Having tried many electric shavers from under $20 to well over $300, and beyond, I was intrigued with this Panasonic ES-LV81-K when I saw it at a trade show a few months ago.
Let’s get price out of the way first. It has a suggested price of . . . wait for it . . . $599.99, yielding one cent change for your $600 bill, and then there’s tax in most cases. That’s a lot of jack for a shaver. Is this or any shaver worth that kind of money? That, dear readers, is something left to each of you. Read on for better pricing!
I CAN tell you of my experience.
Let’s have a look at the features and benefits. This is a wet/dry shaver, 100% waterproof, equally at home in the shower or out, against a dry face as well as one with shaving gel. It features FIVE blades with what Panasonic calls a Multi-Flex™ Head, Nanotech™ Blades, Quick Lift Foil™ and Automatic Cleaning and Charging System. This is mostly marketing speak.
Yes, it has an amazing FIVE blades. Yes, the head flexes in all planes, the foil properties are a function of their design that, like others, works to lift the whiskers to better approach the cutters.
Nanotech technology on the blades is a coating to make them sharper, along with the angle of the cutters, like the angle on a fine-edged knife.
Automatic Cleaning and Charging System? You guessed it. It’s a bath to clean the shaver and charge it at the same time, and it may or may not be used. For example, the countertop charger/bath takes up space and uses consumables. Alternatively, instructions call for using liquid soap and warm water to be applied to the business end of the shaver, then turn it on as it lathers, remove the head/blades (they easily come off) and rinse in water. It works just fine.
The shaver comes with a 30-day quality satisfaction guarantee, which assures it may be returned to the place of purchase within 30 days of the date of purchase for a full refund. This is customary because the initiated user sometimes has difficulty giving this or any electric shaver time to be used and for one’s face to become accustomed to using it. The face DOES toughen up.
The shaver and rechargeable battery are covered by a two-year parts and labor warranty.
What everyone must want to know is how good a job it does. Fantastic. This may just be the absolute best shave I’ve had. Period. I don’t have a gaggle of others to pit against this one, but my memory is clear about my experiences with the others. This one tops them all as I recall.
Other features include a pop-up trimmer that works better than any I’ve experienced. The trimmer can be engaged with its slide switch to pop up and lock the head. Before getting to this second step, the first click simply locks the head.
The linear motor is a rocket, faster than any other. Specifications call its speed 14,000 cycles per minute. Nothing of which I am aware comes close. This contributes to the quality of the shave delivered. With the outer foil off, depressing the power button for two seconds puts the shaver into sonic vibration mode, an even speedier motor cycle with vibrations designed to loosen stubborn debris. Cleaning without the bath works beautifully.
Powered by sealed-in Lithium, non-replaceable batteries (standard in the industry to have non-replaceable batteries), the LCD display clearly shows state of charge and remaining charge. The power switch has a rotating outer ring that places the power button in a locked position to prevent accidental activation, especially useful during travel.
Interestingly, I am accustomed to better shavers operating as corded or cordless. Not so on Panasonic wet/dry shavers (and maybe on other brands of wet/dry shavers). The company would not want users to try and use these in the shower with the cord attached, risking shock or damage to the best beard trimmer. Makes sense.
Replacing the outer foil is recommended annually, while the inner blades are recommended to be changes every two years.
Charging from near empty, so to speak, generally less than an hour, providing about 45 minutes shaving time. A five-minute quick charge puts enough juice into the battery for at least one normal-time shave of about five minutes.
The results of shaving with this Panasonic have been the closest, most comfortable I’ve experienced. Shaving with a blade is faster, but also prone to leaving occasional or more frequent nicks/bloody spots, something I want to avoid. I am not sure blade shaving provides a longer-lasting shave than this.
Now, it’s time to write about the automatic cleaning and charging system. I’ve always been one who relishes simplicity. Washing under water as described above works for me and takes no added counter space in the bathroom. The automatic system works well, easy for those who’d rather shave and drop the shaver into its spot in the bath/charger and let the cycle do the work. The shaver is supplied with one detergent cartridge.
Instructions call for removing and filling the water tank, washing away any old cleaning liquid, rinsing the talk and filling the tank to the maximum level as indicated. Close it up; peel off the two seals from the new detergent cartridge and properly attach it. How long each cartridge lasts will vary, but one should last about a month according to the manufacturer. A new cartridge is required when the status lamp dictates and whenever the liquid in the tank is changed.
Charging and cleaning are available at once, with charging occurring as soon as the shaver is attached. Available “courses” may be selected by pressing the SELECT button to cycle though options – Clean/Dry/Charge à Dry/Charge à to Charge. The choice is yours to use the “bath” or not.
Detergent cartridges are sold in three-packs for about $10 online. A year’s supply (12 cartridges) can be found online for about $50 at Amazon.com. See, those consumables costs add up. It’s less expensive to purchase four of the three-packs than one 12-pack!
If you or your giftee would appreciate the superior qualities of this shaving work of art and the price, about $331 at Amazon.com is not a deterrent, you’d be hard pressed to do better.
Alternately, model ES-LV61-A is the same as the ES-LV81-K, but without the Automatic Cleaning and Charging System and is best priced from Amazon.com for $280! Either way, smooth, close, comfortable shaves are close at hand.
I look forward to using this shaver more than any other I’ve tried.