PROS: surprisingly comfortable, great build quality (aluminum and plastic panels), very compact and light, nice retro design, reasonably priced, batteries last a long time, travel lock, protective cap
CONS: not waterproof, can't really shave flat-lying hairs, less powerful than other compact shavers, no travel case, pricey replacement foil & blade, Japanese only instructions
With striking retro looks, an affordable price and overwhelmingly positive user reviews, the Panasonic ES-RS10 is a very interesting option for a travel shaver.
Being essentially a rebranded Sanyo SV-M730 (Panasonic bought Sanyo back in 2009), the Panasonic ES-RS10 is a shaver intended for the Japanese domestic market and comes in three color variations:
- ES-RS10-S (Silver) — also the one in our review;
- ES-RS10-R (Red);
- ES-RS10-A (Blue).
While compact shavers offer great portability, this usually comes at the expense of performance.
However, some are a lot worse than others and in this review we’re going to put the Panasonic ES-RS10 through its paces and see if it’s worth considering as your next travel shaver.
We’ll also compare it to other popular compact electric razors in the same price range and see how it fares against them with regards to performance, features and costs.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Single foil shaving system
The Panasonic ES-RS10 is a very basic electric shaver, featuring a single cutting element.
The shaving assembly is comprised of an inner blade and an outer foil. The blade has a simple a design and doesn’t feature Panasonic’s 30 degrees bevel found on the more expensive models.
The foil can be depressed though (Panasonic calls it a floating foil), which can help with reducing irritation and allows the foil to remain in contact with the skin.
The ES-RS10 is powered by two AA batteries which is pretty common among travel electric razors.
The batteries are not included in the box (other manufacturers like Philips do include a pair with their compact razors — for example, the PQ208/40).
Dry only use
This is one of the very few Panasonic shavers that aren’t suitable for wet/dry operation. And that’s a big bummer in my opinion, not necessarily because you can’t use it with shaving cream or in the shower, but for the ease of cleaning (more on that later on).
There’s no hair trimmer either unfortunately, but somewhat understandable for a shaver of this size.
The shaver comes in a very tiny box and includes the following items:
- Protective plastic cap
- Cleaning brush
- Instructions leaflet
Unfortunately the instructions are in Japanese and you won’t find them in other languages, not even on Panasonic’s website.
There’s only a small section in English that covers replacing the batteries and foil/inner blade.
Luckily it includes some straightforward illustrations as well and since the shaver is very basic to operate and to maintain, they should suffice.
I’ll also try to cover all the important aspects of using, cleaning and maintaining this shaver throughout the review.
As you can see, there’s no travel case included, but since we do get a plastic cap, the shaver should be just fine inside a basic toiletries bag.
As a side note, the original Sanyo SV-M730 came with a very nice, compact plastic travel case. Hermitshell does sell a third-party case specifically designed for the ES-RS10 if you’re interested in getting one.
Build quality and ergonomics
The Panasonic ES-RS10 is very easy on the eyes in my opinion. I went with the silver ES-RS10-S variation solely because I liked the way it looked the most.
Its design actually reminds me of the older Braun shavers from the Dieter Rams era, and I’m a fan of those.
The ES-RS10 is extremely compact and without a doubt the tiniest electric razor I’ve ever used. You’ll have a tough time finding a smaller one (apart from the Panasonic ES518P that uses AAA batteries).
For a shaver in this price range, the build quality is impressive.
The panels are a sanwich of aluminum on the outside (the silver part) and plastic on the inside. And by aluminum I mean the real stuff — actual aluminum, not silver-painted plastic.
The silver frame of the head is plastic though.
The construction sturdy and the fit and finish are very good as well. The cold aluminum panels feel oddly nice to the touch.
The shaver doesn’t make any cracking sounds even when you squeeze it hard in your hand.
On the front part we have the ON/OFF switch that features a cleverly integrated travel lock.
