Porter-Cable (PC) held a press event in New York on Tuesday. The event was to introduce new tools, both cordless and corded. After the release, we were invited to attend a Yankees baseball game. (I know it’s a dirty job, but I don’t mind taking one for the team.)
Let’s talk tools. PC introduced a line of tools that will be sold at many regular dealers, but the only home center where these tools will be found is Lowe’s. The majority of the line, due out in November 2008, focuses on 18V cordless tools in nickel cadmium (Ni-Cad), with one using lithium ion (Li-ion).
In this category the company is bringing out a four pack of tools that includes a drill/driver with a 1/2″ chuck, a 6-1/2″ circular saw, a reciprocating saw and a flashlight ($150). A second group of tools is a two pack that includes the drill/driver and the circular saw ($110). Each package has a charger and two batteries as well as other miscellaneous parts including a saw blade, bit tips and a soft-sided carrying case. Interestingly, PC decided to stay with Ni-Cad for these tools although they are compatible with the 18V Li-ion batteries too. In addition, Porter-Cable introduced a hammer-drill kit (the tool plus two batteries and a charger) expected to retail for $140.
If lithium power is your choice, PC is bringing out a drill/driver kit. The drill features a 1/2″ metal chuck and a 24-position clutch with a two-speed gearbox. The kit also includes two batteries and a charger ($180). The batteries are P1-level batteries with a 1.1 amp hour rating.
The kit prices look pretty good for PC tools and each of these tools will be available individually. I had the tools in my hands at the event, but didn’t have time to get a good look at each. My question is this: Why continue to use Ni-cad technology when most others are using, and consumers are knowledgeable about, Li-ion? My best guess about the battery choice is that the older technology allows the company to hit specific price points that enticed Lowe’s to the table. I can’t think of another reason to stick with Ni-cad when the buying public is changing gears to accept Li-ion-powered tools.
When PC Vice-President Dan Gregory said DeWalt tools were their professional-line tools, I was astounded, as were others. He explained that PC is attempting to position these tools for tradesman , an area of the market that PC feels is full of value-conscientious, value-driven buyers. PC is being sandwiched between Black & Decker (at the low end) and DeWalt (the high end). I’ve always thought my Porter-Cable routers and PC sanders were better than the DeWalt counterparts.
So what’s to happen to the regular Porter-Cable tools that we all know today? As for the existing tools PC has produced for years (the routers and random orbit sanders), I’ve been told the company doesn’t plan to change them at all. I hope we see packaging that differentiates between the new line and the company’s current tools.
In addition to the new tools mentioned above, Porter-Cable introduced a battery-powered, 6-1/2″ circular saw with a laser that was pretty cool. It was priced at $60, but you also have to buy a battery and charger. New in corded tools: hammer drills, reciprocating saws, small angle grinders, 1/2″-chuck drill/drivers and laser-equipped circular saws. For the suggested retail price for the kits or for individual tools, open the PDF below.