Updated: May 9, 2015
Braun Series 7 Pulsonic Shaver 9595 - Review:The Braun Series 7 Pulsonic Electric Shaver is the top of the line model offered by Braun. In this guide, we take one home and report back with detailed photos and user comments. If you are going to spend $200 for an electric shaver, you want to know what you are getting for your money. The photo at the right shows the actual contents of the box when you open it -- we'd don't just list manufacturer specs here, we use this shaver just like you would -- and we'll give you the detailed review of the Braun Pulsonic Shaver below. Like many consumer products companies, Braun has a variety of names for the same thing. The Braun Series 7 Pulsonic Shaver is also known as the Braun 7-790cc and the Braun 9595. Braun makes a Series 1, 3, 5, and 7 -- the Series 7 is the most advanced and the most expensive. If you want to find out if this is the best men's electric shaver, you've come to the right place. Keep reading.
Braun Shavers - Braun Series 5 vs. Braun Series 7 Electric Razor
Braun makes a complete family of electric shavers for men. The Braun Series 1 and Series 3 are their entry level models -- they shave like a Braun but without a lot of fancy features. The Braun Series 5 was the first to offer a self-cleaning system (they call it the Clean and Renew System). When you are done using your razor, you put it upside down in a plastic holding stand that contains a cleaning fluid canister at the bottom. Push the CLEAN button, and cleaning fluid washes over the razor head and foil (while the razor runs) and then drains out, removing hair and junk from inside the razor. The main difference between the Series 5 and the Series 7 is the Pulsonic technology (which vibrates your skin to make your whiskers stand up) and the SensoFlex suspension (both on the 7, not on the 5). The Braun 7 series actually includes three models, the 720 (which does not offer the automatic cleaning system or LCD screen), the 760cc (which has an LED charging indicator instead of the LCD and does not offer Fast Clean), and the 790cc (which has everything). Other than that, they each have the same 50 minute battery life and Pulsonic features. But as you read the review below, you'll see what the key features worth paying for are.
Detailed Review of Braun Series 7-790cc ShaversOK, so let's start with the basics - how much does it cost? The Braun Series 7-790cc Pulsonic will set you back just over $200. What do you get for that? The first picture at the top of this page shows the contents of the box: the plastic white base unit (which handle storage, cleaning, and charging -- you can see the two metal contact points near the top, it charges just by resting the razor against it); the charging cord; one canister of Clean and Renew fluid; the shaver itself; a plastic carrying case with brush; and the instruction manual.
Let's start with how the storage and cleaning system works. The first photo to the right shows how when you push the button on the left side of the base, it pops up to reveal the area below where you insert the cleaning fluid cartridge. Each cleaning cartridge has a plastic snap-off lid which you remove before inserting it into the base and then push the base down to close it. One word of warning here -- you now have an open container of cleaning fluid on your countertop, even though it is hidden inside. Do not knock the base over, pick it up and tip it, or anything else like that or the cleaning fluid will spill out (so maybe warn a wife, girlfriend, or cleaning person who might be fiddling with the stuff on your counter!). A 3-pack of the Clean and Renew cartridges costs $16 -- just over $5 each. One cartridge is supposed to last for about 30 days of daily cleaning (the fluid is largely alcohol, so it evaporates over time, plus it starts to get murky with all your bits of hair and skin floating around in it..). This is how the cleaning system works. The LCD indicator on the base of the shaver has two indicators - one for "hygiene" and one for battery charge. You'll find that the hygiene meter drops by about one third every time you use the shaver, and from what I can tell, pretty much regardless of how dirty it actually is. To be honest, I have used prior Braun shavers for months without a serious cleaning other than tapping it on the sink, and I never had a "hygiene problem". Anyways, when you place the shaver back into the charging stand (you put it in upside down with the handle facing up), the unit checks the hygiene level and then recommends a cleaning level - eco, normal, or intensive (see second photo). It won't actually start cleaning until you press the START CLEANING button, or the FAST CLEAN (takes about 30 seconds) button for just a quick cleanup.
So you don't HAVE to use the cleaning system every day - just do it when you feel like it. When you do start a cleaning cycle, you will hear the shaver turn on and off a few times by itself as cleaning fluid fills the chamber and washes over the vibrating shaver head and foil, then drains out -- this can take up to 30 minutes as it goes through several cycles of washing and drying (again, you may want to warn whoever else shares your bathroom that it is normal for your razor to be turning off and on by itself when you aren't there..). When complete, your shaver will be clean, properly lubricated, and have a slight lemony smell. My take -- yes, Braun wants you to spend $5 extra per month on cleaning fluid, that way they make an extra $60 off you each year since you probably won't replace your shaver for 5 years or more. Is it nice to have a nice clean shaver? Sure. Do you need to run it every day? No. If you want to save some money, just keep the snap-on cap on the cleaning fluid cartridge, pop it into the base unit when you want to clean your shaver (every week or two or whatever), and put the cap back on when done to keep it from evaporating. You could probably get one cleaning cartridge to last 3-6 months that way. The Braun Series 7 790cc Pulsonic is also safe to clean under running water (the cutterblock and foil are removed by pushing a release button on the side of the shaver head -- click back into place when done), so you can manually clean it every day or two and then let the machine clean it more thoroughly a few times per month. The next 2 photos show the shaver with the cutting head removed and a closeup of the foil and cuttingblock -- you can see it is a single unit, which makes it kind of hard to clean with a brush since you can't really get into it (older Braun shavers had a large vibrating razor that pressed up against the foil -- in this design, the foil and razors are all combined and kind of hidden).