If you look very carefully, you’ll see a very small tab that must be depressed in order to slide the switch to the left and turn on the shaver. Otherwise, it just won’t budge.
This is very thoughtful and handy in the case of a travel razor.
On the right side, right below the shaving head, there’s a small rectangular button for releasing the foil frame. You must press it, then lift the frame to reveal the single inner blade.
The battery cover is located on the back of the shaver and it snaps very securely in place.
The striations on the back and front also have a functional role, allowing a better grip when holding the shaver and especially when sliding out the battery cover.
On the sides there are even deeper grooves and while there are no rubberized surfaces on the ES-RS10, the grip is very good.
Despite having a rather smooth, semi-glossy finish, the silver surface on the front and back is quite grippy and so are the sides.
With the batteries inside, the razor actually feels surprisingly hefty for its very small size, but still remains lightweight by any standards.
There’s no hair trimmer or battery indicator, but most compact shavers don’t have any of those, even the ones that cost more.
Overall, the build quality is definitely adequate for a travel shaver.
The Panasonic ES-RS10 runs on two regular AA batteries that aren’t included with the shaver.
Unless they can be charged via USB (so you can use your phone’s charger), I think this is the way to go with these small travel shavers. I wouldn’t want to carry a dedicated charging cord just for it. A USB type C charging port would have been ideal in my opinion, but it is what it is.
Batteries are cheap and widely available and you can even save a couple of bucks and use rechargeable batteries if you got a couple of those lying around.
Regarding battery life, the ES-RS10 scores really high.
I used a pair of AA Varta Alkaline batteries for my ES-RS10-S and I shaved with it at least a dozen times and the batteries are still going strong.
There’s no battery indicator, but they should easily last for at least 90 minutes of use.
The coarseness of the hair will definitely impact battery life, so your mileage may vary.
I’ve read various reviews where users were reporting months of constant use before needing to change the batteries, so that’s really impressive.
I cannot confirm these results yet, but so far things are looking great in this regard.
Panasonic ES-RS10 shaving performance
Let’s now get to the most important aspect of our ES-RS10 analysis, the shaving performance.
The Panasonic ES-RS10 is a cheap, simple and tiny electric shaver, so obviously, your expectations shouldn’t be too high.
Comparing it to a full-fledged electric razor wouldn’t make sense in my opinion, so I’ll only be referring to other similar travel shavers.
The closeness of the shave
In my case it was pretty average overall. On the neck and cheeks I actually managed to get very decent results, but on the chin and below the nose where I have very thick hairs, it wasn’t as good.
It didn’t succeed to deliver what I would consider an adequately close shave as I could still feel some rough patches when running my fingers over those areas.
When I tried the ES-RS10-S with a pre-shave, things were actually better, both in terms of closeness and comfort, but still not enough to improve my shave considerably.
I guess it’s fine for a quick shave when you’re on the go, but definitely not daily shaver material.
It may work for someone with light to maybe medium facial hair, but for very thick beards it will likely fail to deliver a satisfactory shave with regards to closeness.
What surprised me the most about this little shaver was the comfort. I was expecting it to be a lot worse, but it was more than adequate.
Even when shaving my neck — a major problem area in my case – and without any pre-shave, it was pretty smooth and gentle for the most part.
As a comparison, the Braun M90, another very popular travel shaver, is more aggressive and it would often cause me some razor burn.
With the Panasonic I did experience some discomfort after going repeatedly over the same area trying to get a few stray flat hairs.
The foil always remained perfectly cool to the touch and never got warm. The cutting elements on some Panasonic electric razors tend to get hot, but it wasn’t the case here.
Given its simplicity and lack of cutting power, I was expecting some hairs getting yanked, but to my surprise, there was none of that.
Speaking of power, this is where the Panasonic ES-RS10 shows its limitations. When shaving an area with thicker, denser stubble, the shaver would really start to struggle.
While it was mostly fine on the cheeks and neck, shaving my chin and upper lip area proved to be a challenge for the tiny motor fitted to the ES-RS10.
