Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 Review
Pros: Strong cleaning performance
Cons: Somewhat confusing interface, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This electric toothbrush finished in the middle of the group overall, ahead of the Waterpik Complete Care 9.5 and just behind the Oral-B Pro 1000. The Oral-B Pro 1000 cleaned a lot better than the 6100 in our tests and is a lot simpler to use, but it can be a bit a bit aggressive and uncomfortable for anyone with sensitive gums and has an inferior battery life. However, the Pro 1000 usually retails for about $50 less, making it a much better value. The Waterpik costs about the same as the ProtectiveClean 6100, but it does include an integrated water flosser, so you do get all the increased functionality from that. It's about the as comfortable as the 6100 and also has a better battery life, but doesn't clean as well.
In our crusade to crown the best electric toothbrush of them all, we researched over 50 different products over close to 3 years, consulting with dentists and dental hygienists about our testing plans and procedures. We bought all the most promising brushes, then tested them side-by-side in tons of different tests to pick our award winners. We grouped these tests into four weighted rating metrics, with the results and our analysis of the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100 described below.
The first thing we scored for each electric toothbrush is how comfortable it is to brush with, which is responsible for close to half (40%!) of the final score for each toothbrush. We compared the noise level of each toothbrush and if it had a sensor to detect if you are brushing too hard to determine points, but the bulk of the score for this metric depended on the opinion of our panel of judges after they had used the 6100. It did alright, earning a 6 out of 10 overall for its level of comfort.
Most of our judges rated this toothbrush very highly, finding it to be solidly comfortable, with even our judges with sensitive gums giving it their stamp of approval.
However, there was a small minority of judges that weren't the biggest fans of this brush. They didn't think that it was overly abrasive, like some of the oscillation-rotation models from Oral-B, more than the frequency of the vibration to be high enough to be slightly off-putting.
This brush did earn some points by being one of the more silent models, lacking any overly irritating or annoying tones and being quieter on the whole than many other brushes.
It also has a pressure sensor that will slow the vibrations of the brush down if you are brushing with too much force — something that is surprisingly easy to do.
Moving on to the primary function of these products, our cleaning assessment accounts for 30% of the final score for each toothbrush. We had the same panel of judges skip brushing their teeth in the morning to let a substantial amount of plaque accumulate, then used a chewable plaque disclosing tablet to stain it bright pink. Each judge then used the ProtectiveClean 6100 with the standard brush for the recommended two minutes and compared the before and after results to see just how well the the ProtectiveClean 6100 did at pulverizing plaque. Overall, we thought it did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10.
This toothbrush did remove the majority of the plaque for every single one of our judges. However, there were a few judges that missed significant amounts of plaque in the harder to reach areas of their mouths, such as the inner surfaces of their teeth or back by their molars, precluding the 6100 from one of the top scores in this test.
Ease of Use
Following cleaning, our next series of tests focused on how intuitive and easy to use the 6100 is. We looked at the ease of swapping cleaning modes and using the interface, as well as how much work it is to clean the toothbrush handle, if there is an integrated timer, and if there is an easy way to store extra toothbrush heads on the docking base. The ProtectiveClean 6100 delivered an overall lackluster set of results, earning it a 5 out of 10 in this series of evaluations, which account for 20% of its final point total.
This brush's interface can be slightly confusing, as it has three cleaning modes — Clean, Whiten, Gum Care — that can each be ran in three different intensities. You use the secondary mode select button to pick the cleaning mode before you hit the power button, then use the same button to adjust the intensity after the brush has started. Needless to say, it takes a little getting used to.
The brush is fairly easy to clean and water resistant enough to briefly rinse or use in the shower, but we did notice that toothpaste residue accumulates at the base of the handle and can take a little effort to clean.
The 6100 also has a built-in two-minute timer that is divided up into 30 second intervals and will automatically stop after a full brushing cycle has elapsed.
The charging base does lack any sort of storage options for other brush heads, but the included travel case can store two brush heads and the handle.
Lastly, we ranked and scored the battery life of each toothbrush by running them for a standard cleaning cycle twice a day until they died. The 6100 didn't do the best, earning a 5 out of 10 in this test, which is responsible for the leftover 10% of its final score.
The ProtectiveClean 6100 lasted for 23 days before quitting, with a low battery indicator triggering on the 19th day of our test, which put it roughly in the middle of the group.
This brush isn't a great value, as there are cheaper options that vastly outperformed it.
Overall, you could do much worse than the Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100, but you also could do a lot better.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer