Review: Panasonic Multishape is a Surprisingly Functional Grooming Kit
The new Panasonic Multishape aims to pack all of your male grooming needs together into one handy kit, and, for the most part, it succeeds. Centered around a single battery-operated base/handle (choice of Li-ion or Ni-MH), you can pop on attachments for shaving, trimming (beard, body, or nose), and even a sonic toothbrush. While no one component is quite best-in-class, they’re all pretty good and, taken together as a package, make a compelling argument for replacing your existing grooming gear.
Multishape kit options
Panasonic offers both pre-packaged Multishape kits and the option to create your own kit with any combination of available attachments. At the heart of any of these kits is the Multishape’s battery-powered base/handle. Panasonic offers two flavors of the base – Li-ion ($60) and Ni-MH ($50). Given that small price difference, there’s really no reason not to go with the Li-ion version. It offers nearly double the operating time (90 minutes of trimmer use versus 50 minutes for the Ni-MH), a 3-minute quick charge, a low-battery warning indicator, and a rubberized anti-slip coating. (The Ni-MH handle doesn’t support quick charge). Both handles are waterproof and can be fully charged in an hour. Unfortunately, neither handle has a remaining charge indicator, forcing you to either make sure the unit is fully charged before you travel or take the cord with you.
For attachments, you have the option of:
- 3-blade shaver head ($35)
- beard & hair trimmer head with two combs ($35)
- body, hair, and beard trimmer with four combs ($40)
- electric toothbrush head ($35)
- Nose and ear trimmer ($20)
- Dopp kit “free gift” for orders over $100
All of the attachments pop on or off with the press of a button located on the back of the base.
There are three kits available starting at $135. One kit, oddly, is priced more than buying the pieces separately. And the other two will save you $15 – they both include a nose/ear trimmer, so the math only works if this attachment is important to you. If not, you’re better off buying separately.
Panasonic sent me the Ultimate All-in-One Kit ($170) for testing, which includes the Li-ion base, 3-blade shaver head, nose trimmer, and toothbrush with two brush heads. This kit usually includes the Dopp bags, but the bags weren't available when they sent me the kit.
Panasonic has been making some of the top grooming products on the market for years. Their Arc5 was our pick for the best men’s shaver, and the Arc3 was our favorite shaver under $100, so my expectations were high for the shaver in the Multishape kit. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure whether that performance would play out in this new kit form or whether Panasonic had taken any shortcuts to hit the $35 attachment price point. However, after a couple of months of testing against other shavers, including Panasonic’s new flagship Arc6, I came away suitably impressed. The 3-blade Multishape shaver delivered a very clean shave with no irritation, even with a few days of working-from-home stubble to deal with. Perhaps not surprisingly, the foil and blades on the Multishape appear identical to those on the Arc3. Even side-by-side against the Arc6, it was hard to distinguish a significant difference; and for shaving around a beard, I actually prefer the smaller head on the Multishape.
The beard & hair trimmers, true to their Panasonic pedigree, also work great. The smaller 1-inch trimmer has long and short combs, offering 39 cutting lengths in half-millimeter increments from zero to 20mm. The wider 1.5-inch trimmer has four combs and can handle lengths up to 30mm. The settings are easy to adjust and lock securely in place (though I would have liked more contrast in the numbering – is there a reason why Panasonic chose light grey ink instead of white to print on a dark gray body?). With plenty of power coming from the base, the trimmer powered through my beard quickly and evenly.
The one letdown in my testing was with the toothbrush. Conceptually, I get Panasonic’s desire to crash the Oral-B/Sonicare electric toothbrush party and the lucrative replacement head business that comes with it, but the Multishape toothbrush isn’t fully up to the job. Cleaning performance is very hard to measure objectively, though the toothbrush seemed roughly on par with the Oral B and Sonicare models I’ve used. And that’s a big plus. However, the head of the toothbrush is not in alignment with your natural grip of the base handle (a flat side on the back makes for a centered grip, while the head is about 30 degrees off-axis) and never felt intuitive when brushing. And the toothbrush head, itself, would occasionally pop off during use.
On the flip side, the Multishape base offers far more battery power than my Oral-B or Sonicare units, which tend to die very quickly. That becomes a real pain when traveling, and I haven’t remembered (or bothered) to bring the charging base. So, while the Multishape works well as a substitute for travel, I wouldn’t recommend it as your day-to-day brush.
I couldn’t adequately test the nose/ear trimmer because and don’t know anyone with enough extraneous hair to need one. However, other Panasonic nose trimmers have received tens of thousands of excellent reviews on Amazon, and I would expect this one to perform similarly.
Cleaning & Maintenance
The Panasonic Multishape is a wet/dry shaver, so it is easy to clean in the sink with a quick rinse-off. The shaver head also comes apart for deeper cleaning of the blades and foil. When the blades need to be replaced, the Multishape uses the same blades and foils as the Arc3, so finding parts should never be an issue.
The toothbrush heads are only available on Panasonic’s dedicated Multishape site for $26 for a pack of four. When you add in the $10 in shipping charges (and you can’t get them anywhere with free shipping or pick up in-store), the price is slightly more than what you would pay for Philips Sonicare or Oral-B.
The bottom line
The Multishape system surprised me with both its convenience and performance. As a bearded guy who regularly uses both a shaver and a trimmer, having both features integrated into one base unit was convenient and offered admirable grooming results. In fact, it has replaced my older shaving devices for daily use. And since you can build your own kit, the Multishape lets you pick the right attachment mix for you and add to it later, as desired. The form factor is perfect for longer trips, where you need lots of devices and want to minimize suitcase clutter. I wish I was as impressed by the toothbrush – it’s definitely not the selling point for going with the Multishape, but it serves a purpose when traveling.
If you’re looking to upgrade your grooming kit or looking for a gift for one of the guys in your life, the Multishape deserves serious consideration. The Panasonic Multishape is currently available exclusively through Panasonicmultishape.com.
[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious]