I can still hear his voice in my head....
It was before many of you may have been born, but, the TV adverts and the catchphrase of Remington's frontman (and CEO and owner) Viktor Kiam said it all: His product, the Remington MicroScreen, would shave as close as a blade, or you'd get your money back.
Further, Viktor said that when his wife bought him the razor for the first time he was so impressed by the product, that he bought the entire company.
That says something.
Fast forward a few generations and here we are in 2014 and my wonderful wife's blog creates the opportunity for her to present me with PR Sample Provided Remington HyperFlex Razor.
The question is: Will I like it so much that I'll be aiming to be Viktor 2.0 and make an offer on the corporation?
Truth be told, that's not terribly likely. If you saw my Barber of Melbourne post, you'll know I'm pretty impressed with my current shaving setup, but the Remington brand is one I've known for years, and I was actually quite eager to try out a rotary shaver again for the first time in over a decade.
So, what's this rotary beast look like?
Initial impressions: Packaging was nice, razor is nicely shaped, lightweight plastic. Personally, I'd prefer a little bit more weight to the unit, but, the curved grip fits nicely in the hand and makes it easy to hold during shaving.
The instructions have an interesting inclusion: This razor is safe for children 8 years and older.
I don't know too many 8 year olds with a need for a daily shave, but, hey, I guess it could happen.
One key point the instructions make clear: You really need to give yourself three weeks with this razor to get used to the circular motion you need to shave with, as well as to get your beard/skin used to it.
Unfortunately, I don't have three weeks - I only have three days. As a result, some of what you read below must be taken in the context of "not following the directions" and if you end up with one of these widgets, you'll be well advised to do as they say.
Before I continue with the review, I hear you asking "Scott, what on earth is HyperFlex? Some sort of acid-reflux turned up to 11?"
It's their marketing term for how the razor's head flexes and bends, like so:
The razor comes complete with a charging cradle which serves as a stand and as a bit of a Razor Segway:
The charger plugs in to the base - not directly into the razor (that's unfortunate) - which means that if you're taking this razor on travel, you can't forget the plastic cradle it comes with or you will be quite disappointed.
I wish Remington had found a way around that - indeed, I think all electric razors should use a Micro USB style connector at the bottom of their devices for charging purposes. It would be incredibly handy. Better yet, an Lightning connector for an iRazor!
But I digress...
The business end of this razor is most definitely worth a close up - the Remington screen has a variety of openings, which I'm sure some marketing person could tell you leverages the synergy of pro-active facial hair success plans, through follicular stakeholder engagement:
It's what is inside of these screens, inside of the razor's head, that really does the work:
Handling these cutting blades should be done with care. They are sharp. That's what you want from a blade, but, you also shouldn't squeeze them too tightly with your bare fingers. Handle gently, replace as per the advice from Remington.
The design of the head has changed a bit since the last time I used a Remington rotary; the three cutting heads are colour coded. Blue, grey and black. The inside of the screen themselves has a corresponding colour - when changing blades you need to be certain to match up colour for colour.
I don't know what will happen if you don't do this, but, likely the design of the heads is such that you're going to get better results if you pay attention.
Okay, on with the review!
Day one: Is this thing on? As compared to my five-blade incredible Panasonic LV-81, the Remington HyperFlex is extremely quiet. The motor isn't nearly as strong, but, the design of the head, it's ability to flex and contour around your face, and the rotary blades, more than makes up for that.
It is extremely difficult to edge around my goatee, however. The design of the head creates a bit of an edge/lip that you can't see around when trying to figure out where the spinning blades are. More than once I got a bit too close and an intentionally long whisker was yoinked from its happy home with an "UMPH!" uttered from me.
Here's the head close up:
As you can see, the (pivoting) head (in blue) immediately flares out wide enough for the rotary blades, but because of that flare you really can't see how close the razors are to your beard.
The razor also has a pop-up trimming tool, but it's not pop-down. You push a button to release it, but you have to push the trimmer back down manually. You can see the hatch for the trimming tool on the left of the image.
