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on February 17, 2011
I purchased the Panasonic ES8103S and the Norelco 1150x at the same time and this review is a comparison of these 2 shavers side-by-side. I used both shavers for 3 weeks, shaving one side of my face with the Panasonic and the other side of my face with the Norelco. I didn't switch sides during the test to allow time to adapt to each shaver. Both of these shavers rated nearly the same amongst other Amazon reviewers and were the top-2 rated shavers under $100. I evaluated both shavers on a number of criteria:

-- Shaving Performance: I found that both shavers did a relatively good job overall. However, the Panasonic performed slightly better on the flat cheek areas whereas the Norelco did slightly better on the curved areas around the jaw bone and neck. I found that the shavers required different shaving techniques. The Panasonic, being a foil shaver, required an up-and-down or side-to-side motion whereas the Norelco, being a rotary shaver, required a circular motion. No matter how I shaved with the Norelco I could not get quite as close as the Panasonic. After some time I did find a technique with the Panasonic that allowed me to shave my neck and jaw bone area as close as the Norelco. I tried shaving both wet & dry and found no difference. I almost always shave dry and I found the Norelco didn't move as smoothly across the skin as the Panasonic. Overall, I give the edge to Panasonic for a better overall shave.

-- Return Guarantee: The Panasonic has a 30-day return policy, the Norelco is 45 days. I actually purchased the shavers from Target and they offer a 90-day return policy.

-- Warranty: The Panasonic has a 1 yr warranty, Norelco is 2 years.

-- Cutter Replacement: both shavers recommend replacing the cutters at specific intervals. Panasonic recommends replacing the foil every year ($24) and the blade every 2 years ($17). Norelco has only one replaceable part which they recommend you replace every year ($39). If you look at the cost over 3 years, the Panasonic would cost $65 whereas the Norelco would cost $117 which exceeds the original cost of the shaver ($100).

-- Charging: The Panasonic has an A/C adapter that can be plugged directly into the shaver and the shaver can be used with the cord attached. The Norelco can only be charged in the included charging cradle. If the battery in the Norelco goes dead you'll need to recharge it before you can use it. Also, the Panasonic has a digital LCD battery gauge whereas the Norelco simply uses LEDs.

-- Cleaning: Both shavers can be rinsed under water for simple cleaning. I found the Norelco shaving head somewhat difficult to remove whereas the Panasonic foil was very easy to remove/replace.

-- Price: Both shavers sell for under $100. Best price I found on the Panasonic was $80 @ Target. I saw the Norelco for $90 @ WalMart.

-- Other: The Panasonic has a built-in trimmer, the Norelco requires that you remove the shaving head and pop on the trimmer head. The Panasonic includes a carrying case, the Norelco does not.

In summary, the Panasonic rated higher than the Norelco in all areas with the exception of the warranty. My only real complaint with the Panasonic would be the noise. It is much louder than the Norelco but not so much so that I would return it. Based on my experience, I will be returning the Norelco and keeping the Panasonic.

2/21/13: Follow-Up
------------------
Hard to believe I've been using this shaver for over 2 years already. I've found some issues with the shaver that I wanted to append to my original review:
-- The battery life indicator is difficult to see unless you're in a dark room and there is no audible alarm that indicates that the battery is getting low. The battery will go dead without warning and, since the shaver can't be used when the cord is attached, you're stuck waiting for the charge to complete until you can continue shaving.
-- I commented on the noise in my original review. Maybe this is an issue with all foil shavers but I have found the Panasonic annoyingly loud.
-- Again, maybe an issue with all foil shavers, but I have found that instead of catching the shaved off whiskers they are ending up all over the counter and my shirt. I don't recall this being as much of an issue when the shaver was new. I haven't yet replaced the foil or the blade so perhaps that's the problem.
-- The battery seems to be losing some steam. I'm only able to get about 3 full shaves out of the unit before it needs to be recharged.

