Customer Reviews: Braun Series 5-590cc Men's Shaving System 1 Count
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on May 9, 2009
It took me awhile to decide on this Braun after all I've never paid this much for a shaver. However, I had a problem getting parts for my old Remington so decided to bite the bullet. The unit arrived nicely boxed with a semi-hard black zippered travel case which is not mentioned in the literature. It uses the same power cord for rechargeable and corded operation. The shaver feels comfortable and solid in the hand and looks nice. I like the trimmer and flexible head. I find setting the sensitivity of the head to medium works best especially in the neck area. When not in use, the shaver sits in the cleaning station which also acts as a charger. At night, the cleaning station gives off a small blue light which is nice should you have to find the unit without turning on the lights. I've had the unit a few weeks and so far, I love it.

Why? Because it's quiet (compared to my old Remington), and gives me smooth, dry close shaves. For my face and skin, it's pretty close to a razor. The head and cutter is washable under running water and if that's not enough, you can use the Clean & Renew System. Since I've only had my unit for a few weeks, I didn't see the need to give it a bath so soon. I'll do what others suggest and do it periodically. Besides, I didn't want to open the sealed cartridge filled with cleaning solution for fear I would spill it and have to buy more refill cartridges.

Things I didn't like were that it was relatively expensive and the cleaning station base footprint was large. The shaver sits head down in the base unit so the bottom of the shaver is 8 3/4" above the counter. But if you don't mind charging it with the A/C cord, you can put the base unit away for another day when cleaning is needed.

I decided against the Braun Series 7 Pulsonic because I didn't see how 10,000 micro vibrations would help with a smoother closer shave. Besides, my Sonicare toothbrush vibrates and I can see the logic there. I'll just hold the shaver looser and let it vibrate by itself. I picked this unit over the Series 5 570 because as far as I could tell, the only difference were the LED lights. The cost between both units was minimal so I opted for extra LED lights. I'm sure I would be just as happy with the other unit.

I've had this unit now for about 6 months and I am still very satisfied with it. I love the flexible shaver head and the ability to adjust the sensitivity. It makes for a comfortable shave in all the right places.

One of the early concerns I had before purchasing the unit was the added cost of cleaning the unit using the Clean&Renew Station and cleaning solution as often as Braun recommends. This is what I've discovered.

The User Guide recommends cleaning the unit after each shave or when the yellow LED light comes on. I physically clean the shaver foil and cutter block once a week, sometimes every other week when lazy. Very easy. The yellow "time to clean" light never came on so after a month, I cleaned the shaver anyway. So far, I've only cleaned the unit 3 times and only because I thought it was time to clean. Now to prevent the cleaning solution from evaporating or spilling, I remove the cleaning cartridge after each use and replace the plastic cover and store the cartridge under the counter. So far for me, purchasing more cleaning kits has not been costly since I'm still using the original cleaning cartridge.
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on November 23, 2010
Over six years ago, I wrote a rave review of Braun's Activator shaver here at Amazon. That review is still available at my profile page. I'm sorry to say that I can't repeat my enthusiasm this time for this Series 5 590cc shaver. Braun is cheapening its products, though not its prices.

First, I will say something positive. This shaver, with a new "OptiFoil" head, gives a very good shave. It's at least as good as the Activator with the "SmartFoil," though I can't say it's noticeably better. I think it IS better than the different cutter block in the 360 Complete series, which came between the Activator and the Series 5.

Also, the tapered, contoured shape of the new shavers is a definite improvement over the shapeless bricks that the older models were. The angled head makes it uncertain at first if you're holding it at the right angle to your skin, but it doesn't take long to adjust.

But there are two really serious problems with this shaver (and the similar 570/550cc). First, this shaver is being promoted by Braun for the supposed superiority of the new OptiFoil head. (See [...]. Amazon is mistaken on this page in showing this shaver with the older SmartFoil head.) This is fine, because as I said, the new OptiFoil is better than the one for the 360 Complete that replaced the Activator.

But you will only be able to enjoy the OptiFoil for about a year or so before it inevitably wears out and you have to replace it. And then, if nothing changes, you will find that BRAUN IS NOT OFFERING REPLACEMENT OPTIFOIL HEADS. The only replacement heads are the older ones made for the 360 Complete. I confirmed this with a manager at Braun Customer Service. There are no OptiFoil replacement sets available. You will have to downgrade your new shaver to the older, inferior, foil/cutter set.

I asked the Braun manager how they can sell a product without the correct replacements for its consumable parts. He said he would "convey my concerns" up the chain of command.

