no irritation and travels easily. It lacks a few features it would be nice to have – like an integrated rechargeable battery and onboard bikini trimmer. But overall, at this modest price, it’s a fine product.


Image of Braun Silk-épil LS5160WD Lady Shaver

Braun Series 7 760cc-4

Braun 760cc (760cc-4)

The Braun 760cc (760cc-4) shaver is part of Braun’s super premium Series 7 line. It’s amazingly well developed. But, then, Braun has a long history of making superb electric shavers and the 760cc is a good case in point.


Series 7 Innovations


For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the video below to get Braun’s Series 7 shaving technology summarized in under 3 minutes.


The 760cc packs several innovations into a comfortable, sturdy case that’s easy to hold even when wet. Foremost among them is something the company calls Pulsonic Technology.


The name may be somewhat lame, but it is descriptive. Vibrations of 10,000 cycles per minute ripple your skin ever-so-slightly. In theory, the blades then come along and ride over the top of those little hills to more-closely whack whiskers.

Sounds great, but does it work? Experience suggests the answer: yes.

There may be other factors at work, for sure. Great blades, a well-designed foil and head, and other characteristics are practically Braun trademarks. But for whatever reasons, this shaver does seem even better than their usual fine product.

All the Series 7 Braun models offer three different shaving modes: Extra Sensitive, Normal, and Intensive. Frankly, I can’t detect any significant difference between the three in terms of how they shave. Maybe I have leather for skin, but I doubt it.

I do notice a difference from the ActiveLift technology. This Braun raises hair that lies flat so it can be better clipped. At least, I think I notice. Without running very careful engineering and usability tests it’s dubious to ascribe an effect to one thing. But this new model does seem to outdo past ones, especially with that difficult to get stuff on the lower neck.

Present also is the company’s OptiFoil head covering. The hole pattern may or may not be better than the other guy’s but one thing is for sure: it works. Of course it helps to have excellent blades underneath and every Braun I’ve ever used has. This one is no exception.


Clean and Renew System

Next in line of useful features is the Clean and Renew system. Here the name is unusually subdued, stating clearly only what it does without buzzwords. They should’ve bragged more. It’s superb.


Granted, the idea is far from unprecedented. Cleaning systems for electric razors have been around for a while now. Braun alone has been doing one for 10 years. But the implementation here is first rate.

An alcohol-based solution is poured into a container at the base of the stand that holds the 760cc in place. But the solution and the method is new and they really work well together. It even smells good, like fresh lemons.

The system moves the stubbles into the cleaning cartridge. It automatically charges the razor while it’s being cleaned. The solution lubes everything up nicely while cleaning. And, because the body housing the motor is completely sealed you don’t have to worry if some liquid flows up a little too high. At the end, a heating system dries the blades.

Best of all, apart from replacing the cartridge from time to time, you really don’t have to do anything. 

You tap the button and walk away. Also, this clever little thing keeps track of the last time you performed the cleaning cycle. It will select the best cleaning program for you, too, if you want.


Clean & Renew Refills

That cleaning system might be more trouble than it was worth if you had to refresh it frequently. Luckily, that’s not the case here. The cartridge lasts through many cleanings. For most users, replacing it once or twice per season will do the trick.

It’s not tough to do when required. A red light illuminates when there are five cleaning cycles left. That gives you some warning about an upcoming need to change the cartridge. You press a button and lift the whole thing out. Just dump the tiny plastic case in the trash and insert a new one in the base.

The cost of new Clean & Renew cartridges isn’t outrageous, though granted you bought an electric thinking you’d never have to buy anything to go with it. You don’t, of course. You don’t have to use the cleaning system; you can always clean the shaver like any other with the little brush included. But for around $20 per year, this is a very inexpensive, quick and low-hassle way to keep your 760cc in top working order.

One potential downside is that the system isn’t sealed. If you think you can save a little by cleaning less often, forget it. The cleaning fluid will evaporate even if not used.

There is one workaround. You can remove the cartridge, replace the original plastic tab over the hole, then replace the case when you want to clean. That’s a lot of bother to save a few dollars per year, in my book. Let your budget – and patience – be your guide.

In theory, you could make your own solution and inject it into the cartridge. Denatured alcohol and lemon juice in bulk are super cheap. You could even add silicone lubricant. But you should count your labor as worth something and this really is carrying things too far, imho.

Battery Life

One thing I really like about the 760cc has nothing to do with the quality of the shave or maintenance at all: the battery.

