Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV9N-S Review
The Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV7N-S is the latest model in their “Arc” series of electric shavers for men. The first Arc shaver was introduced into the market back in 2009. The Arc5 is a premium shaver with a price tag to match. We’ve been testing this shaver for the past six weeks, and it’s now time to tell you what we think about it.
This shaver made it onto our list of the best electric shavers for men because it deserves to be there in every possible way. For those that have the money to afford a high-end shaver, this should be in your top two choices to consider.
This review has been broken down into four different sections. You can click on a link below to be taken directly to the corresponding section.
- Box Contents: We reveal what comes in the box with the shaver and take a brief look at each item in the box.
- The Electric Shaver: We take a thorough look at the shaver itself. This section is where we examine all of its features from tip to tip and explain how it works.
- Shaving Test: This is where we put the shaver through its paces and see how well it performs the task of shaving. Does it do a great job or is it better to shave with a pair of scissors? Find out in this section
- Cleaning: We take a look at the cleaning dock that comes with the shaver and how it operates.
Let’s now see what comes in the Panasonic Arc5 Box. The image below shows the contents of the box in which the shaver comes. The items in the box include:
- Panasonic ES-LV9N-S electric shaver
- Travel Pouch
- Cleaning & Charging Systems (cleaning dock)
- Shaving head cover cap
- A cleaning brush
- Power adapter
- Lubricating oil
- User manual
We loved the Panasonic’s user manual. It is very well laid out with easy to understand instructions. Illustrations support all of the instructions. You will be able to learn every operation of this shaver just by reading the manual. The Panasonic manuals seem to have been written for elementary school students to understand while the Braun’s was written to confuse you.
There are four models in the Arc5 family. These are:
- ES-LV65-S = has no cleaning dock
- ES-LV6N-S = has no cleaning dock
- ES-LV95-S = comes with a cleaning dock
- ES-LV9N-S = comes with a cleaning dock
All of the above shavers are excellent shavers and will be worth your money. However, we want to focus our review on the ES-LV9N-S model at this time. It is the top model in the Arc5 series.
Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV9N-S Shaver
Let’s now take a very detailed look at the shaver itself. We will be focusing on how it looks and feel and take a look at each button and feature on the shaver. We’ll then finish off by taking a closer look at the shaving head.
The new Arc5 Shaver has a very luxurious look and feel, when compared to older models in the Arc family. You will not find any fingerprint and smudge-friendly plastic chrome on this shaver’s body. Instead, you’ll find that the body is made of a premium, beautiful brushed metal finish. It feels comfortable to hold. We found the thumb rest on the front of the shaver a real bonus.
Having a brushed metal finish means the shaver always looked clean after each use. You won’t find fingerprints or smudges on it which was an issue with Braun Series 9 shaver which comes with a shiny plastic chrome body.
There is a single multi-function button located on the front of the shaver. This button has three functions which are
- On/Off switch: A single click on the button turns it on. You click once again to turn it off.
- Activate clean sonic mode: You press and hold the button for two seconds while the shaver is off to activate the sonic-clean mode. The mode allows you to thoroughly clean the shaving head manually after each use.
- Activate travel lock mode: While the device has been turned on, press and hold the button for about two seconds to activate travel lock mode. With this mode enabled, you will not be able to turn the device on as you normally do. This helps to prevent the shaver from accidentally being turned on. To deactivate travel lock mode and turn the shaver on again, press and hold the power button for two seconds.
The shaver has an LED display screen located right below the power button and displays such information as battery life status, the currently selected mode, battery recharge status and much more. You will find a complete list of information displayed on the LED screen in the user manual. The display screen is fingerprint and smudge resistant.
That’s about all there is to see on the front of the device so now let’s turn our attention to the back. The back of the shaver is covered in grip-friendly rubber. Despite it being more functional than aesthetics, it still looks premium. The purpose of the rubber is to give you a firm grip when shaving. You can achieve a firm, comfortable grip even if your hand is wet or covered in shaving foam or cream.
You don’t have to worry about the rubber covered back ruining the look of the shaver because it doesn’t. The back of the shaver will spend most of its life facing away from you anyway.
In the middle of the back of the shaver, you’ll find what looks like a cluster of three metal ball bearings. These are the charging contacts and align with similar contacts inside the cleaning dock to charge the shaver.
There are no buttons located on the back of the shaver. At the base of the shaver, you’ll find the charging socket. You can plug the power adapter in there to directly charge the shaver.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the handle of the shaver, let’s turn our focus to the shaving head.
The shaving head
The Panasonic Arc5 is a foil head shaver. There are five cutting elements mounted on the cutting head. The cutting elements are slightly arced. Hence the name Arc5.
