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Philips Norelco continues to lead the market in quiet, versatile electric shavers for all budgets

Reviewers say the Philips Norelco Shaver 8900 (Est. $250), the updated version of the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1280XCC, shaves beautifully. But users balk at its high price and resent having to haul the charging stand -- which doesn't fit into the shaver's carry pouch -- every time they travel. The charging stand's Jet Clean feature is a universal hit; the Shaver 8900's tendency to spill hair clippings everywhere is not.

The Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 (Est. $180), previously sold as the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250X, draws similar complaints about the charging stand, and a number of users say it doesn't hold a charge so well -- usually the fault of the charging stand for not providing a good charge in the first place. Still, one expert reviewer from Electric-Shaver-Guide.com liked its performance so much that he used it to tidy up "trouble spots" that other shavers had missed.

The Shaver 8100 isn't flawless -- like most rotary shavers it struggles with very coarse hair, and users say it's not the gentlest on necks. Still, users say it shaves most beard types very well and very quietly, too, making it the best combination of value and performance in a rotary shaver. Both the Shaver 8900 and Shaver 8100 are wet/dry shavers too; you can use them with shaving cream or lotion without a problem.

You can also purchase the Shaver 8100 with a Jet Clean stand, labeled as the Shaver 8700 (Est. $220) and previously sold as the 1250XCC. Users say this Jet Clean stand works just as well as the Shaver 8900's, though it has only a single two-hour cleaning cycle and tends to spill cleaning solution when handled.

No louder than a whisper

Rotary shavers are almost always gentler on your ears than foil shavers, and these three Philips Norelco models all live up to that promise. Users say the Philips Norelco Shaver 8100, in particular, is so quiet it sounds like a cellphone vibrating.

An expert pegs the Philips 8900 as noisy but says the sound level isn't a deal-breaker; users are a little milder, saying simply that "it does not sound like a weed whacker." By way of comparison, the most popular phrase for describing one top Panasonic wet/dry foil shaver is "buzz saw."

Costly upkeep, warranty issues

Upkeep for most of the Philips models is relatively simple: Replace the cutting heads (Est. $50) once a year; if you have the 8700 or 8900, you can now purchase Jet Clean refill solution in a bottle instead of individual cartridges. A single 10-ounce bottle (Est. $11) lasts for about a month of daily cleanings, but because you can re-cap the bottle, it's easier to stretch the time between cleanings to save a little money.

Philips models are covered by a 45-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty. However, Amazon.com users post a fair number of complaints -- regarding the Shaver 8100 and Shaver 8900 in particular -- that they had problems with their Philips Norelco shavers suddenly going dead during the warranty period. They say that Philips customer service wasn't always able to help; often, the necessary parts were backordered with no estimated time of arrival.

If you have the money to spend, the Philips Norelco Shaver 8900 gives an excellent shave. However, design complaints, the high price and the relatively high cost of ownership keep us from designating it a Best Reviewed pick. Instead, we've selected the Philips Norelco Shaver 8100 -- which gives a near-identical shave for about $70 less -- as the best combination of shaving excellence and value.

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Philips Norelco 1250X/46 Shaver 8100
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Philips Norelco 1280X/47 SensoTouch 3D Electric Razor with Jet Clean System (Series 8000) (Frustration-Free Packaging)
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Philips Norelco 1250X/42 SensoTouch 3D Electric Razor with Jet Clean System (Series 8000)
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New: $249.99 $199.99   
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