With the Li-Ion model in this razor you can recharge from completely dead to full in about an hour. That provides about 50 minutes of cordless shaving. You can see how discharged the razor is when it’s sitting in the cleaning system/charging base. A dial displays the charge status in five 20% increments.

But I like the other aspect of this battery-charging system much better. Plug it in for five minutes and you get enough juice for a quick, cordless shave.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve neglected to put a shaver into a charger. Yes, my wife isn’t too thrilled with that unfortunate habit, either. When I do forget, I just plug the Braun in and wait a few minutes and I’m ready to go. For a guy who really hates the embarrassment of his wife being ready to leave before him, that’s a nice feature.


The Braun Series 7 760cc shaver is a bit pricey. But when you add up all the razors you buy in five years, the score pretty much evens up. Add in the superb quality of the shaver and cleaning system, and the excellent shave, and it looks far better.

Panasonic ES-LV81-K

Panasonic ES-LV97-K Men’s Electric Shaver

I admit to having a slight bias toward Panasonic shavers. It used to be Braun but the value-to-price ratio of Panasonic models have tilted that preference in recent years. However, the price of the ES-LV81-K is pretty high it would have to offer extraordinary value to benefit from that bias.

Does it? Can any electric shaver be worth this much?


5-Blade Cutting System


The Panasonic ES-LV81-K starts to earn its high price tag right out of the box. It’s stylish. Maybe not quite the high-tech looking marvel of, say, the Philips SensoTouch 3D. That model looks like something out of a science fiction movie. But this one is good looking nonetheless.

But if you’re going to plop down hundreds for a shaver you want more than style, naturally. The Arc5 starts that bidding process by offering a very high speed motor – 14,000 rpm. That doesn’t guarantee a close shave, of course, but it’s a good start.

For all that speed the shaver is surprisingly quiet and relatively low vibration. It’s not as quiet as the Norelco rotary system but quite a bit more than the latest Braun models. That’s good for those, like me, who are sensitive to such things.

Buzzing fast is useless by itself but this Panasonic takes advantage of it with a floating 5-blade system. They might not follow your personal contours in quite the same way as, say, the Norelco rotary design but the 5 independently floating blades do a very good job thanks to the Multi-Flex Pivoting Head.


Real-world use shows the five blades are good quality, too. Fortunately, there’s more at work here than just numbers. They flex well and the ultra-thin foil is cleverly configured to raise hair up to get whacked off cleanly, close to the skin, without razor burn.

Equally nice, the pop-up trimmer. The slide switch is a real Goldilocks design – not too firm not too easy to move – and the trimmer is right out there, away from the head.

Charging System

Like most contemporary electric shavers the holder does double duty: cleaner and charger.

As a charger it’s one of the better designs around. It will recharge your ES-LV81-K from dead zero to full in about 45 minutes. Most others take an hour and this one is listed at that too but it outperforms the spec. Not a major issue those 15 minutes, but a sign of quality parts.

Nicer still, you get about 15 shaves per charge. It can do that in part because of the larger area of the head. The downside of that larger head, though, is that it can be a little tougher to get under the nose.

Of course, the exact number of shaves depends on how long you take and how tough is your beard. But on average, that’s accurate. Again, the exact number isn’t important but it’s another sign of good components, in this case a robust battery.

That battery does make this unit a little on the heavy side: 0.4 lbs. That’s hefty but far from horrible. Personally, I prefer it that way. A shaver that’s too light gives me too little assistance in shaving. The size is a bit larger than average, too: 6.3″ x 2.8″ x 2.0″. That’s one moderately long electric but I have long fingers so again it works for me. And, it gives the case room for that battery.

As you would expect from Panasonic, the charger is uber-easy to use. Just pop the shaver in upside down and watch the pretty blue lights on the 10-Stage LCD display.

One could wish that display system were a little better thought out in one respect, though. It shows the Battery/Shaving time for only a few seconds before disappearing. On the upside, this new model does not continue to flash the light once the charging is complete. Personally, I hated that on the older ES-LA93-K.


Cleaning System

The cleaning system is also easy to use. On the negative side, it can add substantially to your cost of ownership. On the upside, since the solution isn’t alcohol based, it won’t evaporate rapidly like the Braun cartridge. But, like those other guys, they charge you a chunk for replacements.

The replacement cleaning cartridges (WES035P) run about $10 (as of this writing). If you use a cartridge every month that adds up. However, the solution is mixed with water so it goes a little farther than it might at first appear.