The second major problem is the new "Clean&Renew" system. The shaver goes head-down into a base with alcohol-based cleaning fluid, which is pumped through the head to clean and disinfect it. The unit that came with my Activator cleaned and dried the shaver in 30 to 40 minutes. The manual for the 590cc--confirmed by Customer Service--says that drying takes FOUR HOURS. I will repeat that: FOUR HOURS. Why? The new Series 5 Clean&Renew unit--unlike the old Activator--doesn't generate any warmth for drying. The shaver is simply air-dried.

I confirmed this. I took the shaver out of the unit after 3-1/2 hours because I had to leave the house, and it was cold and still wet. And Braun recommends that you do this EVERY DAY--so the open cartridge of cleaning fluid can sit there evaporating for 4 hours every day. You may as well just take the shaver out after cleaning, cap the cartridge, and let the shaver dry on the countertop.

If you want faster heated drying, now you must buy the much-more-expensive Series 7 shavers--whose claim to fame is that they vibrate! A definite downgrade of the mid-level product line.

My suggestion is that you use the Clean&Renew just once a week, cap the cartridge, and let the shaver dry outside the unit. Other times you can take advantage of one good new feature of this shaver--you can clean the foil and cutters under running water.

Some lesser issues:

Braun no longer gives you a protective plastic cap for the head.

The battery charge doesn't last as long as it did in the old Activator. This is progress?

The advertised "ActiveLift" part of the head, which is supposed to scoop up flat-lying hairs in problem areas like the throat, doesn't work very well. How could it, when the fins that are supposed to get under those hairs are recessed below the contact surface of the foil?

A common problem with these shavers--even the old Activator--is that there has to be an open area under the head for the fluid to flow through in the cleaning unit. As a result, some stubble debris falls out and gets on your chest.

The cleaning warning light comes on after only two shaves after a Clean&Renew bath, even if you've taken the foil off and tapped out the stubble. You can ignore this, but it's a nuisance. It's consistent with Braun's effort to have you use up and buy as much of the cleaning fluid as possible.

The cutter block, as in previous models, extends only about 3/4 the width of the foil. I wonder why.

Finally, Braun Customer Service is awful. I had to call twice, getting disconnected once and waiting on hold for at least 10 minutes, and then had to be bumped up to a manager before I could talk to someone who could do more than read from a script.

I didn't expect this review to be as long as it turned out, but I guess when you have as good an opinion about a company as I did with Braun, you are doubly annoyed when it comes out with something as disappointing as this. $177 is a lot to pay for just one year of good shaves.

If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't. Beware. Go into it with your eyes open, or wait until Braun puts out OptiFoil replacement heads.

But then there's that non-drying cleaning unit.......

UPDATE: Please see the comments. Optifoil replacement heads may be finally starting to be available. However, when I contacted the company that is showing the newer head in the picture on their Amazon listing, they replied that they did not have it in stock yet.

Update 2, June, 2011: Optifoil replacement heads seem to be now finally making their way into the stores. I saw some at Bed, Bath & Beyond. But make sure that's what you're getting because the item number is still 51S. The printing on the package says "100% Performance" in blue text on a black background. My other comments remain valid.
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on May 6, 2009
I've been a Braun guy since I started shaving, so this is my 4th or 5th one. After my last one, which was a low-end disappointment, this one is great -- as smooth of a shave as I believe you can get from an electric. Another plus is that this shaver is made in Germany, not China like their low-end ones, and although a little pricey, after a $50 promo certificate, it essentially put the price within reason.

My only negative comments, after owning the razor for about two weeks, is that the clean-and-renew system is a little gimmicky. Not the system itself so much, which works great, but two things about the system:

* The cleaning base is essentially a really cheap looking injection-molded piece of plastic. It gets the job done, but I think the designers could have done a better job of fabricating a base that was a little more in fitting with the price/look of the razor itself.

* As others have said, the clean and renew fluid is kind of a ripoff -- if you use it as much as the manufacturer suggests (every day, all the time), that's about an extra $75 a year; one more expense I really don't need. Although I haven't owned the razor very long, I think it's probably fine to manually clean it most of the time and use the cleaning system once a week or so. To keep the cleaning fluid from evaporating, simply remove it from the base in between cleanings and put the lid it came with back on. As others have also mentioned, you could probably go one step further and replenish the cleaning fluid with its stated ingredient, denatured alcohol (i.e., Sea Breeze), but don't blame me if that messes up your razor for some reason. I figure if I cut my usage by using the cleaning fluid only about once a week, that's fine with me.

So with those two things mentioned, I really like my new razor!

