The first time I bought an electric toothbrush, my best friend said, “What, are you too lazy to move the brush back and forth yourself?” Yes. Yes, I am.
I’m also too lazy to extend my measuring tape myself, too lazy to adjust my adjustable wrench myself, and too lazy to crank down a clamp.
Thankfully, Black & Decker understands lazy. They’ve given the world the AutoTape, the AutoWrench, and now (this October, anyway) the AutoClamp. Now if I just wasn’t too lazy — and too cheap — to replace batteries, I’d be set.
Admittedly, from the one PDF’d press release we’ve seen, the AutoClamp looks pretty cool. It looks like a cordless screwdriver wrapped around a clamp. You squeeze its little bi-directional trigger to motor the screw clamp open and closed.
According to the Black & Decker marketing gurus, “With ordinary clamps, you almost need three hands: one to hold the work surface, another to hold the clamp, and a third to twist the clamp shut. The AutoClamp gives you that third hand…” Having a third hand would be pretty sweet, though I don’t think my first use for it would be holding a clamp.
Our primary concern about Black & Decker’s “Auto” series, though, is battery life. When a friend of ours got an AutoTape for his birthday, he loved it. When the battery went dead a month later, it began a still-running long stay on the dusty back shelf. Seriously, the only thing worse than having to pull out your tape measure yourself is having to pull out a tape measure that’s connected to a motor — which is in turn connected to a dead battery.
The press release says that the AutoClamp will clamp about 75 times on one set of four AA batteries. Froogle says that four AA batteries go for about $3 on the ‘web right now, so that works out to about $0.04 per clamp. Like I said, we’re holding back judgement until we see one, but we can’t help but think: wouldn’t it be easier to give the neighbor kid a nickel to screw the clamp shut for you? For an extra buck he’d sweep the shop, too.
So where’s the AutoSweep?