Dry cleaning the shaver can help you cut down on that expense, possibly to the point of needing a new kit only once a year. At a certain point the effort becomes more trouble than it’s worth. That’s just the dilemma with any automated cleaning system, Panasonic’s included.

You can significantly overcome that dilemma by rinsing the blades under water, something you can do with complete safety thanks to the ES-LV81-K’s good design. It will be more effective if you partly disassemble the shaver, something easy to do thanks also to that design.

By the way, like most electric shavers that can be used wet, you’ll generally get a closer-to-manual shave that way. The ES-LV81-K makes that even more true. It really shines with gel/foam in terms of giving a close shave.

If you elect to use the solution-based cleaning system – and you should from time to time – you’re bound to be pleased with the results. It’s very quick and effective. The smell is even very pleasant. The cleaning cycle takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. The drying cycle from 80 to 170 minutes depending on the ambient temperature of the self-cleaning recharger. And when the course is complete the shaver is dry and immediately ready for use again.


The Panasonic ES-LV81-K 5-blade electric shaver is unquestionably one of the best models around. The shave is quick, quiet, and close without irritation. On the other hand, the price tag reflects fully that quality. This is no steal so look for a deal.

If you prefer hand cleaning with standard soap and water over Panasonic’s cleaning system you can even save more when going for the Panasonic ES-LV61-A. It’s the same 5-blade shaver model but it comes without the automatic cleaning and charging system.


Image of Panasonic Electric Razor for Men, ES-LV97-K

Panasonic ES-LA93-K

Panasonic ES-LA93-K

I really wish Panasonic would simplify the names of their electric shavers. But one thing I could never complain about is how effectively they work. With the ES-LA93-K they prove once again they’re right up there with Braun and Philips, despite being the relative new kid on the block.


4-Blade Cutting Assembly

At first glance you won’t notice much that’s unique about the Panasonic ES-LT71-S. It looks and feels like a Panasonic foil electric shaver. The dual-tone gray and black body measures 2.5″ wide x 1.7″ deep x 6.2″ high and is tipping the scales at 0.4 lbs.


One reason for my love for this Arc4 shaver is admittedly personal: the weight. I like a shaver that’s not too heavy, not too light. At just 7 oz (0.44 lbs) this model hits that Goldilocks spot perfectly. Surprising, since it houses two motors.

The case fits my hand well, too, at 2.7″ wide x 2.2″ deep and 6.5″ high. Granted, every guy is a little different but this one just feels good to me. Fortunately, there are lots of other objective attributes that show how this model is great for anyone.

One of those is the high speed of the linear motor: 14,000 rpm. Even among high-end electric shavers that’s an impressive figure and it translates into action as a smoother shave. No tugging with this model if you happen to skip a day or two shaving. Get up Monday morning after being a bum all weekend and you can still whip off that three-day beard with ease.

The blade system is another example. It’s always tough to choose between a rotary like the Philips SensoTouch and a foil model like the Panasonic. But this one’s four stainless-steel blade head is hard to resist, especially when there are actually two foils: the famed multi-arc with four independently floating blades and an ultra-thin outer foil.


One area a rotary sometimes does better is in flexibility. The ES-LA93-K keeps up by allowing the foil-head assembly to tilt 25 degrees back and forth and 20 degrees left and right. Purely looking at the numbers, that isn’t the equal of a good rotary like the Philips SensoTouch 3D. In practice, you probably won’t notice the difference unless your face is highly unusual.

Like that superb Philips line, Panasonic offers a number of Wet/Dry models and the ES-LA93-K is among the best. I never have any fear of taking this unit in the shower or rinsing it off under the sink.

Charging System

There’s no arguing that Philips has a great charging system in their SensoTouch line. But the one in the ES-LA93-K is no slouch either. Like the ES-LV81-K – Panasonic’s Arc5 electric shaver – the holder does double duty: cleaner and charger.

It’s not quite as high-tech looking to my eye but it works great. An hour-long charge provides about 45 minutes of shaving time. That’s a few minutes shy of what Philips claims for theirs (50 minutes) – and real-world use demonstrates – but it’s close enough.

The 10-stage LCD display in the shaver can’t be beat, either. Indicators galore on this guy. It shows battery status and charge in multiple ways. Maybe it’s just the tech-geek in me but I really like this aspect. Two-level battery indicators are okay but there are multiple bars on this one, just like your cell phone signal strength indicator.

