Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Philips Norelco PT720 Electric Shaver Review

Stuck with but a moderate amount of facial hair, the full bum-look eludes me. Never will I be able to grow a beard with full coverage. The only choice is to shave it off or look like I'm trying too hard to look old . Since the exodus of hair from the top of my scalp has already added an extra ten years to my appearance, regular shaving is the only choice left.

Old Habit: Mach 3 + Electric Shaver

Up until a few months ago, I was using a combination of a plug-in electric shaver and a Gillette Mach 3. A Mach 3 shave would last me a good two days and allow me to shave every other day -- I probably didn't emphasize enough how slow and little the growth is. The electric razor was good for when I was just too lazy to lather up and use a razor.

Newer Habit: Electric Shaver

Then somewhere along the line, I got tired of having to lather up. The few cuts every now and then, in addition to the hair pulling, due to dull blades didn't help its cause either. So, I started dedicating my time to the electric shaver.

This is a good time to tell you that I've had the thing since around age 16. It was a Philips Norelco model. Not once was the blade ever changed or sharpened, yet it was still good up until a year or two ago. After that point, I noticed that it was pulling everything even if I had two days of growth. This problem was avoided for a while by shaving daily. However, our main bathroom doesn't have an outlet, so I did a lot of shaving by feel and ended up with 0.5" long stray hairs on my neck every so often. What finally did it in was when the shaver started pulling everything even after a day's growth. Time for a new cordless model!

Philips PT720 Front View
Newest Habit: Philips PT720 Cordless Electric Shaver
Being cheap, I went out and got one of the lower end models available from Philips. Considering that the last and only one I previously had lasted about a decade, I saw no reason to change. Being lazy, I just surfed the Best Buy website for whatever models they had available. One later afternoon winter trip to the store later and I was set.

The Philips Norelco PT720 Powertouch Electric Razor is one of the cheaper models available (US$ 40 on at time of writing); I paid CAD$ 60. According to Amazon, it has a lithium-ion battery, 40 minutes of battery, 2 year warranty, is for dry use, and is "fully washable" -- probably a big asterisk on that last point I don't know of, so I've never tried. The design has three cutting heads mounted on, which is different than what you might find on a Braun shaver. No pop-up trimmer is included.

Philips PT720 Side View
Philips PT720 Shaver Quick Look

I've been using this shaver for months now and am pretty satisfied for it. For the first week or two of use, I was definitely feeling a bit of razor burn. But like the manual tells you, it went away after that break-in period. The shave is not too close and slightly better than my last decade old unit. It's definitely not like a Mach 3 after going against the grain.

Unfortunately, this new unit has not completely solved the pulling problem I was having with my old unit and dull razor blades. As long as I keep to a schedule of shaving daily, I am fine for 99% of the time. Once I let my facial hair grow out over a weekend for two or three days, I have to cross my fingers and hope there is no pulling. That and I try to go very slowly. After some practice, it's usually okay, but I do feel pretty painful pulling frequently with multi-day growth. I was expecting this to go away with a brand new set of blades -- obviously it didn't.

Philips PT720 Shaving Head
Meh, maybe I'm just getting old and my beard/mustache is getting thicker and denser. From the sounds of it, I may still be pretty lucky because Mr. Google suggests that some people get major pulling no matter what when it comes to electric shavers.


Finally having a cordless model is a huge plus in that I just shave at my desk most of the time. When I feel like it, I can go to any washroom. Wish I had this feature a long time ago. It fits in my hand well and the rubbery, contoured body helps with both grip and orientation. Even with the addition of a battery, I can't really tell a difference between my old unit and this new one.

Charging and Power

The PT720 I have comes with an LED charge indicator on the handle that flashes orange when it's low on battery. When "on" or charging, the LED shines green. If I remember correctly, it took a good couple hours the very first time I plugged it in for the indicator to show as "fully charged". I don't think I had to recharge it for at least another two weeks, and it has been that way for months. However, given that my facial hair is still pretty sparse, my shaving sessions last about 2 minutes on average. This would add up to 28 minutes over a two week period. After adding up longer shaving sessions and extra days of running, the advertised battery length doesn't appear to be that far off.
Philips PT720 Base Charging Socket
Something about electronics and water I just don't like mixing even if the device is advertised as "fully washable". I seem to recall the instructions saying something about only getting certain parts of the shaver wet, but I don't really want to test it out. Cleaning so far has been unlocking the head from the body and dumping everything into a sink with the help of a brush.


For a US$ 40 electric cordless shaver, I have not been too disappointed yet after nearly half a year of use. Yes, it does frequently pull my hair when I forgo my daily shaving routine, but that just forces me to not look like a bum and go clean shaven more often. I am, honestly, starting to look at more expensive offerings from both Philips and Braun though.