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To move from the primitive disposable razor to a 'Philips vacuum beard trimmer QT4020' is monumental. It isn't too dissimilar from how our pioneering ancestors (the Australopithecus afarensis') must have felt when first making use of stone tools (as a pose to fists and teeth) to kill and eat other organisms 3.4 million years ago. Yes! It's a change stupendous in sight and significance, you can virtually taste the progress. But how have Philips manage to create and compact a vacuum, trimmer, face guard, and other such features into a device weighing little more than an electric tooth-brush? And why isn't there a tooth-brush attached, for that matter?!
TECHNICAL/FEATURES - The QT4020 has no fewer than 9 individual length settings, ranging from 1-18 mm. It is a cordless, chargeable device that is completely maintenance free - you don't have to oil anything or replace anything over time. It contains an AA NiCd battery (although in order to charge the device [see later] you need know nothing of the devices battery spec). It comes with a cleaning brush, in-built comb, and cutter assy (the latter two part of the main structure). The actual blade/trimming end its self is 32 mm in length. The trimmer contains an in-built vacuum which can be emptied and cleaned.
MATERIAL - Plastic. Lite. Solid, but slightly rattly. The trimmer is made from neutral plastics that make it durable, safe and reliable. Every component is fitted together neatly, although certain parts do creak when you grasp the trimmer firmly, but I don't think this would ever lead to a failure of the materials. The only metal part (besides wiring) is the blade, which is essentially a series of teeth, jutting out of the housing at a pre-determined height. The materials feel well made, although some chrome finishing would have worked a treat!
CHARGING - Getting the thing fully operational takes 10 hours - a long time. But once disconnected from the small power cable (which leads from the bottom end of the trimmer to your power socket) after the LED light has gone out, the device will last for an impressive 35 minutes. So you can comfortably take it on holiday without the charger, and you should be fine. I found these charging times to be accurate, although I'm sure they'll degrade with time. There is a warning: don't charge for more than 24 hours or risk damage.
USAGE - Once charged, it's time to start trimming. Flick up the switch (rubber) and the device will lightly vibrate, steadily and securely (the vacuum will initiate automatically). The first thing you notice when you bring the device up to your face is the hard, transparent, vented plastic guard which moves on a hinge, and flexes on a spring (so's to return to its resting position after use). This, at the top of the trimmer, helps keep your cheeks (skin) away from the vibrating metal element that does the cutting, whilst letting your hairs slip through. Having the guard spring loaded means that you can control (by pressing either firmly or softly) how much hair hits the trimmer - The main way of controlling how much hair is trimmed is by adjusting the 32 mm length trimmer ends' position in relation to the guard and housing. There is a swivel mechanism for this, although you can just as easily pull/push the end into position by hand - the mechanism is made from a grippy rubber and can be moved slowly though. A level indicator (in mm) is located on the side which seems mildly accurate. The vacuum effortlessly gets rid of the majority of hairs into the housing (to be emptied later), but you do still find some loose hairs on the floor after you're finished!
I have to admit now that I only use the device on either the 1 or 2 mm settings - but this still leaves a visible layer of hair across my face. Embarrassingly, my hair grows patchy in places, so I have to keep the level low in order to allow for my 'slow hair' to catch up with my 'mental hair' (as they are known to me).
The head of the device is moderately slim and so maneuverable about the facial region. Above the top lip/below the nostrils is a difficult area, but by tilting the head you can reach even this part of your face with ease. Tipping/tilting the trimmer will also alter the amount of hair removed, so be careful how you manipulate it! The trimmer is multi-directional. I found that I had to lower the level for under my chin (where my hair seems to grow thickest) in order to match the thickness of hair in other areas of my face - maybe that's just my problem but I thought it worth mentioning.
Oh, and by the way, you can remove the head of the trimmer completely (if you want) to reveal the naked metal trimmer! BEWARE: this is good for styling your beard if you have a steady hand and an arty mind, but not if you don't. It can RUIN your beard!
NEGATIVES - The trimmer doesn't come with a stand, and so it gets loosely placed back into the generic Philips box from wins it came after use. This is annoying! It would be nice to have it stood charging over night after use in the bathroom. I suppose another negative would be the devices lack of lots of features seen on other models - besides the vacuum (which fails to get rid of all hair) - although I think this is rather sensible of the designers. There's no light for instance, and this could have been incorporated into the design quite comfortably.
THE NEW - 'QT4050' is the newer version of this product, and there are newer ones after this. Like a lot of new releases, (and to quote a well-known poem expressing the emotions of a black African returning home after the fall of Apartheid in South Africa) 'Nothings changed'. Another company making little itty-bitty changes to their product and reintroducing it as something new and exciting that we all 'must have'... completely comparable to one of the main causes of human suffering in recent times I think you'll agree.
COST - It cost me £30 a year or so back, but now you can only really buy the newest version - this is £39.99 on amazon at the moment (30.1.13) - well worth the price for such a useful and long-lasting piece of bathroom equipment. 2 years manufacturers guarantee included.
Overall I am pleased with the products performance. It's never let me down, and despite the slightly plasticy feel of the thing, and the average vacuum, etc, I feel I've done well by the product. It's an honest trimmer with a lot to give! I recommend it to anyone with stubble maintenance issues, or a need for a naked styling device (you've been warned!).
Thanks for reading.
It may sound strange, but I wanted a beard trimmer that I would be able to use. My husband has recently injured his back and shoulders so finds it difficult to shave himself and the task of taming 6 weeks worth of growth on his chin was left to me.
Researching the market on beard trimmers was a minefield; all I wanted to do was cut my husband's beard and was surprised to find that there were more devices marketed as all over hair clippers than simple trimmers. For some reason, hubby was somewhat reticent about letting me loose with a trimmer anywhere other than on his beard and the Philips QT4020 proved to be the answer.
Designed purely as a beard trimmer, the length of the cut is adjustable by a "twist" control that moves the comb attachment up and down between 9 settings so there is no need to switch between attachments. Fitted with self-sharpening blades, there is also no need to oil the blades before using the trimmer; you simply twist the control to the required length turn it on and start trimming.
The cut of the trimmer is even and clean. The device is light and easy to use, either to cut your own beard (according to my husband) or on someone else. Being rechargeable, there is no need to hunt for replacement batteries every 5 minutes. Build quality seems good and with only the one attachment, there are no small pieces for you to lose.
The only criticisms I can make about the Philips QT4020 are there is no storage case and the on/off switch is positioned for a right hander (both my husband and I are "lefties" so this is a minor annoyance).
Overall, if you are looking for a simple beard trimmer that just "works", the Philips QT4020 could be the product you are looking for. Purchase price is around £20/£25 depending on where you go.
Cordless. Rechargeable: 10 hour charge for 35 mins use. Steel wave self sharpening blades / for a precise and even trim.