The good: very close shaves, comfortable, wet & dry operation, powerful motor, quiet, compact size, excellent battery life
The bad: foil tends to get warm during prolonged use, standard retail price is pretty high, running costs higher than on other shavers
Table of Contents
The Panasonic ES-LF-51-A Arc 4 electric shaver promises remarkably close and comfortable shaves due to its smart and innovative features. We put the shaver through its paces for almost a month of use in various conditions and have come up with an in-depth, real-world Panasonic ES-LF51-A review. Read along to see how it performed and if it’s worth buying.
Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4 is a foil electric razor that can be used for both dry and wet shaving; as the name Arc 4 suggest, it features a 4 blade shaving head (2 cutting foils, 1 slit foil and 1 finishing foil) powered by a very fast and quiet 14000 CPM linear motor. The cutting blades are Panasonic’s notorious nano-blades, made from high-quality stainless-steel and sharpen at a very aggressive 30 degrees angle, ensuring clean and effective cutting.
The cutting head has a pivoting function, allowing it to move up and down and also to pivot from left to right. It can be locked in place when shaving delicate areas for more precision and control.
Other features worth mentioning are the LED readout, built-in pop-up trimmer, travel lock, 5 minute quick charge option and a sonic vibration cleaning mode.
You can check out our unboxing video below:
Build quality and ergonomics
The Panasonic ES-LF51-A is surprisingly compact for a 4 blade razor. The shaving head is not bulky as the pictures may suggest, while the shaver itself fits great in the hand and feels light and grippy.
The build quality is usually very solid for Panasonic razors and this one is no exception. The plastic has a glossy finish with a nice pearly effect, while a rubber sleeve covers the back and the sides, ensuring a very secure grip.
The 5 stage LED display is clear and useful, displaying the remaining battery charge in increments of 20%. Surrounding the power button you’ll find the circular travel lock switch, while on the side there is a switch for locking the pivoting head in place. On the back side there is a pop-up trimmer, typical for Panasonic shavers. As I’ve said in other reviews, I don’t find this positioning particularly fortunate as the shaving head gets in the way and you can’t really see what you’re doing. A quick and easy fix to this is to remove the foil and inner blades.
Overall the build quality and ergonomics are very good and nothing really stands out in a negative way.
Click the images for full size.
Battery life and charging
Like all wet & dry shavers nowadays, the Panasonic ES-LF51-A can only be used cordless due to safety concerns; it comes with a Li-Ion battery that should be able to provide enough power for 45 minutes of use. And in real life conditions it really matches the claimed numbers; moreover, due to the fact that the motor maintains its peak power right to the end of the charge, it gives the impression of even longer battery life. Therefore, no pulling or tugging is experienced when the battery is running low as it’s the case with other electric shavers.
Charging takes approximately one hour and is carried out via the included AC 100-240V adapter. When plugged in, the charge status icon will glow and the number of the battery capacity lamp will increase as the charging progresses. After it has completed, all the lamps will turn off.
Cleaning and maintenance
Since it doesn’t come with a cleaning station, the ES-LF51-A must be cleaned manually after every use. Since it’s completely waterproof, this operation is very straightforward and easy.
After completing the shave, just pour some liquid soap on the outer foil and activate the cleaning mode by pressing and holding the power button. After approximately 20 seconds it will automatically turn off. After that you just remove the outer foil, press and hold again the power button to activate the cleaning mode again and hold the shaver with the inner blades under running tap water. Give the outer foil a thorough and careful rinse too; pat the shaver and foil with a towel and let them dry completely before storing the shaver in a cabinet.
I have been using the ES-LF51-A for almost a month by the time of writing this review. In order to get a more accurate and unbiased picture of its performance, the razor was used in various scenarios — one to three days of growth, both dry and wet shaving.
The shaving performance in terms of closeness and comfort was very solid. It shaves effortlessly and with minimal discomfort — in the form of the foil getting warm after extended use — but not to the point where it would cause razor burn or irritation.
I also liked the fact that despite its 4 blades, the shaving head is very compact and easy to maneuver and makes the whole experience very enjoyable.
What really impresses is the fast 14000 CPM motor that really maintains its performance even when the battery is almost drained and manages to cut the hair very close and with minimal effort. Shaving takes little time and I experienced no tugging or pulling regardless of how the shaver was being used. It’s also quiet during operation, generating a high pitched, but not at all intrusive buzz.
All in all, a very solid performance.
This is the part where I expected a bit more. Panasonic decided to only include a faux leather travel case and the AC adapter; not even a cleaning brush or a small bottle of oil for lubricating the foil and cutters.
Other manufacturers — like Braun for example — include this type of accessories even for their lower priced shavers. Also, if you would like a cleaning and charging stand you will have to look elsewhere as the ES-LF51-A doesn’t offer the option for one.
Replacement parts availability
Panasonic recommends replacing the outer foil every year and the two inner blades every two years. You can also buy them together as a set.
While the blades are very reasonably priced, the outer foil is a bit on the expensive side. Buying them together as a set also won’t give you any benefits in terms of money savings. The blades and foil combo represents basically a third of the shaver’s price.
As a comparison, a replacement cassette (foil and cutters) for Braun 7 Series 790CC usually costs half the price of a Panasonic foil and blades combo.
Wrapup – Who should buy it?
Panasonic ES-LF51-A is a very easy to use shaver that performs excellent, provides close and comfortable shaves and has great battery life. It can be used for both wet and dry shaving and its compact size makes it suitable for traveling too.
Anyone looking for a capable foil shaver should definitely consider it. It’s suitable for sensitive skin, deals great with both coarse and fine hair, while the powerful motor and 4 blades ensure fast shaving times. It can also be successfully used for shaving the head.
For starters, we have the excellent Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4, a very similar shaver in terms of specs and performance; it has the same powerful 14000 CPM motor, same inner blades and similar design and at the time of writing it can be bought for significantly less than the ES-LF51-A.
Then we have the highly acclaimed Braun 7 Series 790cc; it comes with an excellent cleaning and charging station, it has probably the best build quality of any shaver and performs outstandingly. It’s also very cheap to run as the replacement parts are inexpensive and will last a long time. Keep in mind though that it can only be used for dry shaving; you can check out our in depth review of the Braun 7 Series 790cc here.
The takeaway is pretty simple: the Panasonic ES-LF51-A is a must buy if you can find it at a discount; otherwise, there are other better options like the ones listed above.