I could feel (and hear) the shaver slowing down significantly as it had difficulties cutting the coarse hairs. The blade and foil even started start to vibrate vigorously.
Doing slower, shorter and more controlled strokes will help in such a case, but I still wouldn’t recommend this razor to someone with wiry, tough hairs.
Cutting flat-lying hairs
The worst part about the Panasonic ES-RS10 has to be the way it handles flat-lying hairs. It just won’t cut them no matter how thorough you are.
Even if the hairs aren’t particularly long or thick, it would still miss some of them, sometimes quite a few. And if you try to go over an area multiple times, there would still be some left behind.
In fact, after every shave with the ES-RS10 during my tests, I had to follow up with a different shaver just to get those stray flat hairs on my neck (I do have plenty of those).
In my opinion this is by far the biggest drawback of this razor, but to be perfectly honest, any travel foil razor in this price range will perform pretty much the same.
So you’ll either have to shave daily to sort of get around this or simply to buy a different, more capable razor.
If your hairs stand upright, this likely won’t be a problem.
Overall, the shaving performance of the Panasonic ES-RS10 is pretty standard for this type of electric razors, the comfort being maybe the only highlight. In terms of power, there are better alternatives as the ES-RS10 feels rather sluggish.
Cleaning and maintenance
When it comes to cleaning, being able to rinse the shaver under tap water is what makes things a lot easier. Well, you can’t do that with the ES-RS10.
Giving up features that aren’t vital in order to keep the price low makes sense, especially with compact shavers. But the lack of waterproofing is a big letdown with the ES-RS10.
Other travel electric shavers that cost even less can be fully submerged in water.
In the case of this Panasonic, you’ll have to rely solely on the small cleaning brush which actually works very well for removing hair clippings.
But after weeks and months of use, there will be other things that you’ll want to get rid of: dead skin, dirt, gunk and so on.
A cleaning brush simply won’t cut it for a thorough cleaning — not to mention that there would still be very fine hair dust on the shaver, blade and foil that will end up scattered inside your bag or cabinet.
But we’ll have to make do with it.
After finishing your shave, remove the foil frame from the shaver. Most of the hair strands will be trapped inside the shaving head.
Gently tap the plastic part of the frame on the sink to remove most of the hairs.
With the short bristles of the brush, clean the inner blade of the shaver. Always go with the direction of the blades, and not across them as they will likely get damaged.
Remove the blade by pulling it straight off the shaver and use the long bristles to remove the hairs from the top of the shaver.
The inner part of the foil can be cleaned with the same long end of the brush and using very gently strokes.
That’s pretty much it.
You shouldn’t under any circumstances clean the shaver with water.
I am a bit too scrupulous when it comes to the hygiene of my shavers, so I actually removed the blade from the shaver and rinsed it with water.
I did the same with the foil of my ES-RS10-S, then let them air dry completely before putting the shaving head back together.
While the foil and blade should be just fine, do this at your own risk. I am yet to see rust on a Panasonic shaver, but you never know.
Replacement parts availability
The ES-RS10 uses a single foil and blade and the parts can be bought separately or as a set.
According to Panasonic, the outer foil must be replaced every year and the inner blade every two years.
In practice, these parts will likely last a lot longer than that because you won’t be using the ES-RS10 as your main shaver. It can work well as a travel razor on short trips, but that’s pretty much it. In my opinion it can’t handle anything more than that for most users.
Getting back to the replacement foil and blade, here are the part numbers:
Unlike the foils of regular Panasonic shavers that are integrated into a plastic frame, the ES9943 foil is just a perforated thin sheet of metal.
You must manually remove the old foil from the shaver’s head and snap the new one in its place.
The operation is very simple and straightforward, but be gentle when handling the foil as it seems pretty fragile.
There are four plastic clips inside the frame holding the foil in place (two on each side).
In order to remove it, gently press the foil inward from one side to release it from the two clips on that side. You can use the tip of your fingernail if it doesn’t come out.