Each of the five cutting elements is independently mounted which allows it to flex, making it easier to shave hard to reach areas such as around the jawline and under the chin. Five cutting elements mean more hair is captured and cut per stroke than a lot of its competitors. This means a faster cleaner shave in a few strokes.
The Arc5 gives a very close and comfortable shaving experience. This is because each of the five cutting elements has been designed to carry out a particular task in the shaving process. Let’s take a look at each cutting element below:
Quick-Comb Blade: this is the middle cutting element labeled C. This element takes care of long hair. It trims long hair making it easier for the other blades to take over and finish the job all in one stroke.
Lift-Tech Foils: these are the two blades labeled B and D. They sandwich the quick-comb blade. This is the specialist blade designed to lift and cut flat-lying hair. The edges are slightly tapered which allows it to lift hair lying flat on your skin.
Finishing Foil: these are the cutting blades labeled A and E. These are the two outermost blades located on either edge of the shaving head. As the name suggests, these two blades are responsible for finishing the cut. They do so by cutting hair down to skin level.
You can almost picture all five cutting elements working together in perfect motion to complete the shave. This is how you can achieve such a close and smooth shave with just a single pass over your face.
A closer look at the cutting head and you’ll notice what appears to be two gold colored bars. They are known as comfort rollers. They are there to offer you comfort while you shave. They roll as they make contact with your skin. This ensures that the cutting elements gently glide over your skin. This is a great feature of the shaver. It ensures you do not get any skin irritation or razor burns.
Apart from the flexible cutting elements, the shaving head itself pivots in many directions which ensure that the cutting elements adapt to the contours of your skin, maintaining contact with your skin at all times. As a result, you miss fewer hairs.
Now let’s look inside the cutting head itself. Look at either side of the cutting head, and you’ll find two switches. Pressing both switches simultaneously separates the cutting head into two halves. You’ll notice two cutting blades attached to the lower half of the head.
“But I thought you said the unit has five blades,” We can picture you wondering.
Fret not. Look under the upper part of the separated cutting head, and you’ll find the other three blades.
You’ll open the head this way when you want to manually wash the blade with the sonic clean mode (by the way the cleaning dock does an excellent job cleaning the shaver but you might do the manual clean when you travel without the cleaning dock). You also do this when it’s time to replace the cutting blades. Getting hold of replacement blades should not be a problem. However, the blades that come with the shaver should be able to last a couple of years before needing to be replaced. You might be able to use it for up to 5 years before needing to replace it depending on your shaving habit.
You’ll find clear and well-illustrated instructions in the user manual on how to remove and replace the cutter blades and foil system when the time comes for you to do so.
You can download the Panasonic ES-LV9N-S electronic manual here.
Tip: If you are unable to find replacement heads for your ES-LV9N, you can use the older model Arc5 heads. It will fit perfectly on the new shaver’s head. The only issue is that the older models do not have the comfort rollers.
Panasonic uses the fancy phrase, “3D multi-flex Technology” to describe it’s shaving head.
What this means to you and us is that the cutting head can pivot. It can pivot up and down, side-to-side and back and forth. That is three different directions of movement. Hence the word 3D.
The image below illustrates these three movements. As we mentioned earlier, this is to enable the cutting elements to maintain contact with your skin at all times. Even in the hard to reach contours of your skin such as the neck area and under your chin.
The seamless movements of the Panasonic Arc5 Shaver head are second to none. We liked it better than that of the Braun and Philips.
There is a shaving sensor embedded into the shaving head. What it does is it automatically detects the thickness of the stubble you are shaving and automatically increase the speed of the shaver. In the older models, you can turn off this sensor manually, but you can’t do that in this new model. The sensor is not perfect. This is because it sometimes mistakes shaving foam for thick hair.
Just beneath the shaving head, on the back of the shaver is located a toggle switch which slides up and down. The switch serves three functions.
Free: This selects the default shaving position of the head. With this option selected, the shaving head is free to move in any direction
Lock: This position selects the head lock option. When you choose this option, the head is locked in one position and cannot move. There are some areas around your face that might be easier to shave with the head locked
mm: This symbol is supposed to represent a comb. Shifting the switch to this position deploys the pop-up trimmer.
The pop-up trimmer is excellent at styling sideburns and mustaches. With the pop-up trimmer, you don’t have to use a separate trimmer when you want to perform this task. It is a nice touch that lets you effortlessly add that styling you want to your sideburns and mustaches. And we were very impressed with how it performed when we tested it.
