Pros: very close shaves, comfortable, powerful motor, fast, good build quality, useful LCD display, excellent pop-up trimmer, wet & dry use, easy to clean, good value for money
Cons: large shaving head, pricey foils & blades, not as good as Braun shavers for very sensitive skin, not great for long and flat-lying hairs
One of the most popular models in the Arc 4 line, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S is an electric shaver that seems to get almost everything right.
Moreover, the price has seen massive drops since the shaver’s introduction back in 2011 and can often be found at a great price.
But before going right ahead and buying it, you should know that it comes with a few cons as well. After all, no electric razor is perfect.
In this review we’ll take a close look at what makes the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4 a great shaver, while also highlighting the negative aspects. Finally, we’ll check out some alternatives from Panasonic and Braun.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Panasonic ES-LA63-S features overview
- Build quality and ergonomics
- Included accessories
- Battery life and charging
- Panasonic ES-LA63-S shaving performance
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Replacement parts availability
- Wrapup — who should buy the ES-LA63-S?
- Alternative shavers
Panasonic ES-LA63-S features overview
I try to avoid getting too hung up on specs, so I’ll just briefly go over the most important features of the ES-LA63-S.
4 blade cutting system
As the Arc 4 name suggests, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S features a shaving unit comprised of 4 slightly arched cutting elements.
While it has one less blade compared to the range-topping Arc 5 models, 4 blades are still easily enough and even overkill in some cases.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the shaving head components:
- Regular cutting foils
- Finishing foil (for cutting stubble close to skin level)
- Slit foil (for capturing and cutting down to size longer hairs)
It’s the same setup you’ll find on the other Arc 4 models, even though the replacement blades & foils sets can be different.
As usual, there are only two removable inner blades (corresponding to the outer foils), while the other two are integrated into the foil assembly (the finishing foil and the slit foil).
For this razor, Panasonic used their trademark 30-degree nanoblades made out of high quality, hypoallergenic stainless steel. The aggressive 30 degrees bevel ensures an efficient and clean cutting action.
Powerful 14 000 CPM motor
Panasonic uses for most of its Arc 4 (and all of the Arc 5) shavers an industry-leading 14 000 cycles per minute (CPM) linear-drive motor.
This 14 000 motor is as far as I know the unit with the highest power output fitted to an electric shaver.
The result is an outstanding performance, the ES-LA63-S being extremely fast and capable of shaving very coarse facial hair with ease.
Second vibrating motor
This feature is specific to this model and to the ES-LA93-K Arc 4, which is an identical razor that also includes an automatic cleaning station.
The additional motor is placed inside the shaving head itself and it makes the foils vibrate and supposedly capture more hairs.
During use you can really feel this vibrating motor at work; there’s a noticeable, but very discreet tickling sensation when holding the foils against your face.
The sound it produces is also different compared to other Panasonic shavers that lack this feature: it has a lower pitch and you can actually hear the humming produced by the vibrations.
We’ll see how well this works in the performance section of the review.
Pivoting shaving head
The shaving head of the ES-LA63-S can move freely on two axes: up and down and left to right.
It can also be locked in a fixed position via a switch located on the back of the shaving head.
This is useful when shaving tight spots like right above your upper lip where more precision is needed.
As most electric shavers, the ES-LA63-S includes a pop-up trimmer.
It is located on the back of the shaving head and sits perpendicular to it when fully extended.
The trimmer is operated by the same switch used to lock the shaving head.
Other noteworthy features include: cordless wet/dry use, travel lock, a useful LCD display and an automatic voltage converter.
With the specs out of the way, let’s get down to business and put the ES-LA63-S Arc 4 through its paces.
Build quality and ergonomics
I’ve tested more shavers from Panasonic throughout the years than from any other brand and in most cases, the build quality and construction were excellent.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that Panasonic is currently the best out of all major manufacturers in this regard, with the latest Arc 3 and Arc 5 iterations setting a new benchmark for build quality.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63-S
However, despite being an older model, the ES-LA63-S can easily compete with other shavers in this price range for having the best build quality.
I’m mainly referring to Braun’s Series 5 and 7 and Norelco’s Shaver 8900.
The ES-LA63-S looks very imposing and expensive and in my opinion the official images don’t do it justice.
A far departure from the usual blue or aqua color schemes, the razor looks very stylish in this glossy silver treatment.
The blue LCD screen complements its aesthetics very well and further adds to the high-quality feel of the shaver.
The body is entirely made out of plastic, but unlike the Series 9 from Braun for example, it doesn’t feel cheap at all.
Surprisingly, the glossy silver finish does a great job of repelling fingerprints and smudges.
The construction is very solid and oozes quality, particularly the shaving head with its impressive craftsmanship. Again, I think Panasonic does this better than the other big names in the industry.