As noted above, the base unit also acts as the charger for the Braun shaver -- just pop it in upside down into the resting storage position and it will charge. You should be able to get 50 minutes of use from a single, full charge. I find it takes me about 3 minutes for a complete, close shave, so that would give me about 15 shaves while on the road without needing the charger cord. The cord disconnects from the base unit and can connect directly to the Pulsonic, so you can travel lightly with just the cord and shaver if needed. OK, onto the Series 7 Pulsonic shaver itself.
The next picture shows how big the Braun Series 7 is in your hand. It's pretty good size, solid but not too heavy. It has just a single button on the front near the bottom there -- that's the on/off button. Visible at the very bottom edge is the circular LCD screen that displays the hygiene and battery indicators, about the size of a quarter (next picture for close-up view). There is a precision trimmer (for sideburns, bottom of mustache, etc.) built in right on the front of the shaver. When you slide your thumb up on the area just above the on/off button, the trimmer pops up and becomes the active cutting surface. Slide your thumb back down and the trimmer folds neatly back into place (you honestly can't tell it's there). The next picture shows a close-up of the cutting foil with the precision trimmer popped up. The pop-up trimmer is one of my few complaints about the Series 7. Older Braun shavers had a trimmer that slid up parallel to the shaver head, and it was the same width as the shaver head, so you would hold the shaver like you do a cell-phone and use it to shave around ears, sideburns, etc. This new pop-up design give you a smaller trimmer that stands up perpendicular to the shaver (see next photo), and for me, it's just harder to see around and use. I find it almost impossible to trim around my ears, though it works OK for sideburns. I just don't like it compared to my previous shaver. The back of the Braun electric shaver is a black rubberized material, and it extends around the sides as well, giving you a firm grip even when wet (see final photo at right).
Braun Shaving - Using the Braun Pulsonic Series 7:The shaving with the Pulsonic 9595 is similar to using most electric shavers. You hold the shaver head at a 90 degree angle to your face (so the top of the shaver is flat against your face) and move it around, trying to go against the grain of your whisker growth to cut as many whiskers as close as possible. For your neck and other areas, it sometimes helps to pull your skin taut and change angles to get the closest shave you can. One thing that really sets the Braun Series 7 apart is the SensoFlex (see photo to left - both sides of the foil move up or down as it moves along your face) -- basically, both sides of the head can move up and down while the entire head pivots, like a self-levelling suspension for your face. So while you move the razor around the contours of your face, it automatically adjusts to maintain maximum contact with your skin. That's probably one of the first things I noticed when I started using the Pulsonic -- I just didn't have to push as hard as I did with my old shaver. There is no need to try to jam it up against your skin to maximize contact -- this things pivots and adjusts so delicately it's quite amazing. I think I still make the same numbers of passes over my cheeks, chin, and neck -- it just doesn't feel like I have to work so hard, which is nice. So that's one of my main compliments of the Braun 9595 -- the "suspension" that keeps the blades and foil right next to your skin really works better than other shavers I have used. So after a shave (which takes about 3 minutes as mentioned above), most of my face really does feel as smooth as if I had just shaved with a razor -- "as close as a blade", as they say. This Braun gives me the closest shave I have ever had with an electric shaver. And, there is no tugging, no pinching, no discomfort at all -- though I think you feel the vibrations a little more in your hand, you don't really feel your face vibrate at all (it is happening something like 10,000 times per minute).
Now one problem I have always had with electric razors is on my neck. I can get the jawline and area below my chin OK where the skin and underlying tissue is solid, but the sides of the neck where the skin moves around your windpipe has always been a problem, forcing me to follow-up with shaving cream and a disposable razor to get a close shave. It only takes 15 seconds extra, but it's still a hassle. So how does the Braun Pulsonic Series 7 handle this trouble-spot? It's not perfect. With a lot of skin pulling and moving around, I can probably get to about 80% good, but always with some stragglers. In my view, it is simply impossible to get a perfect shave on your neck using an electric shaver -- the hairs grow in different densities and at different angles, and you just can't get them all. Some guys are OK with a little neck stubble and they just don't worry about it, but it bugs me. With the Series 7, I get close enough that I can probably forget it about it for 1 shave, then break out the shaving cream for the second shave to really get it cut smooth. So that's complaint #2 I have -- you can't quite get close enough on your neck to call it a "perfect" shave, though it is better than other shavers I have used. One other thing -- Braun tells you to give your face 30 days or more to adjust to the new shaver and how it cuts. I've done that, having used this for 60+ days now. I think it might have helped a bit for my cheeks, but I have not seen any improvement around the neck area, even after using it for 2 months.
So to sum it all up, I would give the Braun Series 7 an A- for an overall grade -- just about perfect, just wish the precision trimmer was easier to use and wish it could finish off my neck without having to use shaving cream and razor. Other than that, this thing really is the best electric shaver out there. And yes, you are going to pay $100-$150 more than you would for an average electric razor, but assuming you use it everyday for several years, we're talking about pennies per day to get a really good, really close, really fast shave. If you're looking for the best Braun electric shaver, this is it. Check low prices online and buy the Pulsonic Series 7 today.