Braun Contour System 5790 Rechargeable Men's Electric Shaver

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A great shave every time

Jun 5, 2008 (Updated Jun 6, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Great shave, good design/construction, cleaning system rocks, great value/price

Cons:base station not wall mountable, plastic foil cover comes off easily

The Bottom Line: For $80-100 its a great value. Shaves great every time, cleaning system keeps it fresh and doesn't cost a lot in refills. Braun stands behind it with 30day guarantee/2yr warranty.

This review is of Braun Contour Series 5790, which I think is the same as Flex XP II 5790...

I have pretty sensitive skin. Blades work okay but have always caused a lot of irritation, despite trying several brands and creams/gels. Also used a Norelco 6885XL for a while, it was alright but not perfect.

Picked this shaver up at Target for around $100. It was the best they had at the time and I needed something for a trip I was going on. So far I've used it for about two weeks, much of which was on a trip without the benefit of the cleaning base.
Also worthy of note is Braun offers a 30-day manufacturer satisfaction guarantee. If after a month you don't like it, you can send it back to Braun for a refund (even if the store won't take it back). This is unusual, and suggests to me that Braun is confident in the performance of the product.

In The Box
The shaver includes a plug-in charger, the cleaning base, one cleaning cartridge (a full one), a plastic cap to protect the shaving foil, a brush for manual cleaning and a nice velcro leather pouch which fits the shaver, brush and power cord. The manual is a bit sparse, much of it is pictorial illustrations, but the text is plenty descriptive. I suppose there's only so much to be written about a cordless shaver.
However I must note that the plastic cap doesn't stay on very well. Normal use (in the cleaning base) doesn't require the plastic cap, but when traveling the cap wouldn't stay on if thrown into a luggage bag. The leather case is required, which makes it a fair bit bigger. Since the batteries will last for around an hour, I'd prefer a plastic cap which stays on tight and then leave the leather case / charger at home.
The shaver has a nice solid feel and a good weight to it, build quality feels excellent. Power button is on the side, and the front of the shaver has a part which slides up to engage the trimmer. Power plug is on the bottom, and a button near the head releases the foil assembly for cleaning or blade replacement.
The one included power cord runs either the shaver or the cleaning base. The port on the back of the base rotates downward, allowing the base to be placed closer to the wall.

The Shave
This is without any doubt the best shaver I've ever used, and that includes blades. It cuts well and cuts close, and the motor is plenty powerful to get the job done. More importantly though it causes little/no irritation, far less than a blade. The special pattern foil I think is helping. To get the closest shave I have to move it around in circles a bit, if you move the shaver 'against the grain' it provides a much closer shave, but without the irritation you get from blade shaving against the grain. The cutter between the foils will get medium length hairs. I find a full shave generally takes around 2-3 minutes.
It works best on clean dry skin, I have so far used it after the shower once my face has dried off and that works great. However it's much less sensitive to wet skin than the Norelco due to the lower surface area- because less of the shaver touches the skin, if the skin is slightly damp it won't drag nearly as much. It also does a good job before the shower- with the cleaning system, it won't get dirty with sweat and is nice and clean every time.
The pivoting head doesn't seem to pivot much, mainly that the way I use it there isn't enough pressure on it to make the head pivot. I haven't found this to be a problem though.
Braun recommends shaving before you shower. With the cleaning system this could work- I always hated using my Norelco when it was all greasy and only several minutes of rinse under hot water seemed to clean it. I haven't done this much yet as most of my use so far has been on a vacation without the benefit of the cleaner base.
The motor is plenty powerful and the batteries last for quite a while. and I took it on a 1.5week vacation (no charger), shaving 2-3mins per day without any problems. Braun claims that the battery will last for around 50 minutes of shaving. However without the base, I was using it after the shower to keep it clean.
The trimmer is a pop up thing that extends beyond the foil. I haven't used it much yet, but from what I have used it seems to do its job pretty well.

Clean & Renew- Self Cleaning feature
The shaver can be charged either directly with the included adapter or in the cleaning base. However the cleaning base is probably the best part of the whole system. The bottom of the base opens to allow insertion of a cleaning cartridge, which contains a mix of mostly denatured alcohol with a bit of rather nice lemonny-fresh fragrance and shaver oil.
To start a clean/charge cycle, you put the shaver in the charging base and push the button on top of the arm. This locks the shaver into place with the power plug and starts the cleaning cycle. Fluid is then pumped up and sprayed into the shaver head and the shaver powers itself on for a few seconds. This repeats a few times and then it sits for a few hours to dry, after which the cleaning light stops flashing. It seems to clean every time I put it in the base.
Shavings drip out of the shaver and back down into the cleaning cartridge. The cartridge's cavity is U-shaped, so fluid must go around the back to be used again. A honeycomb pattern stamped into the bottom of the cartridge captures the shavings.
The cartridge's alcohol naturally evaporates over time. The base has rubber seals on the places where the cartridge opens but the process of cleaning consumes a bit due to evaporation from the shaver head. To that end, the front of the base has a window which allows you to see the fluid level in the cartridge. A blue LED illuminates this and makes for easy viewing. Once it goes below a line near the bottom, it's time for a new cartridge.
Cartridges seem to be around $10 for 2 at CVS (a local chain drugstore) and claim to last for around 30 cleanings. This could I suppose be extended by just leaving the shaver in the base (without pushing the button to clean/charge) every other day. I'm personally not bothered by $5/mo consumable cost, especially as I was spending around $10-20/mo in replacement blades (with my skin a blade (of any brand, including the 4-5 blade ones) would only last a week or so before it got too irritating). I'm glad Braun hasn't decided to take a page from the inkjet printer industry and charge hugely inflated prices for the refills.
I've read that you can (if you really want) refill the cartridges by rinsing out the shavings and then refilling it with rubbing alcohol, however apparently this should only be done once every other refill as the rubbing alcohol won't contain the shaver oil. It would also smell much worse without the lemonny fragrance.
It may also be worthy to note that because the cleaning fluid is mostly alcohol, it's quite flammable. So replacement cartridges can't be shipped via air mail.
My only gripe with the cleaning feature is that the base can't be wall mounted. I would love to attach the thing to the wall and free up some counter space. However the charging port on the back of the base does rotate downward so it can be put almost flush to the wall.

Other Features
The shaver has 3 LEDs to display status. The Clean light blinks to tell you when cleaning is needed. If you don't clean for 7 shaves after that, it assumes you've cleaned it manually and resets.
In the base, both Clean and Charge blink to tell you that it's cleaning/charging. After the cleaning cycle completes the cleaning light goes out. Once the charge is complete, the charge light stays on until the shaver is unplugged.
There is also a reminder light to replace the shaving head. Braun recommends replacing the blade cartridge and foils after around 18 months. However, much like the cleaning light it will go out after 7 shaves. There is also a reset button to manually reset it. Personally I think it should stay on until you push the button.
The shaver has a 2 year warranty on everything except the blades and foils (which are replaceable after 18 months). As I mentioned earlier, there is a 30 day satisfaction guarantee from Braun, if within 30 days you decide you don't like it you can mail it back to Braun for a refund. This however is one feature I won't be taking advantage of.

This is a great shaver, and a great value at $80-100. Cleaning system is awesome and at $5/mo for daily cleaning is a good value IMHO. Shaves close and without irritation every time.


Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 110
Noise Level: More quiet than most

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