One bit of issue we had with the trimmer is its location. It is behind the shaving head (which is large because of the 5 cutting elements). It was not easy to precisely see what were trying to style. However, you can eliminate this shortcoming by styling in front of a mirror and angling the shaver head slightly.
Although we were impressed with the pop-up trimmer’s ability to style sideburns and mustaches, it is not a replacement for your full stand alone trimmer. It doesn’t trim beard very well. It is simply too small and will take forever to trim a full beard with it properly. If you have a stand-alone beard trimmer, you should hold on to it.
That just about concludes our look at the shaver itself. Let’s now see how it performed when we tested it.
The Shaving Test:
It is now time for us to shave with the shaver. But before we reveal how well it performed when we shaved with it, we recommend that you fully charge the batteries before you first use it.
You can charge the Panasonic Arc5 in two ways. You can plug the supplied power adapter directly into the charging sockets at the base of the shaver to charge it. Or you use the cleaning and charging dock to charge the shaver. On the first charge, we preferred to use the power adapter method of charging.
The power adapter of the Arc5 is multi-voltage (100 – 2v0V). So you will be able to charge your shaver internationally in any country you visit. The charger’s cable is very long which makes it easy to reach power sockets.
As soon as you plug the charger into the shaver, it automatically starts to charge. You don’t have to do anything else. You will see a red plug icon appear on the led display to indicate that it is charging.
It takes about 1 hour for the battery to become fully charged. A single charge gives about 45 minutes of shaving time. Assuming you shave every day and spend 3 minutes on average on each shave, a single charge should provide you with about two weeks of shaving.
If you completely run out of battery juice and need a quick shave, don’t panic. A 5-minute quick charge should provide you with enough juice for a quick 3 minutes shaver. You cannot use the shaver while is plugged in and being charged. The LED screen will automatically turn off when charging is completed.
It is now time to review the Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV9N-S and reveal how it performed when we tested it. Shaving, just like brushing your teeth, is a unique experience. Each person will perform either task in a way that best suits them. Therefore, in testing the Arc5, we recruited different people to have a go at it for an extended period of weeks. And below is a summary of the combined experiences of our testers and us.
When holding the shaver in your hand, what becomes immediately apparent is that the shaver is top heavy. This is because of the larger head design. When compared to older models, than the handle on the ES-LV9N is a little bit smaller. Despite these, the shaver is surprisingly very comfortable to hold. Even those with larger hands reported that they had no problems handling the shaver. We thought the smaller size might be an issue but the shape of the handle, but the grip-friendly handle made it very comfortable and easy to maneuver.
The grip-friendly rubber on the back ensured that even our testers with clumsy hands, wet or shaving cream coated hands still managed to comfortably hold the shaver without worrying too much about dropping it. None of our testers dropped the shaver while using it. There is also a thumb rest on the handle which ensured extra comfortable hold and grip. This made maneuvering the shaver a walk in the park.
What you should also know is that the shaver is ambidextrous. Whether you are left handed or right handed, it is still very easy to use due to its perfect symmetry.
One minor negative is how easy it is to turn the shaver on. You don’t need much pressure on the power button to turn the shaver on. This means you can accidentally turn it on or off quite very easily. This is only a problem if you are using the shaver. When not in use, you can just activate the travel lock mode we discussed earlier to counter this.
Anyone with experience using an electric shaver will notice the familiar high pitch buzzing sound when the shaver is turned on. This can be quite loud, especially when shaving late at night or very early in the morning. We recommend that you shave behind closed doors when shaving at these times.
The Panasonic Arc5 is not a premium priced shaver for no reason. When we tested it, the performance alone deserved it’s hefty price tag.
The only other shaver that is on par with the Arc5, in terms of shaving performance, is the Braun Series 9. It has a very powerful motor that produces an aggressive shave. It’s a good thing they have the comfort rollers to make the shave very comfortable. Without them, you’ll experience some skin irritation with this shaver. We do not recommend the older models of this shaver for those with very sensitive skin because they don’t have the comfort rollers and therefore cause some skin irritation.
The comfort rollers added to this model means that the shaver can still perform at its peak without causing skin irritations. Having said that, if you are a novice user of electric shavers, you’ll still need to find a shaving technique that suits you. All shavers need a break-in period, and you’ll need a couple of weeks to adjust to the shaving techniques of an electric shaver. It’s just like how you need to break into your new shoes. Before then you should expect a red face after shaving on one or two occasions, but there is nothing to worry about.
When shaving, the comfort rollers allowed the shaver head to glide over our skin with very little friction effortlessly.
The shaving head cuts so well with the five cutting elements working in unison to give a very close shave. It cuts so well that, for relatively short stubble, you’ll only need one pass to achieve a close shave. This speeds up the shaving process and saves you time.