To install the new frame, you must bend and hold it between your thumb and pointing finger, then insert it from the bottom of the foil frame until it snaps into place.
Again, be extra careful as the foil and the four clips seem a bit flimsy.
With the inner blade, things are much simpler, you just grab it by the ends and pull it straight out of the shaver. You simply press the new one back in its place.
Unless you’ll be shaving daily with the ES-RS10 (and you probably wouldn’t want to do that), you won’t have to worry too much about buying and changing a new foil and blade.
And that’s a good thing since they can be pretty pricey. A set costs more than half the price of a brand new shaver and buying them separately can even add up to more than that.
In my opinion it’s not worth it. Unless you can get a great deal on the set, just buy the whole shaver.
Wrapup — who should buy the Panasonic ES-RS10?
Considering the price and the overall performance and features of the ES-RS10, I’d say that its main advantages over other travel razors are the comfort of the shave, the design, great battery life and the very compact size.
It does come with its own shortcomings though, the biggest being the lack of wet/dry operation, poor performance when shaving very thick or flat-lying hairs and the rather gutless motor that makes it feel slower than other similarly priced (or even cheaper) travel shavers.
If the pros and cons still make it look like a suitable shaver, then by all means you should get it.
In my opinion this shaver can only work for occasional use and even then users with very coarse facial hair may need to consider a different model (more details in the next section).
If you have a light beard, you can get a very decent shave with it. This also makes it a great choice for a teenager for example.
It’s extremely compact and lightweight, making ideal as a travel shaver. You can toss it in your bag or keep it in your car’s glove box. But again, don’t expect too much from it.
Unless you absolutely want this model for any particular reason, be it its looks, size or availability, there are at least two options that are in my opinion better shavers and can be had for less money.
The ES3831K is a travel razor that’s better than the ES-RS10 in pretty much every way.
First of all, it is waterproof.
While you likely won’t be shaving with cream or gel, it’s a lot easier to clean by simply rinsing it with tap water.
The Panasonic ES3831K also feels more powerful compared to the ES-RS10 and doesn’t struggle as much when shaving thicker hairs (it’s still not better with flat hairs though). In its defense, the ES-RS10 is smaller and thinner.
Finally, the ES3831K is usually cheaper. If the slightly larger size isn’t an issue, I think it is overall the better shaver between the two.
For more details, you can read my complete review here.
The M90 is the Cadillac of travel razors, being the most feature-packed of them all — if we can say that about a cheap, compact razor.
Here’s what makes the M90 the best all-around travel shaver:
- It is more powerful than the ES-RS10 and the ES3831K. You can really feel and hear it. The M90 is also noticeably faster.
- It shaves closer than any other travel shaver in this price range. While still not as good as a regular shaver, it is better than most compact models. This comes with a small trade-off in comfort though, the M90 being a bit more aggressive than the ES-RS10.
- It’s waterproof and suitable for wet/dry use, making it very easy to clean.
- It comes with an integrated hair trimmer. While it’s very small and only good enough for light grooming, it is nevertheless a welcome addition and something you won’t find on any other travel shaver (the super expensive Panasonic Arc 5 ES-CV51 doesn’t count).
- Smart design: it has a cleverly integrated travel lock that doubles as a protective cap. The battery cover is attached to the body so you won’t lose it, while the cleaning brush snaps securely to the bottom of the shaver in a dedicated slot. These are all very nice touches.
The Braun M90 also has the best build quality, its foil and blade feel more solid and its size is similar to the ES3831K.
It is however noticeably bigger compared to the tiny ES-RS10-S:
Price-wise, the M90 is usually a bit more expensive, but can sometimes be bought for roughly the same money as the ES-RS10 in our review. But in my opinion it’s worth the extra cost.
Again, the only reasons why you would get the Panasonic ES-RS10 over the M90 would be its smaller size and design. In terms of performance and features, the Braun M90 is clearly the better option (you can read the full review here).