The good: one of the closest shaving electric razors, fast and powerful, comfortable, wet & dry use, easy to clean, excellent build quality, extensive list of included accessories, useful LED display, excellent pop-up trimmer, great battery life, good value for money
The bad: the large shaving head may need some getting used to, replacement foils and blades are pricey, wiry and flat lying hairs require more passes, soft travel case
The competition in the high-end electric shavers segment is fierce, the three big names in the industry — Braun, Philips Norelco and Panasonic — offering some fantastic products.
Launched back in 2009, the Arc 5 line is currently at the third generation and all the different models are still widely available.
In this review we’ll take a close look at what I consider to be the most compelling of all Arc 5 variations, the Panasonic ES-LV65-S from the second generation.
Choosing a suitable shaver can be difficult with all the different products, variations and conflicting information regarding which one would be a better fit for you.
Since the Panasonic ES-LV65-S has quite a lot going on, this is going to be a very comprehensive article that’ll cover every important aspect of this particular model, including shaving performance, the good and the bad parts, how it compares to other Arc 5 variations and, of course, its direct competitors.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Features overview
- Build quality and ergonomics
- Included accessories
- Battery life and charging
- Shaving performance
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Replacement parts availability
- Wrapup – who should buy it?
- Alternative shavers
As usual, we’ll kick off our Panasonic ES-LV65-S review with a quick look over the main features, without getting too hung up on the technical and gimmicky parts.
5 blade shaving system
Being part of Panasonic’s Arc 5 family of shavers, the ES-LV65-S exhibits the defining characteristics of this line: an arched profile of the foils (hence the Arc name) and a whopping 5 blade shaving head.
It’s worth mentioning that the Arc 5 is currently the only line of foil shavers that has 5 individual cutting elements. As a side note, Braun tried to suggest that its Series 9 also has 5 cutting elements, but that’s just downright false.
So we have 5 cutting elements that form a massive shaving head. Excessive? Maybe. We’ll see how this translates into the actual shaving performance later on.
The idea behind a multiple blade shaving system is to reduce the time it takes to complete a shave and to have specially designed cutters for tackling short, long and flat-lying hairs.
With the ES-LV65-S Arc 5, we have the following configuration of the shaving head:
1. Two finishing foils. These are the outermost cutting elements and are responsible for cutting short stubble very close to the skin.
2. Two reverse tapered foils called Lift Tech foils that supposedly lift and cut hairs that grow parallel to the skin. These two foils flank the middle trimmer.
3. One slit blade. The middle trimmer has specially designed slots for capturing longer hairs and cutting them down to size; the hairs are then cut at skin level by the foils.
The blades that oscillate behind the foils and do the actual cutting are Panasonic’s well-known 30 degrees nano-blades.
Despite the marketing terminology, these blades really are fantastic. They’re used throughout the entire Panasonic range of shavers, even on the entry level Arc 3 models and contribute to making them the closest shaving shavers in their respective class.
What makes these blades unique is the aggressive 30 degrees bevel that allows them to cut the hairs clean and efficiently.
Just like with the Arc 3 and Arc 4, there are only 2 inner removable blades.
For the ES-LV65-S the inner blades correspond to the reverse tapered foils. The other 3 are integrated into the foil assembly itself.
14 000 CPM motor with Shaving Sensor technology
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is equipped with the fastest motor on any electric shaver, a unit capable of delivering 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute). As a comparison, the Series 9 from Braun has a 10 000 CPM motor.
Of course, speed isn’t everything, but this is a beast of a motor and contributes massively to the shaving performance of Panasonic’s Arc 5 shavers.
The ES-LV65-S features a technology seen on other high-end models as well that allows the shaver to read the beard density and adjust the power output accordingly.
You can use the ES-LV65-S with the sensor technology enabled or you can disable it all together and get full power for the entire shaving session.
I tested the shaver both ways and I’ll share my thoughts later on in the performance section.
Flexing shaving head
The third generation Arc 5 (ES-LV9N, ES-LV6N) probably has the best designed shaving head of any foil shaver with regards to following the contours of the face, but the ES-LV65-S is not too bad either.
