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Electric shavers vie for customers with cutting-edge technology
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Berlin - A person could be forgiven for thinking that "triple action free float system" had something to do with the shuttle programme of the US space agency NASA. The term actually describes a new generation of electric shavers, which these days are often unquestionably high-tech, self-cleaning and have nanocoated blades.

The question is, who needs all that technology in a shaver?

Be that as it may, there are two types of electric shavers: foil and rotary. The German company Braun, like almost all shaver manufacturers, makes foil shavers, which have an oscillating cutter block behind an ultra-thin perforated steel foil. The Dutch company Philips makes rotary shavers, which use spinning circular blades. US-based Remington makes both types.

"As far as performance is concerned, the two types are equal," remarked Thomas Mueller of Stiftung Warentest, a Berlin-based independent consumer-protection group. "Which system one prefers is basically a matter of personal taste."

Braun's top-of-the-line 790cc uses "sonic pulsing action" to achieve an especially close shave, explained Jens Bergfeld, responsible for shavers at the Schwalbach, Germany offices of US-based Procter & Gamble, of which Braun is a wholly owned subsidiary. He said vibrations from the shaver head made hairs stand on end, enabling them to be better sheared off.

Rival Panasonic, of Japan, woos customers with high speed and cutting power in its ES8249 foil shaver, whose quadruple arc blades are driven by a 13,000 rpm motor.

High-end shavers like these cost 300 euros (410 dollars) and more, compared with discount store models starting at about 30 euros. The difference in price can be felt on one's face, according to Stiftung Warentest. Using a cheap shaver, its testers had to shave some areas of the chin several times because the cutting head could not adapt to the contours. Higher priced shavers did better.

Many new models are waterproof, allowing them to be used in the shower. "I wonder if that's necessary, though," Mueller commented. "Who, after all, shaves in the shower?" Bergfeld, however, pointed out that full-body shaves were best done in the shower because hairs were pulled less when shaved under running water.[Image: Electric_Shaver.jpg]

Full-body shaves have become very popular, noted Julia Bouwman, a Hamburg-based spokeswoman for Philips. In a survey by the Munich-based TNS Infratest research institute, commissioned by Philips, about one in six Germans said that unshaven armpits were unattractive. And in the view of 30 per cent of the male respondents, a full-body shave is important for hygienic reasons.

When shopping for a shaver, Mueller said, consumers should not only check its technical specifications but also whether it feels comfortable in their hand and the buttons are easy to reach. If the model has a trimmer, it is advisable to note its position, he added, because "sometimes they're attached so awkwardly that you can't see in the mirror what you're trimming." (dpa)
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