Gear Review: Battery Operated Shavers, Part 1–Foil Shavers

IMG_0309For the past few years,  I’ve been shaving with different  types of disposable razors while traveling. None seemed to give me a good shave. Nothing compared to the double-edged blades I used at home. Of course, those blades are not allowed in carry-on so I had to make do with disposables. Perhaps it was time to try something different. Possibly even battery operated travel shavers.




IMG_0303About a year ago, I bought a Panasonic ES3831K Single Blade Travel Shaver ($13.77 at Amazon, 5.7 oz.) I was surprised how good a shave it gave me right from the start and before I had really broken it in. (It takes 2-4 weeks of use for your face to get used to an electric razor.)  It can be used wet or dry and can be cleaned under running water.



I then wondered if there were other battery operated shavers and how well they would perform. So, for the past two months, I’ve been trying out all types of battery operated shavers. Today we’ll focus on foil shavers.

IMG_0301Next up was the Braun Mobile Shaver – M90 ($20.99 at Amazon, 5.8 oz.) This shaver had the best design–twist cap to protect the foil head and prevent the shaver from being turned on in closed position, precision trimmer for sideburns and facial hair, and storage slot for the cleaning brush. It too can be cleaned under running water. This was the most expensive of the shavers and the heaviest.



IMG_0300Next up was the Remington MSC-140 Men’s Titanium Battery Operated Foil Travel Shaver ($9.99 at Amazon, 4.8 oz). This was the only dual headed shaver and the least expensive. It can only be used dry and can’t be cleaned under running water. The clear protective cap has a slot for the cleaning brush which is also clear and can sometimes be hard to see.



IMG_0306I had been using the above three shavers for a couple of weeks when I came upon the Eltron #el-3040 Compact Travel Shaver. ($11.99 at Amazon, 4.1 oz)  This was the smallest and lightest of the shavers. I had never heard of this California based company but the few reviews on Amazon were positive.  It can only be used dry and can’t be cleaned  under running water.



All of the above shavers take two AA batteries and the weights listed include batteries. Each  also comes with a cleaning brush and protective removable, clear foil cover (except the Braun.) The manufacturers suggest changing the blade about every year yet buying a new shaver is cheaper than buying the replacement blade. (Does this make sense to you?) As for battery life, I’ve used each razor at least 10 times and have not yet needed to change them.

The results were very surprising.

Let me first state that I have a very thick beard and my 5 o’clock shadow shows up by noon. That meant each shaver would have its work cut out.

In last place, was the Braun M-90. Sadly, as much as I wanted it to be the winner with its great design, it never gave me a close shave. I had to use one of the other shavers to complete the job.  It also left my skin irritated at times.

In third place, the Remington MSC-140. It wasn’t bad as a shaver but it often left my skin irritated and red.

That leaves two shavers. And here’s the surprise….I’m going to say both tied for first. While I knew the Panasonic was a great shaver, I was really surprised on how well the Eltron performed. It gave me a fairly close shave and never irritated my skin. The Panasonic would occasionally irritate it but nowhere near as bad as the Braun and Remington.  The only down side I saw to the Eltron was that the foil cover was at times difficult to get off and once it took off the razor head as well. (This pops right back on.)

I did give all the shavers the two-day shave test where I didn’t shave for two days. Electric’s are not known to do well with a longer stubble. Here, the Panasonic just slightly edged out the Eltron.

If you have a light beard, any of these shavers might work.  If you like the convenience of using the shaver wet or dry, using it in the shower, or being able to clean it under running water, get the Panasonic. If you like having a trimmer and want a smaller, lighter option, get the Eltron.

I’ll be alternating between the two. That seems to work well with my face.  I’ll also be taking along a disposable razor and shaving sheets for trimming my sidburns and any facial cleanup that might be needed.

As a sidenote, I didn’t expect to use any of these shavers as an everyday shaver so I ordered a Panasonic ES-LA63-S Nanotech 4-Blade (Arc 4) Multi-Flex Dual-Motor Electric Shaver ($130 at Amazon, now discontinued) because it had great reviews. Surprisingly, it didn’t do any better than its smaller, battery operated cousin so I sent it back.  (Since Eltron did such a good job with its small battery shaver, perhaps I should look at one of their regular shavers for daily use?)

I focused these reviews on battery operated shavers rather than rechargeable shavers because I didn’t want to carry yet another item that needed to be recharged. With batteries, I never have to worry about forgetting to charge. All I need to do is carry an extra pair.

Ladies–sorry, I know this is a review of men’s shavers. I just didn’t feel like shaving my legs to review women’s shavers. But if any of you would like to do a review, let me know and I’ll be happy to post it.

Next up:  Part 2– Battery operated rotary shavers and Part 3–Pre Shave treatments and shaver cleaning products.

Disclaimer: OBOW is an Amazon affiliate and purchasing through the embedded links allows us to earn a small commission to help pay for this site.

Addendum:  9/13/13–I just found out the Panasonic ES 8381K has been discontinued. There was no word on whether or not Panasonic plans a replacement.

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11 Responses to Gear Review: Battery Operated Shavers, Part 1–Foil Shavers

  1. Russ says:

    I had ordered the Panasonic with the same thoughts in mind about a 2 years ago. The shave is almost as good as the Norelco I have at home that cost well over $150. I am amazed at how long the batteries last. I only use it while traveling and am still on the original batteries. Granted, that’s about 40-50 shaves, but still…

  2. Neil says:

    Do you have a sense on how the Eltron would perform for shaving your head? I shave my noggin every other day; not because I have that much hair, but because it looks slovenly otherwise.

  3. Frank@OBOW says:

    I have never shaven my head so I don’t know how the shaver would perform? Do you use an electric on it now or a blade?

  4. harpo says:

    I travel with a double-edge razor in carry-on all the time and have never had a problem, maybe because it is one of these, in its case:

    It is a very pleasant razor to use, and as an added bonus I feel like James Bond assembling it every morning. I have always assumed that if TSA stop me I’ll just give up the blade and buy a new one on arrival, but that is yet to happen.

  5. Neil says:

    I use both a blade and an electric razor, the Panasonic ES8103S. I was disappointed with the performance of the electric razor for shaving my head, because I got neck burn. So, for work, I shave head and face with a razor. On weekends or if I’m going out at night, I re-shave with the electric razor.

  6. Neil says:

    Thanks Frank. I did not mean for you to do searching for me, but thanks for the scouting. It was a more of a, yes I was able to shave my more sensitive areas of my throat without worrying about burning.

    • Frank@OBOW says:

      It’s funny, when I started testing shavers, my neck got very irritated and had bumps after shaving. However, now I don’t get them. I guess my skin has gotten used to the shavers.

  7. MWebb says:

    Thanks for mentioning the Panasonic – I got one based on your review (at that price it was a WTH decision) – and like it much better than the Braun M90 I also have. I have to say it shaves stronger, closer, than the Braun. I was shocked to see they weigh practically the same, because the Panasonic seems bigger and more solid – more like a battery-operated home shaver, than a travel shaver. The Panasonic also seems to have better industrial design than the Braun – Braun used to be the slickest looking shavers out there, but this Panasonic has a sculpted look that blows the Braun away. My new favorite travel shaver!

  8. Frank@OBOW says:

    I just got word that the Panasonic 3831K shaver is no longer being manufactured.

    I checked with Panasonic and they said they currently have no plans to replace it with a newer one blade shaver.(If this changes, I’ll let you know.)

    if you were thinking of getting one, I wouldn’t wait too long.

    Amazon has lowered the price to $11.82.

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