While it lacks the ability to be depressed, the shaving head of the ES-LV65-S can pivot back and forth and also from left to right.
The motion is buttery smooth and works very well during use.
The head can also be locked into a fixed position when more control is required.
Fully waterproof, wet & dry operation
Like all modern Panasonic electric shavers, the ES-LV65-S Arc 5 can be used both wet & dry. Being fully waterproof, you can shave in the shower, use it with your favorite shaving cream and easily clean it under running water.
Other noteworthy features of the ES-LV65-S include: 45 minute cordless operation, pop-up trimmer, LED display, travel lock, 100-240V (Automatic International Dual Voltage Conversion).
Build quality and ergonomics
Upon taking a first glance at the ES-LV65-S I immediately noticed that it doesn’t look as flashy as the official photos might suggest.
And depending on your preferences, that may be a good or a bad thing.
I personally think that it’s one of the better-looking shavers out there.
I like the elegant silver and black color scheme that works great with the modern design. Despite being launched in 2013, the ES-LV65-S looks very up to date.
Design-wise, it’s definitely a go from me.
Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5
On the front of the shaver there’s a glossy black fascia that surrounds the controls and the LED display.
Around the glossy black that houses the controls and LED display there’s a silver trim that has a matte finish, which I definitely prefer.
The ON/OFF button is fairly small in size and has a very short travel, but it’s very clicky and responsive.
There’s a locking ring surrounding the button that has two positions. Aligning the small knob with the padlock will lock the ON/OFF button, making it impossible to turn the shaver on by accident.
Rotating the ring clockwise will unlock the power button. This is a simple and convenient implementation that we’ve seen on certain Arc 4 and Arc 3 models as well.
Below the controls there’s the LED display that shows quite a bit of useful information, including the shave duration, remaining battery, shaving sensor mode, cleaning reminder. It will also show you when it’s time to replace the foils and blades.
When pressing the ON/OFF button, the ES-LV65-S will always start with the shaving sensor enabled, signaled by the blinking of the corresponding icon.
When shaving in sensor mode, the icon will blink throughout your entire shaving session.
To disable the sensor mode and shave with full power the whole time, simply press again the ON/OFF button when the shaver is turned on in sensor mode. This will deactivate the sensor, signaled by turning off the icon.
You can also hear this as the pitch of the sound will slightly increase.
The sides are made of a lightly textured, but extremely grippy material that extends to the back of the shaver as well.
It provides a very secure grip, even when the shaver is wet or covered in foam.
The back of the ES-LV65-S definitely has more things going on compared to most other shavers.
Starting from the top, we have a pop-up trimmer on the shaving head itself that sits perpendicularly when deployed.
Below the trimmer you’ll find a switch that has 3 positions.
In the first one, the shaving head can pivot and move freely.
The second position locks the head into a fixed position for more precision when shaving a tight spot.
Finally, the third position activates the pop-up trimmer.
Further down you’ll see three round studs that barely protrude and actually do nothing. They are just blanks and are replaced by metal studs on the ES-LV95-S variation that comes with an automatic cleaning station.
On that particular model the metal contacts are used to charge the razor when placed into the station.
At the bottom there’s the charging port and no, the shaver can’t be used while plugged in as a safety precaution.
The build quality, finishing and the overall feel are excellent. In fact, I would go as far as saying that Panasonic currently offers the best build quality of all electric shaver manufacturers.
The latest Arc 5 iteration with models like ES-LV9N have taken this to the next level and feature a brushed metal body.
However, the ES-LV65-S is still impressive, particularly when compared to the plasticky Series 9.
Everything feels sturdy and well built, with the foil frame and protective cap snapping easily and securely into place.
When it comes to ergonomics, The ES-LV65-S scores very high as well, despite the large shaving head that may take some getting used to.
The body is overall very compact for a 5 blade shaver; here it is alongside the 3 blade Braun Series 5 5090cc:
The sculpted profile of the body makes it very comfortable to hold.
At 6.9oz (195 grams), the Panasonic ES-LV65-S is surprisingly light. Despite the massive appearance of the shaving head, it’s very well balanced.