3/12/13: Follow-Up
------------------
I just replaced both the foil and the blades and it really made a difference. I'm getting a closer shave and I didn't see a bunch of shavings on my shirt when I was done.
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on February 12, 2009
I am 63 and my skin is a lot more tender and subject to cuts than when I was younger. I have been using electric razors off and on for about forty years - Primarily Norelco but also Remington, Braun and Toshiba. During those forty years I did not notice any significant change in the quality of the shave or the pulling, picking and burning that came from shaving certain facial sections over and over again. Panasonic takes electric shavers to a level that is comparable to a blade (which still gives the closest shave) without the mess and pain. I was not sure it was working until I felt the smoothness of the shave. Shaving is much quicker because there are few do overs and it does not irritate sensitive skin. A remarkable and greatly needed advance in electric shavers.

Update November 15, 2011
I replaced the blades and foil after 2 years. There was some improvement in performance but overall, a disappointment. Now it's just an average shaver. I don't know how long an electric razor is supposed to last at peak performance but 2 years was my experience. No regrets.
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on January 24, 2009
Best feature of this shaver is the close, pain-free, smooth shave. I would say 99% as smooth as razor, the difference is nominal - I can't tell the difference visually. I have a thick, tough beard and the Panasonic breezes through in very few passes. I get even better results on shaving the mustache than I do with my razor. The neck area is where the shaver has some difficultly. I think this may be because I shave in the shower and the shaving cream has a tendency to wash off. After a second application of cream I can get as close. No razor burn, no in-grown hairs (I do get these with razors). It takes a few extra minutes to complete the shave compared to razor (maybe 7-8 min vs. 5-6 min). All in all I am pleased with the experience and do not plan to move back to razor.

*** UPDATE ***

I still highly recommend this shaver for the quality of shave and positive experience with Panasonic. I have had issues with the battery and screen; however, given the benefits that I mentioned above, I am comfortable purchasing this shaver again.

Let me take a step back. I have owned two ES8103S shavers over the past three years. My first shaver began to show problems with the screen after about six or seven months of daily use. Notably, the shaver had evidence of vapor on the inside of the screen. As I have mentioned before, I use it in the shower and it periodically falls. All things considered, the shaver has held up well despite the drops. At some point; however, water must have seeped behind the screen despite not showing any visible sign of damage. After several months, the screen went blank and the battery slowly stopped charging. It went from 5-6 shaves per charge to 4 to 3 to 2, then zero charge.

So next I called Panasonic (after it finally died) and explained that I received this shaver as a gift and it was purchased about 11 months ago. Since it had a one year warrantee, the Panasonic rep explained that if I could get a copy of the receipt I would be able to send it in for repair or replacement. I was able to send a copy of the Amazon email receipt (from the person that gave me the gift) and Panasonic sent me a pre-paid label to attach to any box to send the shaver in. I had to send the shaver and charger together. After about three weeks I received a brand new ES8103S in the mail. No other calls, email, or follow-up was necessary on my part. Despite the three weeks without a shaver, I thought this was fantastic customer service. Actually, having switched to razor for three weeks, I realized how much I loved the ES8103S and had started taking it for granted.

So I have had the replacement razor for about two years now. I have been much more careful about not letting it drop and the screen has held up well - until a few weeks ago. The battery is still fine and the shave is as good as ever. But, I have no idea how much battery power is left. The screen lights up but does not display a legible value. There is no water or vapor behind the screen this time. It seems that the screen and/or battery have a couple of year lifespan. I find this lifespan acceptable as I am still saving compared to the cost of replacement razors. I have found that the ES8103S replacement cost is about the same as the cost of razors with a one year lifespan. My two ES8103S shavers have averaged about a year and a half lifespan (although my current razor is still usable). Therefore the ES8103S still enjoys a cost benefit to shaving with razors.

