Beard trimmers look -- and function -- a lot like small hair clippers, but they usually offer much finer adjustments to let you really fine-tune the length of your stubble. The best beard trimmers produce the sort of crisp, clean lines it takes to achieve attractively-styled facial hair and sideburns. They're capable of trimming very close along your neck as well.
One top choice of users, regardless of their specific needs, is the Andis T-Outliner Trimmer (Est. $50). It gets raves for its close-cutting blade that offers precise outlining and fading. Military personnel love it, saying it consistently gives a close, but stubbly, shave that is acceptable even to the armed services' tougher beard length standards. Those who wear their beard longer praise it as well, though, saying that regardless of what you need, the Andis will deliver. They also love how well it performs as a dry shaver -- an important consideration if you have electricity, but no access to water.
The T-shaped blade design of the T-Outliner also makes it a great choice for trimming around your ears. Those with sensitive skin are particularly pleased, saying this beard trimmer is one of the few that doesn't cause any irritation. The T-Outliner also draws a lot of praise from African-American men, who often face challenges from ingrown hairs or from tough, curly beards. The one drawback to the Andis T-Outliner is that it doesn't offer an adjustable cutting length at all, but it does accept attachments; many buy the Andis 4 Snap On Combs Set (Est. $10) to round out their trimming options.
Another top pick of reviewers, and a cordless choice to boot, the Panasonic ER-GB40-S Moustache & Beard Trimmer (Est. $40) gets kudos for its lightweight, easy to maneuver design. The ER-GB40-S has no attachments, but it features an adjustable dial with 19 settings, from -- from 1-10 millimeters in 0.5 millimeter increments -- which should give anyone enough flexibility to trim your hair or beard to any length you desire.
The Panasonic can be used as a wet or dry shaver, as well as corded or cordless, and users say that versatility offers them a lot of grooming options -- it's particularly popular for those who travel. Most say it holds a charge for about a week with regular, daily use. It's extremely easy to adjust and clean, users say, just run it under a stream of cold water. The ER-GB40-S includes a charging cradle that's popular because a lot of people don't like a razor just lying on their counter.
Our former Best Reviewed pick, the Braun cruZer6 Beard & Head (Est. $45),falls to runner up status for this report, but that doesn't mean it's not still a good choice, it just means that better products have since come along. The Braun cruZer6 comes with two adjustable combs for varying cut length. The first beard comb adjusts between 1 and 11 mm, or around 2/5 inch; the second adjusts from 10 to 20 mm, or up to about 4/5 inch. That second comb is marketed for use for the hair on your head too -- but if your hair is very thick the cruZer6 will tend to bog down in it, so we recommend that you leave the hair trimming to a dedicated hair clipper. The cruZer6 also sports a pop-up narrow trimmer for fine detailing, which users say works well.
The Braun cruZer6 is reported as easy to hold and very quiet. Users also say it doesn't produce much vibration as you work. Its battery-powered operation -- about 40 minutes of use per charge -- is another plus for those who are tired of wrestling with power cords. However, this beard trimmer gets much better reviews as a corded clipper than as a cordless one, something to keep in mind if you prefer cordless.
Elsewhere in this report: