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?