The shaver feels great in the hand, being surprisingly lightweight for its size. Despite the large shaving unit, it doesn’t feel top-heavy at all and it’s perfectly well balanced.
The girth of the handle is just right and together with the dark grey rubber, it ensures an excellent grip.
I would have liked however to see the grippy material extend more to the sides toward the front part as your fingertips tend to naturally rest precisely where the rubber material ends.
The shaving head is massive. While the actual surface of the foils is the same as on other Arc 4 shavers, the head itself seems unnecessarily large.
I guess one could argue that the engineers needed more space to accommodate the vibrating motor.
While I got used to its proportions, I will say however that even an ES-LF51-A Arc 4 that also has 4 blades feels more nimble.
The shaving assembly of a Braun Series 5 or 7 is a lot more compact as you can see below.
This can make shaving a bit challenging for a beginner or for someone who hasn’t used such a large shaver before.
On the front of the shaver there’s the ON/OFF button that has a mirror finish and is very easy to operate. I don’t particularly care for the shiny treatment though.
Right below it you’ll find the travel lock switch. Sliding it up will physically prevent the power button to be pressed.
If I were to nitpick, I’d say that it is a bit difficult to operate if your hands are wet. It does however have two grooves where you can place your fingernail and slide it up or down.
The circular switch found on other models like the ES-LF51-A or the ES-LV65-S was a more elegant implementation, but again, it’s not a major issue.
Further down there’s the LCD screen that shows quite a bit of useful info, like the time elapsed since you started your shave, battery charge status, cleaning reminder and when you need to replace the foils and blades.
On the back of the shaving head, you’ll find the popup trimmer and right below there’s a multi-purpose slider with 3 positions.
In the first one, the shaving head can move freely, helping the foils remain in contact with the skin.
In the second position, the head is fixed and can’t be moved sideways nor up and down.
Moving the slider into the third position will extend the trimmer while keeping the head locked in the fixed position.
This implementation is also present with the latest Arc 3 and Arc 5 shavers from Panasonic.
While I like the idea behind it, operating the slider feels a bit jerky on this razor and the shaving head must be relatively centered or you won’t be able to move the slider from the free to the locked position.
The ES-LF51-A for example uses a slider for extending the trimmer and a dedicated switch on the side to lock the shaving head.
While not as elegant, this solution seems to work better and is less prone to breaking.
Again I think this is rather nitpicky, but I had to mention it.
Overall, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S doesn’t disappoint and really impresses with its excellent build quality and aesthetics.
Inside the box you’ll find the following items:
- ES-LA63-S Arc 4 electric shaver
- Charging cord
- Protective plastic cap
- Travel pouch
- User’s manual, cleaning instructions, replacement parts leaflet, warranty card
As you can tell, the bundle is pretty basic.
I would have liked to see at least a cleaning brush included or a small bottle of lubricant. The ES-LV65-S Arc 5 for example comes with those accessories as well.
The charging cord is longer than what comes with most other shavers, so that’s definitely a good thing.
Depending on where you buy your unit, the brick can come with a USA or a European plug.
The travel pouch is the typical Panasonic faux leather case. While it is useful, it doesn’t offer the same protection as a Braun hard case for example.
There are some third-party options as well that you can get at a reasonable price.
Battery life and charging
All current Panasonic electric razors are suitable for wet/dry operation and as a result, you can only use them cordless.
The ES-LA63-S is fitted with a rechargeable Li-ion battery that will get you around 45 minutes worth of shaving time.
During my tests with the ES-LA63-S, I found this claim to be pretty much on point.
Charging the shaver from 0 to 100% only takes around 50 minutes.
The LCD display will show the remaining battery charge in 10% increments.
There are also 5 segments in the bottom part of the LCD panel, each one corresponding to a 20% charge. The bottom one is only used to signal a low battery by blinking.
When you turn on the shaver it will start a counter and display it for 5 seconds, then the LCD will turn off.
After completing your shave and turning the shaver off, the display will show the duration of the shave and alternatively the remaining battery percentage.
It will switch between them two times, then turn off.
I found all this information quite useful and something you don’t get with even much more expensive shavers, like the latest Arc 5.
Panasonic ES-LA63-S shaving performance
Let’s now get to the part that really matters in our Panasonic ES-LA63-S review, the actual shaving performance.
So how good is the ES-LA63-S?
In fact, it’s one of those few shavers that I can confidently recommend in an instance.
Yes, there are few gotchas and I’ll address those as well, but as a whole, the ES-LA63-S is a very capable and very compelling electric shaver.
As usual, the performance section of the review will address several distinct key areas and we’ll start with the closeness.
Closeness of the shave
I always have high expectations with regards to closeness when testing Panasonic razors and this one delivers as well.
The high-quality blades, the arched profile of the very thin foils that allows optimum contact with the skin, along with that punchy motor work together to deliver what is arguably the closest shave you can get at this price point.
