* Prices may differ from that shown
Philips Aqua touch plus. AT896.
Anyone who shaves will know that razor blades these days cost a packet and can cost anything up to £15 for a packet of razors so much so that they are security protected in most supermarkets these days due to their high value and being easy enough to slip into pockets.
I used an electric razor some years ago and thought blimey this shaving malarkey is getting too expensive these days with the price of razors and looked on the Boots web site to see what electric razors they had for sale. As I was shopping in Bluewater shopping centre I decided that I would nip in and buy a new electric razor. There were several different razors on the shelves and this one was supposedly half price being sold for £49.99 I thought that will do for me so I picked it up and took it to the till.
Whats in the box?
Inside the box was the razor and a charging plug and lead which has a fairly long lead of about a meter which is quite handy as I can stretch the lead to reach awkward sockets. There was also a guarantee card that you can use to register on line your razor.
What is the Aqua touch plus razor like.
The razor looks quite sleek and stylish and the body is a blue and silver colour and a sealed black body which contains the on off switch which is sealed and under the flexible black body. There is a power indicator light on the bottom of the razor which flashes orange when it needs recharging and green when it is on charge. I do like the look of it.
It has been ergonomically designed for ease of handling and fits snuggly in the palm of your hand. It is quite light weight which is another bonus. The razor is a tri rotary circular blade which is flexible and moves to the contours of your face. It is also is a low friction blade giving you a smoother closer shave without irritating the skin. On the back of the razor there is a flip up blade which can be used to trim sideburns or mustache. To be honest I have not seen anyone with sideburns for years but it is there should you need it. The head of the razor lifts up so that you can remove and clean the shaved hairs which are held in the collection chamber.
This razor is quite versatile as it can be used wet or dry so if you wanted to use cream on your face you could do so. The other thing with this razor is that you can rinse it under water as the unit is sealed. You must not use the razor when it is plugged into the mains in fact it won't let you turn it on if you try to do so. I tend to use my razor for dry shaving so have not used it with shaving gel but I imagine it could get pretty horrible in the hair collection chamber but you are able to rinse this out under the tap.
Initially you need to charge the lithium battery for an hour and three quarters after which you can use your razor. The single charge will last at least a week. It takes only a few minutes to shave and the beauty is that you can do other things at the same time whilst shaving. Once shaved I must admit my skin does feel nice and smooth and it does catch all the hairs on my face getting at them in all nooks and crannies.
Do I recommend this razor?
The razor is quite good but I feel it is not up to the standard of my previous razor. One thing I do find with this razor is that I have to shave every day. Although it leaves my face feeling smooth I can definitely feel later in the day I am ready for a shave again which generally I never did having a bladed shave. I am happy with the razor though and I think by now I would have spent about the same price for razor blades as I would have done had I not bought this razor.
I do not think it is the best electric razor on the market and if and when it dies I will not be buying this razor again and I would probably opt for a more expensive razor. It rather amuses me to see that Boots often have their razors on sale for half price which makes me think that they are actually selling the razors at a massive mark up in the first place. I am not entirely happy with the razor but for the price I guess it is just ok but it is definitely not worth £99.99 the supposedly recommended selling price.
Based on my use I would give it five stars for the price but as I feel it is not up to the usual standard of Philips razors I am only giving it a three star rating as there are better razors out there.
When I returned from London a few weeks ago and discovered that my cordless trusty Philips shaver had run out of power, my face was a bit hairy and unshaved when I returned home! You only need to look at the Ciao Hotpoint video to see how baby soft I am! There were a few alternatives like taking out the Gillette Fusion shaver that's lucky to see daylight once or twice a year and with plenty of sealed blades on board gives me the option of using clinically clean blades and doing a manual slow "Sunday drive" around my face ever so slowly to avoid cuts - or the second choice of using the rather cheap but fast cordless Remington King of Shaves shaver I purchased earlier last year that I was never that happy in using. I rarely use the Remington King of Shaves electric shaver and only keep it for its side trimmer action or when I haven't charged my more faithful and far smoother feeling Philips HQ6920.
