This shaver is pretty great. Bottom line, close shave like Mach 3 Turbo manual shaver, make sure to use Lectric Shave product (works great), not much irritation.
UPDATED: Foam/gel shave, Lectric shave, and cleaner.
First the background, I'm coming from a Mach 3 Turbo manual shaver that I've used for the past half decade I think. The reason I made the move to electric? Sam's Club stopped carrying my wholesale refills and any other option was costing me too much per refill. I'm one of those that has to shave every 3 days because I start getting too scruffy for work, mostly due to anytime before that causing irritation of the skin.
This shaver has a pretty basic feature set in comparison to other similar Panasonic shavers around the same price point. The feature that gravitated me towards this one was the lock power button, excellent for whenever I travel. I was also looking at the Braun products but their self cleaning system is known to leak, so Panasonic it was. This device was also good because the newer 3,4,5 blade shavers were a bit too much $$ for my taste.
Onto the shave...
My first shave was with only water in order to see how it worked. Result was a close shave, took a bit of time because I was getting used to the device, major problem was irritation in the neck area as it was a problem area for a close shave (I learned pulling the skin with your free hand greatly improves after much trial and error). I notice it is as close as my old Mach 3 Turbo as long as you do a few passes over the same areas. Also notice microscopic hair buildup on your face as you pass through (like a mix of micro hairs and water), easy fix is run a bit of water on your face and the machine, it's back to shaving clean.
My next shave will be with the use of gel to see if that will make a difference. I am also considering the Lectric(sp?) shave products as something to raise the follicles will help in a closer shave.
Cleaning it is a breeze, and I now see why others note that the self cleaning system is not needed. A bit of soap, water, and it's clean, especially easy with a cleaning mode and all. But of course, I'm lazy and OCD at the same time so I plan to use the self cleaner sparingly in order to conserve the refill liquid but I will dry and charge all the time after my personal cleaning.
I will update the review as I shave and I hope this product ultimately is perfect for me, as it is my new tech toy and it provides a great use on a regular basis.
So I used my Gillette Shaving Gel, HORRIBLE! First it was a huge mess as I like to glide back and forth while shaving for a second pass through. Second I couldn't see what hairs I missed in comparison to dry shave (Lectric Shave was best). Third there were clumps of hair which I didn't notice until I was at work already. The gel/foam just doesn't help and made it more cumbersome to shave, I don't recommend it.
Lectric Shave is the BEST!Williams Lectric Shave Electric Razor Pre-Shave with Soothing Green Tea Complex -- 7 oz.
It's better than a dry shave because you have a little bit of something on your face. Resulted in a closer shave, cut down shaving time due to not needing multiple pass through. I did end up cutting my neck for the first time but that's due to pressing too firmly on my main problem area (hate my neck). Only gripe is hairs stuck onto my shaver while I was trying to clean it. I had to use the cleaner for the first time because of this, but of course that's a Lectric Shave issue not Panasonic Shaver issue.
The cleaner is currently in use, it is not loud, sounds like a mix of cleaning mode and the sound of gargling. It works decently. I think it does a better job than I could manually cleaning.
For the time being I will be keeping the shaver unless some unforeseen event occurs and I return it but it would only be for a higher class Panasonic Shaver with those fancy vibrating foils, I'm looking at you ES-LA93-K, but I think I'll be just fine with this one.