I have very little facial hair and a beard is in the realm of impossibility. For me, the ideal shaving solution needs to be compact and as fuss-free as possible. I would love to get into the art of shaving but there's simply not enough to shave off. My Braun’s blades were beginning to go dull so I began looking for a replacement. Then I came across the Hitachi RM-1700UD, and had to have it. At a price of under $30, the 1-click buy button was pressed very quickly.
The box. The packaging is very typical of 90s Japanese design. Not sure if this aesthetic was purposefully curated or this product is just simply old. Probably the latter.
What you get for $30. Though it isn't "handsome", I appreciate the classical Japanese no-nonsense aesthetic of the RM-1700UD (ridiculous name by the way). Just like the way a Miele appliance looks helplessly German, this couldn't look more Japanese.
Hitachi includes an amazingly cheap case and a foil protector. I can’t emphasize enough on how bad the case is, it’s the first time I’ve felt something so poorly made in years.
Next to my old Braun MobileShave. The first big difference between them is that the Braun is waterproof and the Hitachi is not. Notice the rubber seal on the battery hatch.
Despite the metallic appearance, the golden body is simply painted plastic. The completely plastic body is far from premium but relatively well built, like a cheap Sony clock radio. I've had it for a few weeks and the paint seems to be pretty thin - I've managed to create scuffs effortlessly.
The killer feature of the RM-1700UD is this. It has built-in AC prongs that charge a built-in rechargeable battery. This is incredible. I have owned and seen rechargeable shavers before but built-in prongs is new to me. I hate having to carry adapters, which is a reason why I opted for the battery powered Braun. With the Hitachi, I don't even need to deal with replacing batteries. The battery seems to be decent, I just plug it in when I'm bored.
The prongs are pushed out using a simple slider. Nothing fancy, it just works.
The Hitachi is super travel friendly; there's even a small switch that changes it from 100-120V to 200-240V.
The blade mechanism is very simple and nearly identical to the Braun MobileShave's.
The Braun's foil has a concentric pattern with organic cutouts. The Hitachi has a more linear pattern with some cross hatching. So how's the shave? It's okay but nothing great. I found that the Braun gives a closer shave but sometimes misses a few hairs. The Hitachi has provides more consistent results though it fails to go as close. I think this could be partially due to the fairly weak built-in battery.
There's also a flip-up trimmer.
Overall, I really like the Hitachi RM-1700UD. There are some disappointments like the lack of waterproofing and average shaving performance but the compact, clever design outweigh the weakness for me. If your focus is getting a perfect shave, this isn't for you. If you need a simple and convenient solution for light shaving, this could be it.