Product Type: Black & Decker Trimmer
Newest Review: ... strimmer come in a large cardboard box, which once opened I was surprised to see a few parts that needed putting together, however after a ... more
A childs power tool
Black & Decker GL301 Strimmer
Member Name: yackers1
Black & Decker GL301 Strimmer
Advantages: Cheap and cheerful, ideal fo small and manageable gardens
Disadvantages: Looks like a toy, not heavy duty, can only be used for short periods,overheats quickly
The 301 comes with a full instruction booklet and user guide. This is an 'idiot's guide' that is written in easy to understand language with no technical jargon whatsoever. In addition, there are plenty of diagrams and pictures to make the content even clearer. The 301 is so self explanatory to use that, personally, I don't think that the guide is required, although I guess there is some Health & Safety law or something that dictates one must be produced.
The instruction booklet includes the usual 'safety instructions' such as keeping children and animals away whilst in use, dressing properly (i.e. not wearing loose clothing, wearing goggles, wearing correct footwear, wearing trousers etc)
****Setting up the 301****
Like many bits of garden machinery the 301 cannot be used directly out of the box, and requires some assembly to get it fully operational. Fortunately, the assembly is minimal, can be done by anyone and there is no requirement for any specialist tools. This is a product for those with no technical know how whatsoever, so it suits me down to the ground.
The body of the 301 comes in two sections and the assembly process consists of pushing the top section on to the bottom and then screwing it clockwise motion to secure. It is then a matter of attaching the plastic safety guard at the bottom of the 301, i.e. near the moving parts, by pushing the lugs in to the designated holes. The plastic guard is not essential since the 301 will work without it, but the user guide recommends consumers fit the guard for safety reasons. After slicing my leg open with the cord (and that was with the guard fitted, I was just very careless and got a bit too close) I can't recommend enough to fit the guard.
****Using the 301****
Like all electric strimmers the 301 is very, very easy to use especially since it is a 'plug and play', i.e. simply insert the plug in to a power supply, press the orange trigger button and get cutting.
Whilst the 301 is ok for trimming edges and taking down normal grass it is not man enough for much else. The bank outside my house consists of grass, dandelions, cow weed and other weeds (I'm afraid I'm not green fingered enough to know what they are) so my 301 had, what I considered to be an easy job. The grass was no problem, the dandelions took a bit more effort and all smaller weeds took multiple going over starting right at the top and gradually getting lower and lower. The 301 struggled with the cow weed and whilst it did finally cut through the weeds, it did take a bit of time.
In my experience, it is not advisable to use the 301 for long periods. I find that after 20 minutes of use on my bank the 301 starts to struggle somewhat and it gets very hot. In addition, it starts to smell hot, which is not a good thing. After 20 minutes I find the best thing is to let the 301 cool down for a good 10 minutes or so. Whilst a bit of a pain, after all I just need to the get the job done, it is a good excuse for a drink.
The 301 kicks out 300 watts of power, which in my opinion, is just not enough.
The 301 is small, light weight and made out of green plastic (Not orange as pictured by Dooyoo). When I think of power tools, which is what the 301 is, I imagine butch, powerful and manly pieces of equipment that require a bit of strength to use. I do not picture the 301 since it looks like more of a toy than a serious piece of gardening equipment.
We live in a transparent world where looks are very important and the 301 doesn't fit in to this world at all. It is not something that I would 'strut' around with hoping the neighbours are looking, but would you do that with any piece of gardening equipment? Can any items be described as cool?
Even though the 301 looks like something made by Fisher Price, and looks cheap and nasty, it does assist in maintaining the garden which is all I want it for.
****Quality, strength and durability****
Like all of the Black & Decker strimmers in this range, the 301 is made out of very thin plastic, which at first glance does not appear fit for purpose. Whilst 'man handling' the 301 (I'm not a destructive person I was merely doing this for the purposes of seeing how much hard the 301 could take) I noticed that the plastic bent, twisted, distorted and disfigured very easily indeed. In my opinion, the plastic is inferior but given the price of the 301 you can't really expect anything else. After all, when making these products the manufacturers have to cut their cloth accordingly, so cheap materials are almost certain to be used.
