Philips-Norelco Multigroom Series 7400 Wet/dry Groomer - Black/chrome
I happen to own several electronic personal "grooming" tools that aren't dedicated facial hair shavers. Some were from purchases I made, others, the most "expensive" and, surprisingly, least useful, were well intended gifts. While I won't mention those hardly ever used and very pricey brands/models by name in this review, I will make specific mention of the other Philips-NORELCO personal groomers that I do use on a regular basis.
I learned how to properly cut head hair using comb, hair cutting scissors and eye-sight, with professional results. While I can't accurately ruler-free/free-hand cut to specific millimeter lengths, I have always had an innate ability to visually divide-cut existing lengths by visual fractions (1/2, 1/3, 1/4 of original) to within 1-2mm of measured accuracy. It's a skill set that transfers to DIY grooming.
Personal grooming means DIY, not handing a tool to a second party to do the job. Personal facial hair grooming requires a minimum of one mirror, but benefits from two or more mirrors, a 2nd to obtain a profile view and a 3rd, frontal spot mirror for magnification. Personal head hair cutting, with the intention of obtaining anything other than a "military" look, requires a minimum of two mirrors. My facial hair grooming needs do not go beyond upper lip moustache trimming, but exceeds what a dedicated electric shaver is capable of on a weekly basis. I do cut my own head hair on a three week interval, and I always obtain professional results with a non-single length, styled look.
DIY "styled" hair cuts are a messy process, so the best place to work it is in a dry shower stall, where the clippings may fall where ever and then be swept up for disposal prior to actual showering. I also classify my hair as thicker and coarser than average. No Multigroom can ever replace a dedicated facial shaver in my world, but, for all other DIY work, I find P-N Multigooms to be very useful.
When I received the Multigroom 7400 I noticed it's close similarity to the Phillips-NORELCO MultigroomPro (QG3386). While there are cosmetic differences in their outer shells, the Lithium ion battery life, motors, charge/run times and chromium steel primary trimmer blades are the same across these two models. P-N called the MPro "water resistant" and calls the M7400 "shower proof." The MPro and M7400 have slightly different accessories. Common across the two models, functionally, but not physically identical, are: the Precision/Detail trimmer, Bodygroom shaver, Nose trimmer. The MPro also has a Mini foil shaver, for fine edge work, which the M7400 dropped. In my experience, the Pro's Mini foil shaver was not useful to me, so it's not missed in the M7400's load out. Across Multigroom (Pro/7400) models there are 3 adjustable combs: Hair clipping (3-20mm); Beard/Moustache (Pro, 1-18mm) vs Stubble (7400, 1-12mm); Body trimming (3-12mm). All of these attachments are 100% interchangeable between the MPro and M7400. All combs are adjustable at 1mm increments; but the Pro suffers from a manufacturing/design flaw that makes it very difficult to land on the odd-numbered mm comb settings -- fully fixed in the 7400.
(If you happen to prefer the MPro's Bodygroom shaver over the M7400's, the former is sold separately by P-N as a single retail accessory.)
There are two operational buttons on each model, a power button and a Turbo mode button, the latter of which increases motor speed and battery drain. The Turbo mode button on the MPro remembers that you set it to Turbo between off/on durations of upto a minute. The M7400 requires that you manually turn Turbo mode back on with each and every off/on cycle -- which is an annoyance, because I prefer to always run both in Turbo mode.
I've never fully immersed either unit completely in water, but I can confirm that both are in-shower-use water resistant. Both models do not short at the electrical switches when operated under a shower water stream and the main body of the shaver handles have passive top-to-bottom drain-through slots (that also merit specific cleaning with compressed air between uses to prevent clogging).
The interesting thing is that my main GoTo tool for head hair cuts remains the significantly lesser Phillips-NORELCO All-in-1 G480 Grooming Kit. This G480 is pre-Multigroom, is NOT water resistant or shower proof and only has a Ni-MH battery that delivers 35 mins max runtime. Ni-MH also requires periodic full discharge to prevent charge "memory" effects. The G480 only has one motor speed that's equivalent to Multigroom Turbo mode. The G480's design and accessories have functional Multigroom similarities, but are not interchangeable, with Multigrooms'. G480's combs only adjust at 2mm increments. The G480 has a Fine detailing blade that is half the width of the Multigrooms' Precision trimmers/mini foil, but I've found no use for it.