I was expecting the shaver to be top heavy, but it’s actually not.
The construction and craftsmanship of the massive shaving head are something to behold.
Overall, the Panasonic ES-LV65-S gets almost everything right with regards to build quality and ergonomics.
Inside the box you’ll find the following neatly packed items:
- Panasonic ES-LV65-S electric shaver
- Charging cord
- Protective cap
- Cleaning brush
- One small bottle of lubricant
- Travel case
- User’s manual and warranty card
As you can see, the bundle is pretty extensive and covers just about everything. I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of the lubricant, this really should be standard with any electric shaver that doesn’t come with a cleaning station.
The travel case looks good and it’s definitely welcome, but unfortunately it’s made out of the same faux leather material that offers limited protection compared to the hard travel case used by Braun for example.
But unlike Braun, Panasonic also includes a plastic cap that covers the very sensitive foils.
Battery life and charging
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S has a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery and can only be operated cordless. This means that you won’t be able to shave with the razor plugged in. This is a safety precaution since the ES-LV65-S is suitable for wet & dry use.
The battery life of this shaver is excellent. Panasonic says that you’ll get around 45 minutes of shaving time from a fully charged battery and that’s actually pretty accurate.
Another good thing is that the motor can operate at peak power even when the battery is almost depleted, with no significant drop in performance.
The battery capacity lamp will show you in percentages the remaining battery charge. Right below there’s a graphic element that depicts the same thing using a circle comprised of 6 segments.
All the segments apart from the bottom one represent 20% of the battery charge. The bottom segment is only used to signal a low battery by blinking when the charge drops below 10%.
You’ll still be able to complete one or two shaves in this situation.
With the shaver turned on, instead of the battery percentage, the display will show you the elapsed time since you started your shaving session.
The used time and battery capacity are only shown for 5 seconds once you start the shaver and are then turned off. After you’ve finished shaving and stop the shaver, the lamps will light up again and turn off after 8 seconds.
This timer is actually pretty useful in helping you get an idea of how long it takes you to shave and you can for example compare how different changes in your technique actually help you shave faster.
Charging the ES-LV65-S from 0 to 100% takes a little less than one hour. During this time the corresponding charging lamp will glow continuously.
While charging, the battery percentage lamp will increase from 0 to 100%. The charging brick is fitted with an automatic voltage converter, allowing it to adapt to any voltage between 100 and 240v.
Depending on where you buy it, the charging cord of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S can come with a USA or a European plug.
All right, let’s now get to what really matters: how well does the Panasonic ES-LV65-S shave?
In short, amazing.
Apart from a couple of gotchas, this is without a doubt one of the best electric shavers you can currently buy and it doesn’t have a prohibitive price either.
Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5
No, it’s not the latest Arc 5 model, but trust me, the ES-LV65-S is a beast of a shaver.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve used an Arc 5, so the results of this review didn’t really come as a surprise to me.
Different men want different things from an electric shaver, a close shave being among the priorities.
If closeness is particularly important to you, the Panasonic ES-LV65-S should be on the top of your list.
On paper things look very good for this model: powerful motor, sharp blades and a high-quality shaving head.
Luckily, these features also translate into a stellar real-world performance as the shaver manages to provide an impressively close shave.
I would go as far as saying that this is probably the closest shaving electric razor I’ve ever used.
I happen to have two problem areas with very dense and coarse hair — right above my upper lip and on my chin — and most electric shavers fail to provide a very close shave.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S manages to get closer than pretty much all the shavers I’ve tested so far. In fact, when using it with shaving cream the results are on par with what I would get from a razor blade (minus the rashes and nicks).
I also noticed that when I shave with ES-LV65-S it takes longer for my beard to grow and to actually feel the stubble when I run my fingers over the skin. I can only blame this on the fantastic closeness of the shave.
Compared to other high-end shavers like the Braun Series 9 or Philips Norelco Series 9000, the ES-LV65-S comes on top when it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave.
A welcome side effect of having a powerful motor and a massive shaving head is speed.
Completing a shave with the ES-LV65-S, especially when shaving a shorter beard, takes less time compared to most other shavers.
