PROS: reasonably close and comfortable shaves, inexpensive, very practical popup trimmer, easy to clean, quiet, lightweight
CONS: long 8 hours charging time, no quick charge option, no wet shaving capabilities, tricky areas require additional passes, average battery life, can't be used while charging
The Philips Norelco S1560/81 Shaver 2100 continues the trend of electric razors that offer decent 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 bestseller in its category, the 2100 replaces the older 6948XL/41 model and brings along a few improvements of its own.
Read along for our full Philips Norelco 2100 (S1560/81) review as we put the shaver through its paces and find out if it’s right for you.
UPDATE: A new updated model is also available called the Philips Norelco Shaver 2300 S1211/81.
It’s basically the same product performance-wise, but with a new design and both cordless&corded operation. Since it’s widely available and costs less than the 2100, I strongly recommend getting the 2300. You can read my review of it here.
Table of Contents
The 2100 (S1560/81) is an entry-level model 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 and feature self-sharpening blades.
The razor can only be operated cordless and is fitted with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. The front part 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 well for minor grooming and trimming.
Other more expensive razors (like the 6100) only come with a click on trimmer, so props to Philips 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 your razor in the shower or with shaving cream, you’ll have to opt for an Aquatec model.
There’s no travel lock present on the Norelco 2100 and you won’t get a travel pouch either, but that’s to be expected for a razor in this price range.
Build quality and ergonomics
The design of the S1560/81 is classic Philips Norelco, with the familiar ergonomic shape of the shaver’s body and the three-head shaving unit.
With a mostly black color scheme and a dash of blue, it looks quite nice and definitely not as stark as its predecessor.
The razor feels very light and comfortable in the hand, while the rubber insert on the front provides a very secure grip.
Despite its low price, the build quality seems quite good and has a durable and solid feel.
Some may associate the low weight and hollow feeling of the shaver with poor build quality, but I didn’t feel it was the case here. Overall, very decent build quality for the price.
Battery life and charging
As mentioned previously, the Philips Shaver S1560/81 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.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the shaver could also be used while charging, but with the 2100 that’s not possible. And this is very odd as in general dry only models can be used in this manner.
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 another bummer.
Cleaning and maintenance
As it was expected in the case of an inexpensive razor, you won’t get a cleaning station. And that’s ok, as the Philips 2100 is very easy to clean.
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 hairs and rinse the inside of the chamber and the cutters with warm water, pat dry with a cloth 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 the combs and blades are matching pairs and must not be mixed.
Please refer to the shaver’s user manual for a detailed overview of this operation.
Let’s now get to the most important part of our review of the Philips Norelco 2100 (S1560/81), the actual shaving performance.
As you probably already know by now, the Shaver 2100 is only suitable to be used for dry shaving, so the performance section of this review will only refer to that use case.
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 was quite a pleasant surprise. While it won’t shave as close and as fast as other more expensive Norelco shavers, it does a decent job.
Using it daily or even every two to three days will yield 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 major skin irritation or hair pulling.
Don’t expect however the comfort you’ll get from something like the Philips S9000 Prestige for example.
As it was to be expected from a rotary shaver, the noise is kept to a minimum during use.
The reduced weight of the razor, along with the comfortable and smooth operation really makes for a surprisingly pleasant shaving experience.
The integrated pop-up trimmer is useful and practical as well, even though it doesn’t cut as efficiently as the trimmers from other shaver brands.
The positioning is great and the head of the shaver doesn’t get in your way.
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
- User’s manual
Replacement parts availability
The Norelco Shaver 2100 uses the SH30 replacement heads that should be changed once every year.
The price used to be very high, almost matching the price of a new 2100 shaver.
It has however dropped significantly and can now be bought for a reasonable amount of money.
SH30 Replacement Heads
Wrapup — Who should buy the Norelco 2100 (S1560/81)?
Anyone looking to buy an inexpensive rotary razor for dry shaving only should consider the Norelco 2100 as its performance will be good enough for most users, especially when used daily.
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 average battery life, 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.
Philips Norelco Shaver 3100
The Philips Norelco Shaver 3100 addresses pretty much all the shortcomings of the 2100. For a few dollars more, you’ll get a shaver with better battery life (45 minutes) and it can be also used while connected to a power outlet.
Charging still takes between 6 and 8 hours, but at least you’ll be able to shave with the cord plugged in.
The 3100 is also suitable for dry only use, but if you want a wet/dry shaver you should check out the Philips Norelco 3500. This shaver only takes one hour to fully charge and also features a quick charge option.
Philips Norelco S1560/81 vs S1211/81
Finally, there’s the newer version mentioned at the beginning of the review, precisely the S1211/81 model aka the Shaver 2300.
If you’re debating getting the Philips S1560/81 vs S1211/81, for a similar price, the latter makes more sense.
Here are the main differences/improvements:
- Slightly larger battery (40 minutes of cordless use)
- Nicer design
- Cordless and corded use
The S1211/81 uses the same SH30 cutting heads, so the shaving performance will be pretty much identical.
However, due to the improvements it brings over the 2100 (S1560/81), it is the better pick.