Initial reactions January 10, 2004
Reviewer: Larry R. Harris from Manhattan Beach, CA United States
I have been using this razor for a couple of weeks, have loged about 87 minutes and it is going strong. There is little doubt that it will romp through 100 minutes in style. It is pretty much what I had been led to expect.
SPEED--The only thing slower than an old Norelco is 'stop'. The speed was significantly improved by the newer line, specifically the 5821XL. The Spectra is even faster, however psychologically, it seems like it could be lumbering along. Perhaps this is due to the razor being very quiet. It just seems a bit slower than my Grundig Avantgarde, but it isn't. Actually, it seems to get the job done about as quickly as my Panasonic Wet-Dry, which is faster than the wind.
CLOSENESS--It gives the illusion of not delivering a shave closer than the Grundig, but it does. In fact, my neck began feeling sensitive immediately due to the closeness (head pressure) of the shave. I completely acclimated after a week and this no longer is a problem. I probably should have put the razor on a more gentle setting but I just set it to N (normal...for the closest shave)and went about business. There is a 9 position setting that seems a bit over-hyped to me. I assume there are subtle differences, but after a short time, you will settle upon a setting and go from there. The wheel that sets this is almost impossible to read without a magnifying glass is not the most user-friendly thing I have seen, but in the long run is no big deal.
ERGONOMIC FEEL OF RAZOR--Excellent. The thumb naturally falls directly over the recessed electronic on-off switch.
DISPLAYS--Gives you elapsed time display of current minutes used as well as an overall display of remaining minutes is a very easy to read format. Occasionally a visual logo of a fosset appears that indicates when you should clean your razor under running water. This feature, called an 'Automatic Cleaning Indicator' seems to be hap-hazzard at best. There does not seem to be any correlation between amount of debris contained within the hair chamber and the display. Actually, just open the hair chamber (quick release button at the base of the head complex flips up the assembly) and give a quick blow after each shave and all returns to squeeky clean without having to resort to the Chineese water torture for the quick rinse off. Can't shave in wet, but cleaning is much quicker and easier to accomplish than for any other shaver I have owned, save for the Panasonic W/D.
PROTECTIVE COVER--Plastic, as per the industry. At best, they tend to .... This is not much better. Oh, it doesn't fall off all the time as does the Remmington Interceptor, but needs to be placed in a certain manner. There are 3 grippers on the cover. The slightly widest one goes to the back...that is, if you want a reasonable fit. I overcame this by puting a red mark on the obease one. Head covers are a big deal to me. That is what I like about the rather over-priced Grundig (built in and rolls into position).
TRIMMER--What can I say? It is a Norelco. You shave near your sideburns at your own risk. The good news however, is that the built in trimmer seems to get the job done better than most. The downside is that with other more conventional razors, we tend to do most of the dirty work during the shave proper, thus relegating the built in trimmer (worthless on so many makes) to a lesser usage.
RELIABILITY--Can't say after only a few weeks. Quien Sabe?, but if it is similar to other Norelco's, and I don't see why not, it should be very good. Certainly much better than the Panasonic line (especially lLinears)that sometimes die unpredictably. Once down for the count, they can't be repaired. If not under warranty, one is dead meat. The Spectra has a 2 year warranty coupled with a 60 day money-back guarantee (whatever that means...shipment costs, delays, etc.).
BOTTOM LINE--It seems well worth the money. I didn't give it a '5' because I don't view any razor as being worthy. I am still looking for my absolute favorite, the Eltron Universal to return to the market. Not as fast as some...a lousy trimmer, but man is it good to your face (provided you use the gold foil which has not been produced for many years). Not to be confused with the newer Eltrons, which are not even better (at least to me) than a Braun.
Addenda: It is now slightly over 1 month of usage. All is exactly as I found it initially. I have drained down to zero on the display on two separate occasions. Suggest you do that in order to properly condition the batteries. A full charge for me is aprox. 103 minutes. The shave is perhaps the most gentle of all my electric razors. Speed seems to be more than adequate.