Even in the case of very coarse facial hair this razor will be fast and effortless to use.
With certain shavers like the Braun Series 5 I would sometimes notice a change in the sound during use, vibrations and even get the feeling that the razor is struggling.
Not a hint of that with this one, it just mows through the stubble with ease.
And speaking of sound, the ES-LV65-S is reasonably quiet for a foil shaver fitted with a powerful motor. It’s definitely quieter and more refined compared to my ES-LF51-A Arc 4 shaver.
Panasonic shavers usually edge the competition for sheer power and closeness, regardless if we’re talking about high-end models like the Arc 5 or entry-level Arc 3 razors.
However, things aren’t always that good when it comes to comfort.
Because of the extremely close shaves, Panasonics can be a bit aggressive, especially if you suffer from sensitive skin like myself.
I’ve experienced this with several Arc 3 and Arc 4 models. What made things worse was that the foils and particularly the quick comb trimmers would get really hot after a few minutes of use.
I was very surprised that despite having a similar shaving system, the ES-LV65-S actually remained cool even after an extended shaving session.
At least in my case, this vastly improved the comfort compared to other Panasonic models.
No, it’s still not as comfortable and smooth as a Braun Series 9 which is in my opinion the most forgiving and gentle shaver out there, but if you don’t have very sensitive skin I think you should be just fine using the ES-LV65-S.
Just make sure not to apply too much pressure as it will definitely let you know.
Adding a pre-shave lotion will also help in this case.
Wet & dry use
All Panasonic shavers are suitable for wet & dry use. You can shave in the shower or with your shaving cream of choice if you’re into that.
I usually get a closer and more comfortable shave doing so.
In my experience, Panasonic electric shavers work better than any other brand when used with shaving cream.
The ES-LV65-S is a joy to use in this manner and the addition of a quality shaving cream makes it very comfortable, definitely suitable for sensitive skin.
Most men that will end up buying this shaver will probably be using it dry for the convenience, but it’s useful to know that you can further improve the comfort if you have very sensitive skin.
Shaving longer hairs
Longer, flat-lying hairs often pose a problem for most electric shavers, particularly the basic ones. And this seems to affect foil shavers to a higher degree.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is definitely not a basic shaver and most of the time it deals very well with longer hairs.
However, when it comes to hairs that lie flat on the skin it does struggle a bit and requires more strokes to capture them.
Despite fitting the shaving head with the so-called reverse tapered edges foil, it’s just not as good as the Series 9 from Braun when shaving longer hairs that grow parallel to the skin and in different directions.
If you shave often this won’t be a problem, but if your routine implies shaving every two days or more and you have wiry hairs, the ES-LV65-S will require more effort on your side to get all the hairs.
In this case you should take a look at the Braun Series 9 or the Norelco 9300 which are arguably better at shaving longer, flat-lying hairs.
Sensor mode vs Normal mode
One of the most intriguing features of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S has to be the shaving sensor that supposedly detects the beard density and adjusts the power output accordingly.
I’ve used other shavers in the past that had similar technologies, one of them being the Series 7 with its personalization modes.
To be perfectly honest, none of the different implementations managed to improve the actual results to a significant degree and it’s the same story here.
When you first turn on the ES-LV65-S by pressing the power button the shaver will automatically start in sensor mode. This is also signaled by the blinking of the corresponding lamp on the LED display.
With the shaver turned on in sensor mode pressing the power button one more time will deactivate the sensor and the razor will run in full throttle mode.
Upon deactivating the sensor the lamp will turn off and you’ll also notice a slight increase in the sound, signaling the fact that the motor is running at the highest output.
The sensor really works, meaning you can actually hear the shaver adjusting. But in terms of closeness, speed or comfort there isn’t really any difference. In fact, I’ll argue that having full power for your entire shave can only be beneficial to your results.
After testing both settings I always chose to deactivate the sensor and simply shave in normal mode.
I consider hair trimmers to be extremely useful for touch-ups and light grooming; however, on many occasions their design and implementation leaves much to be desired.
The placement, width and sharpness are often screwed up by the manufacturers.
With Panasonic shavers the placement is usually the culprit, the trimmer being obscured by the massive heads.
Luckily, the trimmer on the ES-LV65-S is positioned quite well.
Firstly, despite the large surface of the 5 blade shaving system, the head is actually not that tall and the trimmer sits pretty close to the top.
Secondly, if you remove the foil frame and the two inner blades, you actually end up with a perfect setup with the trimmer not being obscured at all.
It’s probably not optimal to use it for trimming your entire beard, but for shaping your sideburns or goatee it works great.
It’s adequately wide and sharp, cutting the hairs very efficiently and I never experienced any pulling or pinching.
In conclusion, the shaving performance of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5 — particularly the closeness — is top notch.
Cleaning and maintenance
Part of the second generation Arc 5 line, the Panasonic ES-LV65-S is a model that doesn’t include an automatic cleaning and charging station.
And in all honesty, you really don’t need one despite the fact that Panasonic’s cleaning stations are excellent (reasonably fast and with lower running costs compared to Braun for example).
I say this simply because the ES-LV65-S is very easy to clean and it really takes less than a minute to do it.
If you absolutely must have the station, then you can opt for the Panasonic ES-LV95-S which is identical to the ES-LV65-S reviewed here but it also includes an automatic cleaning base.
There are few reasons why Panasonic electric shavers are generally among the easiest to clean manually and the ES-LV65-S exhibits all of them:
- It is fully waterproof and can be easily rinsed under tap water.
- The design of the shaving head offers generous access to clean the foils on the inside.
- The two inner blades are completely exposed and can be cleaned thoroughly.
- The sonic cleaning mode makes the blades vibrate extremely fast (17 000 CPM compared to the usual 14 000 CPM) and dislodge any traces of dirt.
I usually opt for Panasonic shavers that don’t include a cleaning station and I actually recommend you to do the same.
Again, they’re dead easy to clean and you’ll also be saving some money as the shavers themselves cost less and you won’t have to buy the cleaning detergent.
Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5
Let’s see how to clean the Panasonic ES-LV65-S efficiently and fast.
Once you’ve finished shaving, remove the foil frame and gently tap it on the edge of your sink to get rid of most of the hairs.
Snap the foils back on to the shaver, pour a little liquid soap on the foils, add some water and press and hold the ON/OFF button for more than 2 seconds.
This will activate the cleaning mode. After 20 seconds, the shaver will automatically turn off. You can also turn it off earlier by pressing the ON/OFF button.
Remove the outer foils again and press the power button for more than two seconds. When the shaver starts in the cleaning mode, rinse the inner blades under running water. Clean the foil assembly under water as well, both the inside and the outside.
Shake off any excess water, then pat dry with a cloth. That’s it.
There’s also a cleaning brush included that you can use to remove the hairs, but I highly recommend the method described above.
Lubricating the ES-LV65-S
This is particularly important if you use liquid soap to clean your shaver as that removes any traces of lubrication from the blades.
With the ES-LV65-S performing this operation is as easy as putting a single drop of lubricant on each foil. You then let the shaver run for a few seconds, turn it off, then gently pat the foils with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
You can read more about the importance of lubricating your razor here.
Replacement parts availability
The ES-LV65-S uses Panasonic’s WES9032P foil & blade replacement combo.
Panasonic WES9032P foils & blades
The same part was used by the first generation Arc 5 shavers like the ES-LV61-A. It’s widely available and can also be bought online from sites like Amazon.
The foil and blade combo is a bit pricey, especially when compared to the direct competitor of the Arc 5 line, the Braun Series 9.
Panasonic recommends replacing the outer foil every year, while the two inner blades should be changed every two years.
In reality this is highly dependent on how you use your device and how coarse is your beard. Cleaning your ES-LV65-S after every use and lubricating it regularly will increase the life of the foils and blades.
Changing these parts is very easy; the inner blades can be removed by grabbing them by the extremities and simply pulling them out. Make sure to grab them by the ends as the blades are very sharp.
The foil assembly can be removed from the frame by pressing the two side tabs and pushing it in.
The LED display will also remind you when it’s time to replace the foils & blades by showing a check lamp about once a year.
