If all you want is a set of clippers that cuts hair well without costing an arm and a leg, one of the best deals going is the Wahl Chrome Pro (Est. $27) , our Best Reviewed pick. This powerful hair clipper comes in a variety of kit configurations with just about any accessory you could want, including trim guides, scissors, hair clips and a cape -- but the general consensus is that you should disregard most of the accessories and just go for the great value of a trimmer.
Dave Alexander, a veteran master stylist and About.com's expert on men's hair, tested the Chrome Pro clippers in a high-volume barbershop setting. He found that its carbon-steel blades "provided a smooth cut and the clippers ran cool and quiet," praise that's echoed by most users at review websites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com. Its adjustable blade also pivots up and down to make tapering and fade work easier.
User reviewers say the Chrome Pro is a little bulkier than some high-end consumer clippers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. "It's heavy in the hand so you feel like you're holding something, but not so heavy that it makes your arm tired," writes one man at BestBuy.com.
One of the Chrome Pro accessories that you will want to hold on to is a set of guide combs from about 1/16 to 1 inch in length, giving the Chrome Pro one of the widest ranges of hair lengths in this report. Those clippers can get a little loud when used with the long comb guards, and we did find a few durability complaints. But, given its performance, versatility and five-year warranty, the Chrome Pro still comes out as an unbeatable value.
If you're willing to pay a little more, the Wahl Cordless Peanut (Est. $45) is a battery-powered take on an old classic (you can also buy the corded version for about the same price). At just 4 inches long and 4 ounces in weight, the Peanut is quiet, doesn't produce much vibration, and is easy to move and maneuver, with or without the cord -- but a somewhat smaller cutting blade also means you have to make more passes.
Size notwithstanding, both versions of the petite Peanut can mow through thick hair easily, although the battery-powered Peanut starts to bog down as its power fades. It uses just one rechargeable AA battery, and comes with a spare battery and charger so you can swap batteries as necessary; owners estimate that each provides enough run time for about three full haircuts.
Another cordless model worth mentioning is the Philips Norelco QC5580/40 (Est. $60) -- formerly known as the Philips Norelco Headgroom Easy Reach 180 Pro -- which packs a built-in rechargeable battery and offers up to 60 minutes of use for about the same amount of charging time. Besides portable battery operation, the Philips Norelco's most notable feature is a pivoting head that swings through a full 180 degrees of motion, making it easier to cut hair on the back and sides of your own head.
It also comes with a balder attachment to shave your head right down to the skin, although users say it's not quite as good as a real electric shaver, and it can irritate your skin if you don't have a light touch.
For even more versatility, the Wahl Trimmer All-in-One Lithium Ion (Est. $40) packs nearly 20 attachments, including four interchangeable heads, seven guide combs (2 mm to 12 mm) and a T-blade for trimming around your ears.
All those attachments mean you can groom every hair from your head to your toes, and a rechargeable battery makes the Wahl All-in-One a great choice for travel. For home use, though, this trimmer is a definite case of "jack-of-all-trades, master of none."