The screen also shows the time used, a big help if you want to get a sense of how much actual shave time you’ve done over the past X days. I use it in conjunction with the battery capacity indicator, which displays in 10% increments. I find those particularly useful when planning a trip and have to decide whether to take the somewhat bulky charger along.

In the past I’ve wished Panasonic had some kind of timeout or switch for the blinking “charge complete” indicator – and I still wish it. The light glows while charging then blinks once per second when complete. After 10 minutes it slows to once every two seconds. I wish it would quit after an hour. I only need so much reminding.


Cleaning System

It’s hard to imagine anyone producing a cleaning system better than the Philips Jet Clean. Panasonic has come close with its Vortex Hydra Cleaning System. Ironically, part of that superb performance is outside the cleaning tank itself. The high vibration of the ES-LA93-K allows the cleaning system to get this unit super clean even with just soap and water.

It ain’t as pretty but it works well and is easy to use. Just put the shaver in the self-cleaning recharger and select the Clean/Dry/Charge course. The cleaning cycle takes about 10 minutes followed by a 80 to 170 minutes drying cycle. There’s also a Dry/Charge and Charge course available.

Not surprisingly, like every electric shaver cleaning system it’s intended to be used with the manufacturers proprietary insert. In this case, that’s a cartridge with water-based cleaning solution. Quite different from the Philips alcohol-based solution.

Less expensive, too. One cleaning cartridge (WES035P) (as of this writing) sells for $10 and is good for 30 cleanings so it costs about 30 cents per day at worst. At that price, I’m much less inclined to make the effort to pop off the head and rinse the blades manually to save on cleaning solution. Extend it to every other day and it becomes a no-brainer choice.

Shaving Quality

Of course, the key with any electric is how well it shaves. No electric shaver available today will get you as close as a manual, no matter the price. But the ES-LA93-K comes pretty close to that ideal.

It does that while avoiding many of the irritants that so often accompany electric models of lesser quality. For example, you don’t have to go over the same spot again and again (… and again and again… and…) with this unit. Sure, it takes more than the one or two swipes you might do with a manual but it’s quick.

With other units I might take 10 minutes to shave. With this one I can get the job done in seven or fewer. Granted, those three minutes aren’t a big time savings but you’ll perceive a much lower hassle factor and it does stretch out the number of re-charge sessions needed. That lengthens battery and blade life.


Like any quality electric shaver, the Panasonic ES-LA93-K carries a hefty price tag. But for a mid-range model it’s not overpriced and it carries most of the high-end features of the top-of-the-line Panasonic models. Quick, smooth shaves and a modest-cost, easy-to-use cleaning system – combined with stellar indicators – make this model one I can happily recommend.

The only real dilemma is whether to forego the cleaning system, and in the process save some cash, by opting for the ES-LA63-S instead. It’s the same model minus the charger/cleaner. The price difference (as of this writing) is about $65 on Amazon. Cleaning by rinsing with the vibrate on is an extra effort and the charger is terrific. Still, personally, I’d probably skip the cleaning system – but it’s a tough call. How much is convenience worth to you?


Image of Panasonic ES-LA93-K, Electric Shaver

Panasonic ES-LT71-S

Panasonic ES-LT71-S

Despite being officially near the bottom of the Panasonic electric shaver lineup there’s nothing ‘bottom’ about the ES-LT71-S itself. True, it lacks some of the great features of its more advanced – and more expensive – cousins. But it still manages to incorporate much of the technology those other models provide, even at roughly one-third the price.


3-Blade Cutting Assembly

At first glance you won’t notice much that’s unique about the Panasonic ES-LT71-S. It looks and feels like a Panasonic foil electric shaver. The dual-tone gray and black body measures 2.5″ wide x 1.7″ deep x 6.2″ high and is tipping the scales at 0.4 lbs.


There are substantial differences under the cover, however, some visible from the outside. The ES-LT71-S is a fine shaver but it houses only three blade rows – hence the name Arc3; the higher end models offer four (Arc4) or even five (Arc5). Fortunately, they’re all the same hypoallergenic, stainless steel so the cutting surface is the same.

Do the number of blades make a big difference? Only personal experience could provide a definitive answer in your case but, in general, more is better. More blade rows will typically give a quicker and smoother shave.

Another factor that affects that outcome, possibly even more, is the motor speed. The ES-LT71-S runs slower – 13,000 rpm versus 14,000 rpm in the higher end models. All other things being equal – and here they almost are – faster is better. It means less likelihood of irritation, less chance of tugging.

