For decades I have been using electric shavers. The past 10 years, the shavers I used were from Panasonic. The reason was I tried to use multiple-blade (two or three blades, can't recall) Gillette razors when I was a teenager and had skin irritation. I have tough facial hair and sensitive skin, especially in the neck area. Electric shavers cured the irritation but resulted in a shave that never was as close or as quick as the Gillette's.
In addition to lack of close shave (even when used in wet mode) and too much time spent on shaving, electric shavers were a hassle: cleaning, charging, bulk, etc. And then, they are pricey to buy and maintain - the blades and screens get dull and need replacements that cost almost as much as the shaver itself: about $35 for my recent Panasonic's inner blades and outer screen combo.
I recently used these two Panasonic shavers: Panasonic ES8101S Electric Shaver, Panasonic Pro-Curve ES7037.
After using all sorts of fancy linear-motor, nano-tech blade-equipped Panasonics, I decided to give Gillette another try. I bought the Gillette Fusion and a couple of weeks later got a free battery-powered Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor as well.
About Gillette Fusion
The Fusion is a razor that uses proprietary cartridges with 5 blades each. The handle can be manual or battery-powered vibrating (the ProGlide had an AAA alkaline battery included). Cartridges are slightly different as well (ProGlide claims to have thinner blades), but Fusion cartridges are interchangeable.
The handles and cartridges look nice, are well built and have good heft to them. Each cartridge has 5 blades for shaving, one trimmer blade on the opposite side (which is pretty useless, BTW) and a strip that helps the cartridge glide better and also serves as a change indicator (color changes when the cartridge needs to be replaced).
After I used the Fusion for the first time (with foam from an aerosol can), I was immediately impressed with how much time I saved over shaving with an electric shaver and how much closer it shaved. But there was an immediate drawback apparent - skin irritation, especially on the neck.
The Fusion is easy to use - no skill is required to get very close shave and the angle of the blade is pre-set and cannot be adjusted. So it is easy to use, foolproof design that saves time and provides close shave. Still, the irritation I got was too much to handle.
After using it for the first time, I know that I won't be using an electric shaver again. But due to irritation, I only used the Fusion a handful of time before I found a better alternative. Not only does the alternative reduce irritation to a minimum, the blades are much cheaper as well.
A Better Alternative
The alternative is an old-school double-edge razor with double-edge Shark blades that cost about 10-15 cents each (vs. over $2 per Gillette Fusion cartridge). My Parker razor cost less than $30 (actually less than $40 with 100 Shark blades included), so an initial investment is required.
DE shaving requires practice and it does take a bit longer to shave with a DE than with Fusion. But I find the shaving process more relaxing, there is only very minimum skin irritation (as opposed to severe irritation with Fusion) and with 100 excellent DE blades (Shark or Derby) selling for $10-15, you can save close to a hundred of dollars per year on blades. Plus, it is better for the environment as only the blade itself is disposed of.
I tried the battery-powered Gillette Fusion ProGlide recently and had to go back to my double-edge Parker due to sever skin irritation in the neck area.
Compared to Schick Hydro 5
I also tried the Schick Hydro 5 and liked it much better. See the review of Schick Hydro 5 here.
Best for Me So Far
I am using the best combination for me: Edwin Jagger De89bl razor with Personna blue blades.
Pros: Cheap handle, fast and close shave, looks nice, well-built, easy to use
Cons: Expensive cartridges, skin irritation, not environmentally-minded, useless trimmer blade.
If you don't get skin irritation, the Gillette Fusion is a time saver and an easy way to get a very close shave. If you want to save money and have less irritation (but spend more time shaving), get an old-school double-edge safety razor (e.g. Parker or Merkur) and some decent blades.