Wrapup – who should buy it?
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5 is one of the highest rated electric shavers and it really is a fantastic product.
Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5
I can think of very few scenarios where you should overlook the Panasonic ES-LV65-S, so I’ll just get them out of the way.
If you have very sensitive skin that is prone to ingrown hairs and razor bumps, you should probably check out one of Braun’s top shavers like the Series 7 and 9 (more details in the next section).
Also, if you shave every two days or more and your facial hair is wiry, grows parallel to the skin and in different directions, again a Braun Series 9 would probably be a better option or even a rotary razor like the Philips Norelco 9300 or 8900.
And that’s pretty much it. If your budget allows it, the ES-LV65-S is one of the best electric shavers out there, especially if you want a very close shave.
In this regard the ES-LV65-S is only edged by the latest Arc 5 models like the ES-LV9N. However, the price of those shavers is still extremely high and I don’t think it’s worth spending that much money for an incremental improvement in performance.
If you have very coarse facial hair and want a very fast, powerful electric shaver that is able to get you extremely close shaves while still being adequately comfortable, then you should strongly consider the Panasonic ES-LV65-S.
It can often be found at an excellent price; in fact, it’s usually priced lower than a Braun Series 7. And while the Series 7 is more comfortable out of the box, the ES-LV65-S is a superior shaver in pretty much all regards.
The first obvious alternative to the Panasonic ES-LV65-S would be its close relative, the ES-LV95-S.
As mentioned previously, this is an identical razor except that it comes with a cleaning and charging base.
Along with the second generation Arc 5, Panasonic also introduced the updated cleaning and charging stations.
The most important changes regarding the new stations are the use of detergent powder instead of cartridges, a more compact design of the station and some performance improvements.
As a result, the cleaning base included with the ES-LV95-S is really good and the costs per cleaning are lower compared to Braun.
The detergent sachets are cheaper and the cleaning solution that results from mixing the detergent with water tends to last more than Braun’s alcohol based cleaning fluid.
However, as I said earlier, you don’t really need a cleaning station with the ES-LV65-S, but if you still want it, the ES-LV95-S is the one to have.
Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Arc 5 is Panasonic’s most advanced line of electric shavers and it’s only natural to put it against Braun’s best shaver, the Series 9.
In terms of value for money and closeness of the shave, the Arc 5 has the edge.
However, where the Series 9 really shines is the comfort and also when shaving longer, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions.
The design of the Series 9 shaving head, with the two specialized trimmers that capture longer, wiry hairs, makes the Series 9 one of the best foil shavers out there for these situations.
So if you have very sensitive skin or tend to shave every two days or even more, the Series 9 would likely be a better choice.
My recommendation would be the 9290cc from the updated Series 9 line as it generally costs less than other Series 9 variations and also comes with a cleaning station.
Unlike Panasonics, Braun razors are notoriously difficult to clean manually, so I would actually recommend you to opt for a cc model that includes a cleaning base.
Keep in mind that the Series 9 shavers usually cost more than the ES-LV65-S, even the models that don’t include the cleaning station like the 9293s.
Also, while the Series 9 shavers are supremely comfortable, they don’t shave as close as the ES-LV65-S.
Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4
Finally, a more budget-friendly alternative to the ES-LV65-S would be a personal favorite of mine, the Panasonic LA63-S from the Arc 4 line.
Even if it has less cutting elements, 4 blades are still easily enough and in conjunction with the same powerful 14 000 CPM motor and sharp 30 degrees blades the ES-LA63-S is in my opinion one of the best electric shavers in its price range.
Just like the ES-LV65-S, it’s dead easy to clean manually, so you don’t really need the cleaning station (available with the ES-LA93-K version).
Performance-wise, it’s able to provide very close shaves, it’s fast and adequately comfortable. Overall I would say that it’s quite similar to the ES-LV65-S.
For most men the ES-LA63-S Arc 4 would be more than suitable. The shaver itself is reasonably priced and the replacement foils and blades are also slightly cheaper compared to the ones needed for the ES-LV65-S.
You can check out my review of the ES-LA63-S for all the details.