Panasonic Arc3 Electric Shaver Review (ES-LT7N-S)
Earlier on we took a look at the Panasonic Arc 5 electric shaver. Now we are going to review its junior sister, the Panasonic Arc 3 electric shaver.
The Arc 3 has seen a slew of new updates since its release in 2008, and as a result, there have been 11 different models of the Arc 3.
There are three new versions of the Arc5. These are:
ES-LT7N-S: This comes with a cleaning dock
ES-LT5N-H: This has a charging stand but no cleaning dock.
ES-LT3N-K: Shaver only. No charging stand or cleaning dock.
Note: Panasonic is introducing two new low-cost models of the Arc3 series. These are:
ES-SL83-S: Does not have a cleaning dock but comes with a charging stand. It also does not have an LED screen.
ES-SL33-S: Does not have a cleaning dock or a charging stand. Other than not having a charging stand, it is the same shaver as the ES-SL83-S.
Both shavers are 100% waterproof and can shave wet or dry. They have not been released yet but are available for pre-order from Panasonic.
We are going to focus our review on the ES-LT7N-S model. The other two models are essentially the same as the ES-LT7N-S, but without the charging stand or the cleaning dock in the case of the ES-LT3N-K. You can therefore somehow consider this as a review of all three models.
As we do with most of our reviews, we are going to break it down into different sections. You can click on a link below to be taken straight to that section of our review.
Box Contents: We take a look at the contents of the box in this section.
The Shaver: This is where we carefully examine the shaver itself. We discuss the features of the shaver here.
Testing: In this section, we report our findings after using the shaver to shave. This is where we tell you about the performance of the shaver.
Cleaning: We take a closer look at the cleaning station here.
The image below shows the items that come in the box the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT7N-S.
Let’s take a brief look at each item in the box.
The user and instruction manual is well laid out and easy to understand. You should have no problem following the well-illustrated instructions. You can get an electronic copy of the user manual by clicking here.
The charging adapter is used to charge & power the shaving unit and the cleaning dock. You will be happy to know that it is a multi-voltage (100 – 240V) adapter. Using it in other countries should not be a problem. You might, however, need to buy a travel socket adapter to be able to use it with foreign power outlets.
The Arc 3 looks exquisite and has a premium feel to it. We loved the way it looked when we took it out of the box. We’ll talk more about the shaver in a later section.
We were not very pleased with the travel pouch that comes with the Arc 3. It is a drawstring, cloth bag. It only protects the shaver from dust but offers no protection from being bumped around. We would have loved to see a hard shell case instead.
Cleaning & Charging Station
The cleaning and charging station is more portable than the Philips system. It looks beautiful and complements the look of the shaver very well. We’ll also talk a lot more about the cleaning dock in a later section.
Foil Protector Cap
In an attempt to make up for lack of a hard shell travel pouch, Panasonic has included a hard plastic foil protection cap. It goes over the shaving head to offer some level o protection to the cutting elements. We recommend that you have this on the head before storing the shaver in the travel pouch to provide extra protection.
Unlike the Philips and Braun, which have the cleaning solution premixed in a cartridge, Panasonic’s cleaning solution comes in the form of sachets. You’ll have to mix it with water manually. We’ll show you how to do this when we get to the cleaning section.
The Shaver (Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT7N-S)
It’s now that time in the review to take a closer look at the shaver itself.
Our first impression of the shaver was “wow.” It looks stunning out of the box and is the best looking Arc 3 Shaver so far.
Front of Shaver
The front of the shaver has a metallic finish complete with red highlights.
Located just under the shaving head is the thumb rest. We liked this feature a lot. It makes it easier to hold and maneuver the shaver.
The thumb rest is the same design found on the Arc 5.
Below the thumb rest and the wet/dry inscription is the power button. You can perform three different operations using this one button. These are:
1. Power Button: You press the button once to turn on the shaver. Pressing it again turns it off. In this case, it is just an on/off switch.
2. Sonic Vibration Cleaning Mode: This is mode is activated by pressing the shaver for 2 seconds while the shaver is off and not locked. This mode is used to clean the shaver manually.
3. Travel Lock Mode: When activated, this mode prevents the shaver from turning on when you press the shaver button once. It is to avoid the shaver from being switched on accidentally when not in use. The travel lock mode automatically activates when charging, preventing you from using the shaver when it is plugged in.
