Review: General Tools 500 Cordless Ultra Tech Power Precision Screwdriver

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There’s been some interest in computer repair forums lately about precision electric screwdrivers, so I thought I would post a review of one example: the General Tools 500 Cordless Ultra Tech Power Precision Screwdriver

First of all, at around $20.00 I wasn’t expecting much quality. I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality. It’s made out of a sturdy plastic with a rubberized gripping surface. Ergonomically it’s well designed and fits nicely between thumb and forefinger. You hold the driver like a pen and use your forefinger to operate the yellow lever.

It takes two triple-A batteries. Plan on purchasing rechargeable batteries and charger if you intend to use this device frequently. I can’t really comment here on battery life as I have only been using it for a brief time, but so far it looks good in this respect.

The driver has good torque, which was one of my main concerns. Personally I wish it had just slightly more torque for those stubborn screws, but I am really nit-picking here. It could be argued that increasing the torque would also increase the likelihood of stripping screws. So far I have not had any issues with the driver stripping screws. You can feel it when the bit doesn’t bite or when it skips, just as you can with a manual driver. In cases like this you simply swap it for a manual driver.

I also wish it had faster rotational speed as I can remove a screw faster with a manual precision driver-although I’m not sure this is the case after the thirtieth screw I’ve removed the old-fashioned way.

If you disassemble a lot of laptops a device like this can make the job much easier. There are days when I do so much laptop disassembly that my fingers literally start cramping. This is where the General Tools 500 really shines. While it is not intended for smart phone or tablet disassembly, it works great with laptop computers or equivalent devices.

Now my few complaints:

  1. The bits: it comes with 6 bits, chromium type (my least favorite type of bit and I’ve found to be the least durable over time). Although for this type of bit they’re well made and should last a long time.
  2. Rotational speed, as I mentioned earlier. Not bad but not fast enough for my taste. A little on the sluggish side.
  3. Bits are not magnetic. You can however magnetize these bits with a magnetizer/demagnetizer you can get at any hardware store.

It is a very good deal at circa $20. I do wish GeneralTools would come out with a professional-grade model that is rechargeable. Also, it would be nice to be able to increase or decrease the rotational speed by how much force you use on the lever. I’d pay good money for this, and I’d purchase two of them so I’d always have one that is charged. Higher quality bits would be welcome. And more of them. I’m not sure if GeneralTools has a larger bit set for this model. That being said, the bits provided will cover the vast majority of common repairs.

All in all, I’m happy with the device and highly recommend it for technicians who do a lot of laptop or electronics disassembly.