on April 26, 2017
Let me start off this review by saying a couple things. 1. I don't write reviews. I've literally done one or two and I've been on Amazon for longer than I can remember. 2. I did all of my homework before I bought this, and I'll explain that all below. 3. This will be long, in depth, and will cover not only this shaver, but a bunch of others as well since this is so new and I want you to make an educated decision on what shaver to get.
The Panasonic ES-LT7N Arc3 is the best thing that has happened to my grooming life. Being someone who is prone to ingrown hairs and razor burn, I hate shaving just as much (or more) than the next guy. I used to use the traditional multi-blade razors, such as Gillette, but would always end up with both ingrown hairs and razor burn. I started using simple trimmers, but most of those chewed up my face and required me to trim frequently. Then, I began using single-blade safety razors and found those to be the best of all options when talking about an actual shave, however they are pretty easy to misuse and the learning curve is difficult. Even being proficient with safety razors as I am now, I still sometimes slip sideways and cut myself. This would be problem now, as I just landed a job where I have to shave daily and definitely don't want to go in with cuts on my face. So I started looking for alternatives.
Enter electronic shavers. I started looking at all the different kinds, including foil and rotary. Ultimately, I settled on foil shavers as I read that they can be a little easier to get parts of your neck, and are more forgiving in terms of the direction you shave (foil shavers just go back and forth across your hair, starting against the grain, while rotary shavers go in circles; I just don't like the idea of that). After deciding on foil shavers, I had to decide which one to go with. The main two brands out there that are considered high quality are Braun and Panasonic. Remington makes some, but they aren't quite as big as the other two. Knowing the two main brands, I had to decide which one, of the multiple models and series, I should go buy.
I'll start by explaining why I did NOT go with Braun. As I said before, I did my homework which includes reading reviews on Amazon, reviews found on websites specifically about shaving, and so on. From my research, if I were to have bought a Braun, I would have gone with either the 5 series, the 7 series, or the 9 series. The higher the number, the more expensive the product. The 7 series, specifically the Braun 790cc, seems to be one of the most popular shavers out there, with people saying the 5 series is just a dumber down version of it and that the 9 series is a more "smart" version. Most people even say that the Braun 790cc provides the best shave that they have had, better than this ES-LT7N Arc3. However, from all my research, I decided to stick away from Braun because of two main reasons.
1. The blades are almost unobtainable. Specifically for the 790cc, they are out of stock almost everywhere. Where they are in stock, people are paying anywhere from $60 on the low end to commonly $110-120. And, the way it sounds, the blade quality for replacements is horrible and rips people up as a result. Plus, many people seem to only find the replacements in stock from third-party sellers that might even be shipping non-Braun blades (personal theory). It seems like the availablity of the replacements has always been bad and is only getting worse, so as a whole, I wasn't wanting to spending $150 on a foil shaver that would be no good in a year.
2. The customer service is horrible. From an in-depth external review that compared Panasonic foil shavers, Braun foil shavers, and Norelco rotary shavers, I read that Braun answered very few of emails or calls directly to them. Of those that they did respond to, Braun representatives often could not provide answers to simple questions. Panasonic and Norelco both answered all questions, did so quickly, and knew the answers.
So after settling on Panasonic, I had to decide which series to go with and which model to get. The different series are the Arc3 series, Arc4 series, and Arc5 series. I'll explain first why I didn't go with the Arc4 series since the reasons simple: the series is kind of old, hasn't been updated in a few years (five if memory serves), and the models don't come with a charging and cleaning station.
Going between the Arc3 and the Arc5, I had a couple considerations. The Arc5 has more razors, but is more expensive. The Arc3 has less razors, but from what I read, is still pretty darn good. I'll discuss the reasons why I didn't go with the Arc 5 now. First, there are several different models of the Arc5, with Panasonic releasing new ones every couple years. The most current 2016 model, the ES-LV9N-S,is running for about $400 and is sold out everywhere I looked while also being backordered on Panasonic's website. Additionally, they seemed to be going through a razor replacement shortage with how popular the ES-LV9N-S is, so much so that people were having to buy the razor replacements from older models of the Arc5 in order to use the ES-LV9N-S 2016 version. I didn't want to spend $400 on the Arc5 and end up using older model replacement razors. I also didn't want to purchase the older model of the Arc5 and have them stop making the razors for it (since from what I read, you can't put razors from the new Arc5 on the old Arc5, even though you can put old Arc5 razors on the new Arc5; correct me if I'm wrong). If you are interested in the Arc5, however, the older model (ES-LV9N-S) is about $250 on Panasonic website, the blades are in stock, and the main differences between the older models and the 2016 ES-LV9N-S is that the newest model has some sort of a roller to keep the blades further from your skin for comfort. The new model also attracts less fingerprints, and I think that the power button was moved a little to keep your from turning it off mid-shave, however most people said that this wasn't a problem once they learned to hold it. I was dangerously close to getting the a model of the Arc5, but I went for the Arc3.