Here again, though, personal circumstances – and a little historical perspective – is key. That 13,000 rpm speed is already quite high relative to older electric razors (and even some currently on the market). The difference between the two is less than 8%, noticeable but probably not significant. If you have a truly heavy beard you might be somewhat affected, but for most guys it’s likely to be a negligible factor.

One thing is exactly the same. The ES-LT71-S is a Wet/Dry model and offers the same tight seal as all the other Panasonic shavers. I prefer to use mine in the shower with gel for the closest shave possible with an electric, and so I can rinse it off easily. No worries using that technique with this unit.

The ES-LT71-S has other aspects that mirror those of the higher end models, too. One that will be particularly attractive to guys who spend a lot of time on the road is the travel lock. It prevents any accidental start from those tiny but inevitable movements in the suitcase. And, unlike some, you don’t have to sprain a thumb to unlock it.

The trimmer on this model is even better than the one on some of the mid-range models, like the ES-LA93-K. It’s a pop-up style and easy to flip it out or close it. Yet, it doesn’t activate so easily that you’re constantly having to close it again while shaving your beard.

Head/Foil Flexibility

The head movement is not quite the same on this less expensive model. It lacks the Multi-Flex Pivot Head system of the higher end models but it’s still not bad. You shouldn’t expect the close contour-hugging you’d get with the more expensive models but you can compensate partially just with hand movements.

The foil itself is a similar pattern as the higher end shavers, including the slit structure that helps on those longer hairs. If you go a few days without shaving, say over a three day weekend, you won’t have to regret it come Monday morning.

Some guys like the rotary style of the Philips line because those offer a more flexible head system. There’s some justification to that. But experience shows that it’s as much a matter of taste as any objectively superior result. Some users simply prefer the way a rotary operates. Others like the rectangular foil design better. Everyone’s face is different so there’s no way to settle that debate.


Charging System

Without digging into electronics diagrams it’s impossible to be sure the charging system is the same, but it certainly seems to be. Same appearance, same buttons, and – most importantly – same specs. You can charge the ES-LT71-S from dead to full in about an hour.

Equally nice, if you look on the shaver itself you find five charge-level indicators on the LED display. The more expensive Arc4 and Arc5 models have 10 on an LCD but do you really care whether the increments are only every 20% rather than every 10%?

And, while it might appear minor to some buyers, the ES-LT71-S charging system has one feature that I personally cheer. At the end of the cycle the lights will all illuminate for five seconds then go dark. The higher end models continue to flash forever, which I find very annoying.

If you have any doubts about whether it’s fully charged you just hit the Power On button and watch everything light up for five seconds then dim out again. The desire to avoid that step might be the reason Panasonic’s designers chose to continue the flashing on the other models. But it’s mostly unnecessary. You can trust that the shaver has re-charged after an hour.

Cleaning System

The cleaning system that comes with the ES-LT71-S is virtually identical as well. It’s what Panasonic calls their Vortex system. The name is virtually meaningless but the function is not; it works well. It uses the same detergent cartridge as the other models that you place in the bottom. Pour in some water, place the razor upside down, choose one of the courses, and press the button. The clean/dry cycle takes about an hour.

Even so, the head isn’t hard to pop off. So, if you want to save some money on refills you can rinse off the blades, let it dry out, then use again on the next day or two. You should use the system at least once a week to keep the blades sharper; all electrics will ultimately need a new blade but keeping them clean slows the micro-level deterioration. At that rate, the cleaning system isn’t terribly expensive to use.


You won’t get the same quality shave from the ES-LT71-S as you can from, say, the ES-LV81-K. The significantly higher price on the latter isn’t just for looks. The ES-LT71-S has only three blades and lacks the vibrating outer foil and the lift system of the more expensive models. Still, the difference may well be small enough to satisfy those looking for an electric shaver but who experience sticker shock with the more expensive models.


Image of Panasonic ES-LT71-S, Arc3 Electric Razor

Panasonic ES2216PC

Panasonic ES2216PC

It won’t surprise the ladies reading this but electric shavers for the female set have never caught up to those for men. I don’t think it’s prejudice or for lack of trying, but good choices for women are few and far between. Fine men’s shavers, by contrast, may be expensive but are available in abundance. The Panasonic ES2216PC is an example of that difference.