To enable the travel lock mode, turn the shaver on and then press and hold the power button for 2 seconds. The switch lock icon will appear on to indicate it has been activated. The shaver will automatically stop operating. To deactivate the switch lock mode and turn the shaver on again, press and hold the power button for 2 seconds until it turns on again.
If you ever try turning on the shaver and it wouldn’t turn on, you might have activated the switch lock mode without knowing.
Located in the middle of the front of the shaver is the multi-function LED display. We liked the display on this shaver. It is large and digital.
The LED display uses easy to understand icons to present various information about the shaver. The display indicates battery power, shaving sensor on, switch lock mode on and battery charge status. The Arc 3’s user manual talks about these icons in detail.
That covers the front of the shaver so let’s now move to the back.
The back of the shaver is made of black grip-friendly rubber for a secure and firm grip. It made it easy to use the shaver in wet conditions, or when shaving with shaving cream.
You find the appliance socket at the base of the shaver handle. The charging adapter plugs into this socket to charge the shaver without using the dock. It is also the means by which you connect the shaver to other appliances such as the charging stand (which is not a cleaning dock).
In the middle of the back, you’ll find what looks like three small metal balls. These are the charging contacts that line up with similar contacts in the charge & clean station to charge the shaver. You will not find these on the other two models we mentioned earlier because they don’t come with the cleaning dock.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the handle of the shaver let’s now take a closer look at the shaving head block.
The Arc 3 has three foil cutting elements mounted on the shaving head. Remember how the Panasonic Arc 5 has five cutting elements? How shocking then that the Arc 3 has three cutting elements right?
The protective foils are thin, and this allows the cutting blades to cut close to the skin and produce a clean cut.
Each of the three cutting elements performs a specific task in the cutting process.
The two outer elements, labeled A and C, have the ultra-thin foils that capture thick hair around the jaw and neck area for the blades underneath to cut.
The middle cutting element is known as the quick-comb blade foil and is for capturing and cutting longer hair that grows in different directions.
Unlike the Arc 5, the Arc 3 does not have specialty cutting elements for dealing with flat-lying hair. However, it is still able to deal easily with such hair.
The shaving head itself can pivot in three different directions. So Panasonic refers to it as 3D multi-flex pivoting head. It can move up and down, side-to-side and back-and-forth as shown in the image below:
This movement allows for a comfortable and smooth shave. The pivoting head allows the shaving head to maintain contact with your skin at all times during shaving.
Each cutting element also flexes up and down and side-by-side to achieve the same effect.
The up-and-down movement also acts as a kind of shock absorber when shaving. You are less likely to feel discomfort if you apply too much pressure during shaving.
There is a slight curve (arc) in the cutting foils, which helps you capture and shave hair in particularly hard to reach areas such as the edges of your jaw and under the chin area.
On each side of the cutting head, you’ll find a small button known as the outer foil release button. Pressing these buttons together releases the outer foil unit. It separates the head into two parts as shown in the image below.
Everyday usage of the shaver means that the blades will become dull over time. You will then need to replace them with a replacement foil and blade unit.
According to Panasonic, you should replace the blades every 12 months. We did not test the shaver that long to be able to judge this statement. Their recommendation is based on a daily 3-minute shave. So if you don’t shave on a daily basis, then it should last much longer. We have also seen comments from users of older Arc 3 models, saying that they had not changed the blades for several years and are still getting excellent shaves.
When the time comes to replace the blades, we recommend that you buy both the blades and replacement foils. This does not only save you money but also ensures that you get the best shaving experience.
The image below shows the different parts of the shaver head. What you’ll need to replace is indicated as A, B, and C.
On the back of the shaving head, you’ll find a button with the labels: Free, Lock and “mm.” This button has three functions as described below.
Free: When the button is in this position, the shaver head is free to pivot when shaving.
Lock: When the button is in this position, the shaving head is locked and prevents the head from rotating when shaving.
mm: This looks like a double “m” but is supposed to be the symbol of a comb. Sliding the button to this position releases the attached pop-up trimmer.
The trimmer is useful for styling sideburns and mustaches, and it did well when we tested it. We were not very happy that the trimmer is located behind the shaving head because you’ll have to tilt the shaver to see what the trimmer is cutting. But we liked the fact that it pops out horizontal to the shaving head. We preferred it to that of the Braun Series 9, which slides out vertical to the shaving head.
