Well, 15 shaves each and nearly 2 months later, I’ve ended the Schick vs. Gillette face-off of their latest market entries. It’s important to note that both blades continue to give acceptable shaves, albeit not nearly as smooth as in their early days. Nevertheless, factoring in their durability, they’re not nearly as cost ineffective as DE shavers would have us believe. A 50 cent DE that gives 3 shaves isn’t that far off a $4 state-of-the-art blade that gives 15-20 shaves. So much for that argument.
The Schick Hydro 5 was by far the smoothest blade in my opinion. The Gillette started to drag by the 3rd or 4th shave, although not to the detriment of the shave itself. The Schick Hydro 5 remains to this day completely drag-free, although it leaves quite a bit of stubble at this point.
The Schick has a strange characteristic: Its built-in glide gel seems to react with some classic shave creams and soaps to produce a super-slick slime that makes the blade literally float on the surface of the skin. This floating seems to interfere with the blade’s cutting ability. Weird.
The Gillette feels better in the hand; more solid and heftier than the Schick, which feels almost like a disposable razor because of its cheap-feel plastic.
Overall, my opinion is that these types of razors and blades are ideal for travel, especially given carry-on restrictions for blades, not to mention the variable conditions of hotel rooms and rental condos with respect to shower facilities, mirrors, etc. These razors provide a fast, easy, risk-free, smooth shave. You could literally shave with one of these razors without even looking at a mirror and with total freeforming of the shave strokes.
The shave itself is excellent, especially when these blades are very sharp, say for the first 5-6 shaves. On the other hand, a good DE blade and razor will produce an equally smooth shave and a better skin-feel (I suspect its the DE’s exfoliating action). Bottom line: If you have the extra time (maybe an incremental 2 minutes) and attention, a DE will still give an overall better shave experience and end-result. But if you’re pressed for time or in less than ideal conditions, it’s tough to beat the new generation of cartridge razors.