I am a bearded individual. But I don’t always have a beard. I have a routine of letting my beard grow out until my neck starts itching, then shaving it off with a Gillette Fusion 5 blade razor. This makes me clean shaven for a day or two and bearded for a couple of weeks. I HATE buying razors. I HATE it. They are stupid and a waste of money. And since I’ve been using the 5 blade razor heads (believe me, I’d go 6 blade if they had ’em) I can’t go back to the cheap-o disposable Bics; I tried, it was a bloody mess. Last week I remembered I had some “thank you” points left on the credit card I just paid off. I decided I had been lazy for long enough and started researching a quality beard trimmer. Most beard trimmer reviews spoke highly of a Norelco trimmer called the QT4070 Beard and Stubble Trimmer. The beauty behind this trimmer is that it has a vacuum built into it that is supposed to suck all the hairs into a compartment. I was able to cover the cost of it completely with my rewards points ($60) and I picked it up the next day. While I was at the store I also noticed a nice little Wahl Complete Hair Trimming Kit for less than half the price of the trimmer I just purchased. I decided to buy both and put them to the test in a Beard Trimmer Ultimate Showdown. Here is my review:
First off, may I just say, this is a beautiful piece of beard machinery. It’s sleek design and solid build quality made me a little giddy taking it out of the box. Throw in an LCD that displays remaining charge and comb height and you have my attention. But how well does it trim a beard? I vowed 3 – 4 weeks before that I would never again buy a razor blade so, needless to say, I had a pretty healthy beard growing by then. I set the guard to 1/4 of an inch and shaved away. I was a little disappointed with my experience for a number of reasons. 1) The vacuum is sort of a gimmick. I mean, it certainly catches most of the hair, but if it doesn’t catch all of the hair, that means I still have to clean up. I’d say it catches about 90% and gently blows away the other 10% which spreads evenly across my bathroom countertop. 2) As with most battery powered shavers, it’s not that powerful. It even has a button that puts it in “turbo mode” for the denser parts of your man thicket; even then, it still doesn’t compare to the power of a chorded shaver (more on that later). And when in turbo mode, the vacuum sucks harder and subsequently louder. And 3) the guard is deceiving. What I mean by this is, you might think a short comb is desirable because you’d be able to more easily trim the toughest part of the beard to access: the northern upper-lip area. While it does make clipping these hairs easier, the price you pay is an increased likelihood that you are going to accidentally hold the trimmer at the wrong angle and produce and uneven beard. All in all, I did not see what everyone was talking about in the reviews I read on the internet about the QT4070. I gave it another try a week later to make sure that I didn’t just have an atypically bad experience but witnessed no improvement in the vacuum even though the clippings were much shorter.
Next I put the classic barber shop Wahl Clippers to the test. We got off to another good start with these clippers but not because of the looks (granted, stainless steel is definitely a sign of a man tool). I guess I had never looked around for barber shop clippers, but man, they are CHEAP ($25, and this came with the whole kit!). As far as the experience goes, I could not have been happier with them. If the Norelco shaver was a hybrid sedan, Wahl clippers are a 500hp muscle car. The shear power behind these clippers is enough to win me over. When you flip the switch on this bad boy you feel the torque of the motor twist in your hand. It required far less passes to shave my beard as compared to the Norelco. Also, its wide trimming blades and longer guard made for a much more even shave with no opportunity for accident. I love the fact that it plugs into the wall. I would never need to shave while driving (my occupation has no facial hair requirements) so it’s not a limiting factor and I’ll never forget to charge it because it doesn’t have a battery. Yes you have to oil it now and then, and it doesn’t come with as many guards as the Norelco had settings but the No. 1 works fine for me.
Bottom line: the QT4070 is mostly a gimmick and the Wahl is a tried and true solution to a quality beard trimmer.