Pros: It is the first Norelco that can use the newest heads!
Cons: Sensitivity wheel does not have a very wide range of adjustment!
This is my first time reviewing on this site, however I have reviewed numerous shavers on the Electric Razor Rap Site. I will keep this short as there has been a lot already written about this razor. What I say about the head upgrade will work with any of the Spectra, Reflex plus razors.
First off this is a great razor. Very good build, beautiful appearance, which makes it a joy to pick up in the morning, as it looks just stellar.
BATTERY: First off it does have the Lithium-ion battery. This may only apply to the 8894XL. I am not sure but a lot of the models have different batteries. The thing to check is the charging minutes that are listed for any given razor. This one says 100 min, but with each charge it increases. Mine now is at 120 min. I do not know what the max will be, but I have run it down until it stopped, and it ran for over another hour after the minutes had hit zero. However, that is without a load. But honestly, 2hrs is plenty of time! Lithium batteries should not be run down completely, as they will not charge if they go completely dead. That leads me to believe that the 8894XL has a built in cut off where the razor stops without completely discharging the batteries!
SENSITIVITY DIAL: This is the one downer on this razor. There is very little difference between the "S" setting and the "N" setting, although there are eight increments in between. You can really, or really not see this if you watch the heads as you turn the dial. My old 985RX will adjust over an eighth of an inch up and down which is a lot. You will have a very hard time even seeing it move on this one!
UPGRADEABLE: This razor has the new style spindles that are on Norelco's new lines of razors, that is the SpeedXL series and the SmartTouch series. By upgrading to the new heads you can cut your shaving time in half. I don't feel that they will cut any closer, but with the extra rings of cutters shaving is really fast. A shave that took me six to eight minutes with the regular heads now takes me three to four minutes with the new (HQ9) heads. A four minute shave is really a long shave with these new heads.
UPGRADING: The 8884XL has a little cutout on each cutter housing that fits a little nub on the razor to hold it perfectly in line, and two little ears that also make the fit perfect. Some people have just cut off the little nubs on the razor, as they are plastic. Others, like myself have modified the housings. To do this you can either take a dremel tool and cut it out, or take a small oval file and do it. It takes maybe a minute to maybe five minutes depending on which method that you use. I just took the old housing and the new housing, reversed them, lined up the ears to match, then cut the new housing to match. It really doesn't take much at all, in fact one of the heads fit down into the hole without even having to be cut, but I did cut it just the same. On the Electric Razor Rap site under General Discussion there is a thread with the whole procedure along with pictures, for anyone that might be interested. You end up with a top of the line razor that will match the newest (SmartTouch) razor for around half the price! You can still find the Spectra 8894XL on Ebay if you watch for it daily. Also, a refurb is a good buy, as these razors last for a long time, and most of the refurbs are just razors that people tried and didn't like for one reason or another!
Summary: this is a great top of the line razor, and I think the best Norelco with doing the upgrade that you can get. Plus, you still have the Spectra original heads as a backup. I put my Spectra cutters into a Reflex Plus that I had and gave it to my Brother in-law, who just loves it, as His old Norelco had died, and mine looked and worked like new. Another great feature on the 8894XL is that you can tell how many minutes that it has taken you to shave. I use this feature to keep an eye on how sharp the cutters are. When I know that it is taking me a longer time to shave, then I know that the cutters are starting to get dull, and I will watch that aspect more closely. Even though the cutters are self sharping, nothing lasts forever and this feature keeps you on top of that situation!
With the new heads I paid $112.00 complete by bidding for a new one on Ebay, and then buying the new heads at Best Buy!