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The Philips HQ8160 is one of the mid-range electric shavers in the Speed XL series and I have been using it for the last 2 years. Before this I had a much older Philips shaver that had lasted 10 years and the battery finally stopped holding its charge so I decided to upgrade to a newer model.
*** Product design ***
The shaver has 3 cutting heads which move independently to match the contours of your face as you shave. My previous shaver was similar but the heads had less movement so I noticed the improvement in comfort whilst shaving. This is a definite advantage of the Speed-XL shaving heads compared with the older ones as they allow up to 50% more shaving surface.
There is also a trimmer on the back which is useful for shaping and trimming sideburns but its performance is quite limited so I do not use it very often.
The Lithium Ion battery lasts for about an hour (roughly 30 shaves for me) and is very quick to charge too as it takes just an hour to go from empty to fully charged. This has been very useful for me whilst travelling because I do not have to worry about charging it for a whole month.
The battery indicator lights on the front of the shaver tell you how much charge is left by lighting up green from 1 to 5 lights. There is also a quick charge function built in which allows you to charge the battery for just 3 minutes to get one shave if the battery is completely empty. This too has proved to be very useful to me when I have forgotten to charge the shaver and needed to shave quickly before going to work.
*** Quality of shave ***
This shaver consistently provides a close and comfortable shave. Electric shavers never provide as close a shave as wet shaving but this one comes very close. In order to get the best shave, your face and the shaver need to be completely dry.
The shaving heads need to be replaced once a year if you shave regularly and that is what I have done. A pack of 3 new cutting heads costs about £35 though which is fairly expensive so if you shave less regularly then replacing them once every two years should be fine.
*** Cleaning ***
Daily cleaning is very easy as the shaving heads flip up and you can rinse out the unit with hot water. This works very well but the shaver needs to be completely dry when you use it so when I am travelling I just tap the shaver to get the hairs out and this works fine too although you eventually need to wash it out to remove all hairs.
The shaver comes with a cleaning brush which is useful when you want to clean out the shaving cutters. The manual states that this only needs to be done about once every 6 months but I tend to do it every month or so.
*** Durability ***
The shaver comes with a well designed case that protects the shaver if you need to travel around with it. I took the shaver with me whilst travelling around the world for a year and it survived this without any problems and still functions perfectly. It worked in both hot and cold climates, although the battery does not last as long when it is cold but this is true for all electronic items.
*** Conclusion ***
I definitely highly recommend this shaver as it will last you a long time and gives a very good shave. I bought it for £110 but recently recommended it to a friend who bought the next model up (the HQ8170) for £90 from shavers.co.uk.
I think I heard somewhere a man will spend 6 or was it 8 years of his life shaving. A sobering thought especially as I could spend that extra time in bed getting some much needed beauty sleep. But the fact is us men and women for that matter spend a huge amount of time removing unwanted hair, and finding the fast and effective means to do that is always our goal. I have had the task of the daily beard removal for over 30 years. I remember at the tender age of 15 borrowing my brothers shaving foam and a blunt BIC razor and tearing my furry face to pieces on it.
My Shaving History
Oh how I suffered in those early days wishing I had never put blade to bum fluff. In reality I could have got away with another year before needing to shave, but vanity and bravado got the better of me and I paid the price.
Back in the 70s shaving technology was not the greatest and anyone with sensitive skin with lots of moles and whose bread grew at an incredible rate was not well catered for. I tried wet shaving for nearly 4 years in that time removing the tops off 3 moles and having permanent shaving rash. The offerings from Gillette and Wilkinson Sword were facial torture for me so it was then I sneaked a go on my Dads Philishave. He had bought this shaver was back in the 60s and hardly used it, and after a while it seemed an acceptable alternative to the daily trials of wet shaving. But it needed constant cleaning and replacement of blades. I soon gave up on it and went back to wet shaving again.
It was on my 21st birthday that I was given a Braun foil razor. I eagerly unboxed it, charged it and disappeared into the bathroom for what I thought would be the ultimate shave. But to my dismay this foil system did not suit me, I found it tugged at the hairs rather than lopping them off like the rotary blade would. The result was very sore skin and very patchy appearance. The big problem I have is some of my beard grows out sideways and is very difficult to pick up by any type of razor; the foil razor just accentuated this problem.
Around this time I purchased a small Philishave 2 head shaver. Spending a lot of time on the road meant the need for a small battery operated shaver and at last I had found the answer to my prayers, a shaver that did not upset my skin, did a reasonable job on the beard and rode over the moles as if they were not there. But I still needed to shave 3 times a day to look at my best; I would have 5 oclock shadow by 11 oclock in the morning. I still needed something that would get closer without tearing my face to pieces.
I bought a 3 head Philishave which was to be my trusty shaving tool for the next 15 years, still needing to shave twice a day, but the 3 heads worked so much better although never quite getting the same result as a wet shave. So after a couple more Philishaves we come to the HQ 8160.
The HQ 8160 Speed XL
Philips latest range of electric shavers bring multi blade technology to rotary blade shaving, by arranging more blades within each rotor the result is 50% more shaving surface, hence the speed aspect. By adding more slots and micro holes the heads give a closer shave which deal with tricky hairs more efficiently.
The top 11 shavers in the range now feature the Speed XL shaving heads, and I must admit the range of 29 dry skins and cool skin (wet) can leave one a little spoilt for choice.
