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I have used Philips (Norelco in North America) shavers for most of my life, except when I flirted with a Braun briefly because its proximity recharging unit intrigued me. But we won’t go there. I try to buy my electric shavers in the US because they are a lot cheaper there than in Australia. For example, the high-end Arcitec models cost nearly AU$500!
Last month I bought the Philips Norelco 7340XL rechargeable shaver for around US$50 (regular price including sales tax) at Super Target in Orlando, FL. In the UK the equivalent HQ7340 costs between £55-£85 online. The 7340XL isn’t sold in Australia, but the nearest cordless one is the HQ7380, which sells for AU$139-AU$188 (At Amazon USA: US$72.58 with a free nose trimmer thrown in). The corded model – HQ7320 sells for AU$124-AU$155. Now you can see how arbitrary shaver prices can be in various countries, when they are all made in China.
The 7340XL is a three-head shaver that adjusts itself to your facial nooks and crannies. It has a pop-up sideburn trimmer. It is washable – something we didn’t see in cheap cordless razors in the past.
I don’t know when it happened, but until this model my earlier Philips shavers had the voltage converter inside the shaver. I would leave the 3-prong power cord at home and kept a 2-prong US cord in my travel kit. This model comes with a charger on its plug, not unlike the ones on Nokia phones. At home I have to have a pin adapter permanently in the bathroom power outlet. Not an issue, but I have to remember to pack the charger when travelling.
There are two green LEDs that flash when the battery is fully charged. It takes 8 hours for a full charge and the charge lasts me about a week or less (definitely not the advertised 10 days).
The replacement head is the HQ8. Once you bought just the three cutters, now you buy the whole head.
I tend to drop the shaver once in a blue moon, usually into the sink and not onto the tiled floor, so I think that this conventional design is hardier than the Arcitec models (the cutters are on a small stalk) when it comes to falls.
In the 1980s I recall buying a special NiCd battery and soldering it to give my then shaver a new lease on life. The new models probably have two AA NiMH batteries inside that are not meant to be replaced by users. A battery compartment would make the design bulkier and add to the cost. I am happy to just buy a new shaver (in the US).
The 7340XL is quiet and gives me a satisfactory shave. As good as the one from the older model I tossed out and probably as good as the fancier models that I have never tried. Shavers seem to get noisier when they get old and their rechargeable battery runs out. Hence this one is noticeably quieter, but I wonder if men would prefer a noisier motor that sounds like it is cutting through the jungle.
When my older shavers were about to lose their charge in the middle of a shave, I would just plug in the cord and off we went. This model won’t charge while the motor is running, which is a major annoyance. This encourages recharging well before the battery runs flat.
I will probably buy a spare 7340XL when I am next in the US, or the latest, cheapest equivalent. Philips is a very old, reliable brand and this humble product has earnt its badge.