Pros: Styllish look, recharge/cleaning base, does the job
Cons: Hefty price, still not close enough
Braun Shaver Series 5 590cc
It’s been years since I used an electric razor. My mom bought me a cheap one when I first started shaving some 20 years ago, but I was always disappointed in the performance. It wasn’t long before I switched to manual razors. I’ve always had that prejudice to electric and preference towards manual ever since. After years of buying Gillette’s latest designs and seeking out replacement blades I’ve since become irritated with the cost. On top of that I like to keep my head shaved, which itself can be quite a chore with a manual razor. So top of my Christmas list this year was an electric razor.
Which one did I get? Unless I’m posting in the wrong topic, obviously the Braun Shaver Series 5 590cc. Before I get to my personal observations, let me tell you what the manufacturer says.
In the quest for a truly thorough shave, new Series 5 from Braun leaves no stone unturned. With a unique Power Comb that lifts and cuts hairs growing flat against the skin that otherwise would be missed. Series 5 provides smoothness as standard. Together with a slim, contour-adapting head that slides effortlessly into hard-to-reach areas and hand-friendly ergonomics for total control all over the face, Series 5 delivers a thorough shave all over the face, with no missed hairs.
Sleek and sophisticated, Series 5 exists to give you a thoroughly smooth shave, with a combination of technical superiority and design excellence. Poised beneath Braun's microscopically thin Smart Foil, a unique Power Comb works in harmony with the hand's natural up-and-down linear movement to trap and cut hairs that grow flat against the skin. They sure won't be missed.
Grip-friendly ergonomics just cry out for a firm hand, allowing Series 5's slim, contour-adapting head to produce a thorough shave no matter what the facial terrain throws at it.
Mean and clean, Series 5 is fully washable under running water—or available with Braun’s patented Clean & Renew system. An integral, adjustable long hair trimmer for beard, moustache and sideburns and a choice of elegant color combinations completes the package.
Shaving System: Foil * Cleaning Method: Clean & Renew™ System * Display: LED*Power Source: Cord/Cordless Operation * Cordless Shave Time: 45 minutes * Charge Time: 1 hour * Quick Charge Time: 3 minutes * Voltage: 100-240 V
The Braun 590cc lists for $229 on Amazon (HSN $249). I didn’t purchase mine but know that it came with a discount. Even so that puts this model in the higher price range. There’s a related model, the Braun 570cc which is $30 cheaper and is exactly the same except in color and an LED cleaning indicator. These two models both come with a cleaning and charging base. If you buy either one without the charging base (Braun 550 or Braun 560) you can save about another $30 on the price. My earliest thought is to go for the cheapest of these 4 models. You can clean it manually and charge it with the power cord. Regardless, mine was a gift and the person buying it for me wanted to give me the better model. The added benefits are a nice touch but not worth the expense if you’re on a budget.
Out of the box, the Braun 590 is an impressive looking model. It’s about 9 inches tall and has a nice ergonomic grip to it. With the ribbed sides and suitable width it sits perfectly in the palm. The head is foil (flat) as opposed to rotary (wheels) which makes it suitable for lining up to goatees. The idea behind the foil is that the first part of the head lifts the hair and the second part cuts it. On the face, is a technologically attractive 5 light power indicator and a cleaning (i.e. “need to clean”) indicator. On the side is a 3 setting adjustment (from sensitive to tougher) and there’s a long hair trimmer on the back. First impressions, this is a cool looking model.
The power cord can plug into either the base or the razor direct. When in the base, the razor automatically charges via two sensors. The base also houses the alcohol cleaning fluid. It’s sleek looking, with a neon blue display light, has about a 6 inch diameter, and 6 inches tall, although it’s only a cheap plastic faux metallic material. Not too impressive in terms of durability, but it looks the part. The neon light up is a bit of a gimmick. At least it lets you know the base has power, but unless you want a night light it can be a little obnoxious. The product comes with one cleaning fluid container. The bottom of the base pops open easily and you slide the cartridge in. Cleaning is a one touch process; with the razor in the base charging, you hit the clean button and it churns away like a dishwasher for a couple of hours. Second impressions, we’ve still got a pretty cool looking bathroom appliance and a rather handy cleaning and charging solution.
The razor runs across the skin very smoothly. I played around with the sensitive skin setting for a while and was really disappointed with the results. It didn’t just have a problem with the neck hairs but also with some of the simpler cheek hairs too. I suppose the idea is that you start with a sensitive run over then crank it up to get those problem areas. It wasn’t long though before I just cranked up the performance notch and just left it that way, I don’t have much patience. I’ve not had a problem with sensitivity on the highest performance setting except once when I was in a bit of rush and went at it a little too aggressively. It left a bit of a red patch on the side of my neck (my own fault).
I’ve shaved six or seven times with the razor now and have to say that I’m still a little disappointed even with the maximum performance setting. I followed the instructions to a tee; shave before washing, hold razor at 90 degrees and stretch out skin. It has no problem at all with the facial hairs but neck stubble is still something of a problem. At a glance it gets everything, but close up you can still see residual stubble and it’s a little rough on the feel. I could say that the look is good enough, but if I were working a double shift I’d definitely have to shave again later in the day.
Note: I’ve read suggestions of letting your skin get used to the razor and many of the Amazon reviews say that the Braun 5’s performance is as good as can be expected for an electric razor. I’ll update here in future if I see a change.
Performance-wise then I am rather disappointed. It gets the job done to an extent, but not to the extent that I’d like.
If I were going to offer a one off recommendation on the Braun 5 Series, I’d say forget it. Still I’m going to hold off for right now and say that this model is adequate. I’m not sure that it warrants the high price tag although I haven’t used a cheaper razor for comparison either. At the moment I’ll give it a lukewarm nod.
There are a couple of other points that deserve mention. One great advantage is that it can be cleaned under water. I’m not sure that extends as far as being safe enough to shave in the bath, but it does mean that you don’t have to worry about a few splashes. The head cover pops off really easily and with the accompanying brush, water or compressed air you can clean the thing out really easily. The instructions recommend placing it in the base and running the cleaner after each use. The cleaning refill cartridges are priced at about $5 to $6 each, which on a daily clean would add up to about $60 a year. With manual cleaning being so straightforward, that’s really not necessary and clearly a way for Braun to improve their cash flow. I’ll stick to cleaning it myself after each use then running it through the full cleaning process once a week. This is also the reason why you might want to save some money and buy the model without the cleaning/charging base.
The unit is stated to work for 45 minutes on a full charge making it suitable for travel or remote use. It gets to full charge in an hour, although the base means you should never have to worry about that. One great advantage is the 3 minute quick charge if you’re ever in a hurry.
Final Verdict: 3 Stars. Everything about this model looks great but I’m a little disappointed in the finish. I’m still giving it a mild recommendation however because I think my hang-ups are with electric razors in general. Still, for the price I’d certainly expect better.