The HQ 8160 sits in the middle of the Speed XL range. There is little to choose in the specification apart from the HQ 8170 which features the jet cleaning system and the entry HQ 8100 which is mains only.
My initial search for the replacement shaver was in the £40-£50 bracket where you can find a very capable 3 head shaver, but I must admit I was swayed by the TV advertising just before Christmas and while in my local Comet I checked out the XL range. Most other Electrical retailers dont stock the full range of Philips shavers but Comet stock the Speed XL the HQ 8150, HQ 8160 and HQ 8170 then jump to the Smart Touch range HQ 9190. On price alone the HQ 8150 comes in at just under the £100 mark rising to £140 for the HQ 8170. The Smart Touch range start at around £200 upwards and I think for the features it has it is hard to justify £200 for a shaver.
My choice was also limited by available stock, the HQ 8160 (£119.67) the only one available and leaving things till the last minute as always I was due to go away for Christmas and needed to purchase that day. But it did fit my criteria in that it was re-chargeable or mains and had over 50 minutes shaving life from a 60 minute charge, where as the cheaper HQ 8150 did not have the quick charge feature and low battery warning.
Life with the HQ 8160
Once home with my new toy it was straight out of the box and assemble the charger dock and get it on charge, but to my surprise the shaver is pre-charged and so a quick wiz over the beard was called for. The first impressions were good, the second surprise was how quite it is, the rotors seem to turn a lot slower than previous shavers Id used. But it was undeniably a closer shave, and over the next week it proved to be very good, but your skin does have to get used to the closeness and washing your face after shaving does smart a bit until your skin settles down again.
The instruction booklet looks quite daunting at first look, but in fact only 15 pages most of which are illustrations, the remainder is the same but in 9 other languages.
The other contents of the box are the charging dock, a neat carrying case which is preformed to the shape of the shaver with a zip up cover, and last but not least a cleaning brush.
So off for Christmas and after the 10th day of use the charge indication on the front was showing 2 bars, so once home it was time to get it on charge.
The charging dock is easy to use, the lead that you would use for mains shaving plugs into the base of the dock. Here it is worth mentioning that the lead has the 2 pin shaver plug on it and if like us space in your bathroom is at a premium or your point is close to water I would recommend you buy a 3 pin mains to shaver adaptor and charge it away from the bathroom.
The charging time was spot on; in just over the hour the 5 green charge lights came up indicating a full battery. The shaver will show a red light at the base while charging and once the battery is below 20% the bottom light will flash. If you carry on the shaver will stop once the power is not enough to run the shaver at the correct speed, so none of the problems associated with other battery shavers where they get slower and slower and start eating flesh.
So once re-charged a closer inspection of the new toy was needed. The body of the unit falls nicely to hand, the on/off button sits just where your thumb rests on the body, this can be tricky until you get used to it as you tend to press your thumb down as you move the shaver over your face, and I did end up switching it off mid shave until I got used to it. The switch has a blue back light to it when switched on. Below the switch are the charge lights arranged in 5 descending bands, and now on its 3rd charge I would say about 40-50 minutes of shaving time is available from one charge.
The body of the shaver is finished in a nice dark blue colour with aluminium grip and rotor head surround. A small button on the front opens the hair chamber which is large enough to allow weekly cleaning.
The trimmer is located on the back of the shaver and is released by pushing down a retaining clip. It has a useful width and small saw action teeth witch deal with my sideburns adequately.
The shaving head is arranged in the normal triangular head with each rotor independently sprung, but the whole head is sprung so the heads can move inwards and back to allow for much closer contact around the jaw and neck areas. The blades are arranged on rotors at different levels so that one blade lifts the other cuts and the arrangement of the concentric blades allows much more cutting area. The whole unit is held in place by a quick release clip inside the head for cleaning.
One thing I found a bit strange was the ability the clean the shaver under the tap, having never had a wet/dry shaver before it seemed alien to be introducing water to an electrical shaver. But the instruction clearly states that rinsing under the tap daily is the way to clean the shaver. But of course not while connected to the mains lead!
I have washed the shaver under the tap, but I prefer to give it a flick round with the brush as the other method means the shaver cannot be used for a few hours whilst it dries out. Here I must point out not to use it wet or have a wet face when using it.
The instructions state that the shaving heads only need to be removed for cleaning every 6 months, again this seemed alien to me as all my other shavers needed stripping down every month to clean the blades and guards, but looking at the shavings in the housing it would appear that the blades cut very finely and therefore need less cleaning, and Im not about to complain about that. One thing of note is if removing the rotor heads and guards they are matched pairs, so do not mix up the rotors and guards when re-assembling.
I have now been using the shaver for 8 weeks and have found it to be very good. Most days I can get away with one shave and the beards growth has become more even, if a little more thickly as the closer shave encourages stronger growth and indeed if I miss a days shave the stubble is pronounced and spiky to the touch.
The lower speed and quieter operation feels nicer on the skin and while shaving you dont get that tugging sensation as with other rotary blade or foil shavers. But flat lying hairs do need a couple of passes to be captured in the heads.
The mild irritation first suffered has gone though, and this was mentioned in the instruction booklet that your skin would feel different until accustomed to the new shaver.
So life with the HQ 8160 is good. Less time spent shaving. Less time spent cleaning. No lopped moles or shaving rash. This shaver may have just shaved a year off my life, shaving life that is.
Cordless and corded use. Individually floating heads. Speed-XL shaving heads