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Panasonic ES-LV81-K

This top-of-the-line wet/dry rechargeable shaver trims the competition

by Evan Orensten in Tech on 10 November 2011

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One of the best things about electric razors is their low environmental impact. I love to shave in the shower but am always concerned about wasting water, and even though the indispensable Razor Pit extends the life of overpriced razor blades I cringe every time I throw a pack in the garbage, knowing it will sit in a landfill for way too long.

Electric shavers can be a tough alternative though—there's the tug factor, plus they're noisy, hard to clean and often dry-shave only. Shavers are still evolving, and very few models have been able to do it right. Panasonic's awkwardly named ES-LV81-K shaver surprisingly comes as close to perfection as any we've seen so far.

For starters, it's a wet/dry razor, which gives you the flexibility to shave at the sink or in the shower. The cleaning mechanism uses a refillable water tank which mixes with the concentrated, solid cleaning solution—inexpensive, long-lasting and easy to install. Other razors use costly fluid cartridges that gunk up quickly and need more frequent replacement. Panasonic's five thin foil blades give a shockingly close shave, especially compared to lower-end shavers, which favor one or two larger—and less effective—blades. The head pivots in all directions for help around the jaw, and because it has the fastest cycles per minute of any electric shaver, your whiskers get cut, not tugged. The small pop-up trimmer feels like an afterthought, though, and will do in a pinch but won't replace a proper beard or body trimmer, and the shaver head feels a bit larger than necessary. Its design won't win any accolades from Jony Ive or Dieter Rams, but it won't offend either. Its simple digital battery readout on the front keeps track of your charge and use (I've gone two weeks without needing a charge), and a twist of a switch prevents it from turning on accidentally.

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The ES-LV81-K is not an inexpensive investment with a retail price of $600 (you can expect to pay 20-30-percent off at most retailers) though it does appear to be a solid investment for years of eco-friendly shaving. It's available from Amazon and other retailers.

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