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When we first speculated a while back about the kind of tools we might see as a result of the Stanley/B&D merger, we focused on cross-pollination of the brands — like DeWalt manufacturing hand tools (which happened) and Stanley getting some power tools (wait for it). What we didn’t consider was how changes in the new company’s management could lead to within-brand sharing, too — like, for example, Black & Decker installing DeWalt’s 20V MAX battery tech in its tools. What you see above represents what we imagine is just the first volley in this kind of thinking.

So let’s look past all the corporate structure stuff and look at the tools themselves. Black & Decker’s 20V MAX brands start with B&D’s stalwarts: handheld vacuum cleaners. (Really — you still call ’em Dustbusters, don’t you? Like people from Texas call all sodas Cokes?) These include the Flex, a Dustbuster-like model, and an accessory-laden model that looks great for automotive vacuuming. All three get the 20V MAX lithium-ion batteries, but like their NiCd predecessors, they’re permanently installed.

Black & Decker claims a 2X increase in runtime¬†due to the new batteries, and we believe it. Lithium-ion packs a lot more juice into a smaller space, so it makes perfect sense to us that you’d see this kind of boost to performance. Better yet, we suspect consumers will enjoy the additional benefits of lithium-ion — specifically its ability to retain a charge for months and even years when left idle and li-ion’s full-power-till-it’s-dead discharge spec — even more. Despite the batteries’ permanent installation, you do get a charge indicator light.

We’re interested to see what these go for on the street, but if MSRP is any clue, they’ll be pricey. The 20V MAX Flex MSRPs at $150, for example, which is a whopping $90 more than the NiCd version sells for now. Similarly, the other two models MSRP for $100 and $90. Even more different from B&D SOP, all three products will be sold only through online retailer Amazon and through B&D’s own proprietary site. Look for these product on (virtual) shelves starting in early October.

From a performance standpoint, $90 extra seems like a lot of cash. Then again, there’s nothing worse than grabbing your portable vac to clean up a really annoying mess you made only to discover that it’s dead, or worse yet — it’s got just enough charge to run for about 20 seconds before slowing to a crawl. It might be worth the cash just for the convenience of long charge shelf life.

What do you think?

Platinum Series [B&D Site]


6 Responses to Black & Decker Gets The 20V MAX Name

  1. Ben says:

    Sorry, but I don’t think this crossover between brands is anything new. 12 years ago when I was in school, we discovered one day that our Dewalt 14.4v batteries could fit into our friend’s B&D 14.4v drill. Of course the reverse was impossible since they had added a tab to the B&D batteries that wouldn’t fit into the Dewalt battery slots. Keep you buying the expensive Dewalt batteries instead of the cheaper (and probably less powerful) B&D ones.

  2. Benoit says:

    “…and Stanley getting some power tools (wait for it).”

    Well, this is old news in Canada for sure! They are exclusive to RONA… Here it is: http://www.fatmaxtools.rona.ca/

  3. Jeff says:

    That one on the left looks pretty cool and is probably a winner for campers and cars. Sounds like it’ll be available just in time for Christmas (big surprise).

  4. Jerry says:

    If you are doing power tools under two names, make the batteries interchangeable between the two. B&D can be the lower cost (less powerful, less durable?) and DeWalt can be the premium brand. Then, if someone starts out with the less costly one, they would likely have a greater incentive to upgrade the tool if they could use the batteries from the old. Sadly, the sale of the batteries is more important than selling new tools from a profit standpoint. It’s like free printers but just wait until you go to buy ink for it!

  5. NickC says:

    I don’t know why but that photo really reminds me of a close up view of a spider.

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