Now to discuss the Arc3. Again, there are older models of the Arc3. Quite a few, actually, if you search "Arc3" on Amazon. I won't sum up all the little differences between the old ones and this new model, the ES-LT7N-S. However, the main functional difference is that this model is strong, running at 13,000 RPMs whereas previous models were somewhere around 10,000. Additionally, since this is the newest model, blades will be produced for it longer and I won't have to worry about Panasonic not making blades for it in a few years. Speaking of which, blades are in stock and run about $40 for the blade/foil combo on Panasonic's website. I couldn't find them on Amazon, however, but I'd say that's because they're so new. Additional features on this thing that I know about are stuff like a sonic mode that spins out debris from shaving, a head that moves around at different angles to help you shave better, and a couple other things.
Now to discuss this actual model and it's specifics. First off, opening it up, it has a nice weight to it. It comes with a cleaning and charging station that you fill up yourself with detergent you buy from Panasonic. However, most people opt to just clean this themselves and use the cleaning station occasionally for a deep clean and to charge the Arc3 since this is so easy to clean. The foils pop right off and you can just put a bit of soap on the razor and foil and clean them under the water. In fact, Panasonic says this is fine in their instruction manual.
Next, the part most people are concerned with, the shave. I thought it was awesome. In an external review that summed up Braun, Panasonic, and Norelco shavers, apparently testers said that Panasonic had the closest shave but also the least comfortable (hence why the newest model of the Arc5 has it's "comfort rollers" around the foil", a feature that didn't make it to this model of the Arc3). I'm not sure what they were talking about, but I thought this was close AND comfortable. Having trimmed up the day before with my Andis T-Outliner trimmer, I had quite a bit of stubble. Turning on the Arc3, I noted that it definitely made an audible hum, but it didn't seem too loud at all. I started on the bottom of my neck and worked my way up against the grain. As I hit my stubble, I felt... well, not a whole lot. The Arc3 pretty much mowed through what facial hair I have (I don't have a whole lot). The directions say to old the trimmer at 90 degrees to your face, so I did that. And I passed up and down several times, using my free hand to stretch my face out a bit so I could get close. However, I felt no irritation on my face whatsoever. And the end result was that my facial hair was about equivalent to as if I had shaved with my single-blade safety razor and allowed it to grow for five hours. Very close, so close that most people won't particularly care, especially when this shaver ends up being quicker, more comfortable, and leaving no razor burn. The whole process took maybe five minutes, and that included me running the shaver over spots that were already shaved as low as they could go just because I wanted to be thorough. It would probably take less time in the future. As a side note for the readers, FYI, I read everywhere that you should use foils shavers before you shower as showering swells up your face a little and makes the shave not quite as close. Additionally, I used this shaver dry, as I read that the shave doesn't really get much better when using any creams or anything.
After shaving, I popped the foil off, washed off the blades and the foil, and put it back on. I didn't use the cleaning/charging station yet, as I didn't feel like setting it up. I also didn't use the trimmer attached to the Arc3. The idea is to use it to mow down a longer beard to make it appropriate for shaving, but that's why I have my Andis T-Outliner, and I'll probably never let my beard get that long again to begin with.
So that's it. I know this is long, but I absolutely love this shaver. No, I didn't get anything free for writing this. I just am one of those guys who reads everything about everything before buying something, and since there's not a whole lot on this specific shaver written yet, I figured maybe I could help someone make the right decision. Plus, this is a stellar product that I don't mind taking the time to write something positive about.
TL;DR: This is a great, shaver, I love it, it's better than the rest of them (except maybe the newest Arc5), I don't write reviews on stuff that isn't awesome, you should buy it.