Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday ToolTalk: Black&Decker 24V Cordless Trimmer/Edger

Summer has arrived. With it comes the joy of regular yard work. But my summer mowing season is getting off to a much better than normal start.

That’s due in part to our friends at Black & Decker who recently sent me their new 24 Volt Cordless String Trimmer/ Edger with PowerCommand™ to review.

I love the idea of not dragging an extension cord around and of not having to continually try to keep it from underfoot while I do. I wondered though just how this model (NST1024) would stack up compared to both the corded version I own and the gas-powered models I have in the past.

Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. This is one powerful little machine that made quick work of my admittedly overgrown walkway. See for yourself.

What I Liked:

  • If you need to trim around a utility pole, the trimmer mode is great. But, to do routine maintenance edging, push a button, turn the shaft and your trimmer converts to an edger. It’s two tools in one! And both work great.

  • A wide 13-inch cutting path

  • A 9000 rpm motor and gear drive deliver up to TWICE the power of 18V trimmers.

  • The Power Command feature gives you an extra little oomph for particularly stubborn grass and weeds, even when they’re damp. (This helped a lot on the one part of my driveway I completed.)

  • If you already own other B&D tools which use 18V or 24V slide batteries, they’re interchangeable! (As someone currently in the market for a combo drill/saw set, I LOVE this notion.) To me, this is the kind of thought that more manufacturers need to put into their product designs.

  • Though it’s definitely heavier than its corded counterpart, even with the battery in place, it’s not as bulky as I’d expected. A comfort grip on the handle lives up to its name – even for my small hands.

  • It’s an environmentally friendly tool: Unlike gas trimmers, the 24 Volt Cordless String Trimmer/Edger releases zero harmful emissions into the air – and its charging system is certified by Energy Star®. This is part of a whole B&D campaign. Check it out!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have a decent-sized yard, and granted, it was overgrown. Still, I only barely managed to complete what I’d started – not what I’d hoped to – by babying the battery along. A quick charger – not the 9-hour version the trimmer comes with – or a second battery is a must. Especially in this price range.

  • While the auto-feed feature is nice and I didn’t have a single jam, I thought it chewed through string very quickly. Luckily, I had some bulk line on hand. And the good news: THAT didn’t jam either – something that always seems to happen with string trimmers.

The initial charge requires about 11 hours – so plan ahead. (I made this mistake thinking it would be closer to six hours and had to delay my plans.) Otherwise, it’s a quick set-up right out of the box.

But if you’re someone who reads instructions/manuals like I do, pay attention: the manual that came with mine alluded to a “hardware” bag in the parts list, presumably the four hex screws needed to attach the adjustable handle. There’s even a small hex wrench that clips into the power trigger base. Convenient! But … the screws aren’t in a bag – they’re already installed in the auxiliary handle! You need to remove them and then put them back once the handle is in place. Silly instructions!

Conclusion: This is a really great product with one caveat: It really should come with a one-hour charger or second battery. For this point, and this point only, I’ll give it an A- overall. Everything else, from performance to convenience, to ease of use and comfort level … strictly A+ material. This is a tool I wouldn’t want to be without. That it’s environmentally friendly and plays well with its B&D tool brethren through interchangeable batteries are huge pluses, too.

Availability: Most retail and online outlets, $115-$139.

Would you like a cordless string trimmer of your own … for free? Stay tuned.

Full Disclosure: I received two of the product described above for evaluation and distribution. I did not receive any additional compensation for participating in this program.

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