Pros: Closest, most comfortable shave I've ever had. The Vortex cleaning system flat out rocks!
Cons: Could hit neck area better. Limited availability? (Check out Amazon or eBay).
Can we talk straight, guys? Shaving sucks. I know women go through a lot worse, but even so, shaving the face is tedious, time consuming, and potentially painful. So many of us have turned to shaving of the electric persuasion. There's tons of "solutions" out there, (and I've tried most)... but not ONE electric shaver compares to the Panasonic ES7056.
MY SHAVING JOURNEY:
Ahhh, it was like yesterday when those grisly coarse hairs started sprouting from my face... but let's fast-forward a little bit. I've been through several models of electic shavers after ditching the conventional razor. Highlights have been the Norelco 5615X and 7775X. The first 5615X was stolen (don't ask), the second's battery decided to stop working, and as for the 7775X... it did battle with the shower floor... and lost. I knew I wanted another electric shaver, and I had gotten used to shaving in the shower using an electric shaver. Around this time, a self-cleaning shavers had surfaced... and I, being a gadget freak, wanted one. The folks at Braun had come up with it first, then Norelco. But neither could be used in the shower. Until this little beauty came along.
I discovered the Panasonic line of shavers thanks to Epinions. Although they had not come out with the Vortex self-cleaning system just yet, for the most part owners of Panasonic shavers raved about their experience. When my poor Norelco 7775X shattered on my shower floor, I decided it was time for a change.
A WORD ON ROTARY SHAVING
My initial experience with a foil shaver was my dad's old (and very very loud) Remington shaver. It seemed to do the job for him very well, but cut my face up like swiss cheese. From that experience, I had decided to go rotary when I bought my first Norelco 5615X. At first, rotary shaving was nice. It was smooth, comfortable, quiet, and provided a close shave. But with time, the disadvantages starting becoming obvious... stray hairs would often elude the rotary system, and often it was a little ambiguous just where the blades were when I tried to make precision cuts. The neck area was particularly stubborn, even when I upgraded to my new (and supposedly better) 7775X. Once the blades started to dull, I'd have to push harder to get the close shave I wanted... but irritation would often follow soon afterwards.
OUT OF THE BOX:
Packaging aside, the ES7056 is a sexy little thing. This shaver looks great, especially in the charging cradle. It doesn't just look good, though. It feels good, fitting well in my hand and of solid build. I feel it will last a really long time. The rubberized grip feels particularly nice... something I wish I could say existed on my two previous Norelcos. Its blue, white, black, and silver colors come together to make one slick looking device. I've had friends ask me about it out of the blue. Thus far I've convinced two of them to get it, and they're nothing but happy.
FEATURES WORTH MENTIONING:
Well where do I start? Out of the box you have the charging self-cleaning base. It doesn't take up too much room so I have it sitting on my bathroom sink. It's plain enough to not attract too much attention, and it looks kind of cool when the shaver is resting in it. The shaver itself can be plugged into the adapter, in case you are traveling and don't want to take the base with you. The shaver itself is completely immersible in water, which allows for wet/dry shaving... a definite, definite plus. It also has a pop-up trimmer for trimming sideburns and anything else.
So now on to my impressions...
Looks: I felt it was worth mentioning again how beautiful this shaver is. Does that make me shallow?
Solid build: Again... feels great in the hand. My previous 3 Norelcos felt like they'd shatter after dropping. One actually did. I've dropped this shaver twice without any permanent damage (the foils came off but were easily placed back on).
Clean, close shave: I still like to ask people to feel my face after using the ES7056. It's that smooth. Also, for the first time I have a close shave that seems to last longer through the day, which is a good indicator as to how close this thing can cut. It still has a little bit of trouble where the neck meets the jawline, but with some diagonal/sideways strokes I've learned to get around that.
In my experience I've noted that the blades need to be replaced every 8 months or so. At $24 from Panasonic.com, They're not as expensive as Norelco blades ($30), and ultimately the overall price is less than buying conventional blades.
Wet / Dry shaving: Use it by the sink, use it in the shower. It works with all my favorite shaving creams and gels. I've read reviews by people who say they prefer to use this shaver dry, but for me it's the opposite. It's really up to you.
Good battery life: This shaver has never let me down, even during a 2 week vacation without the charger. I had even forgotten this at a friend's house for a month and when I got it back it still had a full charge on it. Not too shabby. It also charges quickly, too... within 45 minutes. The only two things (besides cosmetics) that this shaver lacks in comparison to Panasonic's top-of-the-line ES8077S model are: 1) 5 minute quick-charge which allows for a full shave after 5 minutes of charging, and 2) the "linear power delivery" feature, which keeps the motor running full speed regardless of the battery's charge. ... I've never needed either of these features. The motor doesn't slow down until the battery is really dying, and I've yet to have this baby's battery die on me after a year of ownership.
This thing cleans itself?!
That's right friends. Every time you use the shaver you just need to plop it into the cradle and let the machine do the rest. "Well yeah, but other shavers can self-clean too," you say, "what sets this one apart?"
Well for one thing the cleaning/charging cradle is pretty small. I don't travel with it, but it's small enough to keep on my bathroom sink full time. Only Braun has a small (but rickety) cradle that can compare. The other Braun and Norelco cradles can get huge! Second, the cleaning cartridges are non-alcoholic, and actually have a rather pleasant scent. Third, the cleaning cartridges are nicely priced... $14.99 for a pack of three. On cartridge lasts me about two months, so do the math and you'll find it's pretty reasonable.
The operation of the self-cleaning cradle is simple enough. Slip the shaver in, slip down the cradle lock, and away you go. For some reason, the cradle allows you several options from here... 1) Clean-Dry-Charge, 2) Clean-Dry, 3) Dry-charge. ... Why wouldn't I want to do all three if I'm putting the shaver in the cradle in the first place? I thought that was rather odd.
With a whirring sound the machine starts cleaning the shaver. The blades move much faster than they normally do during regular shaving during this process. When the cleaning is done, a heating element dries the shaver. Here it does a so-so job... the shaver can still be a little damp after a morning cleaning if I try to use it later in the evening.
The entire cleaning process takes about 6 hours, but most of that time is just "drying" time, and you could probably get away with swiping the shaver out of the cradle 1 hour after the cleaning had been started. (I dunno... I've never hung around long enough to time it.)
Hardly anything at all. This shaver is that good. As I said, it could do a better job in the neck region, but once I got over the learning curve it did better. Also, the shaver is not readily available at most stores, such as WalMart or Target. You're going to have to order it online. That goes for accessories too, but Panasonic has been great about shipping things to me quickly. That's really it.
THE VERDICT: Best electric shaver I've ever owned.
Panasonic sells this unit for $129. You can easily find it on Amazon.com or eBay for less. The prices listed on Epinions are almost half that. Killer.
Even though I paid $92 for mine, I'd pay $129 if that was the only price available. Get it.
Having used this shaver for just over a year, I found it was not cutting quite like it used to. Once the blades were replaced (about $25 with shipping from their website), it went right back to cutting super smoothly. I can't recommend this product enough. I've noticed that prices are gradually going up at various online retailers, so if you're in the market for a shaver, get this one now.