Panasonic ES-LT71-S Arc3 Review by Chris Schuepfer
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Despite being officially near the bottom of the Panasonic electric shaver lineup there’s nothing ‘bottom’ about the ES-LT71-S itself. True, it lacks some of the great features of its more advanced – and more expensive – cousins. But it still manages to incorporate much of the technology those other models provide, even at roughly one-third the price.
3-Blade Cutting Assembly
At first glance you won’t notice much that’s unique about the Panasonic ES-LT71-S. It looks and feels like a Panasonic foil electric shaver. The dual-tone gray and black body measures 2.5″ wide x 1.7″ deep x 6.2″ high and is tipping the scales at 0.4 lbs.
There are substantial differences under the cover, however, some visible from the outside. The ES-LT71-S is a fine shaver but it houses only three blade rows – hence the name Arc3; the higher end models offer four (Arc4) or even five (Arc5). Fortunately, they’re all the same hypoallergenic, stainless steel so the cutting surface is the same.
Do the number of blades make a big difference? Only personal experience could provide a definitive answer in your case but, in general, more is better. More blade rows will typically give a quicker and smoother shave.
Another factor that affects that outcome, possibly even more, is the motor speed. The ES-LT71-S runs slower – 13,000 rpm versus 14,000 rpm in the higher end models. All other things being equal – and here they almost are – faster is better. It means less likelihood of irritation, less chance of tugging.
Here again, though, personal circumstances – and a little historical perspective – is key. That 13,000 rpm speed is already quite high relative to older electric razors (and even some currently on the market). The difference between the two is less than 8%, noticeable but probably not significant. If you have a truly heavy beard you might be somewhat affected, but for most guys it’s likely to be a negligible factor.
One thing is exactly the same. The ES-LT71-S is a Wet/Dry model and offers the same tight seal as all the other Panasonic shavers. I prefer to use mine in the shower with gel for the closest shave possible with an electric, and so I can rinse it off easily. No worries using that technique with this unit.
The ES-LT71-S has other aspects that mirror those of the higher end models, too. One that will be particularly attractive to guys who spend a lot of time on the road is the travel lock. It prevents any accidental start from those tiny but inevitable movements in the suitcase. And, unlike some, you don’t have to sprain a thumb to unlock it.
The trimmer on this model is even better than the one on some of the mid-range models, like the ES-LA93-K. It’s a pop-up style and easy to flip it out or close it. Yet, it doesn’t activate so easily that you’re constantly having to close it again while shaving your beard.
The head movement is not quite the same on this less expensive model. It lacks the Multi-Flex Pivot Head system of the higher end models but it’s still not bad. You shouldn’t expect the close contour-hugging you’d get with the more expensive models but you can compensate partially just with hand movements.
The foil itself is a similar pattern as the higher end shavers, including the slit structure that helps on those longer hairs. If you go a few days without shaving, say over a three day weekend, you won’t have to regret it come Monday morning.
Some guys like the rotary style of the Philips line because those offer a more flexible head system. There’s some justification to that. But experience shows that it’s as much a matter of taste as any objectively superior result. Some users simply prefer the way a rotary operates. Others like the rectangular foil design better. Everyone’s face is different so there’s no way to settle that debate.
Without digging into electronics diagrams it’s impossible to be sure the charging system is the same, but it certainly seems to be. Same appearance, same buttons, and – most importantly – same specs. You can charge the ES-LT71-S from dead to full in about an hour.
Equally nice, if you look on the shaver itself you find five charge-level indicators on the LED display. The more expensive Arc4 and Arc5 models have 10 on an LCD but do you really care whether the increments are only every 20% rather than every 10%?
And, while it might appear minor to some buyers, the ES-LT71-S charging system has one feature that I personally cheer. At the end of the cycle the lights will all illuminate for five seconds then go dark. The higher end models continue to flash forever, which I find very annoying.
If you have any doubts about whether it’s fully charged you just hit the Power On button and watch everything light up for five seconds then dim out again. The desire to avoid that step might be the reason Panasonic’s designers chose to continue the flashing on the other models. But it’s mostly unnecessary. You can trust that the shaver has re-charged after an hour.
The cleaning system that comes with the ES-LT71-S is virtually identical as well. It’s what Panasonic calls their Vortex system. The name is virtually meaningless but the function is not; it works well. It uses the same detergent cartridge as the other models that you place in the bottom. Pour in some water, place the razor upside down, choose one of the courses, and press the button. The clean/dry cycle takes about an hour.
Even so, the head isn’t hard to pop off. So, if you want to save some money on refills you can rinse off the blades, let it dry out, then use again on the next day or two. You should use the system at least once a week to keep the blades sharper; all electrics will ultimately need a new blade but keeping them clean slows the micro-level deterioration. At that rate, the cleaning system isn’t terribly expensive to use.
You won’t get the same quality shave from the ES-LT71-S as you can from, say, the ES-LV81-K. The significantly higher price on the latter isn’t just for looks. The ES-LT71-S has only three blades and lacks the vibrating outer foil and the lift system of the more expensive models. Still, the difference may well be small enough to satisfy those looking for an electric shaver but who experience sticker shock with the more expensive models.