review from minamina

This past year (2007), I asked my wife for an electric shaver for Christmas . I thought it would help us save water and money. Using blades means I'm constantly rinsing them with hot water between every few strokes, buying new blades every few months, and buying shaving cream. It seemed an electric shaver would pay for itself within a few months.

So my wife purchased me the 8140XL. I didn't ask for a specific model. She thought it seemed like a reasonable choice for me. Not too expensive, not too cheap. Just right for a guy who might decide he doesn't like it.

Out of the box, set up is easy. Just plug the shaver in the base and plug up the base. The unit fully charges in a few hours. Within a few minutes, it's also ready for a quick shave if you're in a hurry. The manual says not to keep it plugged up indefinitely. Charge it, unplug it, then use it until it's about out of power. That apparently is the most efficient use of the battery.

The manual says it's a "fact" that it takes three weeks for your face to adjust to the electric shaver. I would agree. I've been using it for 6 weeks now, and my face definitely feels better after shaving than it used to. It wasn't painful or miserable. But my face took some time getting used to metal heads being rubbed on it.

So, does it shave well? Yes and no. In the goatee zone, it does a wonderful job. Upper lip and chin get a clean, close shave every time. It also does a good job on the cheeks and the sides of my face. Where performance falters is just under my sideburns and my neck.

Under the sideburns, I can't get a precise cut. With a blade, you just place it there and stroke down. Done. With the 8140XL, you keep rubbing and rubbing trying to get the strays. You can try using the beard trimmer on the back of the 8140XL, but it's not made for that kind of fine tuning. Because of this, I keep my old blade by the sink so I can quickly straighten out the shave under the sideburns.

On the neck, the 8140XL just can't seem to get certain hairs. It gets most, but not all. I can only stand so much rubbing on my neck before I give up and use my razor to quickly whack the leftovers.

So that's where am I after 6 weeks: using the electric razor for the first cut, and then using my old razor (sans shaving cream and hot water) to get whatever is left standing. Will it always be like this? Probably, especially under the sideburns. That's not my face "adjusting" to the razor. That's just a shortcoming of the 8140XL (and perhaps all Norelco-style razors). Having said that, however, I will stick with it. I like it. It's quick and easy to use. I can walk around while using it, it saves on water, and I'm no longer buying shaving cream and razors. (For the little bit of trimming I do with my old razor, I can't guess when I would possibly need new razors.)

When you're finished shaving, you just pop open the top with a press of a button and run it under some water to rinse out the hair. The manual says to use hot water for this, but I don't. I just rinse out the big chucks and let it dry. Once a week I'll use the little cleaning brush that comes with it and sweep out the interior.

You're supposed to replace the rotating blades once a year. I obviously haven't reached that point yet and I don't know what it will cost, but I'm hoping it will be reasonable and easy.

If you're looking to start using an electric shaver, I think you could do worse than the 8140XL. I recommend it. But keep your old razor handy. You'll need it for those stubborn hairs.