When we think high-tech shavers we generally imagine a Braun or Philips, but can Panasonic’s top of the range wet and dry, the ES8249, cut it with the big boys?
From a design point of view the ES8249 ticks many of the right boxes; it’s silver and black, comes with a bright orange LED display has ergonomic detailing and a large head mounted on twin directional springs. It looks good, but for a £200 shaver we think it lacks a cutting edge designer finish and the casing, although tough, looks a little plasticy.
In the hand however the shaver feels weighty and dependable, the rubber grips and handle fit the hand well and make it easy to use whichever part of the face you’re tackling.
Cutting is handled by four blades each with multi-arc foils that offer uniform contact to the skin whatever the angle, and a 13,000rpm motor - the fastest in the world. In practice this motor sounds like the world’s biggest mosquito, but the overall effect is superb. It is also a sealed unit so can be used wet or dry which is a practical touch.
The four blades compress even under the lightest pressure so working around the jaw and chin doesn’t pull at the beard. As with every electric shaver this reviewer has ever used it struggled to get all the annoying hairs on the neck but did a better job than many and we didn’t feel the need to push down to get a closer shave. This also left our neck without the tell-tale red marks that can cause razor rash.
The Panasonic ES8249 removed 3 days worth of stubble in less than 5 minutes, and left our face feeling smooth with only a few rogue hairs missed around the neck and under the chin.
At the back of the shaver is a pop out beard trimmer for tidying side burns etc, but we found it an aggressive little blade that did an OK job, but did pull at the skin.
After shaving the ES8249 can be returned to its docking station for cleaning and charging - insert it head first and choose to charge, clean or dry. The cleaning unit comes with a replaceable cartridge and needs filling with water, with a 30min cleaning cycle, or 90 minutes to clean and dry. But after all that gurgling, whirling and blow-drying the shaver looked as good as new even under the foils. It takes up plenty of space in the bathroom, but is well worth it for keeping the blades in box-fresh condition.
As for battery life, 1 hour charging gives 45 minutes use and the LCD status indicator displays minutes used, charge percentage and cleaning status.
If you’re sick of razor rash and have space in your bathroom cabinet for the bulky base the Panasonic ES8249 is a superb choice. We have been thoroughly impressed with the closeness and ease of the shave even around the chin and neck. It isn’t flawless, but it’s the best we’ve seen in years and right up there with the Philips ARCitec.
Is £200 too much to pay? It is a hefty sum, but when you combine the wet/dry function, powerful motor and quadruple flexing heads, not to mention the excellent cleaning system, we think it’s a pretty good investment.