It was a poor choice of product when I bought it for my Christmas though but gingerly proceeded to use it with full power as usual instead of opting for the more dangerous wet "manual" shave. Even if it lacks a side burn/beard trimmer, I've often found that my more basic Philips cordless dry shaver does a better job and indeed it was the choice of shaver to take when I stayed in London as it is quieter, quick to use and has a simple and effective design that gives me smooth skin without cuts - hence the reason for the long side burns in that certain video, again! When I think back to my first Philips electric shaver and throughout my life, I don't think I have ever sustained a cut with any Philips product yet and all of the Philips shavers I've bought and owned have all been reliable and largely excellent. However, after using my King of Shaves rotary shaver by Remington and checking the mirror for any missed stubble, I noticed a small hole at the side of my moustache line, a rather large gaping hole that probably held a black head in at one point. Whilst there was no blood emerging, the pain of the rough stubble pushing against it made me wonder whether the blades of the Remington had actually done the damage - this isn't the first time that this Remington shaver has given me a sore face, let alone left me with shaver burn and the odd nick!
Once bitten, twice goodbye then! On a recent visit to Boots to get my contact lens replacement solution I caught sight of a Philips shaver with a side trimmer. I didn't look at the price but it was similar in design to the Remington King of Shaves and looks stylish and cool. I reckoned that the price would be expensive and when taking the shaver to the cashier, no surprise that £99-98 came up on the display! Could I ever justify having such an expensive appliance in my life or just put up with the budget Tesco-exclusive Philips without a side trimmer and give the Remington another chance? As I turned away slightly disappointed, the cashier chipped up that the shaver's original price had been slashed by 50%! Now that's more like it! That's the kind of price Nar likes! After all, there aren't that many wet and dry cordless shavers from a brand that I have always been faithful to when it comes to personal hygiene matters and after the success of my Philips Diamond Care Sonic brush earlier in the year plus the Tesco-led Philips dry shaver, it made sense to consider this shaver again with its reduced price.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Brand & Model: Philips AT896 AquaTouch Plus Cordless Men's Shaver.
* 3 round "Comfort Cut" rotary head shaver with Reflex cushion action.
* Can be used with wet shaving gel/foam or as a dry shaver.
* Pop up trimmer, cleaning brush and lid supplied.
* Fast charge usage facility & cord with 2 pin adaptor supplied.
* Lithium battery power.
* SkinGlide surface for an extra smooth shave.
* Battery and power indicator.
* Wet protected including the head and main unit.
* Current price £49-99 from Boots reduced from £99-99.
* Blue body with silver inserts and rubberised bottom half.
General Impressions & Quality
Out of the box, the sporty blue and silver Philips AT896 "AquaTouch Plus," looks and feels like a professional piece of kit - and at a cost of £49-98, it was well worth the purchase for the features alone. Whilst my other Philips shaver is also blue, it has a slightly lighter matt blue finish with white inserts and no side trimmer, so it's good to have an alternative with this more premium model as well as being slightly different to the look and feel, standing out from its other brother.
Although the Philips AT896 Mens shaver has a familiar look about it against my slightly older-by-a-year Philips HQ6920 and were it not for the price cut, I don't think I would have spent so much on a shaver for £100. I raised this issue in my past review since Philips shavers used to be very cheap at one time before the recession, making this kind of appliance a much required necessity if, like me you can't abide manual shavers. It is not the case that I can't stand manual shavers, but rather for the fact that I find them to be dangerously sharp and thus require a softer way of cutting as well as a far more effective shave without feeling stubbly, a fact that the Remington King of Shaves model always left me with.