Again, as in all trimmers attached to shavers, this will not replace your stand-alone trimmer. It is perfect for detailing sideburns and mustaches and not much else. If you attempt to use it to trim long beard, it is a time consuming and hopeless task.
That about covers everything you need to know about the shaver itself.
Now let’s move on and see how the shaver performed when tested by various testers.
The Shaving Test
Before you use the shaver for the first time, we recommend that you fully charge the battery first. We preferred using the power adapter for a direct charge at this stage.
The cable of the adapter is very long (about six feet) and therefore it is easy to reach a power outlet.
It took us about 1 hour to fully charge the battery, just as Panasonic said it would. Panasonic also said a full charge would give you about 45 minutes shaving time. We found this to be also fairly accurate. We averaged 50 minutes on a single charge.
The LED screen lights up as soon as you plug the shaver into a power source as shown below.
As you can see, the red “switch lock icon” will come on automatically. This locks the power button, prevent you from being able to turn the shaver on while it is plugged in.
The battery charge status is displayed in percentage just like on your smartphone. We particularly liked this as you can tell the exact percentage of battery juice left.
Assuming you shave for 3 minutes each day, a single charge should give you two weeks of shaving time. That is what we achieved during our testing.
Now let’s talk about the shave itself. So how’s the performance of the Arc 3 ES-LT7N-S shaver?
Our quick verdict is, we liked it a lot. The shave was awesome.
The shaver has been ergonomically engineered to comfortably fit the hands of both right and left handed people. Holding the shaver felt just right. The grip-friendly rubber ensured a very firm and comfortable grip, even when our hand was wet or covered in shaving foam. Maneuvering the shaver during shaving was very easy and comfortable. We give the design of the shaver an A+ score.
Compared to other shavers, the humming of the shaver when in use is a bit quieter. It still made enough sound to wake difficult sleepers in the same room.
Our test revealed that the shaver performs best with shorter 2-day stubble. This is, however, a norm with most electric shavers But with a couple of passes, it was able to handle 3-day beards very easily.
Regarding closeness of shave, the Arc 3 performed well but not quite as good as the Arc 5. The shave itself was very comfortable and very close. The head easily glides over the skin without any discomfort. The flexing cutting elements enhance the comfort level. It acts as a sort of cushion if you apply too much pressure when shaving. If you have not been using an electric shaver for a while, we should let you know that there is a break-in period. You may need about two weeks for your skin to adjust to the shaving methods of an electric shaver. This is the norm with all electric shavers.
The curved (Arched) foils performed well when we shaved under the chin area. We were able to cut more hair in a single pass than most other shavers.
The shaver excels in both wet and dry shaves. Shaving with foam or soap was very comfortable with this shaver. It handled it very well. Some of our testers claimed they got better results with a wet shave than a dry shave. But we could not tell the difference, and it is largely down to personal preferences. The only negative is that, as with all electric shavers, it does not remove shaving foam when shaving but merely smudges it. This means you may not be able to see if a shaved area needs a second pass because it is covered in shaving foam.
We noticed some hair pulling during shaving, but we placed this more down to shaving style than a fault with the shaver. This occurred when we pressed too hard on the shaver while shaving.
There is a shaving sensor located in the shaving head. This is meant to sense when you are shaving thicker beard automatically, and automatically adjust the power of the shaver to cope. Power is continuously increased and reduced as you move from thick beard to thin beard.
This is however flawed when shaving with a shaving cream. It is not very good at distinguishing between shaving cream and a thick beard.
Our African American testers found that he needed a couple more passes to achieve a close shave. Even so, there was still a couple of stubbles left behind. If you are African American with thick curly hair, this might not be the best shaver for you. We recommend the Braun Series 9 9095cc or the Panasonic Arc 5 (both of which have the lift-and-cut elements to deal with this kind of hair) for black men.
In all, we feel this is an excellent electric shaver that produces a clean, smooth, and comfortable shave. The shaver feels very premium in hand and looks great.
The shaver comes with a cleaning & charging station. It cleans, lubricates, dries and charges the shaver.
The cleaning dock of the Panasonic ES-LT7N-S is smaller than those that come with the Braun and Philips. This is great if you have concerns about space on your bathroom counter.
