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?

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5-Blade Cutting System

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summary

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summary

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summary

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.

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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.

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Four Blade/Twin Head Shaving System

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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.

Charging

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?

Summary

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.

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Image of Panasonic ES2216PC Women’s Electric Shaver 

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