Here you get a far more substantial unit in the hand with suitable stylish colours that don't leave me wanting! With a mix of curved silver accent and detailing around the base of the main round bezel of the three rotary heads and the bottom part of the hand held part of this shaver, the blue body has a stainless steel quality about it, with Philips suggesting a "Deco panel lacquered Icy Silver, Front Shell Resilient Blue," to give this finish, its proper name! It is far and away from the plastics on my more basic Philips shaver - but still when sitting them next to one another, the AT896 is just a little more curvaceous and slightly taller with a natural grab action due to its entirely ribbed and rubberised bottom half where my thumb and lower part of my hand comfortably rest into the body. The only downside for me is that the pop up trimmer at the back, may well have a flush, curvy and ribbed release button but the action of the button is a bit rattly even when closed down.
Unbelievably unlike Remington's King of Shaves, the Philips AT896 lacks a carry case, though I'm pleased to report that the existing soft bag my Remington came in can hold the Philips AT896 really well and of the accessories you do get with the AT896 only consist of a coiled Philips generic battery cord and a new Lithium adaptor point bonded at the other end that has been made exclusively for this type of shaver. Thus, I was a bit put out to find that I couldn't use my existing charger from my other Philips, as the jack at the back of the shaver requires a much thinner adaptor point.
However, you also get a protective snap on blade cover that has sporty open "vent" inserts added, presumably to allow the shaver head to air properly as well as allow any excess water to drop out with it being a wet and dry type shaver. A cleaning brush and a couple of paper manuals are included - the worst being a rather large multi-language recycled booklet that doesn't tell you anything about the actual shaver despite carrying the main name "user manual," but rather serves up a way of letting you know how to use an electric shaver in general, if you have never used one before. Furthermore you do get a colourful user manual in the form of a much thinner booklet and you're given colour diagrams here rather than words when it comes to actual operation. A cleaning brush is also supplied - but that's your lot!
General Performance, Maintenance & Downsides
As with most cordless rechargeable shavers on the market, the Philips AT896 requires a little charging time before it can be used the first time, though I was a bit surprised to find that the shaver was completely dead out of the box. However, I was instantly delighted to find that this shaver doesn't really need that much time spent plugged in for initial use. Here, the Philips AT896 fights its corner well in so far as charge times giving the owner the option for a quick charge for a quick shave or a longer charge time for longer usage. It feels substantial in the hand but heavier due to the battery and trimmer added, weighing in at 182grams in total, one gram less than the Remington that this shaver replaces.
Because of its higher-powered bigger Lithium battery on board, the AT896 features a very quick charge time of ONE minute for a quick 3-minute shave or an hour's charging for 45 minutes usage. It only takes me less than 2 minutes to get around my face daily anyway and I judge that its 45 minute shaving time can effectively last me 24 days or 3 weeks a few days. Now that's pretty impressive! When charging there's a curvy power indicator that blinks with a light green colour and starts to shine red if and when the battery starts to lose power - however in use, no light appears to come on.
However, as much as this shaver is stylish and sprinkles with easy to locate features, it is a pity to find that the Philips AT896 doesn't allow the shaver to be used when plugged in. This is a major downside and quite why Philips hasn't offered this function against their standard shavers that could work when being charged in the past is a bit of a surprise. There are other surprises too when it comes to general performance. Being used to the baby soft feeling due to the older dry-shaver only Philips and its "Super Cut" blades, Philips have fitted a lower grade type of shaver head known as the "HQ8" heads, or "Comfort Cut."
So far, I find that the "Comfort Cut" blades fitted give me a very close shave and initially when looking in the mirror after first use where my complexion was clear and hairless, closer inspection reveals that the "Comfort Cut," isn't as efficient as the higher grade "Super Cut & Lift Blades," (code HQ9). Now, as a Philips shaver owner who already has a dry-only shaver with better dry-only blades, I can only suggest that dry for dry shaving comparisons are quite close in terms of the differences that both these shavers give. There is a slight difference between these blades when used for dry shaving only, with the Philips AT896 requiring a bit more time to spend on my face to get that smooth, baby soft shaved feeling. However, as before with my other Philips shavers, I don't get shaver burn and that lifts the experience closer to a degree of overall shaving quality and experience.
