Panasonic ES-LA93-K / ES-LA63-S Arc4 Review by Chris Schuepfer
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I really wish Panasonic would simplify the names of their electric shavers. But one thing I could never complain about is how effectively they work. With the ES-LA93-K they prove once again they’re right up there with Braun and Philips, despite being the relative new kid on the block.
4-Blade Cutting System
One reason for my love for this Arc4 shaver is admittedly personal: the weight. I like a shaver that’s not too heavy, not too light. At just 7 oz (0.44 lbs) this model hits that Goldilocks spot perfectly. Surprising, since it houses two motors.
The case fits my hand well, too, at 2.7″ wide x 2.2″ deep and 6.5″ high. Granted, every guy is a little different but this one just feels good to me. Fortunately, there are lots of other objective attributes that show how this model is great for anyone.
One of those is the high speed of the linear motor: 14,000 rpm. Even among high-end electric shavers that’s an impressive figure and it translates into action as a smoother shave. No tugging with this model if you happen to skip a day or two shaving. Get up Monday morning after being a bum all weekend and you can still whip off that three-day beard with ease.
The blade system is another example. It’s always tough to choose between a rotary like the Philips SensoTouch and a foil model like the Panasonic. But this one’s four stainless-steel blade head is hard to resist, especially when there are actually two foils: the famed multi-arc with four independently floating blades and an ultra-thin outer foil.
One area a rotary sometimes does better is in flexibility. The ES-LA93-K keeps up by allowing the foil-head assembly to tilt 25 degrees back and forth and 20 degrees left and right. Purely looking at the numbers, that isn’t the equal of a good rotary like the Philips SensoTouch 3D. In practice, you probably won’t notice the difference unless your face is highly unusual.
Like that superb Philips line, Panasonic offers a number of Wet/Dry models and the ES-LA93-K is among the best. I never have any fear of taking this unit in the shower or rinsing it off under the sink.
There’s no arguing that Philips has a great charging system in their SensoTouch line. But the one in the ES-LA93-K is no slouch either. Like the ES-LV81-K – Panasonic’s Arc5 electric shaver – the holder does double duty: cleaner and charger.
It’s not quite as high-tech looking to my eye but it works great. An hour-long charge provides about 45 minutes of shaving time. That’s a few minutes shy of what Philips claims for theirs (50 minutes) – and real-world use demonstrates – but it’s close enough.
The 10-stage LCD display in the shaver can’t be beat, either. Indicators galore on this guy. It shows battery status and charge in multiple ways. Maybe it’s just the tech-geek in me but I really like this aspect. Two-level battery indicators are okay but there are multiple bars on this one, just like your cell phone signal strength indicator.
The screen also shows the time used, a big help if you want to get a sense of how much actual shave time you’ve done over the past X days. I use it in conjunction with the battery capacity indicator, which displays in 10% increments. I find those particularly useful when planning a trip and have to decide whether to take the somewhat bulky charger along.
In the past I’ve wished Panasonic had some kind of timeout or switch for the blinking “charge complete” indicator – and I still wish it. The light glows while charging then blinks once per second when complete. After 10 minutes it slows to once every two seconds. I wish it would quit after an hour. I only need so much reminding.
It’s hard to imagine anyone producing a cleaning system better than the Philips Jet Clean. Panasonic has come close with its Vortex Hydra Cleaning System. Ironically, part of that superb performance is outside the cleaning tank itself. The high vibration of the ES-LA93-K allows the cleaning system to get this unit super clean even with just soap and water.
It ain’t as pretty but it works well and is easy to use. Just put the shaver in the self-cleaning recharger and select the Clean/Dry/Charge course. The cleaning cycle takes about 10 minutes followed by a 80 to 170 minutes drying cycle. There’s also a Dry/Charge and Charge course available.
Not surprisingly, like every electric shaver cleaning system it’s intended to be used with the manufacturers proprietary insert. In this case, that’s a cartridge with water-based cleaning solution. Quite different from the Philips alcohol-based solution.
Less expensive, too. One cleaning cartridge (WES035P) (as of this writing) sells for $10 and is good for 30 cleanings so it costs about 30 cents per day at worst. At that price, I’m much less inclined to make the effort to pop off the head and rinse the blades manually to save on cleaning solution. Extend it to every other day and it becomes a no-brainer choice.
Of course, the key with any electric is how well it shaves. No electric shaver available today will get you as close as a manual, no matter the price. But the ES-LA93-K comes pretty close to that ideal.
It does that while avoiding many of the irritants that so often accompany electric models of lesser quality. For example, you don’t have to go over the same spot again and again (… and again and again… and…) with this unit. Sure, it takes more than the one or two swipes you might do with a manual but it’s quick.
With other units I might take 10 minutes to shave. With this one I can get the job done in seven or fewer. Granted, those three minutes aren’t a big time savings but you’ll perceive a much lower hassle factor and it does stretch out the number of re-charge sessions needed. That lengthens battery and blade life.
Like any quality electric shaver, the Panasonic ES-LA93-K carries a hefty price tag. But for a mid-range model it’s not overpriced and it carries most of the high-end features of the top-of-the-line Panasonic models. Quick, smooth shaves and a modest-cost, easy-to-use cleaning system – combined with stellar indicators – make this model one I can happily recommend.
The only real dilemma is whether to forego the cleaning system, and in the process save some cash, by opting for the ES-LA63-S instead. It’s the same model minus the charger/cleaner. The price difference (as of this writing) is about $65 on Amazon. Cleaning by rinsing with the vibrate on is an extra effort and the charger is terrific. Still, personally, I’d probably skip the cleaning system – but it’s a tough call. How much is convenience worth to you?