The Norelco 8240 offers the best value/comfort/performance for the money I've found. Lower models in the Norelco line lack some very effective features (floating heads, multiple inset rotary heads, etc.), while higher models are much more expensive with no benefit to performance (some do a poorer job of shaving, including the ARC series).
Although the best foil shavers generally shave closer, the Norelco 8240 cuts nearly as close (not quite, but the difference is virtually unnoticeable). The rotary heads, however, are MUCH more comfortable and not nearly as prone to razorburn as foil shavers. The floating heads on this model are excellent (not as stiff and MORE effective than the $130 ARC series), conforming well to my face, even at my sharp chin and gentle adam's apple.
Here is what makes it really superb compared to any other shaver I've tried in my 18 years of shaving:
- The $80 price (at Walmart, December 2009), on the low end of the price range that consistently offers the best value/performance ratio ($70 - $110).
- The motor is wonderfully quiet... it purs in a low, comforting tone, without the high whine of most other rotary and foil razors I've tried (the ARC series is much louder, as are Braun foil shavers). When I first used it, I though the battery must be low on charge, but I finally realized that it really is just that quiet all the time.
- The shaving performance is excellent: It offers the 2nd closest shave I've had from an electric shaver (The Braun foil shaver I've used for the last 6 years shaves negligibly closer), yet gives almost zero razorburn to my sensitive/dry skin (the Braun gave mild to moderate razorburn daily). Better yet, the Norelco shaves close WITHOUT need to pull my skin tight with a second hand as I shave. That is the main reason I switched back to rotary... Foil shavers only give a close shave by constantly pulling the facial skin tight with another hand while shaving.
- The ergonomics are very comfortable: It fits perfectly in my hand and feels very light. My Braun foil shaver always felt like holding a large cell phone... no ergonomics to speak of, which occasionally led to dropping it.
I'm convinced that negative reviews of this razor are either by folks with very strange face shapes or, more likely, folks who don't understand that a razor MUST BE BROKEN IN for about two weeks before it offers an optimum shave. On the first shave, the Norelco 8240 is unimpressive, but by the fifth or sixth morning (assuming you use it exclusively), it will adjust to your face and give you a remarkably good shave. The quality continues to improve slightly until about the end of the second week. Stick with it, and you'll be glad.