The direct competitors of the Panasonic Arc 4 family are Braun’s Series 5 and 7 and Norelco’s 8900 shavers.
When it comes to closeness, the Arc 4 manages to be better than all of them.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s slightly better even than the range-topping Series 9 from Braun. Again, we’re talking strictly closeness.
I tried the ES-LA63-S both wet and dry and the closeness was excellent every time.
I will admit that using a shaving cream improved the results, especially on the area right above my upper lip where I have particularly thick and dense stubble.
An Arc 5 like the ES-LV65-S was just slightly better, but the differences were marginal and I may simply be biased toward the high-end model.
I think anyone will be perfectly satisfied with the closeness of this Arc 4 model and you should really consider it if getting a close shave is high on your priorities list.
The shaving head is bulky and can be harder to maneuver around tight areas compared to other shavers.
My ES-LF51-A, despite having the same 4 blade setup, feels a lot more nimble when shaving my mustache area or right below the jawline.
It will take you some time to get used to the ES-LA63-S if you’ve only used more compact razors.
The comfort of the shave is another important aspect to factor in when buying an electric shaver.
I would say that the ES-LA63-S is slightly better in this regard than other Arc 4 shavers I’ve used before, but it’s still not as good as some of Braun’s offerings.
This could very well be a direct consequence of that excellent closeness. The foils get a bit warm after prolonged use, but not to the point where it would cause serious discomfort.
If you don’t have very sensitive skin, the ES-LA63-S should be adequately comfortable. The key is not pressing too hard as it will bite back.
The only area where it felt a bit harsh was unsurprisingly my neck and this was more noticeable during a dry shave. For the record, I do have sensitive skin and the neck is a problem area for me.
Again, if you don’t have particularly sensitive skin, you should be just fine using it dry as well.
The second motor inside the shaving head causes the foils to vibrate and you can definitely feel this on your skin. I tried using it alongside the ES-LF51-A Arc 4 and in this regard, they do feel different.
These vibrations supposedly help the ES-LA63-S capture more of those annoying flat-lying hairs compared to other shavers.
Which leads us to the next section.
Shaving longer, flat-lying hairs
With an emphasis on closeness, Panasonic razors never excelled at shaving longer beards, particularly if you have lots of wiry, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions.
With the ES-LA63-S, Panasonic tried to address this by fitting a second vibrating motor inside the head. I didn’t find this to significantly improve the performance compared to other Arc 4 shavers that lack this feature.
As a result, shaving a three days beard can be more tedious as the shaver can leave behind a few hairs that grow parallel to the skin.
Trying to repeatedly go over those stray hairs won’t help either and I had to get them with the pop-up trimmer. Again, this only happened when shaving my neck after 3 days of growth or more.
In the case of short stubble, this was not an issue.
If you tend to shave less often, like every two to three days and have this type of problem areas, with flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S may not be the best choice at this price point.
The problem is with capturing the hairs and a Braun Series 5 or 7 or even a Philips Norelco 8900 will do a better job.
The Panasonic ES-LA63-S performs amazingly when used for wet shaving. The comfort is top-notch and the closeness is improved as well.
Panasonic shavers in general shine when used with shaving cream or gel and if you’re into that, the ES-LA63-S will not disappoint you.
The problem with shaving flat-lying hairs is still there though.
The trimmer on this shaver is one of the best I’ve ever encountered on an electric shaver.
The positioning is perfect this time, being very close to the top of the massive shaving head.
Moreover, if you remove the foil frame and the inner blades, you’ll get an ideal setup that allows you to actually see what you’re doing.
The trimmer itself is adequately wide, very sharp and cuts the hairs close to the skin. It’s miles better than the ones on the Braun Series 5, 7 and 9 for example that simply feel dull.
Cleaning and maintenance
As mentioned earlier in the review, there’s also a variation of the ES-LA63-S called ES-LA93-K that comes with a cleaning station.
That particular cleaning station is Panasonic’s older Vortex Hydra cleaning system that runs off detergent cartridges. The current systems require the detergent concentrate to be manually mixed with water in the station’s tray.
You can very well go for that particular Arc 4 model if the cleaning station is a must-have for you. I don’t consider it to be necessary as the ES-LA63-S is extremely easy to clean manually.
Since the inner blades are exposed and separated from the foil block, the shaver can be thoroughly cleaned using warm tap water and a bit of liquid soap.
With the cutters separated from the foil block, you have great access to remove any hair strands and dirt trapped inside.
I recommend the use of liquid soap, but if you shave dry you can probably use soap only once a week and just clean your ES-LA63-S with water for the rest of the time.
If you shave with cream or gel, then a thorough cleaning with soap is mandatory after every use.
The cleaning process is very simple and straightforward.
After completing your shave, turn the shaver off and press the two tabs located on both sides of the head to release the foil frame.
