I don’t like to shave. I work from home, which doesn’t help matters much, and find shaving to be too time consuming to make it worth the daily ritual that so many men undertake. So you’d think I have no interest in electric razors, when the fact of the matter is that I’m constantly on the lookout for new shaving technologies that can save me some time when I actually get around to working on my facial appearance once a month or whenever we have to go to a wedding (whichever comes first).
I bought what was purported to be the first electric shaver to use a lithium-ion battery, the Wahl Lithium Ion All in One Trimmer, for the sole reason that I wouldn’t have to worry about the battery needing to be charged on the rare occasions that I decided to shave. I’ve bought several other electric razors, too; one with a built-in vacuum function, one for traveling, one for full shaves, and plenty of others. I don’t do blades because they take way too long.
Philips Norelco recently unveiled its new SensoTouch line, with the promise that it provides the venerable razor maker’s “closest shave yet.” It should, too, with the flagship SensoTouch 3D 1290 model carrying a suggested retail price of $300 when it hits stores in September.
The razor itself features an ergonomic pistol-style grip, an LCD display that wakes up when the razor senses movement, 60-minute lithium-ion battery, and what Philips Norelco calls a GyroFlex 3D head comprised of three discs that “pivots around, tilts inward, and flexes outward to adjust seamlessly to every curve of the face and neck, minimizing pressure and irritation.”
The razor is also water resistant and can actually be used with shaving cream if you so desire. Round all that out with an optional charging station that sports a self-cleaning function when the razor is docked, and you’ve got what’s likely the most advanced shaving setup you’ve ever owned.
The real feature, in my opinion, is the “UltraTrack” shaving heads that Philips Norelco has designed using a fancy electrolyte-based manufacturing process that enables the company to make tiny holes and intricate channel patterns on the heads—a process that the company claims doesn’t exist in any other electric razors on the market.
On this close up photo of one of the shaving heads, you’ll notice a staggered pattern of dots making up the innermost row, then a row made up of a tooth-like pattern, and finally the outermost row made up of slightly curved slots. The dots handle stubble, the teeth handle longer hairs and troublesome hairs that may be lying down on the face, and the outermost slots handle standard hairs. The mechanism underneath the head is powered by Philips Norelco’s famous lift-and-cut feature that lifts each hair before cutting it.
I was able to take the SensoTouch 3D razor for a spin (pun intended!) and found it to work quite well. The Philips engineer who was handling the demos insisted that I use a beard trimmer first since it’d been so long since I last shaved, though I purposely left my facial hair as long as possible to simulate what it would be like to use the razor out in the wild. The result was that I ended up shaving what would have been about a week’s worth of growth—the company contends that the razor isn’t meant to handle anything over 72 hours of growth, so I was definitely pushing the limits.
The entire process took well under five minutes, which is pretty quick for me. I didn’t find myself having to go over certain areas again and again, as the razor caught most of the hairs on the first pass. The areas under my chin on either side of my face that generally take the longest due to the odd nooks and crannies weren’t as stubborn thanks to the tilting and pivoting features of the GyroFlex 3D head, which was able to adjust to various angles. I did feel a little bit of irritation in those same areas, but it wasn’t as bad as it normally is with cheaper razors or beard trimmers. The rest of my face didn’t feel any irritation at all—no tugging, no pulling, no nicks, no redness, nothing like that.
There’s a small pop-out trimmer on the backside of the razor. The company recommends popping off the shaving head in order to see what you’re doing more clearly, though the trimmer can be used with the main head still attached. The trimmer worked okay, though not nearly as well as a dedicated trimmer, and I wish it was wider to better handle sideburns. I had to make two separate strokes in order to account for the width of my sideburns, which presented a lopsided line the first time around.
That small nitpick aside, everything else worked as promised. One of the Philips engineers took before and after close up photos of my face with some sort of cone shaped microscopic photography apparatus that showed a mostly clean cut aside from a handful of whiskers that I’d missed. As I said, the entire process took less than five minutes and I was impressed that the razor collected most of what had been cut, leaving the sink wife-pleasingly barren. The three discs can be easily popped open and rinsed out as needed, too, for models without the self-cleaning dock.
The SensoTouch 3D 1290 model will be available in September with a suggested retail price of $299.99, with other similarly equipped models ranging from $199 to $349 depending on features and included accessories.
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