Conair for Men
If you’re like me, you’ve probably grown plenty tired of the i-naming craze that the late, great Steve Jobs of Apple game kick started with the iPod. If you want to tell the world that your latest gizmo is perfect for hipsters then stick that “i” on there boldly. It’s as bad as the “e” craze of the late 90s that gave us words like “e-mail” and “e” everything else.
So here we have the i-Stubble. Sigh.
This is an entry from Conair, who I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with the Nicholas Cage film of the same name. Conair makes quite a wide range of home appliances and this trimmer is another in a huge catalog of devices.
Rough and Tumble
The i-Stubble isn’t an electric razor, but rather a trimmer with oscillating blades. The same type of technology they use in salons to cut long hair. Whereas a foil or rotary electric razor can’t really handle more than two or three days’ worth of beard growth, the i-Stubble is meant to maintain facial hair at length beyond this, while still meant for daily shaving.
I’m a bit split on the looks of the i-Stubble. Clearly it looks well made, and based on pictures alone the quality doesn’t seem too bad, but the design is rather rough. When I say that, I mean that it is rough on purpose. The i-Stubble evokes images of jeeps and offroad gear. I understand that the target market (bearded tough guys) will probably like that a lot, but that doesn’t mean I have to.
Despite actually being more like a traditional trimmer, the i-Stubble also carries genes it picked up from electric razors. It has a full-floating head the way an electric razor might have. This is one of the main shortcomings of using a trimmer on your face. The rigid traditional trimmer is fine for the contours of a hard skull, but wildly varying fleshy face bones? Not so much. I think Conair has done something really unique here. Obviously so do they, since they call the design “unique” themselves, but you can’t begrudge them that.
The trimmer can cut to between 0.4mm all the way up to 5mm. To give you a comparison, really high-end foil razors can get down to 0.05mm. In other words this can only ever leave you with mild stubble, but if you are trying to maintain “rugged” without ever progressing to ”crazy mountain man”, this may be what you need. I also think there’s a case to be made here for using something like the i-Stubble to get a long beard down to a length that a razor can handle, rather than faffing around with a normal hair trimmer. The i-Stubble is cheap enough to make that feasible.
The biggest issue I have with the i-Stubble is the battery. It uses some poorly soldered together nickel-metal hydride batteries that have enough oomph for the i-Stubble’s purposes, but in general are inferior to lithium ion battery technology. For most people it seems to hold up OK, but I’ve seen quite a few buyers complain about premature battery failure. If you are the technical sort, you can replace these batteries yourself with something better. It’s a pity that corners had to be cut with such a crucial component, but the i-Stubble is pretty cheap, all things considered, so taking the chance of an early warranty return is probably worth it. At least it shows that the batteries are in fact replaceable – even if not entirely by design.
Since these are NiMH batteries, your first charge will be a long one. Conair says at least 16 hours of charging is needed before you use it for the first time. On the plus side, these batteries charge pretty fast. 90 minutes for a full charge, which gives you 60 minutes of use, which is great. There’s also a five minute quick-charge feature for when you are in a real pinch.
GED: Good Enough Degree
So what do I think about the i-Stubble? I actually think it’s a great idea. We are long past the era where men, even professional men, are expected to have a shave so smooth a baby would be envious. It’s perfectly acceptable to sport the old five o’clock shadow now and the i-Stubble provides a unique way to maintain that one-day beard indefinitely.
Conair has done a really good job adapting trimmer technology into something you’d want to shave your whole face with, and the blades themselves seem to be a pretty decent quality. Yes, the product is cheap, but apart from the occasionally dodgy battery pack, this doesn’t seem to have affected its longevity. Many people have had them for several years and just keep putting new batteries in.
While I love the idea of the i-Stubble, I wish this product was just a little more premium. Another ten or twenty bucks would not have hurt. Still, as a companion to your foil or rotary shaver, I think the i-Stubble is a worthy idea in a slightly too cheap product, but one that I’d still buy all the same.