Four Blade/Twin Head Shaving System


Panasonic makes a number of stellar models for men but the ES2216PC ladies shaver, while good, doesn’t reach that level. The four blade cutting assembly is one major reason. The company gets high marks here for producing nickel-free, hypoallergenic blades that are super sharp. That potentially would help get a smooth shave without tugging, razor burn, or irritation.

Also, the floating twin head design, in theory, should add to that quality. It could allow for following all the varying contours – legs, underarms, bikini area – that make shaving for women a unique challenge. The ES2216PC houses pivots that work similar to a rotary head shaver. These are the wide foil design and should cover all those body areas nicely.

The problem is that real-world use does not quite live up to the promise of the design here.

Mind you, the ES2216PC isn’t bad. Those blades actually are nice and sharp and that foil-covered head section does follow contours reasonably well. And, being fair, it’s asking too much for an electric to provide the same close shave that a manual razor provides. So, in actual use, those with coarse hair should be moderately pleased.

But the tradeoff from using an electric should, at the bare minimum, involve more comfort than a manual. This electric gets mid-range marks on that score. It’s not rough and those with sensitive skin can use this without expecting to endure pain or even shaving rash. It’s just that this model doesn’t wow. It’s just ok

Wet/Dry Model

Balancing the scales a bit, the ES2216PC is a wet/dry model. You can take it in the shower and have no fear of damaging the razor. That opens the option of using gel to minimize any possibility of tugging or irritation. For those gals who prefer a dry shave there is still the option of electric shave solution or just a little extra care.

Wet or dry, which is better? Well, hairs collect in the head more readily in a wet shave than when shaving dry, so you might find yourself rinsing it out mid-shave. With dry shaving it might be best to use the razor more often or just for those evening touchups before going out. Dry shaving is certainly an option with this model.

Shaving wet does carry a tradeoff of its own, too; the case design makes holding onto it a challenge. That can be a personal thing, of course. Everyone’s hands are a little different. It might fit your hand perfectly. But for a ladies shaver there does not seem to have been quite the attention to how a woman holds one that there should be.

Thankfully, it’s far from heavy – just 5 3/4 ounces. It’s not exactly large, either, at 2.0″ wide x 2.0″ deep x 6.3″ long. It’s just that the squarish handle design is somewhat awkward.

I do give Panasonic kudos for the pop-up trimmer. Unlike the one on some electric shavers, this one is easy to activate – there’s no slip, even in the shower (unless your hands are particularly soapy). It also pokes out well from the main head so getting it into any personal nook or cranny doesn’t require any uncomfortable contortions.

There is also a bikini trimmer attachment. That’s a nice additional feature that will make life easier for many buyers.


The charging system and battery are also a mixed blessing on the ES2216PC. Taking the positive aspect first, the battery lasts a reasonably long time. It’s rated for about 20 minutes of shaving and a new model will achieve that or better. Gradually, like all rechargeable batteries, you’ll get a bit less but long-term use shows it holds up well.

On the less-than-ideal side of the ledger, the charging system is a bit of a disappointment. It takes a full 12 hours to fully recharge from zero. The batteries available in both consumer electronics in general, and men’s shaver’s specifically, show that much quicker charge times are possible.

Worse still, at least to this reviewer, you have to plug the shaver directly into an outlet. There’s no cord. That might, at first blush, seem like an advantage. One less thing to store, connect, and – possibly – to have trouble locating when you need it.

However, plugging it directly into the outlet means having this thing stick directly out of the wall. That is both hard on outlets and an accident waiting to happen. True, this problem is easily solved with an extension cord but those are usually much thicker and less flexible than required for this kind of device. Anyway, who wants to dedicate an ugly extension cord to just this purpose?


The search for the perfect ladies electric shaver continues… because the Panasonic ES2216PC, sadly, just isn’t it. This ladies electric shaver gets mixed scores from this reviewer.

A wet/dry design and sharp, hypoallergenic blades inside a very flexible head design mean safe, comfortable shaving. But they simply don’t cut very close or comfortably in dry shaving. Also, the case design and charging system are less than stellar, especially compared to what’s possible (and common) in men’s shavers.

Balancing all those criticisms, to be fair, this model is supremely low cost compared to those men’s electric shavers. The guys typically have to pay 5-10 times as much for a quality model. So, all in all, the ES2216PC is not a bad shaver or a bad deal. I just wish it were closer to my ideal.


Image of Panasonic ES2216PC Women’s Electric Shaver 

Philips S9721/84

Philips Norelco 9700 (S9721/84)

Every time I think they’ve improved electric shavers as much as possible, someone goes and proves me wrong. For a guy who prides himself on being up on the latest technical innovations – and therefore one who couldn’t be surprised – it’s a little embarrassing.

