You’ll note one big change in this long-popular short tape right off the bat: Gone is the FatMax Extreme brand, replaced with the familiar (if not on tapes) Bostitch brand. But hey — forget what’s printed on the case. The case itself represents one of the biggest changes in this tape. By changing the shape of the top just a little, the Stanley Bostitch folks have managed to render the lock switch significantly less susceptible to drop damage, at least according to the press release.
It does feel a more sturdy, and having seen Stanley’s test facilities up in Connecticut first-hand, I’m guessing they’ve dropped it once or twice to confirm their engineering claims. (Of course, as soon as we get our hands on one, we’ll be dropping it a bit, too.)
Until then, we can tell you that it’s pretty comfortable in the hand. It retains a very long — up to 13′, they say — standout as well as Stanley’s BladeArmor film covering and protecting the first six inches of tape. And new in this tape is a 150% larger hook. Sure, this sounds like a simple change. And it is. But it also works. Just like you’d suspect, the increased size makes it easier to catch the hook on whatever you’re measuring.
You’ll find three models on shelves soon: A 16′ checking in at $19 MSRP, a 25′ for $25, and a 35′ for $35. We expect they’ll street for a little less.
In summary: These are all pretty much incremental updates — exactly the kind of small improvements you’d expect in a tool that’s already doing well in the market. We look forward to spending some time with one soon.