The good: close and comfortable shaves, inexpensive, very practical popup trimmer, easy to clean, quiet, light weight
The bad: long 8 hours charging time, no quick charge option, no wet shaving capabilities, tricky areas require additional passes, expensive replacement heads
Table of Contents
The Philips Norelco 2100 shaver continues the trend of very capable inexpensive shavers that offer excellent performance at a low cost. While Panasonic and Braun are the undisputed kings of budget friendly foil shavers, Norelco is pretty much the only big player in the rotary razors game.
A best seller in its category, the 2100 (S1560/81) replaces the older 6948XL/41 razor and brings along a few improvements. Read along for our full, in-depth Philips Norelco 2100 review.
The 2100 is an entry level product from Norelco’s current line of electric shavers and has just the right amount of features for a basic, no frills razor that will get the job done.
The shaving unit is made up of three cutting heads that can flex independently in 4 directions and feature self-sharpening blades.
The razor can only be operated cordless and is fitted with a Li-Ion battery. The front side also features a battery full, battery low and charging indicator.
A very pleasant surprise is the presence of an integrated pop-up trimmer that works quite good for general grooming and trimming. Other more expensive razors (like the 6100) only come with a click on trimmer, so props to Norelco for including it.
Finally, the shaver is only suitable for dry shaving, even though it can be safely rinsed with water for cleaning. If you plan on using it in the shower or with a shaving cream, you’ll have to opt for an Aquatec model.
Build quality and ergonomics
The design of the 2100 is classic Norelco, with the familiar ergonomic shape and triple shaving head. With a black color scheme and a dash of blue, it looks quite nice and definitely not as stark as its predecessor.
The razor feel very light and compact in the hand, while the rubber inserts provide a very secure grip. Despite its low price, the build quality seems very good, with no rough edges or crackling sounds present.
Some may associate the low weight and hollow feeling of the shaver with poor build quality, but I didn’t feel that was the case here. Overall, a very decent build quality for the price.
Battery life and charging
As said before, the Norelco Shaver 2100 can only be operated cordless and comes with a Li-Ion battery that provides up to 35 minutes of shaving time when fully charged. Regarding the charging, it takes a whopping 8 hours. Long charging time is still one of the main drawbacks of some Norelco budget shavers, as we’ve seen in the case of the 3500 that we reviewed in the past.
The charging cord plugs directly into the shaver as there is no charging stand included. On the front of the razor there is a charging indicator that signals battery low (light blinks orange) and battery full (lights up green continuously).
Also, there is no quick charge option, which is a bummer.
Cleaning and maintenance
After completing your shave, just rinse the razor head under hot tap water. After that, press the release button located on the back of the shaver to pop open the shaving unit. Dump the hair and rinse under running water the inside of the chamber and the cutters, pat dry the excess water and leave it open to fully dry.
The above operation must be performed after every use. Every once in a while, a more thorough cleaning procedure must be carried out. This involves removing and cleaning individually the three cutters. It is a rather fiddly operation that takes more time and must be done carefully, cleaning only one cutter at a time as they must be inserted back in the exact same position. Please refer to the shaver’s user manual for a detailed overview of this operation.
And now let’s get to the most important part of our Philips Norelco 2100 review, the actual shaving performance.
As you probably already know by now, the 2100 is only suitable to be used for dry shaving, so the performance section of this review will only refer to this situation. Even though the lack of wet shaving capabilities can be considered a minus, you know exactly what you’re getting with this particular razor.
Regarding the shaving experience itself, the 2100 is quite a pleasant surprise. While it won’t shave as close and as fast as other more expensive Norelco shavers, it does a very decent job.
Using it for daily shaving or even every two to three days will yield equally good results. The jawline and neck areas are always more difficult to tackle for any shaver, so additional passes may be required here.
As far as comfort goes, the Norelco 2100 proved to be again a surprisingly good razor for its category. Provided the battery is properly charged and the cutters are in good condition, you shouldn’t experience any skin irritation or hair pulling.
As it was expected from a rotary shaver, the noise is kept to a minimum during use. The light weight of the razor, along with the comfortable and smooth operation really make for a pleasant shaving experience.
The integrated pop-up trimmer is very useful and practical as well. The positioning is great and works really well. Again, it’s a really nice addition for a shaver in this price range.
The retail package only includes the bare essentials. Besides the shaver itself, you’ll find the following items:
- Protective plastic cap
- Charging cord
- Travel pouch
Replacement parts availability
The Norelco 2100 uses the SH30 Replacement Head that should be changed once every year. Nothing too unusual until you find out the price of this accessory: almost the same as a brand new shaver. Considering that the 2100 is marketed as a very affordable shaver, it’s really hard to understand Norelco’s price strategy for the replacement parts.
This is by far the main drawback of this razor and possibly a deal breaker for some. After all, nobody wants a budget shaver with high running costs. For example, replacement parts for entry level shavers from Braun or Panasonic usually cost significantly less.
Wrapup – Who should buy it?
Anyone looking for an inexpensive rotary razor for dry shaving only should consider the Norelco 2100 as its performance will be good enough for most, especially when used for daily shaving. Having said that, if you do require very close shaves you might want to up your budget and look for a more capable shaver.
You must be aware of the shaver’s main drawbacks, which are, in my opinion, the high cost of the replacement head, the long charging time and the lack of a quick charge option. A very low price seems very appealing at first, but you must carefully analyze what you’re really getting in return.
I personally think that there are too many compromises made in order to keep the purchase price low. And these compromises add up to the point where a low initial investment is simply not enough. There are better options for a slightly higher price as we’ll see in the next section.
The Norelco Shaver 4100 addresses pretty much all the shortcomings of the 2100. For a few dollars more, you’ll get a shaver that uses the HQ8 replacement heads that are more reasonably priced, it only takes one hour to fully charge, has better battery life and also features a 3 minute quick charge option. On top of that there’s the Aquatec logo, which means the razor can be used for both wet & dry shaving. The extra money are well spent it in my opinion.
For slightly less you can also opt for the new Norelco 3500. This one also can be used for wet & dry shaving, only takes one hour to fully charge and has a quick charge option. Unfortunately, it uses the same SH30 shaving head as the 2100 in this review, meaning the higher running cost is still an issue.