Black & Decker Gyro 4V Max Cordless Screwdriver Review
It’s rare that I see a tool that catches me off guard and presents something truly “new” or innovative. With the Black & Decker Gyro, innovation is at its core. The question is whether or not the new gyroscopic features are helpful or a hindrance. One thing is for certain, however, you’ll get more “play” time with this tool in terms of its effects as a party favor of attention-grabber than you will from any other powered screwdriver. And you can really use it thanks to some solid and simple thinking on the part of Black & Decker’s engineers.
Build Quality and Design
Right off the cuff, the new Black & Decker Gyro looks very different from the typical cordless screwdriver. Instead of a right angle form-factor, the 4V Gyro presents itself as a sort of T-handled ergonomic device that nicely fills the hand and uses your natural palm pressure to ready the tool for use. On the handle of the tool, right at the palm position, you’ll note the “Gyro” logo. This is a tall-oriented button that depresses easily, activates the LED light and gets the tool ready for use to either drive or remove screws.
The body of the tool is white and orange, with black rubberized overmold along the side and rear of the handle. Aside from the singular white palm button, the tool lacks any other controls. There’s good reason for this: the Black & Decker Gyro uses the InvenSense ISZ-650 Z-axis integrated MEMS gyroscope. It’s a very cost-effective chipset that is both shock resistance and inexpensive and which allows the diminutive 4V Gyroscopic screwdriver to utilize rotation around the Z-axis to tell it whether to drive or remove—and control the speed of the driver as well.
Testing and Using the Black & Decker Gyro 4V Screwdriver
We tested the 4V Black & Decker Gyro on a job where we were replacing some interior locksets and a light switch. Before attempting any work, however, we just wanted to get a good feel for the tool. The left-to-right rotation of your wrist sets the tool in motion. That part seemed simple, but what we didn’t understand was how the tool would work when the job wasn’t requiring the tool to be in a level position. What if you had to drive a screw overhead? Or into the ground? Would the Gyro understand left and right and forward and reverse in these contexts?
As it turns out, our concerns were unfounded. The Black & Decker Gyro resets the base orientation of the Z-axis gyroscope each time you depress the rear button. That means that you can use the Gyro upside down, backwards or inside out (we’re not sure what that means either, but stay with us) and it will still get the job done, allow you to gently alter the speed of drive and react to your normal wrist movements. And it works. Point the tool up or down. As soon as you hit the palm switch, the drill will work based on your left to right wrist movement.
So what did we think? The Gyro isn’t a power-crazy tool. You’re not going to throw a 1/4″ hex adapter on it and pull the lug nuts off a 2008 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab… but that’s not what this tool is for. Even a pro user is going to want a simple screwdriver in his home or office for menial tasks. They are incredibly handy, and the rechargeable battery, though non-removable, is very convenient. If you need something a bit more robust, check out the DeWalt 8V Max tools. The tool fully charges in about 50 hours (we’re just kidding, it’s around 2 hours), and it will hold that charge—at least according to Black & Decker—for a full year and a half. That’s music to my ears as I’ve used NiCad and NiMH tools that deplete steadily over time and never seem to be ready when you are. This one will be.
So, back to our interior lockset and switch plate work…Getting the tool to do exactly what we wanted only took a little bit of getting used to. The tool doesn’t seem to want to stop with the button depressed, just switch directions, so you’ll want to get used to backing off of the handle when you want to stop fully. The LED light also points a bit high, so that it’s not really on the screw so much as overtop of it while you’re working. As for fastening and removing screws, the Gyro did an excellent job, though it certainly felt unconventional each time. Having used trigger-based drills for so long, a drill that shifts the paradigm of activation so drastically really takes a little time to warm up to.
One feature that was dear to our heart was that the Gyro locks the bit in place when the tool is disengaged. That means you can really crank down on it when you need more torque than the 4V (Max) motor will give you. Having used plenty of cordless screwdrivers with non-locking chucks, this was a seriously important issue for me and Black & Decker engineered the tool correctly.
The Black & Decker Gyro has enough torque to get those small jobs completed quickly and efficiently. It will take some getting used to, but it’s actually fun to use – and when’s the last time you’ve used the word “fun” to describe a cordless screwdriver? Being “fun” also means that this is quite possibly the best gift you could give a pro or DIY user for Christmas this year. At under $40 it’s not terribly out of reach and it is certainly a head-turner when you use it. In our office the project we were doing took twice as long to complete – not because the tool was slowing us down – but because of all the people who kept interrupting us, wanting to try out the tool for themselves. We can highly recommend the Gyro as a tool that likely won’t disappoint. Put it on your wish list.