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You can never underestimate the little luxuries that make waking up in the morning that tiny fraction more bearable. My current luxury is a shave from an effectively brand new electric razor every morning. I've had a Braun electric razor for ten years and it's served me well. I've always preferred the "side-to-side" electrics to the "round and round" ones like Phillips make. But I always hated cleaning the damn things. You have to find that crummy little brush that's been lost somewhere at the back of the medicine cabinet, and then spend ages scrubbing away in all those little nooks and crannies where 2 month's worth of dead skin and hair particles have become lodged. Not with my Flex Integral. It comes with a handy-dandy base unit that sits with quiet dignity on your bathroom windowsill. When you've finished shaving you drop the razor into it's waiting receptacle and engage the locking arm. The cleaning cycle buzzes efficiently into life, loud enough to tell you that it's doing a thorough job of expelling your filthy facial detritus, but quiet enough that you can shut the door and get a good night's sleep in the next room. If you require it, the base unit will also re-charge the razor to full capacity, and a full charge is good for about 3 week?s worth of shaving. In the morning you are greeted with a brand new razor, all sparkly and smelling like? smelling like something you wouldn't mind putting on your face. Unfortunately it isn't actually a brand new razor. Rather than building in a time-warping function into the base unit, Braun have opted for the cheaper option of an alcohol-based cleaning fluid. The fluid in held in a reservoir hidden away in the base of the unit. A press of a button and the whole unit rises to allow replacement of the reservoir cartridge. The cartridge is full of a special liquid that not only cleans the razor but also lubricates and gives it a lemony- fresh scent, and as such it cannot be re-filled with ordinary tap water (or, in case you were considering it, neat vodka). Each cartridge has to be replaced in full, and lasts for around 30 cleanings. I have seen them in Boots for around 10 pounds. The whole package gives off the air of something that could win design awards, being a product that looks good, innovates and fulfils its purpose well. Oh, and it shaves well too! (After writing this I realise that I have reviewed the wrong model. My review above is for the Flex Integral 5441 which comes with the Clean & Charge base unit. Apologies for any confusion.)
I liked the company so much that I bought the razor, the Braun Flex Integral 5010 that is. After some fifteen, or maybe more, years in daily use, my old Braun Synchron Plus was on the verge of expiring. The foil had a tiny split, which would only get worse and could possibly cut my face and I wasn’t prepared to pay over £10 for a replacement foil. So a trip to my favourite electrical super store saw me mulling over a huge selection of electric razors. It was no contest after such a sterling service from Braun, so it had to be something similar. My old model was no longer in production so it had to be something new and a bright yellow machine caught my eye. It wasn’t my first choice but that was the only Braun that they had that was within my price range. Presumably that model does come in different colours but none were on display. Yellow seemed a strange colour for me but as a rule my primary concern is how the device performs and how reliable it is. The colour has always been at the bottom of any requirement list. It’s not that I’m colour blind, I’m not, I just don’t care about aesthetics’. The 5010 is light and its 13 cm length, 6 cm width and 2.5 cm thickness fits comfortably into the hand with the on-off switch perfectly placed for a right-handed person. It is reasonably placed for a left-handed person too as is the switch that brings the trimmer into play which incidentally does what it supposed to without fuss. It has two cutting surfaces and a swing head (that can be locked into place when required) that eases the razor around the curves of the face giving as close a shave that you could expect from an electric razor. Being English mains only, this razor would not suit the traveller but as the chances of me travelling further a field are remote in the extreme I was happy to pay the £40.95 that the cashier demanded. She did give me a puzzled look when I opened the box to inspect the razor before parting with my money though. I too had heard on programmes like Watchdog where a razor had been sold to a customer that had been used and the difficulty that the customer had had to convince the shop that they bought it that way. I wasn’t taking any chances. After one year of daily use, the guarantee has now expired, but the Braun Flex Integral 5010 is as good as new and I look forward to many years trouble free use. As an aside, many stores use the one-year’s guarantee that has expired as an excuse to limit their responsibilities to the customer. Under the Sale Of Goods Act, retailers are responsible for faulty goods – that is goods that are not ‘of satisfactory quality’ – for up to six years after purchase (five years in Scotland). As quoted in issue 79 of Computer Active; this in effect means that if at any time during the six (five) year period the item breaks down, the retailer and not the manufacturer is responsible for effecting a repair, making a replacement or offering a partial refund. An electric razor is designed to be used on a daily basis and can be expected to last several years before fair wear and tear render it defective. No one would buy one if its working life expectancy were only a year or two thus it would qualify for repair etc. up to six years after purchase. On the other hand an ordinary electric light bulb would not qualify because as a general rule it cannot be expected to last many years.