The adapter that comes in the box is the same adapter that is used to power the cleaning dock.
The plug socket is located at the back of the dock as shown in the image above. We like how the adapter cable lies flat against the dock when plugged in. It makes it easy to place the dock very close to the wall.
Unlike the Braun and the Philips, the cleaning solution of the Panasonic Arc 3 cleaning dock does not come pre-mixed in a cartridge. Instead, it arrives in a sachet, and you’ll have to mix it manually yourself. To do this, you’ll have to empty the contents into a hidden compartment located in the base of the cleaning dock.
There’s a button located on the side of the dock. Press this to release the hidden compartment as shown in the image below. You’ll then empty the contents of the sachet into this chamber and add water.
We don’t like that you have to mix the detergent yourself manually. We would prefer just to have to insert a cartridge and be using the dock in no time.
A mixed cleaning solution lasts about one month before we needed to replace it. This means having to purchase a replacement cleaning sachet. You can pick up a pack of 3 here for $14.99 at the time of writing.
You might be tempted to make a home-made cleaning solution, but we do not recommend this as it will void your warranty. But if this does not bother you, then there are instructions out there on how you can make your own. But at $5 per month, we’ll rather you just buy the cleaning detergent sachet.
The shaver starts to charge as soon as you place it in the cleaning dock.
There are four indicators on the lid of the cleaning station. These indicate the cleaning mode currently being performed or the status of the cleaning liquid.
The indicators are:
Status: This lights up when you need to replace the cleaning solution.
Low: This indicator lights up when the cleaning liquid level gets low. You can continue to use the cleaning dock for seven more cleans after this indicator comes on.
Clean: This comes on when the clean operation is going on.
Dry: This indicator comes on when the cleaning process is in the dry cycle.
It takes about 3 hours for the cleaning dock to clean and dry the shaver. Cleaning takes about 10 minutes and the rest of the time is used for drying.
Everything turns off when the entire cleaning cycle is completed.
It is also possible to manually clean the shaver without the cleaning dock. The procedure for manual cleaning is very simple and well outlined in the user manual.
This brings our review of the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT7N-S electric shaver to an end.
The Panasonic Arc 3 is a premium electric shaver with an excellent performance. It offers a very close and comfortable shave for the price range.
Although it does not have a top of the line price tag, it looks and shaves like one. If you are in search of a good quality shaver that will last several years, we will very confidently recommend the Arc 3 to you.
Our Rating: 4.6 / 5
User Rating: 4.8 / 5
Rank: 5th in Men’s Electric Razors
- Premium features and look for a lower price shaver
- Excellent build quality. Solid and well balanced
- Comfortable to hold and maneuver even in wet conditions
- Well designed and strongly built buttons
- Outstanding close shave
- Pivoting heads and flexible cutting elements adapt to the contours of your face
- Wet & Dry shaving capable
- Linear motor ensures you get consistent power throughout the shave
- Shave sensor to detect beard density and adjust power accordingly during shaving
- It has an excellent cleaning dock that hygienically cleans the shaver
- Close comfortable shave with no skin irritation reported
- Great battery life
- Soft-shell travel pouch. Does not offer much protection
- Head locking lever feels a little bit flimsy
- Cleaning dock can take up a lot of space on your bathroom counter
The Arc 3 is an excellent electric shaver from Panasonic. The built quality is high class with a performance to match. You get a close comfortable shave that leaves your skin feeling very smooth. The cleaning dock is not a must and you might even find yourself not using it much because the shaver is very easy to clean under running water. If you want to save money and get an Arc3 without the cleaning dock, then we recommend the ES-LT5N-H. The Arc3 ES-LT7N-S is not a perfect shaver but is very close to perfection.
Here is what a couple of people who bought this shaver have had to say about it.
Great electric razor. It is hard to get a nice, clean shave with an electric razor. I have searched for a while to find an electric razor that can shave close to a manual razor and the Arc3 is the closest I have come so far. Panasonic electric shavers are always superior and this is no exception. The pivoting head is great and a welcome addition. The cleaning dock is really nice and does a great job of cleaning the shaver. I’m in love with this razor and it just keeps getting better each time I use it. Highly recommended. …Amazon.com customer
I’m pretty happy with this Panasonic shaver. It is not perfect but it has a lot of things that I like, especially for this price point. … Pablo (an Amazon.com customer)
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