When it comes to the closeness of shave, the Panasonic Arc5 is one of the best electric shavers on the market along with the Bruan series nine 9090-cc we review here. None of the other shavers performed better than these two. The Philips Norelco 9300 will be a very very close second behind these two.
The 3D-Flex head makes using the shaver very easy. It pivots as you move from one area of your face to the next. This allowed the shaver to maintain contact with the skin at all times. This meant that there was no need for a second pass when shaving stubble less than two days old. This feature also makes it very easy to shave around the neck and under the chin area cleanly.
Shaving under the chin and around the neck area was also made easy by the curved floating nature of the shaving elements. It let the shaver remove more hair per pass in these areas than almost all the shavers we’ve reviewed.
We should let know at this stage that you do not need to press the shaver very hard to your skin when shaving to achieve a close shave. Doing so may lead to some skin irritation. Just loosely glide the shaver over your skin without pressing down on it.
We do not work for Panasonic, so we are not here to promote the shaver and tell you that it is the best thing man has ever made. So we are obliged to inform you of any negatives we experienced while using this shaver. There are not perfect electric shavers on the market, and the Arc5 is no different.
Because the shaving head has five cutting elements mounted on it, Panasonic has been forced to make the cutting head a little bigger which makes it bulky and takes some time to get used to.
For the people that prefer to have a clean shave look every day, this is not a problem as you are removing all of the hair. But if you want to keep some beard on or shape your mustache, the large head might take some getting use to. Despite this shortcoming, it is very easy to use it after you’ve become used to it. It just means you’ll spend more time managing a bearded face with the larger head than you will with a smaller head electric shaver.
The Arc5 ES-LV9N comes with a powerful linear-drive motor that performs at 14,000 cuts per minute (CPM). A linear motor only means that the motor maintains the same performance throughout the life of the shaver. With conventional motors, the motor’s performance drops over time. When plotted on a graph, the linear motors performance will be in a straight horizontal line (line) while that of an ordinary motor will slope downwards with time.
All of our testers reported back to us that the shaver was able to perform very well in wet or dry shaving. Whether cutting through dry, wet or hair coated with thick shaving foam, the shaver was able to deliver a very close and comfortable shave.
As with any other electric shaver, the Arc5 will not remove shaving cream with each pass. Instead, it smears the shaving cream around, making it difficult for you to see where you’ve already shaved and which areas need another pass with the shaver.
However, while some other electric shavers will see a dip in performance when shaving with shaving cream, the Arc5 dealt with it impressively.
We should let you know at this point that the beard sensor is activated when shaving through shaving foam because the sensor mistakes shaving foam for thick hair.
The Panasonic Arc5 performed best with two-day growth short beards. But it was able to handle 3-day old beards with no real issues. You’ll just need more passes with a 3-day old beard. Only the Braun Series 9 performed better when tested on 3-day beard. If you have a much older and longer beard, it’s better to trim it down first before using the shaver to shave.
During testing, one tester reported back that although the Arc5 did a good job shaving his beard, the Braun Series 9 performed better. This tester had the type of thick inward curling hair mostly associated with African American (Black) men. In light of this, we believe this is not the best electric shaver for black men. If you, however, have any other type of hair, then the Panasonic Arc5 is one of the best electric shavers out there you can buy.
The Cleaning System
Now that we’ve taken a look at how well the shaver performs, let’s now take a closer look at the Cleaning & Charging system that comes with the ES-LV9N shaver.
Regular maintenance is required to ensure this shaver continues to perform at its peak each time you use it. That means cleaning it after each use.
Thankfully, it is very easy to clean the shaver. There are two ways to clean the shaver.
- Automatic: The shaver comes with a cleaning & charging station. There is also a detergent sachet supplied with the shaver. You only have to put the shaver inside the cleaning station, and with the touch of a button, the cleaning dock will clean, dry and charge the shaver at the same time. The cleaning station is very effective in killing all germs and keeping the shaver very clean.
- Manual Cleaning: You can also use the supplied cleaning brush to brush away hair and other particles from the shaver head. To do this, you open the shaver head as we discussed earlier and brush away the hair and particles from the blades using the brush. You can also simply rinse the shaver under running water. When cleaning with this method, you have to activate sonic clean mode as we discussed earlier. With the brush head open and sonic clean mode activated, simply rinse the shaver under running water. The shaver is 100% waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about water causing any damages to the internal electronics.
Cleaning & Charging system
Let’s now take a closer look at the Cleaning & Charging System (which we will now refer to as the cleaning dock).
