Before we published our Gillette Fusion Glide Competition / Review, I was contacted by a representative of Philips Germany who offered to ship me Philips SensoTouch 3D shaver for review. Since I was just in the middle of testing shaving methods, I gladly accepted. Today, I am going to review the Philips SensoTouch 3D (RQ1280/21) shaver with a jet clean system.
The SensoTouch 3D is Philips’ top model and it is identical to the Philips Norelco 1280X/4, which is available in the US. For me, it was the first time that I have ever used an electric shaver, and so I did not know what to expect. The only reference point I had was a wet shave. Considering my thick, sturdy hair, I was not sure how the electric shaver would compare to the old school razors, but I was definitely curious.
Let’s start with the design. Made in Holland, the shaver is long, black and silver with 3 brush head on top and a built-in trimmer in the front. The on and off button is positioned right where it should be – underneath the thumb – and overall, it fits my hand like a glove. For travel, the razor head is easily removable and for cleaning purposes, the three prongs can be opened. Along with a LCD display, a built-in battery that lasts 60 minutes and a lock function, I think the Senso Touch 3D covers all the useful features of an electric shaver without being too complicated.
Although the remaining charge is always displayed in minutes, an acoustic signal will chime once the battery is nearly dead. The trimmer works great on sideburns or the back of the neck. Overall, I thought the shaver was well-designed and was neither to light nor too heavy.
In the beginning, it seemed odd to me to shave without applying any kind of foam or lubricant to my face, but after the first few seconds, all my worries were gone. It took me a couple of days to master the right technique – moving around in circles rather than straight lines – but I quickly realized that the biggest difference from a classic wet shave was time. Before, I probably never shaved in less than 15 minutes, but now it took me 3 minutes!
In terms of quality, there is definitely a difference between a wet shave and the dry shave. The hair is not cut as close to the skin, especially on the neck and areas right underneath the nostrils. Even an extended period of dry shaving won’t improve the results. Right after the shave, the visual difference is hardly noticeable, but you can feel it. By the end of the day, you will always see the difference between a traditional wet shave and the SensoTouch dry shave; the hair is by far longer.
Despite these results, I do enjoy the convenience factor of dry shaving. It comes in very handy when you are short on time or prefer not to change, because there is no way you can wet shave and clean up in 3 minutes. In addition, I have a tendency to shave more often – which my wife appreciates – without needing the time investment.
After I had purely shaved dry for a month, I was curious to see what results the electric wet shave would yield. Fortunately, it is waterproof and so you can bring it with you into the shower. Since mirrors have a tendency to fog up, I always shaved at the sink. Basically, I prepared the beard in the same way I would with a traditional shave. With this method, you will still be faster then if you shave in the classic manner, however, the difference is not as notable, since you only save time on the shaving end, not on the preparation.
The quality of the shave is slightly above the the dry shave result, but still below a Double Edge razor or Gillette Fusion. Personally, I am not a fan of this method because it gives me neither the ultimate quality nor the lightning speed. However, if you have thinner hair, you may achieve the same quality as with a double edge razor while saving time.
The Shave has two little metal knobs that are used to charge the battery. Charging works perfectly well and I have no complaints.
Jet Clean System
The jet clean system is quite bulky and takes up quite a bit of space in the bathroom. Usually, I clean the SensoTouch after every shave under running water and I occasionally use alcohol. It also comes with a little brush that helps to remove hair and skin particles. In my opinion, this is much quicker and less costly than using the jet system and the expensive cleaning fluid. However, if you use your shaver with shaving cream, it will build up on your equipment over time, which is when the jet system comes in handy.
The cleaning solution smells like lemon and has a pH of 5.5, which effectively cleans your razor head. A refill costs $5.
Altogether, I think the Jet cleaning system is nice to have if you have no space concerns, but you can safely skip it and use alcohol or the cleaning solution on its own.
The initial investment of about $280 (at amazon) or $250 (without the cleaning station) in a Philips SensoTouch 3D is certainly much higher than with the more classic shaving options. But, if you shave only dry and skip the jet cleaner, you have hardly any recurring costs. I am sure eventually the brush head will need to be exchanged, which costs $55.
Overall, I think the Philips SensoTouch 3D is a great product if you do not want to lose time in the morning. It is also an excellent travel accessory, because you do not have to bring substitute cartridges, a shaving brush or shaving cream. That alone makes it a worthwhile companion for me, but if you have 45 minutes of time and want the best shave possible every morning, the Philips Norelco is probably not your first choice, especially if you have sturdy facial hair. Though even then, I would want to have a Philips SensoTouch for the times when you have no time and need to shave in 2 minutes – that’s when this electric shaver excels.