The biggest surprise however is the fact that I have found the Philips AT896 to achieve a closer cut when used as a wet shaver. Here, the Philips AT896 is extremely reassuring and super smooth to direct around my moustache and throat area. In use, the "SkinGlide" surface texture manages to allow for a good degree of control and a closer shave thanks to the shaving foam and this shaver's ability to provide a very baby smooth feeling afterwards!
However, throughout usage, this new Philips AT896 makes isn't as quiet as the HQ6920 down to the fact the heads are more or less of the "wet and dry" nature against the dry-only blades of the HQ6920. All the time, the AT896 offers the same comfortable reflex action of the three cushioned rotary heads that mould to my face beautifully.
When it comes to maintenance, this shaver is also super easy to function. The shaver head has a soft button push release where the blades can be washed and like my Remington, the blade carriage emerges beautifully on a permanent hinge that simply swings up for access to the shavings area. A quick splash of water in that area as well as the blade carrier top and bottom ensures this shaver can be washed clean in seconds - and the user manual states that the owner shouldn't worry if water drops out of the electrical socket as this is "normal" because the electrical points have been insulated and double sealed.
Another issue that I have with this shaver though is the fact that both the reflex head and back pop up trimmer are a lot noisier, not helped by obvious reduced costs in production that make the head carriage and the pop up trimmer rattly in use. It isn't disconcerting but it isn't as quiet as the far simpler Philips dry-only shaver that appears to have better quality about it - even though it is far more basic.
Compared to the Remington, which has a similar noise, the Philips AT896 does possess a better-made pop up trimmer when it comes to actual use and cuts through my side burns with lightning speed compared to the Remington that often left a lot behind. The flap is light to the touch but not as flimsy as the Remington and doesn't feel like it will break off. More importantly unlike the Remington, this Philips is just as reassuring as the last when it comes to the quality of shave in general but the Philips AT896 is a touch better at wet shaving rather than using it purely for dry shaving all the time, a feature that the Remington also offered but never felt complete in use.
Other Sorts & Final Thoughts
No surprises to find then that Philips already produce quite a few different models in their men's grooming range of wet and dry cordless shavers consisting of:
* Philips AT941 Shaver with 60 minute run & Super Cut Blades £90 to £180-00, comes with side trimmer.
* Philips AT899 Shaver with 40 minute run & Comfort Cut Blades £50 to £100-00.
* Philips AT896 Shaver with 45 Minute run & Comfort Cut Blades £49 to £100-00.
* Philips AT790 Shaver with 45 minute run & Comfort Cut Blades £50 to £100-00 - with side trimmer.
* Philips AT750 Shaver with 40 minute run & Super Cut Blades £50 to £100 - no side trimmer.
Largely as a company, the Philips website is poorly maintained where their men's grooming products are concerned - it is impossible to find the best features on all of these shavers as the company hide behind the fact that some use the HQ8 lower grade blades or the more premium HQ9 blades. Philips have also made no attempt to offer the same specification info for all of these shavers, making it frustrating if your favourite brand is Philips and want to research the ideal shaver and compare.
To conclude I would love to award five stars for the stylish effort that Philips have produced here with the AT896 AquaTouch Plus Cordless Men's Shaver. Fast to charge, quick to use and can provide a clean, close shave as a WET shaver only, its side trimmer addition is both safe, easy to use and effective. However, it isn't as well made as it could be, appears to be noisy in operation and it doesn't provide as clean and soft a shave compared to my budget HQ Philips shaver in dry mode - and even with a price cut applied to this more powerful shaver with more features - it's a bit of a compromise for a quick, cordless shaver if you lead a fast, paced life! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2013.