The cleaning dock that comes with this model is quite very similar to the old models. The only difference being a slight difference in the shape of the interior to accommodate the new design of the shaver.
Although we wouldn’t call it ugly, it wouldn’t exactly win any beauty prices either. Compared to the cleaning docks of other brands of electric shavers, this is the smallest of them all. It is, therefore, an excellent choice for those with space concerns.
You use the same power adapter that you use to charge the shaver, to power the cleaning dock. You should consider buying another power adapter if you are someone that travels very often.
With the cleaning dock plugged in, the shaver starts charging as soon as you place it inside the cleaning dock. The cleaning dock is designed in such a way that, the shaver only fits inside it in one way. So you won’t have to worry about placing it in the wrong way.
To clean the shaver, you’ll have to feed the cleaning dock with detergent. On the left side of the cleaning dock, you’ll see a big black square button. Push the button and the base of the unit pops out. The detergent goes into a compartment in the base as shown below.
The detergent in a small sachet rather than the more expensive cartridges that come with the Braun and Philips. You will find a detailed description of how to mix the cleaning solution in the user manual.
One cleaning sachet is supplied in the box, but replacements are very cheap.
One negative we found with the Panasonic cleaning dock is that, once you put the detergent in the compartment, you should not move the unit. Doing so might make the cleaning fluid spill.
There’s only a single button that operates the cleaning dock.
Push on this button to start the cleaning process. A complete clean and dry cycle take about 3 hours. While operating, you’ll hear the fan whirling throughout the process. This can be a little noisy for some. It is not loud enough to, however, disturb your sleep.
Before we take a look at the manual cleaning method, we will like to state that if you have the cleaning dock, it is by far the easiest and most efficient way to clean the shaver.
However, it is not very difficult to manually clean the Arc5. If you don’t have the money to purchase the ES-LV9N (which comes with a cleaning dock) model, you can buy the ES-LV6N (has no cleaning dock) model and clean the shaver manually.
To clean manually, apply detergent to the shaving head and activate sonic cleaning mode by holding the power button for about 2 seconds. With the shaving head vibrating, hold it under running water. The sonic vibration helps to dislodge any hair. The shaver turns off after about 20 seconds.
Now open the shaver head like we did when we wanted to take a look inside the head. Apply detergent and repeat the above steps to clean the shaver thoroughly. The shaver will turn off again after about 20 seconds. This completes the manual cleaning process. And it all takes less than a minute. This is why it wouldn’t be a major issue if you get a model without the cleaning dock.
That concludes our look at the cleaning and charging system of the Panasonic Arc5.
Well, that was one long review of the Panasonic Arc5. No brand has ever made a perfect electric shaver, and the Panasonic Arc5 is not an exception. What it is though is a very close attempt at making the perfect electric shaver. The shave is very comfortable, close and leaves your face feeling very smooth to the touch. The five cutting elements on the head work very well to give one of the best shaves out of all the shavers we’ve tested.
It is not the best shaver for black men, but it still did a good job with that type of hair. The pivoting head and flexing cutting elements allow you to easily shave difficult to reach areas such as those around the neck area and under the chin. The design and shape of the hand make it very easy to handle and maneuver. Replacement parts for this shaver are very easy to find at the big retailers.
We highly recommend the Panasonic Arc5 to anyone that can afford it. The cleaning dock that comes with it makes cleaning the shaver a breeze. For those who do not have the extra money to buy the ES-LV9N-S model, you can buy the ES-LV6N model. This does not come with a cleaning dock but is essentially the same shaver and shaves equally as good.
Our Rating: 4.9 / 5
Avg. User Rating: 4.9 / 5
Rank: 3rd in Men’s Electric Razors
- Very close Shave
- Comfortable shaving experience
- No skin irritation or cuts
- Ergonomic design. Very easy to handle and shave with
- Easily shaves under the chin and neck areas
- Premium look and feel
- aster shaving time than most other shavers. Achieved by having 5 cutting elements on cutting head
- Slightly bulky shaver head
- Aggressive shave. Not the best shaver for very sensitive skins
Arc5 electric shaver produced one the closest and smoothest shaves in all the shavers we’ve tested. It gives you one of the best shaving experiences you can ever get with an electric shaver
Here is what a couple of people who bought this shaver have had to say about it.
Five stars. Great smoooth shave. A comfortable and beautiful shaver …Amazon customer on the Arc5
This is the best electric razor I have ever had. I have bought many different Panasonic razors that are similar, but this Arc5 is the best. Shaves great, looks great, holds the charge longer, shows how long you’ve used it, shows when you need to clean it. It is just an awesome shaver …Robert Sowell
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