This time, thanks to the interesting new design elements of the Philips Norelco 9700 (S9721/84)  – I’m pretty happy to bear that shame. Here’s why.

For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the excellent video below to get Philips’ Norelco Series 9000 shaving system summarized in 3 minutes.

Table: Different Models of Philips Norelco 9700 (S9721/84)

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46





Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs



Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement


RQ12+ (New)


RQ12+ (New)


RQ12+ (New)


RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode



Black / Chrome

Black / Metal



Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Basic Features

The basic features of the Philips Norelco 9700 are excellent. But, then, Philips has been putting out fine shavers for a long time, so that in itself is no surprise.


With the 9700 (in one form: the S9721/84, for example), that means a shaver that looks like a lot of Norelco models. That same “Aliens” style head is there with the traditional three floating blade assemblies. At 3.1″ x 2.2″ x 6.2″, it’s long but narrow enough to fit just about anyone’s hand.

The shaver does allow for the use of a trimmer. However, because of the three-headed design you have to pop off the regular head assembly and pop on the trimmer accessory. A minor, but unavoidable, issue given the shape. On the upside, it works a little better than most built-in trimmers.

A minor suprise is the fully secure body. Unlike some of the major competitors’ models (until very recently), the 9700 is a full Wet / Dry case. Since I shave 90% of the time in the shower, this is a must for me. Still, I grant you this doesn’t merit the label “amazing”.

Edging into that territory is the noise level. I can’t honestly say it’s astounding, but it’s definitely quieter than usual. For a shaver that is so effective, that’s a pleasant surprise.

With this particular model, that’s about where “basic” ends and “amazing” begins.

3 Speed Settings

Adding to the comfort level, the 9700 has three settings. If you’ve got tender skin, the Slow setting (1900 RPM) will still give you a pretty good shave and take care not to tear it up.

That’s one of the two main reasons guys give up on electric shavers, I’m convinced. The other, of course, being that a particular model didn’t give them a close enough shave. Hitting that Goldilocks point is tough for designers. Philips succeeded here.

The Medium (2100 RPM) and Fast (2300 RPM) settings speed things up for men with regular or truly tough beards but average to invincible skin.

V-Track Precision Blades


Even a look at the visible foils on the Norelco 9700 make it clear something special is going on here. I haven’t seen a pattern this complicated since the last time I examined a circuit board blueprint.

The pattern of variously sized and shaped slots has a purpose, though. Short hairs, medium hairs, and long hairs all surrender at the same time. That means fewer strokes and a quicker shave without the need to press so hard that you irritate your face. Of course, that’s all moot if the blades (SH90) aren’t sharp.

Here’s where the 9700 really starts to impress in a very new way. Pop off that foil and you’ll see a blade assembly underneath quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. At least, I’d never seen one like it and I see a lot of electric shaver internals.

The individual cutters are U-shaped. All the documentation says “V-Track” but the blade is actually more curved at the vertex than that. Semantics…

As the cutter unit rotates, the hair is caught between the foil and the blade and sliced off cleanly. Precision and sharpness are key with this sort of design. Any gap or dullness would just pull your hair.

Fortunately, Philips has mastered both aspects. The proof is in the results. The company says you get a shave that’s 30% closer. They don’t say closer than what; a common failing of stats in advertisements. Never mind that. This thing works.


Contour Detect Technology

Sharp, fast blades and great foil design are essential to deliver a good shave. But part of that superior result is owing to the ease with which the Norelco 9700 gets everywhere on your face. That’s especially true under the chin and along the lower jawline, where it’s most difficult.

Here, too, Philips has made some outstanding innovations. Most electric shavers pivot. Both the Braun and Panasonic lines do a great job at that. Philips has caught up to the competition in the 9700 series.

They did it with a brand new double-pivot system, something they labeled Contour Detect Technology. Let’s ignore the fancy buzzphrase and look at how it works.

Take apart this Norelco and you’ll see a ring that pivots in one direction, left and right. Remove another layer and you’ll see another piece that pivots left and right – at 90 degrees to the first one. That action in both directions actually results in a total of eight different directions (because of combinations). And, to emphasize the point, that’s true of each shaving head.

I have no idea if Philips’ claim that it removes up to 20% more hair in a single pass is true. I’m not even sure what that means because, again, it doesn’t say 20% more than what. Whether they mean 20% more than Philips’ Sensotouch 3D contour-following system in the Norelco 8000 series or not is a question I leave to the electrical engineers.

