A friend of mine wants to give a shaver to her dad as a gift, but, as a girl, she has no idea about which one is good and which one isn't. When I was living in Japan my German shaver broke, and I did a long comparison in the stores, trying them and searching the one that has the best cost/performance ratio.
I wrote a long email to her, then I realized that I can share my findings with everyone, if someone else needs it.
Basically, the best brands are just three: Philips, Panasonic and Braun. Other brands are cheaper but it's way more difficult to find replacement blades after 2-3 years.
And there are two kinds of blades: circular or linear.
What is important to have in a shaver is:
- Waterproof - in this way it's MUCH easier to clean: just place under the tap and rinse it.
- Battery powered - shaving tethered to a wire is not that comfortable: my old shaver was one of those. Anyway, almost all of them have a battery nowadays. Just make sure it has a lithium battery, as it will last a longer time and won't discharge when unused.
- A trimmer or blades to cut long beard - if you don't shave everyday, the facial hairs will be too long to be cut by the shaver blades.
The one that I bought in Japan is similar to this:
It's not exactly a Panasonic ES-RT51-S, as in Japan they have different product numbers and brands (on certain products, like this, Panasonic products are labelled "National", in Japan)
Why I chose it:
- It has an extra blade between the side blades to cut long facial hairs - perfect for who doesn't shave everyday
- It has a trimmer
- It has a battery charge indicator
- Has a lithium battery
- Has a pivoting head to follov the shape of the face (it does not make a great difference, though)
If you want to save some money, you can settle for the ES-RW30-S, it does not have the extra blade for long hairs, so you need to trim them with the included trimmer before you shave. If you shave everyday, it can be ok.
If you like circular blades, this is the best:
It has a trimmer, waterproof, lithium battery but has two missing options compared to the Panasonic: no battery charge indicator (it just says when it's low battery), and it does not shave well if your beard is long if you didn't shave everyday.
But, the circular blade has a more comfortable shaving, in my opinion. If you shave everyday, this is good. If you often "forget" to shave, and shave 3 times a week, this isn't very good.
If you want to save $10 you can get the PT720 model, but it does not have the trimmer.
For Braun shavers, the best ones are expensive in my opinion, so I don't have a model to recommend.