Most helpful positive review
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Some people just can't get past generic branding
on February 19, 2011
I bought both the Gillette Fusion and the M5 Magnum at the same time so I could compare directly, having been on the lookout for good alternatives to inflated razor prices. I was previously a Mach 3 user, and a Gillette customer for the previous 5 years at least. Tried the M5 and Fusion out alternately, about a week on one and a week on the other. Mind you, a week for me generally equals maybe 2 shaving sessions, since I tend to be lazy and just do it when my face starts itching from a buildup of long hairs. So I was testing on an average of 3 days' growth.
For the uninitiated, the Fusion is Gillette's offering in the 5-blade replaceable-head shaving market. The M5 Magnum is also a 5-blade replaceable-head shaver, though manufactured by Personna, an unadvertised manufacturer, and is sold across the USA (don't know about other countries) as either a generic or house brand. That means that some retail chains actually put their name on the razor packaging -- mine was branded "Tru-Care Pharmacy" in small type under the M5 Magnum logo on the package, though otherwise the packaging and razor had no other indication.
Anyhoo, upon testing, I noticed no difference whatsoever between the two shavers. That's right, the M5 performed exactly as well as the Fusion with its 4x priced blades. The shave was just as smooth and just as effective, and the blades last about the same amount of time (although I don't use the trimmer blade on either unit, so I can't comment on those). The handle also looks nice, feels just as slick, weighty, and ergonomically-shaped, and the handle and blade angle is very comfortable, just as much as the Fusion. Neither the M5 cartridges themselves nor the handle feels cheap or flimsy in comparison to the Fusion (in fact the M5 handle actually feels a bit more solid) and the mechanism for affixing cartridge to handle and ejecting them works exactly as well.
These results really shouldn't surprise anyone. At first it seems like such a drastic price difference must mean the cheaper brand has to be cutting corners in quality or something. But if you think about it, big-brand razors sell the old two-blade cartridges at costs more in line with this (see Sensor Excel refills, especially online bulk pricing). How much more material and labor goes into manufacturing a 5-blade cartridge as opposed to a 2-blade? I can't claim to know firsthand, but I can't imagine that aligning 5 blades in plastic is all that different from doing it with 2 blades, as to warrant the kind of cost increases we see from advertised brand names. The M5 is simply charging us for the actual increased cost of production, rather than inflating it as much as they can get away with, like the big brands do.
Still, let's face it, we all like to see the same pretty markings we recognize from TV and billboards sitting in our own homes. There are certain products for which I'm willing to knowingly pay more for that luxury; but when it comes to razors, the markups are so incredibly audacious, it's more like "Please, lord, give me the option to buy an ugly, functional alternative! I'll do anything!" (not that the M5 is ugly at all, it's actually quite nice looking: chrome with black and orange rubber grips). Let someone else foot the bill for Gillette's massive advertising campaigns.
It almost seems too good to be true, but really it's just fair pricing. I'm sure many people will still fall victim to the assumption that there simply MUST be something inferior about an unrecognized brand that carries such a low price. But since my initial test, I completely switched to the M5 (about a year ago, you can imagine the savings), and I don't miss the Gillette products I was using for 5 years prior, not even a little. There's just no difference.