What I do know is that real-world use demonstrates that this shaver whacks whiskers everywhere on your face as easily as it does on the cheeks.

SmartClean Cleaning Pro System

The Norelco 9700 cleaning system isn’t as new and innovative as the shaver itself. It really doesn’t need to be. But it could use some improvements. Watch the short video below to see the SmartClean system in action.

Like the Braun or Panasonic systems, the SmartClean lets you clean and charge in one go. Here, what’s really nice is that the cartridge (JC30x) (with x = number of cartridges) is super easy to place and remove. It’s also a little less expensive than the others, in part because it lasts longer. In fact, the solution can last as long as three months. The other guys’ stuff usually wears out in a month.

I can only ascribe that last benefit to the fine dual-filtering system Philips uses inside the cartridge. It keeps all those little whiskers, foam, soap, and more from “polluting” the cartridge solution. Consequently, it cleans almost as throughly the fifth time as the first.


All that said, it certainly is possible and very easy to clean just with water. In fact, I recommend that four out of five uses. You’ll conserve cleaning solution and it only takes a few seconds to get a “good enough” rinse to be in very good shape for the next shave.

Like the competitors, it does the needed cleaning job in as short as 10 minutes. A progress bar shows the progress of the cleaning cycle.

And, at the end, like the other guys’ systems, it dries the shaver. That’s more important than you might suppose. A wet shaver breeds both rust and germs. Keeping it more sanitary and sharper is greatly enhanced this way.

Why it should take four hours to dry is a mystery. However, since you rarely need to use the thing again that soon, it’s not a big deal. If you do, it’s still not a big deal.

One thing that could use improving is the seal. The cartridge can leak some solution if you move your shaving / charging Smart Clean stand during use.

Moving it around the counter is problematic for other reasons, too, unfortunately. It’s somewhat top heavy. It’s easy to prove. Try operating the charger with one fingertip pressing down and the thing will tip backwards – with the shaver in place in the unit or out of it. That’s compensated for somewhat by being largish at the base, but not enough.


1 Hour Charge – 50 Minutes Shaving Time

It takes an hour of charging to get 50 minutes of cordless shave time. There are 2 ways to charge the 9700 – via the power cord provided in the package or as mentioned previously via the SmartClean cleaning system.

Why the shaver can’t operate while plugged into the charging cord is a mystery to me. For my part, I just say it’s unfortunate – and unnecessary. Other shavers can.

There is a quick-charge feature that will give you enough juice for one shave, if you’re in a hurry. Plugging it in for 5 minutes will give you about 3 minutes of shave time.

Controls & Display

Among the pleasant ergonomic features of the Norelco 9700 is the digital interface on the body. That’s not a word you might have seen associated with electric shavers, like you have phones or tablets, but it’s starting to be accurate.

True, the 9700 display is nowhere near the level of your smart phone. But this one does clearly show battery level, clean state, whether it’s time to replace the shaver head, and other aspects.

And, hallelujah, the battery level is not one of those little illuminated bars you have to judge. Is that 30% full or 50%? Sometimes you want to know. Here, it shows a full three numbers from 0-100. On top of that, there is actually a Low Battery indicator light. So, if you happen to miss seeing the (large) numbers, the blinking light should give you a big hint that it’s time to recharge.

Some of the time, this feature isn’t worth a separate category. Here, the view is so clear and logically laid out, I decided to list it apart from the rest. Just to cite one other example, a lot of shaver models don’t show clearly when the travel lock is on. This one, you simply can’t make a mistake.

Travel Case

By the way, there’s a nice hard-shelled travel case, too. So, your shaver is not going to get banged around. The chance of the unit turning on while in motion is low anyway. If you typically forget to activate the travel lock, (reviewer raises hand) you’ll usually be okay.

I do wish the case were a bit larger. The shaver fits into it perfectly, a little too well maybe. There’s no room for the trimmer accessory. Ok, that’s a minor sacrifice. Worse, there’s no room for the charging cord. Isn’t that scenario exactly when you’re most likely to use the travel case and not have handy the charging / cleaning stand?


The Philips Norelco S9721/84 offers a lot of innovation, even if it’s moderately well hidden under the covers. No matter, where it counts – during your shave – you definitely notice it via the results. Close, non-irritating, and quick. I like that. I’d even call it amazing.


Image of Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 9700, S9721/84 


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