*** Update 2 ***

Another year goes by and the (2nd) razor is still going strong. The screen started to turn partially legible during the year (I'm not sure when) and I can read some of the numbers - it's enough to know if it is close to needing a charge. I can not tell the difference between 50% and 60%, but I know when it gets to 20% (And this is usually time to recharge). The battery has also suffered a bit - it gives about 3-4 shaves per charge. With the extended life, I have to change my economics from above - the razors have averaged a 2 years plus lifespan; and, the economics are far in the favor of the Panasonic vs. (the ever rising) costs of Gillette-style blades.
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on January 9, 2009
When my old Panasonic needed new blades and foil, I decided to shop for a new shaver. The motor after so many years of cutting my "wire beard" sounded like it was laboring. I thought I was tired of wet shaving and bought a top of the line Braun - it's for baby beards! Also, the Braun will not move over your skin if it is oily or micro-moist from a warm bathroom, even with shaving powder. It was returned. This ES8103S [[ASIN:B001DNE3KQ Panasonic ES8103S Pro-Curve Wet/Dry Rechargeable Linear Pivot Action Shaving System, Silver] shaver cuts my tough beard like it was fuzz, saving much time and my face! I don't have to push it hard against my face to get a close shave and it gets all the hard to shave face and neck areas.
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on January 7, 2015
It is the close shave I ever have with a electric shaver. I'm very happy with this product. After using the norelco latest shaver wich is nothing compare to this great purchase. It fells just as close shave as a razor, buy this pruduct and you won't regret it.
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on January 23, 2009
I have used electric shavers for a while now and I recently purchased the Panasonic ES8103S. The shaver is identical to the ES8109, which has the drying dock. The ES8109S is great, if you are willing to spend the extra $50 - $70 for the drying dock, but not a necessity. I believe this shaver is far better than any other on the market due to its 30 degree blade and all other manufacturers use a 45 - 90 degree blade which requires multiple passes. (I'm an internet shopping junkie; hence I do a lot of research on details about products). It was definitely the right choice to get the ES8103S.
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on February 18, 2011
I've shaved w/an electric razor for about 15 years. Up until the Panasonic, I'd only used Braun. My first Braun lasted about 6 years. Wow, quality stuff, right? Well, not really because my next 2 Brauns (5735) only lasted about 2 yrs each. With the Braun prices going up and the quality of the Braun razors apparently going south, I decided to switch brands.

I read a lot of reviews and settled on the ES8103S because of the percentage of 4-5 star reviews and the relatively low price. I've had 2 of these razors over the past 2 yrs.

The Good:

- Really fast charging. The on-screen LCD showed 100% charge in about an hour...pretty darn fast. A single charge is good for ~7 or 8 shaves.

- The Panasonic shaves my face closer than Braun with less effort. The Panasonic really seems to glide over my face and neck with virtually no pull. It almost feels like it's rolling over my face while the Braun always felt like I was dragging it.

- The trimmer works far better than my Braun.

- Because several reviewers said this razor was noisy, I was a bit worried...needlessly. The Panasonic gives off a high-pitched hum - kinda like an electric mosquito - but is still more quiet than my Brauns.

- Cleaning took less than a minute. Just 2 drops of dish detergent and run it under the faucet. I laugh when I think of the over-engineered cleaning/charging station used by the Braun...expensive, took up needless counterspace, and time consuming. Panasonic has done it right.

The Bad:

The LCD display is poorly engineered. I had to send my first one back as defective since the display went out after 2 charges. On my replacement razor, the display lasted about 4 mths. My display has been 'black' now for over a year. The razor still works fine, but it is a pain to have to guess when to charge it.

Bottom line: Even tho it's a far better razor and less than half the price of the Braun, I can't recommend a razor with defective electronics. Too bad because it's a really good shaver...just faulty.
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on February 28, 2012
This review is for women who currently use or are considering using an electric shaver. I have sensitive skin and have been using an electric shaver on my legs for many years. I always shave in the shower using shaving cream. Until now, I have used assorted women's wet/dry models from Remington, Conair, and Panasonic. None of them produced as close a shave as a razor but for me it was acceptable that I was trading the close shave for less damage to my skin. It was time to buy a new one again and I read in a consumer article that there's no reason that a woman couldn't use a men's model foil shaver. After doing some research, I purchased the ES8103 from Panasonic. I have been using it now for about 6 weeks. In one word "Wow!". Here's why:

1. Most importantly is the quality of the shave. The shave feels as close as a razor without damaging my skin. Vastly superior to all of the women's models that I have tried. I am amazed at how smooth the skin is after a shave. For women who are first transitioning to an electric shaver, remember that it will take a few weeks for your skin to adjust before you start getting close shaves.