UPDATE 112409:
My curiosity got the better of me about a month ago - I tried replenishing the cleaning cartridge with Sea Breeze, but it doesn't work nearly as well as the Braun fluid; the Sea Breeze contains water whereas I don't believe the Braun fluid does. Although it didn't hurt my razor, it did leave it kind of grungy. At least now I know.
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on July 16, 2009
If you have not used an electric foil shaver before or used a rotary shaver then it will take some getting used to this one. At first your skin might turn reddish and become irritated but this will subside as your skin adapts to it. It can provide a reasonably close shave comparable to a razor blade but you often have to target specific areas over and over to get the desired shave. The cleaning solution is a great way to store and charge your shaver and it seems to do an excellent job of cleaning the shaver too. You can also clean the shaver manually and instructions are included to show you how to do this so using the cleaning stand is not mandatory but I would recommend you do so every now and then.

Overall a great shaver, certainly better than the Philips Coolskin I owned several years back. You could save yourself a few bucks if you get the 570 over this one as the only difference seems to be the cleaning LED on the shaver. Better yet go for the 550 or 560 if you don't think you need the cleaning stand.
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on July 4, 2011
This is the most $$ I've ever spent on an electric shaver. I came from a relatively inexpensive Norelco to opt for this one hoping for really great shaves. I've had this for about 9 months now and just can't get a close shave. I got a closer shave from the Norelco at about 1/4 the price. I followed the advise of those that said you need to acclimate your beard to a new shaver. After 9 months I can say I've done that.
The best shave I get is if I shave every day and even then it's not as close as the Norelco. If you are the type that doesn't shave every day then this razor is not for you as it does not handle longer hairs very well. Lots of pain as it pulls the longer hairs rather than shaving them.
I'm going back to the Norelco.
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on September 21, 2009
I've been using Braun for more than 10 years, this is my 3rd and always trying to upgrade the previous one, not for malfuntioning just because i wanted a new one :).

This is much better than my previuos one (5000 serie). Quicker, smoothier. I'll recommend Braun always and this one is an excellent example.
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on April 11, 2009
I purchased this as I had a promotional certificate to use on Amazon and needed a new shaver. It was a bit on the expensive side compared to other shavers, but the promotional certificate made it more reasonable. My Panasonic foil-top was older than I remember, so I needed to buy a new one. Rotary razors scratch my face too much, so I wanted to stick with a foil-top. I think this shaver is new to the Braun line-up. It feels very nice in my hand when shaving as it's handle is more ergonomic than the previous geneation. It shaves nice and close with almost no irritation. The pivoting head is a bit of a gimmick, I think. I locked mine in place and it works fine that way.
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on May 23, 2009
I've used electric shavers for over 30 years and this is the best one yet. My last razor was a Noreleco. I read many reviews on the Braun shavers and was a little concerned about the inital price and the cost of the cleaning fluid. I think with the rebate it makes the intial cost reasonable and you shouldn't worry about the cleaning fluid. I charge and clean my shaver once a week. I reseal the cleaning fluid after each use and after month I've only used about 10% of the solution. The shaver gives me a good shave. My wife thinks it's not as noisy as the Norelco.
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on April 27, 2011
I was excited when I ordered this shaver. I would finally have a really nice electric shaver. It finally arrived and I imediatly opened it up read all the instructions and plugged it in to charge. The next morning I tried to use the shaver and nothing,so I called BRAUN'S customer service. The only options given was to ship it to their company to rebuild it, I would have to pay shipping both ways. This option made no since, why would I pay the price of a new item and get a refurbished item plus pay shipping three times. My other option was to ship it back and get a refund for the purchase price, they would not pay for the price of the original shipping or for me to ship the faulty shaver to them. This as you can imagine did not make me happy here I would have to pay $15 for shipping cost and have nothing but wasted time and disapointment to show for it. So I decided to send a very pointed email to Braun to give them a written form of my disgust in their lack of customer service and how I felt about how they should have to put out the money for shipping since it was their lack of quality control that caused this situation. I received a email back saying they would send me a $15 check in the mail to pay for the shipping so they finally decided to do the right thing, too bad it took me calling them out to get them to be ethical in their business transactions. This goes to show you now days if you want to be treated fair you have to stand your ground and speak up.
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on September 5, 2011
If you go to Braun's website, this model is promoted with the optifoil. I tried one of these shavers with the optifoil and I liked it, so I bought one from Amazon. But the one Amazon sent me does not have the optifoil head. This one does not give a shave even close to the one with optifoil. Beware of what you buy.
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