Tap the bottom of it gently on your sink to get rid of the hair clippings trapped inside.
For a quick clean you can simply rinse the shaving head with the exposed blades and the foils under hot tap water and just let them air dry.
We will however be performing a thorough cleaning.
Snap the foil frame back on the shaver, pour a bit of water on it, then place a few drops of liquid soap on the foils.
Press the ON/OFF button for at least 2 seconds to activate the sonic cleaning mode. You’ll notice an increase in the pitch as the blades will start to oscillate extremely fast.
The cleaning mode is also signaled by a symbol on the LCD panel.
After 20 seconds the razor will turn off automatically. You can do it sooner by pressing the power switch.
Remove the foil frame and rinse it with tap water. Press the ON/OFF switch again for at least 2 seconds and with the shaver in sonic mode, thoroughly rinse the inner blades as well.
After that shake off any excess water, pat dry with a towel and let the parts air dry completely before assembling and storing the shaver.
That’s pretty much it.
Even though Panasonic didn’t include any lubricant with the ES-LA63-S, it’s very important to do it regularly to prolong the life of the foils and blades and keep the shaver running smoothly.
As a rule of thumb, you should place a single drop of light lubricant (clipper oil or sewing machine oil) on each foil after every cleaning that implied the use of soap. That’s because the soap will also eliminate any form of lubrication from the blades.
If you don’t clean it with soap, then oiling the blades once a week should suffice.
Replacement parts availability
The Panasonic ES-LA63-S uses the WES9025PC foils & inner blades combo. They can also find them separately (part numbers WES9165PC and WES9068PC respectively).
The parts are widely available and can be bought online from Amazon or even directly from Panasonic’s website.
Panasonic WES9025PC foils & blades
You should replace them when you notice a drop in performance and comfort. Depending on your shaving habits, this can happen sooner or later than the 12 months period recommended by the manufacturer.
Panasonic’s replacement foils & blades have always been pricey and that’s the case here as well. However, you’ll be spending approximately the same money on the replacement parts needed for a Series 7 or 9 from Braun.
Wrapup — who should buy the ES-LA63-S?
This review of the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4 has been mostly positive. Apart from a few minor glitches, the razor performed great.
It excels at providing very close, fast and adequately comfortable shaves and does so without the premium price tag of other razors that offer similar performance.
So if you’re in the market for a new shaver or even an upgrade to your current one, definitely consider the ES-LA63-S.
It works a treat with shaving cream as well and men who shave their heads can use the ES-LA63-S successfully for that.
The only situation where I would be a bit wary to recommend it is dealing with overly sensitive skin. If you suffer from ingrown hairs, razor bumps or other serious skin problems, you may be better off with a Braun Series 5 or 7.
Also, it’s not the best for shaving longer, flat-lying hairs.
This leads us to the last section of the review.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA93-K
The ES-LA93-K is the Arc 4 variation that includes an automatic cleaning station. There aren’t a lot of things to be said about this razor since it’s absolutely identical to the ES-LA63-S, except for the black color treatment of course.
Even though I don’t consider the cleaning base necessary in this case, it is still a perfectly viable option, especially since the price of the ES-LA93-K has dropped significantly in the past few years.
The station is Panasonic’s older generation Vortex Hydra system. It is very large and looks a bit dated, but it works well and the cartridges are cheap.
Moreover, it has a few useful features, like the ability to just dry the shaver without performing a cleaning cycle.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A
The other razor mentioned throughout this review is another member of the Arc 4 family, the ES-LF51-A.
It doesn’t have the second vibrating motor and the shaving head doesn’t have the two-way flexing capabilities of the ES-LA63-S, but it’s still an impressive performer.
The shaving head is more compact and for this reason it can be a better option for someone just getting started with electric shaving.
As of 2020, it’s more and more difficult to find. A good alternative if you want an Arc 4 with a slimmer head is the newer Panasonic ES8243AA.
Braun Series 5 5190cc/5090cc
The Series 5 from Braun can be a good alternative to the ES-LA63-S if you have very sensitive skin and don’t have the budget for a Series 7 or even a Series 9.
It is gentler to the skin compared to the Panasonic, especially on the neck where the ES-LA63-S can be a bit aggressive.
There are various Series 5 models available, suitable for wet/dry or dry only use. The 5190cc or the 5090cc are two such models that also come with a cleaning station.
For what they have to offer, I would say that the price is excellent.
You can opt for the Series 5 5040s, but that one doesn’t include a cleaning station. And in this case I actually suggest getting it as the Series 5 can be fiddly to clean manually.
I will however say that the closeness of the shave with the Series 5 is not quite as good as what you’ll get from a Panasonic Arc 4, but there’s always going to be a trade-off in either closeness or comfort and you simply have to pick the razor that makes more sense in your case.