Result of shaving? My face is smooth. My face is also red. My face is also on fire.
Grabbed the Aesop after-shave lotion swiftly..it helped with the burn, but, the entire day things felt a bit sensitive and scraped. I'm chalking this up to a new razor, rotary design, and the fact that it really does get very, very close.
Day two: Okay, I'm getting the hang of this.
You really can't use an up-and-down shaving stroke with this razor, you must use a circular motion, or the angle of the blades and head will do you no favours. Lost a few more whiskers due to coming too close to the goatee again. Ouch.
One odd thing, I have no idea how long I'm shaving for. I think it's longer than I normally shave; but not by much - this is mostly due to the angles I have to work at around the goatee. There are other models of the HyperFlex which come with a digital display that tells you your shave time; truthfully, I don't know why this would matter - but I do find it interesting that from day to day the required time to a smooth shave varies considerably. Mild curiosity about the human male condition...
Very impressed by the HyperFlex's ability to contour to the face. It does a great job along the neck/chin area, as well as under the ear and along the jaw line.
Day three: I wish I could give this razor a bit more face-time, but I promised Nicole that I'd complete this review by today ahead of the deadline requested by the very kind firm who sent along the unit for review purposes.
Why more time? Well, I think my face is JUST starting to get used to how a rotary works on it again. It's been well over a decade and old shaving habits die hard.
So, three day challenge complete, what are my thoughts?
Men's beards grow differently; some of us have very slow growth that is easy to keep in check and can go days without being shaved -- others, however, such as myself, have a pretty fast growing beard that needs daily close attention.
And close attention is what the Remington provides.
Indeed, one of the most lasting impressions I'll have of this razor is that it reminds me a LOT of wet-shaving with a razor blade; without the mess.
For a lot of men that's a huge bonus. If your face wants to be facial-hair free, and you can make full use of the three rotary blades gliding over your face and neck, this razor will do you well, especially for the price point.
The model I reviewed is the XR1330AU, which has a recommended price of $119.95 Australian Dollars.
However - there's a reason that I use electric razors and not traditional safety razors / wet shaves: My skin just can't take it. It burns. It gets red. It gets blotchy in a few areas on my neck. There's no doubt that things are very smooth, but, that smoothness never lasts and I have to weigh the benefits of that skin-like-glass feeling with the cost of ouch-ouch-ouch.
The first day I tried the Remington I knew what I was going to be in for - a super close shave that reminded me a of wet-razor shaving, and a burning sensation on my face most of the day.
I don't usually use after-shave lotions, maybe once every few weeks, but all three days with the Remington has required it. The first day was the worst - second day was not nearly as bad, and today, the third day, I'm hoping will be even better (I'm writing this about half an hour after shaving with the Remington for the third time).
Don't get me wrong: This is not the razor's fault. This is my skin, my face, my beard.
There is no doubt that the Remington delivers on a close-shave experience; it even did a better job of getting some particularly annoying whiskers I have that grow in two spots that are resistant to my normal razor's plying. The rotary head and blades has a lot to do with that.
For the dry-shaving experience, it delivered remarkably well.
For me, personally, the best shaving experience is still my Panasonic LV-81, with a wet shave. That combination provides, for me, the ultimate close shave, without the burn.
But that's not always an option, and the Remington is a great and cost-effective alternative.
So, final wrap up....
Pro: Very close shave, lightweight, very comfortable to hold, surprisingly quiet
Con: Not great for edging moustache, goatee, etc regions due to circular blades and head design. Can be too close of a shave, depending upon your skin.
I can't stress strongly enough the importance of following the shaving guidelines by Remington; use the circular motion and use the razor for a good three weeks to fully see the best results. If I had the three weeks, I'm sure many of the issues I encountered would be done away with.
As for whether or not I'll be making a play for Remington in the way Viktor Kiam did? I think they're safe from me. For now.