The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 by Philips is one of our favorite electric toothbrushes that we have tested so far. It matches the overall performance of the best toothbrushes we have seen, doing very well in our cleaning tests and being exceptionally easy to use. It's quite comfortable to brush with — even for those with more sensitive teeth and gums — and has a solid battery life that should get you through most short trips without needing the charger. On top of all that, it is very reasonably priced, making it a fantastic option for almost anyone and earning it an Editors' Choice award.
Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Review
Pros: Very easy to use, solid battery life, great cleaning power
Cons: Only a single cleaning mode
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Our Analysis and Test Results
To pick out which toothbrushes are good enough to win an award, we researched dozens of different brushes, then bought the best ones to test out in a series of side-by-side assessments. We had a diverse panel of judges rate how comfortable each brush is to brush with and compare their cleaning performances, as well as comparing the convenience of using each brush on a daily basis and the battery life of each one. We grouped all of these evaluations into four weighted testing metrics, with the results of the ProtectiveClean 4100 outlined below.
Comfort is the most significant metric of our testing process, accounting for 40% of the final score for each electric toothbrush that we tested. We had our panel of judges — including some with sensitive gums — rate how it felt to brush with each toothbrush, as well as comparing the tone and volume of each brush while in use and if there is an overpressure sensor to determine scores. The ProtectiveClean 4100 did fairly well, receiving a 6 out of 10 overall.
Our testers had a bit of a mixed reaction. Half of them — including those with gums that are a bit more sensitive — really liked this toothbrush, finding it much more comfortable to brush with than some of more aggressive rotation-oscillation brushes. However, the remaining half of our judges rated it slightly below average, finding the frequency of the vibration to be quite vexing. It wasn't that the toothbrush was too aggressive for them, more that it was too "buzzy".
Our testers did agree across the board that this electric toothbrush is quieter than most and lacks the high-pitched rattling whine that many of the other products have. This toothbrush also has a pressure sensor that will slow the brush down if you are pressing too hard.
Our cleaning assessment accounts for 30% of the score for each toothbrush. For this test, we had each judge refrain from brushing their teeth for around 18 hours, then use a tablet that stains the accumulated plaque a rather furious shade of fuschia. Each judge then brushed with the ProtectiveClean 4100 — using different brush heads, of course — and we compared the before and after photos to award points. This electric toothbrush did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its performance.The 4100 did average or above at removing plaque for every single one of our judges and removed almost all of the plaque for most of them.
Even for the judges where the 4100 didn't remove all the plaque, it only left some small spots in the harder to reach areas of their mouths.
Ease of Use
Following our plaque removal cleaning test, our set of ease of use and convenience tests came next in terms of importance, accounting for 20% of the final score for each toothbrush. In this metric, we compared and ranked the ease of swapping between and the different cleaning modes available on each toothbrush, as well as how much effort it takes to clean toothpaste grime off the brush, if it had a timer with quadrant intervals, and if it offers a convenient way to store additional brush heads on the charging base. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 did exceptionally well, earning an 8 out of 10.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 only has a single cleaning mode, giving it an extremely simple and easy to use interface
We also like that the single button appears to be well sealed and isn't prone to accumulating any toothpaste residue. We tested this by slathering each brush in a mixture of watered down toothpaste, then timing how long it took to clean. This brush is water resistant enough to use in the shower, making it very easy to clean.
Unfortunately, there isn't a place to store an additional brush on the charger, making it a little more difficult to keep track of extra brush heads than some of the other models.
This electric toothbrush does have an integrated 2-minute timer and will notify you every 30 seconds that it is time to move to another quadrant of your mouth when brushing. It will also stop automatically when the two minutes has elapsed.
Our last metric — battery life — accounts for the remaining 10% of the score of each electric toothbrush. As some of the newer toothbrushes have a standby or phantom power draw even when they aren't in use, we ran each toothbrush every day for a full cleaning cycle in the morning and in the evening until they died. The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 has a battery life that is quite impressive, earning it a 7 out of 10.
The 4100 lasted for close to a month — 28 days! — on a single charge, comparing very favorably to the rest of the group.
This brush also has a low battery indicator that alerted us on the 23rd day of our test, letting you know that you only have 10 brushes or so remaining before you need to charge it.
The Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 is an excellent value, coupling top-of-the-line performance with an exceptionally reasonable price. It isn't the cheapest option out there if you are shopping on a bare-bones budget, but only costs a little bit more than the most economical options while offering a big boost in performance.
The ProtectiveClean 4100 by Philips is one of the best electric toothbrushes that we have tested to date. It is super simple and easy to use, all while offering impressive cleaning performance for a side-to-side toothbrush that isn't too aggressive for those with sensitive gums. The 4100 has an impressive battery life, though a few of our judges wished it was a tiny bit more comfortable to use. All in all, it's a fantastic toothbrush that we would highly recommend. Even better, it is very reasonably priced for a top-notch toothbrush.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer