jump to example.com

What you see above is Black & Decker’s latest entry into the cordless screwdriver market: the Gyro, named such because you control it by simply turning it. When you pick up the Gyro — which you hold pretty much the same way you would a palm nailer — your palm pushes a switch on the back, turning the Gyro “on.” Rotate the screwdriver to the right, and its accelerometers detect the turn and begin rotating the powered driver clockwise. Turn it back to center and it stops. Rotate it to the left and the screwdriver head turns counter-clockwise. The farther you rotate the unit, the faster the head spins.

It’s a unique idea, and it’s definitely something we’ve never seen before. Honestly, we can’t wait to get one of these in house to check it out. On one hand, it’s an incredibly simple user interface — something that’s totally in the strike zone for the kind of product pitch we’ve seen score big for Black & Decker. (Remember, for example, the Thermal Leak Detector? It’s just a temperature gun with a simplified user interface, but that combination often yields a highly competitive and useful tool.) There’s something compelling about the idea of eliminating both the trigger AND the direction switch without sacrificing functionality.

On the other hand, we can definitely see some issues. What happens when you use the screwdriver vertically? Can it sense the twist without gravity to help? (It would seem to us that you’d need to be in a horizontal position for the accelerometer to work.) And how sensitive is it? If the driver engages too easily (or not easily enough) that could be frustrating, too.¬†One thing’s certain: It’s a bit spendy for the market segment. Street pricing averages around $60, which is about $30 more than you’d expect to pay for what’s essentially a permanent-battery 4V li-ion cordless screwdriver. Of course, Amazon has it (see below) for $40 on pre-order, which is only around $10 more than similarly-functional tools, so maybe that’s not so much of a difference after all.

What do you think? Gimmick, or cool idea?

The Gyro Cordless Screwdriver [Black & Decker]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

21 Responses to Wii Controller + Cordless Screwdriver = Gyro

  1. Dave D says:

    Without trying one, it’s hard for me to see how this would be easier to use than a cordless screwdriver with conventional controls. You have to give B&D credit for trying something new, I guess. I’d love to borrow one to try out, but I wouldn’t spend $40 for the experience.

  2. Blair says:

    I would think that for the beginner, or those inexperienced with cordless tools, this might be a great thing. I have seen many homeowners try to use a cordless driver/drill, only to have the direction switch reversed, not to mention the clutch, which seems a mystery to them.

    Bearing the B&D label it is obviously not being marketed to pros, but I can see a lot of parents sending young ones out in the cruel world purchasing one for said children, and maybe even one for themselves.

    You have to admit that the release timing is perfect for the holiday gift buying.

  3. Dan says:

    If it is an accelerometer, as you say, it is sensitive to acceleration not gravity so there should not be any issues with the orientation. That said, seems like a gimmick to me. I would expect you would have better control with a trigger.

  4. ambush27 says:

    At least it offers variable speed. That’s rare in this segment.

  5. rg says:

    I’d rather have the $40.

  6. Jeff says:

    Variable speed might be cool and it’s a novel idea but I don’t see a clutch…

  7. Kris says:

    Where’s the laser?

  8. Jerry says:

    same complaint I always have with these sort of devices – permanent batteries! Batteries need to be removable for charging with a spare battery to use while the other one charges. I have to admit I like the idea of just turning the tool in the right direction and having it “change”. I hope Lowes gets this since my local Lowes always lets me try out the tools (in store, of course). If they don’t have a demo out, they will always opena box and get one out for me to play with.

  9. Jerry says:

    Getting it out there in time for the holidays is a great marketing ploy. How many family members do you have that are oblivious to the quality and useability of tools? So, a lot of people will get one of these, neatly wrapped and force the fake smile and fake ‘than you”, toss the thing into the bottom of a tool bag and leave it there? I could fill a pretty big box with all such gifts that I have received if I could even find all of them.

    • Blair says:

      Jerry,

      I have received my share of tool gifts from well meaning friends, and family, and very few have improved my work experience. That said, just the fact that we are here on this site probably means that we are selective about our tools, picking what suits our needs, (or in some cases simple desires…lol). But like it or not, most people today are not all that concerned with the form, or function of a tool, and truly rarely use them at all. If that twenty-something just starting out can get a small job done quicker with this type of tool, it is a plus for them, and possibly somewhere down the road they will acquire more skill, and more tools.

      As far as having separate batteries, that would drive the price point up quite a bit I would think, and therefore make this driver not much of a value.

  10. James says:

    I have used one of these. There is no ‘horizontal’ issue. From any angle you approach the job when you turn it in the desired direction it works fine. It is sensitive enough to control between slow and fast. Gimmicky yes, different in the market yes, not for the professional tradesman though… yet DYI users would buy it.

  11. John F says:

    I was hoping the gyro would be inertial to keep it stable so you aren’t changing the angle of drive all the time. But maybe that doesn’t really matter anyway. But it’s cool you don’t have to flick the switch to change direction. It’s very easy to forget what direction you were last using and to get frustrated when you constantly have to switch after starting to drive.

  12. Jeff Tieman says:

    LOL. What better way to improve the design of those lame 200rpm screwdrivers with low torque, than to add gyro functionality. What a waste. I guess this stuff makes them good money but damn, I don’t know anyone that doesnt just throw these away after a while. I like the comment from a previous poster ‘Where’s the laser?’ that sums it up fairly well. JUNK.

  13. James C says:

    It needs “righty-tighty, lefty-loosy” in big letters on the top.

    I’d like to try one just because it’s so unique, but I’m not sure I’d ever put it to use.

  14. Tom says:

    A solution in search of a problem.

    My apologies to those missing trigger finger(s).

  15. Mike says:

    for $40, I’d rather have a good ratcheting screwdriver like my Snap-On (or any other good brand).

  16. Stav says:

    Absolute gimmick. Played with them in my hardware store, it’s less effort to squeeze a trigger. If I wanted to twist my wrist I’d use a good old fashioned screwdriver.

  17. quequotion says:

    Bought one. Not a gimick.

    It feels very natural and works in every direction.

    The power control is it’s best feature: on a gradual curve from 0 to +/- 30 degrees (starts slow, accelerates toward the extremes).

    With the grip position as it is, the user gets immediate feedback if the level is too high or low or if the job is too hard for the tool. Selecting a higher or lower level is as natural as turning your wrist a little more or less to the left or right.

    I’d like to see a few improvements: The LED isn’t focused down the bit (it points just above what you’re working on). After use, there seems to be a lenghty “discharge” period (I can hear a high-frequency noise for about a minute and sometimes the LED blinks during that time).

    Bigger and more powerful would also be nice, but too much weight would be bad.

    The name is just a name, inside is the same kind of accelerometer that lets your iPhone know when it’s facing down or track your steps and the same as in the Wii controller that you can swing like a tennis racket to swing a virtual tennis racket.

    The accelerometer works /because/ of gravity. Gravity provides a specific direction from which to relate motion.

    I am curious to see if the Gyro works in space.

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