NOTE: I know Flatfish has posted a Tech review already, but this one covers a few other types of Tech so I've created a new thread
The Gillette Tech describes a variety of razors made over what I understand to be a fair few years. They aren't all exactly the same and have subtle differences that can completely alter a shave. In no particular order I'll be discussing the Travel Tech (USA version), the Ball-Ended Tech (UK), the Aluminium (slim) Handled (UK) and the Fat Handled (also UK)*.
Here's a couple of group shots to show the different types:
The mini-handled travel tech is the only USA made tech I own and it does have a few distinct differences from the others (I can't comment on whether these are applicable to UK made travel techs...) which make it unique in my collection. Here's the razor:
As you can see the handle is about 2/3 of the size of a standard safety razor which allows it to be packed away in a case roughly the size of a pack of blades. The most noticeable difference is the lack of blade guides on the upper part of the head. The other techs all feature some sort of rail to ensure the head and blade remain aligned, whereas the USA model has 4 posts on the top part and corresponding gaps in the middle of the razor. This makes the blades slightly easier to change and I have never had a problem with blade alignment.
The other difference is head shape - the curve of the top is actually slightly different to the other techs, making the head of the razor a little thicker. This makes it a bit less nimble around fiddly areas such as under the nose, but the added thickness makes it easier for me a get a perfect blade angle every time with this razor.
As with all techs this one isn't aggressive in the slightest - something I find excellent.
Ball-Ended Tech and Aluminium Handled Tech
Both the ball-ended tech and the alu-handled tech have the same head - I assume the difference in handle is based on age and cost at original purchase? Here's the two:
The ball-ended tech has seen a lot more use and abuse (in fact the alu-handled has never been used) which makes it appear lighter in colour - this is just an effect of the photography. Both would have had the same Gillette logo etched into the top (unlike the embossed logo on the travel tech) although in the light of these photos neither really show it off!
Both razors use a rail to align the blade, with the older ball-ended tech having a complete rail and the newer version having rails at each end. The difference is negligable. The thin-ness of the head and the lightness of the razor overall make this tech a very gentle razor in every sense (the travel tech seems to be plated, making it heaver than these two combined!) but that shouldn't put you off. I've always had excellent shaves from this style of tech and I consider them to be ideal razors for anyone starting out, or for those who want a reliable everyday razor.
Fat Handled Tech
The heftiest of bunch is the fat-handled tech - the complete opposite of the travel:
This razor is by the largest of the four, not just in handle but also in head. The upper two parts of the razor are thicker and heavier than the other techs, and the blade guard is wider. This makes for much less nimble shave. The advantage to all this extra metal? Weight - by having so much more weight in the hand this razor shaves in a different manner altogether. The extra heft gives a more effortless shave and coupled with the customary gentleness of a tech, creates a very smooth feeling shave.
The photos don't easily show the solidarity of the fat-handled tech compared with the others - the extra width and thickness (only about 1mm) of the head make a significant difference, and I could easily see this razor working well with a variety of blades that may not suite the other three. That said - this razor has given me one or two very serious nicks, largely due to my own inexperience with a chunkier razor.
There are numerous other types of techs, as well as other Gillette three-piece razors from the same era and I'm by no means an expert. If you're interested in techs that can be very inexpensive. I've bought them as cheaply as 99p on ebay and in shaving sets for under Â£10.
I would happily recommend a tech to anyone who's looking for a simple DE razor, or a travel razor to stick in a toiletries bag. I can certainly see another few decades of use in even the worst condition in my little collection, making it a worthwhile addition to any rotation.
*Ok, so maybe it's in height order....