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. All three of the beard trimmers in this report produce the sort of crisp, clean lines it takes to attractively style facial hair and sideburns, and they're capable of trimming very close along your neck as well.
With that said, they each have their particular strengths and weaknesses. The Andis T-Outliner Trimmer (Est. $50) , for example, is the rare exception in this category that doesn't offer an adjustable cutting length at all, nor does it accept attachments. It only has one setting, which users gauge at about 1 mm -- right on the line between "a little bit of stubble" and "nothing." Several military men post to say that the T-Outliner gives a good enough dry shave to meet military standards.
Still, the T-Outliner is good enough to earn high praise from Dave Alexander, a veteran master stylist and About.com's expert on men's hair. He describes it as the "workhorse of trimmers," noting that it's easy to hold, and its T-shaped blade makes it easy to trim around your ears. Users echo similar praise, and of all the beard trimmers in this report, the T-Outliner also draws the most praise from African-American men.
If you love the idea of the T-Outliner but need to be able to vary the length of your beard (or just keep it a little longer than a millimeter), the Andis Outliner II (Est. $60) does accept some attachments, including a set of snap-on combs, but its square blade can be a little tricky to maneuver around the ears.
Meanwhile, the Braun cruZer6 Beard & Head (Est. $50) , our Best Reviewed pick, provides a similar quality trim, but comes with two adjustable combs for varying the 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. All in all, those adjustable combs make the cruZer6 the only trimmer in this report that's really friendly to a full beard.
That second comb is marketed for use on 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. Users say it's easy to hold, very quiet, and doesn't produce much vibration as you work. Its battery-powered operation -- about 40 minutes of use per charge -- is another plus for users who are tired of wrestling with power cords.
That said, to be fair, users don't seem to mind the cord on the Andis T-Outliner at all.
If you'd like another battery-powered option, the Conair i-Stubble (Est. $40) is another favorite with user reviewers. Like the T-Outliner and the cruZer6, it offers a pain-free trim and sharp, clear detailing -- and if you're tired of playing with adjustable combs, you'll love its electronic length adjustments (from a barely there 0.4-mm setting up to 5 mm (about 1/5 of an inch).
That electronically adjusted comb does have a downside, though. It's meant to be folded back out of the way so you can trim under your nose, but it still manages to get in the way there and around your ears. Fold it out of the way enough times, and odds are the comb will break. Still, every other aspect of the i-Stubble is so good that if you think you can work with the guard, it's a good alternate option.