The southwestern USA in general is a remarkable place to be; aside from traveling to Southern California once for work, I haven’t had the opportunity to scope out the region from a 20,000 foot view out the airplane windows. Our descent into Phoenix last Wednesday for a Black & Decker bloggers event was amazing, and the landscapes we scoped out while we were in Tempe, AZ were enviable. And if cacti could ever be lush, I saw lush cacti.
Had I not been invited to participate in the #KICKGAS event sponsored by Black & Decker, I’m not certain that I ever would have made Phoenix a vacation destination; I like to vacation near other things… like water… ocean-sized bodies of water. But that aside, if you ever have a reason to be in the Phoenix-area, I’d encourage you to stick around a few extra days and do things I didn’t get a chance to do like: rent a scooter and go explore, and see up close what that big A on the mountain is about. And don’t forget your bathing suit like me, because I’m sure all of the hotel pools are sa-weet.
I wanted to drop in with a post recapping the events of last week which centered around major league baseball and testing Black & Decker’s new line of 36V outdoor cordless tools: the happiest, power-charged combo if I’ve ever seen it before. I’ll note up front that while this trip was all-expenses paid (minus mochas and airport parking), the opinions stated about the event and products are my own.
Meeting with marketing and product development teams at a company is never not awesome; these people know the ins-and-outs of communicating with us crazy DIYers and power tool fanatics. They know their products. They talk about where, how, and when the products came to exist. Learning about the company is one huge component of what makes these events so neat (at least to me), but then actually holding, testing, and learning about prototype and new products that are launching is enough to make a person want to run right home and spend a week meticulously manicuring her lawn (which I did over the weekend, but it’s nothing to brag about, the grass still looks terrible compared to what the infield I passed over in Arizona).
Black & Decker and MLB have a partnership this pre-season, which is why we were hooked up at the Angels Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, AZ. The special access to facilities that we were granted really helped to make this an awesome 2-day event.
We started on the afternoon of Day 1 (Wednesday) by testing out the new line of 36V products on one of the real-life fields that the Angels use for year-round training; myself and the 7 other bloggers who were in attendance soaked in some sun, admired the lush grass, and toyed with tools. (Just for reference, because you might recognize some of them throughout the photos, I met: Timothy from Charles & Hudson, Ethan from One Project Closer, Dan who contributes at DigitalDads, Cassity + Justin from Remodelaholic, and of course you probably recognize Pete & Marty from Dadand.) There’ll be a lot of pictures throughout this post in a grid form because I snapped upwards of 475 photos in a short 24 hours, only whittling that list down to 111, and I’m trying to squeeze in as many as are significant, plus ones that I just like. So enjoy. Just remember that you can click on them to enlarge and see captions.
I really enjoy our current set of 19.1V cordless products from another manufacturer, so I was certain right off the bat (lots of baseball jokes here, people) that the equally-interchangeable litium-ion batteries by Black & Decker for this outdoor set of products would be just as easy to use. Let’s dive right in, batter up:
The hedge trimmer:
This girl’s never used one before. Scared of them for the most part. But this new 36V battery-charged one is pretty cool. No long cord to chop in half. No pull-start like a chain saw. No scary kick-back like I expected. Lightweight, easy-to-hold and maneuver. Actually, I felt downright badass wielding that thing through the wooden dowels like they were softened butter. Rawr.
This product isn’t expected to release until late summer, but we got an opportunity to explore the functionality of one of the latest prototypes and blast peanuts around the infield like I might blast dirt off the sidewalk. More lightweight than the electric model that Pete already has at home, it’s considerably quieter but still has a lot of oomph, even at the lowest speed setting. It makes use of the same 36V battery that the hedge trimmer and the next trimmer/edger require. Hurray for cordless battery efficiencies.
Mi favorita. I have what I think is a completely natural fear of Pete’s gas-powered edger; his is heavy and especially hard to pull-start, it’s probably the second scariest tool in our arsenal, next to my hand-held router which threatens to chomp at anything in its path. And don’t even get me started on trying to transport his edger in the car without it leaking oil/gas. BUT, I feel completely differently about Black & Decker’s 36V battery-powered edger/trimmer, which touch-starts with the squeeze of a handle so you don’t have to get your hand or precious face anywhere near the whirling string. And because it’s not burning through gasoline, it’s not fumey, it’s not as loud, and still, it seems super powerful.
The infield was pretty well edged when we got there, but that didn’t stop me from scribing a bit into the grass. If only I had the guts write out MERRYPAD, that would have been cooler than a straight line.
The lawn mower:
Pete announced proudly one night that both of my lawn mowers were freebies that had been rebuilt into a still-usable state. I don’t think I actually know what a great lawn mower feels like, all I know is that mine have gotten down to business and done an A-OK job for going on 4 summers now. Both happen to be gas-powered, I’ve never wanted an electric mower despite their efficiencies because I can’t imagine dragging a cord around the yard like I’m vacuuming, and I wasn’t even aware that battery-powered lawn mowers existed… until now:
Side note: Make my day, and make a battery-powered vacuum, Black & Decker.
This one’s really cool for a lot of reasons:
- It’s quiet. Noticeably more quiet than my gas mower (that I used over the weekend for the yard’s first haircut of the season, I had to wear ear protection).
- It’s easy-to-start. No hard-to-pull strings, no arm and finger pains when it doesn’t start after 14 pulls. You push a button, pull the lever, and it’s as easy as starting your car.
- It’s self-propelled, something that’s a totally new phenom to me, probably not to you. Holy smokes, that thing hauls at rabbit-speed, I had to jog behind it to keep up. A notch above turtle was more my pace for a leisurely and accurate mow.
- It’s super easy to raise and lower. I’m only used to models that require you to adjust the height of the mower one wheel at a time; on this product, you squeezed a handle and it levitated up and down with ease. You read that right: Squeezed. A. Handle. And it was instantly level, so it didn’t seem like you’d have to worry about the blade being at an angle and eating into the lawn when you hit a divot.
- I could have mowed with one hand and eaten a sandwich with the other. Yes, it deserved its own bullet point.
Unlike the other products I listed, the mower doesn’t use the same 36V litium ion battery. The battery for the product is proportionately larger, since it’s a bigger tool with a more demanding task at hand. Comparable to a car battery in size, it can be lifted out for cleaning or charged right in place.
More pictures of our day? Sure:
We spent the whole second day of the event (Thursday) at Tempe Diablo Stadium to see the Angels play/beat the Kansas City Royals during a lively pre-season scrimmage. I guess I underestimated the significance of pre-season; this place was mobbed. Side note: I know zippie-do about professional baseball. And non-professional baseball, for that matter.
Before the game started, we were given a tour of the stadium (scoping out where the players parked, seeing where the media congregates, peeking into the training room), and had a meet-and-greet with Angels mid-fielder Peter Bourjos. Make my autographed baseball worth gold someday, bud.
If I’m recalling correctly, it was only the second major league baseball game I’ve ever been to. We had a great time:
Big thanks to Black & Decker for a great event, it was such an honor to be included.