The main reasons why I prefer the G480 for general head hair cutting are the physical dimensions of it's combs, even though the comb teeth widths, teeth counts and cutter blade widths are IDENTICAL. They somehow manage to perform DIFFERENTLY.
Cutting my own head hair, I use the equivalent of 20mm + a two finger scalp-level hair pinch, 20-18mm free-hand and 5mm free-hand. I use straight cuts and thinning cuts. Yet, for whatever reason, I achieve the exact same overall results with only the older G480 in about 20-25 minutes, where using either Multigroom, alone, seems to take 30-35 minutes. The difficulty I encounter is with 5mm head hair edge work, achieving a tapered effect that is pleasing to me. No matter what Multigroom combs I choose, I have to work twice as hard to avoid winding up with a choppy "FlowBee" edge result, whereas I can quickly free-hand the same edge tasks using the G480. The only thing that I can think of to suggest to P-N, should they care to solve this problem, is to put more comb teeth in the Multigroom combs, perhaps doubling the number, reducing, by half, the distance between teeth, and narrowing the overall outside width dimension of the comb assemblies (not the overall width of the actual teeth array).
Another thing about P-N combs is that the plastic material that they're made of becomes brittle and prone to breakage, during normal use, in slightly more than two years of use. I don't use harsh chemicals or soaps cleaning them, just warm running water and air drying. Overtime, the plastic teeth become pitted and develop tiny internal hairline cracks, then teeth finally break. I haven't had a Multigroom long enough, yet, for comb teeth breakage, but it has been a problem with the G480. G480 combs are prone to teeth breakage and length setting slider cracks. I anticipate that Multigroom combs will eventually encounter teeth breakage over time. Fortunately, Norelco has been very good about providing replacement G480 combs when I have asked. Hopefully, they'll be just as generous replacing broken Multigroom combs.
In comparison with other manufacturers' water resistant personal groomers that I've tried, their collective main shortfall has been too low a chromium content in their cutting steels. Too little chromium and the steels rust if you breathe on them. They require applications of machine oil after each and every steel use/washing, sometimes even requiring full steel disassembly, to fight rust formation (because cuttings ALWAYS gets in between sliding steels). P-N has found the sweet spot between carbon and chromium content in their groomer steels. Stays sharp over time without rusting.
While the MPro and M7400 each came with a small tube of clear light machine oil for lubrication, should you need it, it's not needed for rust prevention. This is a huge plus because I always wash personal groomers and accessories after each use. I've never had any P-N personal groomer develop rust. In fact, I have yet to use a single drop of lube oil provided with a P-N Multigroom. Just washing, compressed air blow outs and air drying is almost all the maintenance I have ever had to do for a P-N groomer.
Periodically, I have had to loosen to hex screws on the Multigroom main cutter blades to use compressed air to blow out trapped tiny hair clippings; but this is far short of full disassembly. This happens less than twice a year.
The only things I do for Multigroom battery maintenance is to avoid more than 50% battery discharge and leave them plugged into to their AC chargers between uses. The chips in the Lithium ion batteries and the P-N provided chargers avoid over-charging and simply maintain a full charge. Left in standby AC charging mode, neither the Multigrooms nor their chargers become warm to the touch.
Using the G480 mostly for edge work, I wind up running a Multigroom for ~15-20 minutes, in Turbo mode, for all other cutting tasks. That's well under P-N's runtime claim of 60 minutes, in non-Turbo mode, and very likely less than whatever all-Turbo mode runtime must be. (I fully rundown the G480's Ni-MH batteries once every other use, before fully charging, with no standby charging between uses. Once fully charged, the G480 doesn't support standby charging.) My Multigrooms fully recharge in less than an hour, usually in less than 1/2 hour, because I never fully discharge them. A fully discharged G480 needs 10 hours to fully recharge. My G480 is more than three years old and still on it's original battery, with no loss in performance. My MultigroomPro is coming up on two years, is also on it's original battery and performs very similarly to the brand new 7400. I expect the 7400 to have similar longevity.
I recommend the Phillips-NORELCO Multigroom 7400 as a buy for DIY groomers. You might find it to be the only weapon that you need in your grooming arsenal, but I will still be keeping my dedicated shaver and trusty P-N G480.