Braun 790cc (aka 790cc-4) Review by Chris Schuepfer
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Not everyone is an “electric shaver guy”. I respect that. But if you are, or are thinking of becoming one, it would be hard to beat the Braun 790cc shaver (790cc-4).
Electric shavers in general, and the Braun in particular, have become so good it’s almost foolish to discuss their basic features. But here goes.
The 790cc, like many predecessors, feels good in the hand. No, I’ll go farther and say this one feels better. It’s solid but not too heavy.
Granted that’s a subjective issue, but an electric shaver that’s too light feels, to me, too hard to control. I like something with a little heft. That being said, this Series 7 shaver is far from massive. Just right, I’d say. It’s slimmer than past models and the grip has a rubber-like section that makes it easy to hold even when wet.
Better still, the body is gently curved, a slight banana shape that continues to the head. That lets it get at the face without you having to bend at the waist continually. That’s a very welcome feature for anyone but especially those who are getting a little older or have back trouble.
Beyond the basics, the Series 7 features a few things to cheer about. If, like me, you’re the sort to cheer about electric shaver features. It may be something of an exaggeration to call them “innovations” but I really like the new controls. Sometimes, subtle changes make a big difference in usability.
For example, the slider switch of the older model has been replaced with a power button that’s actually a button. Hallelujah! Maybe it’s just personal taste but this really fits mine.
The pop-up trimmer now pops out and away from the unit. It has a narrow cutting width, which is just right for me. For you, it may be a little small, but I have a big head (or so my wife says) and I like to get very exact. I won’t tell you what she says about that habit.
The surface is a bit curved so it did take some getting used to. But, once mastered, it’s a lot easier to use to get a precise trim of the sideburns, neckline, and above the mustache.
I’m also very fond of the little slider switch that locks the pivoting head at a particular angle. Some people like to float and others enjoy the feeling of solidity from a stationary head. Now you can have your choice.
Series 7 Shaving Technology
For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the video below to get Braun’s Series 7 shaving technology summarized in under 3 minutes.
All the usual Braun features are here as well. OptiFoil is really more than just a marketing buzzword. I’m no expert on shaver engineering – though it’s obvious Braun employs some – but this thing really does work. It just picks up more hair thanks to ergonomically sized holes.
The ActiveLift system, another slightly silly name, is even better – at least in my case (and I suspect in yours, too). It lifts up hair that lies flat, like the stuff at the base of my neck, and clips it very nicely. Thank you, Braun. That was my biggest annoyance about electrics for a long time. No longer.
One feature that definitely does deserve the term “innovation” is something Braun calls “Pulsonic Technology”. Again with a dubious marketing name, but in this case it’s fairly accurate. All electric shavers buzz, of course. But this one does so 10,000 times a minute.
According to the theory, it creates little ripples that aid the 790cc’s ability to clip hairs that otherwise wouldn’t stand up perfectly. It really does help give you a closer shave. That’s not theory talking. That’s experience.
The 790cc also has a switch that lets you select any of three shaving “styles”: Extra Sensitive, Normal, and Intensive. I don’t personally notice a big difference whichever mode I choose, but you might.
And there’s a warning indicator on the stand that flashes after 18 months to remind you to replace the foil and blade. Hey, even electric shavers have to have new blades sometime.
Clean & Renew System
Braun has had cleaning systems for several years now but this latest incarnation seems better than even the former very good ones. The base houses a charger and a cleaning solution cartridge space, with appropriate indicators. We’ll take a look at the cleaner first.
You place the shaver upside down into the base, tap a button, and walk away.
There’s a light to tell you when the cleaning cycle is complete, which typically takes about 45 minutes. I just wish you didn’t have to press the big “Start” button after the unit has sat idle for 10 minutes to see that status. When the cleaning cycle is done the mechanism shuts itself off.
However, there’s also a Fast Clean option that will get the job done in ten minutes, if you’re really in a hurry to clean it using the system. Frankly, I would just open it up and rinse it off if that were the case. The body is perfectly sealed so there’s no risk of damage. But it’s there if you want it.
The cleaning fluid isn’t actually anything extraordinary. There aren’t any complex chemicals in here, just some denatured alcohol, lemon scent, and a bit of silicone lubricant.
But the clever folks at Braun have figured out how to loosen all the stubble, let it flow into the cleaning cartridge, kill bacteria and freshen things up, and oil the blade all at the same time. That’s pretty keen, at least from the perspective of this technophile and shaver enthusiast.
The one potential downside is the cost of the cartridges. One of the reasons people use an electric is to get away from the need to buy new shaving stuff every month. “Give away the razor, sell them blades” is the marketing call of every manual shaver maker since Gillette’s production of the safety razor. Buying cleaning cartridges tends to undercut the benefit of an electric.
On the other hand, you don’t absolutely HAVE to replace the cleaning cartridge. You can just remove the foil and brush off the blades in the traditional way. That said, the Clean & Renew cartridges are only about $20 per year when you buy in bulk. And, you can use tricks to make the cartridge last longer like resealing it between uses to cut down evaporation.
The charger system and internal battery are one of my favorite features of the Braun 7 series.
The Li-Ion battery has no memory effect so you don’t have to let it go down to zero before recharging. Better still, it charges from zero to full in an hour. Best of all, if the juice is too low you can just charge for a few minutes and still get one shave’s worth of power.
Beyond that, I’m very pleased with some of the changes from the older model. The charge system now is more than just green/red; 6 battery segments on the shaver display show the charge status. Especially handy if you’re on a trip and need to know how much juice you have left. If you forgot the charger you can decide whether you have to skip a shave to get one last one before that important meeting.
The Braun 790cc is so well made, and so effective, it’s hard for me to see how they could improve it substantially. No doubt Braun does and their engineers must be working on the next version right now. Until then, this model is as good as it gets – and that’s very good indeed.