2. There is a display (100%, 90%, 80%...) of how much charge is remaining. None of the women's models have this. To make sure that I wouldn't run out of power mid-shave, I was constantly charging the women's models. When they weren't holding their charge as well, there were times that the unit would stop mid-shave. I don't see that happening with the ES8103.

3. The ES8103 charges to full capacity in 1 hour. I'd leave my other models plugged in overnight or longer. Also, all of the women's models had a charging base (cradle) which is not very practical to pack when you travel. The ES8103 has a simple plug and cord (like for your cell phone).

4. While the ES8103 weighs a little more than the women's models, it is actually much better balanced and therefore, I find it much easier to use. Even though I have small hands, there is enough tapering in the middle that it is very comfortable to hold.

I am delighted with this shaver. Used in the shower with shaving cream, it gives my legs the best shave ever. I will not go back to any of the women's models.
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on October 11, 2009
I purchased the Panasonic ES8103S one month ago and I like it. I have only used it in the "dry" mode. The oscillation frequency of the linear drive is significantly faster than that of the Remington MS3 3700 I used previously. This allows the razor to make more cuts per unit time for better coverage. In my estimation the tilt head may be an asset, but I'm not certain it's a necessity. If desired, the head can be locked to omit the tilt function. The Panasonic advertisement indicates it's a "one pass" shave. That may be true for some beards, but mine requires more than one pass. If I redesigned the razor, I would consider having three, full width blades and screens for greater coverage and fewer required passes. The charge indicator and alerts for cleaning and recharging are nice features. All in all, it's a very good and well constructed razor. I would buy it again.
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on April 22, 2014
This is my first electric shaver. I resisted the switch from manual razors for 15 years. Even when my wife gifted me one - I love gadgets - so she thought it would be a great birthday gift - within the first few years our marriage. But, I promptly returned it without even opening. These days she doesn't bother buying any electronics for me. So, I end up gifting myself on my birthdays. And I continued to fill the bank accounts of Gillette, religiously buying their sensor excel cartridges.

But in the last 3-4 years, I haven't been satisfied with my shaves. It is not as close - and the blades seem to lose their edge soon - only after ~4 shaves. This time when it was due to buy new blades I did a quick math and realized that for the money I spend on the replacement cartridges, I can buy a new electric shave every year. I am all about saving money - so I decided it give it a try. Worst case, I can go back to manual, after a year. So, after the ritual of reading and re-reading the reviews of electric shavers at Amazon, I finally settled on this one. Firstly the cost - there was also a $15 off special - and the great reviews.

First Experience:
As I got this shaver out of the well packaged box, it felt quite good in my hand - I liked the ergonomics. It was not too heavy or too big. Seemed just right. Switching from manual shaver, I wanted a dry/wet shaver, which is why I chose this one. Looking back, I realize I don't really need the wet shave feature. Yes, the first time I tried with shaving cream, it was quite messy. With the foam on, I could not see which parts I missed. I finally ended up washing it all off and going over the missed parts again. Felt much better now.

After 2 weeks:
After first use, I started doing dry shave, and just love the result. It is very good and I agree with the other reviewers. I get a really close shave and really quick <5 minutes (as opposed to ~10 minutes with manual shave). I clean it by rinsing off in the faucet, shaking the water and leaving it on the counter to dry. The trimmer is a nice feature - very useful for the sideburns, as I do grow sideburns. The surprise was that the battery lasted for whole two weeks - that is 6 shaves - before it got down to 10% and the charge indicator started blinking.

CONS:
IT IS NOISY - yes, particularly when you do your cheeks/sideburns - it is like a bee is buzzing around your head. One day my wife came upstairs wondering if there was a bee inside our house. I seriously considered using ear plugs - but didn't want to look at a goofy self image every time I shaved and so decided against it - at least for now. Hopefully I grow out of this noise, as this is a wonderful little shaver, except for the noise.

I will come back after a few months and add comments about how the battery holds up. But, honestly, if this lasts for 2 years - I would have got more than my money's worth and would gladly buy another one.
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