As a result of the thin plastic used in the manufacturing process the 301 is not that strong, nor is it that durable. Despite this I can confirm that I have had no problems with my second one in the year or so that I have owned it. I must stress that I have treated it with the utmost care and respect and whilst it has suffered a few knocks and scrapes (predominantly from being knocked over in the shed) it has not received any real hard. The 301 is clearly designed for light domestic use and, in my opinion, is unlikely to stand up to any heavy or industrial use.
The 301 is effectively a moulded unit that cannot be taken apart very easily. There are screws down the body, suggesting that it does come apart, but don't be fooled by these as these simply secure the handle and other 'bits and pieces' to it. In my opinion, moulded units are fine until something goes wrong with them. Then they are an absolute nightmare since it is usually not possible to take them apart and fix them, and this is the case with the 301. The bottom line is if you break it then you throw it away and buy a new one. Personally, I don't like this approach since I think it is wasteful and is bad for the environment but this 'break it, chuck it, replace it' is common amongst most modern day pieces of gardening equipment. Long gone are the days where you kept repairing things.
****What the manufacturers claim****
According to the box the 301 has the following features;
Intelligent automatic single line feed system that is convenient and saves time
Two-handed design that provides comfort and balance
25cm cutting swath that is the perfect size for medium sized gardens
300w supplies the power of a job well done
Lightweight and ergonomically designed, this strimmer is ideal for every gardener
Best value reflex string strimmer
Light and powerful string trimmers for cutting around trees, garden furniture and up against fences and walls
When I read the above I was quite impressed, however after using the 301 I do doubt some of the claims on the box.
I agree that the two handed design does give balance and comfort. In addition, at just over 2.2kg it is very lightweight but what is the use of this when you can only use it for short periods of time? I should also point out that you will still get the 'power tool' shakes from using the 301.
300w is fine for thin grass but for anything else, no way. I question the 'job well done'. What a load of codswallop.
I am unable to comment on whether it is the "best value" reflex strimmer since this is down to personal opinion. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I purchased the 301 and I do think it represents good value for money but the "best"? Unfortunately, I am comment on this.
The 301 is ideal for cutting around trees, furniture etc. but then so is every other type of strimmer. Surely this is a key feature of all of them? In my experience just catching a fence or wall is fine and the strimmer will not be affected. However if you catch it too hard then the string will snap or the string holder will spit out additional string (the momentum keeps the rotor spinning when the string has come to a halt hence there will be additional string spat out of the line feeder) which will stop the strimming process since the tiny motor can only spin a short length of string. This will not cause too many problems since it is easily rectified by trimming the excess string, but it is an annoyance.
****Price and availability****
The 301 is widely available from many online retailers and physical shops. The most likely stockists are going to be garden centres, DIY shops (I actually purchased mine from Homebase during one of their 10% days) and similar shops.
I paid £17.99 (£19.99 (on sale) less an additional 10%)) for my 301, which I don't think is too expensive when compared to other electric strimmers of the same size and power. At the time of writing, a quick look on the internet shows the 301 is available from £23.99 (excluding P&P) to £32.99 (excluding P&P). If you are looking to buy a 301 then, as always, I would recommend shopping around for the best deal.
****Summary and conclusion****
So, in summary;
i) The 301 is cheap and cheerful
ii) The 301 is lightweight
iii) Being a 'plug and play' the 301 is very easy to use
i) The 301 is really only suitable for grass, making it ideal for edging and general tidying but not much else.
ii) The 301 cannot be used continuously for long periods of time
iii) The 301 gets hot (and smells hot) quickly
iv) The 301 requires periods of rest to let it cool down
v) If you break the 301 it is not repairable
i) The 301 looks like it is made by Fisher Price
ii) The 301 looks like a toy that should be carried around by a 5 year old
iii) The 301 looks cheap and nasty
I bought the 301 under the impression it was a strimmer, however since owning it I have come to the realisation that it is no more than a trimmer. The difference between the two is quite significant. A strimmer will cut thick vegetation whereas a trimmer is only suitable for grass and less dense vegetation.
If you have what estate agents refer to as a low maintenance and manageable garden (i.e. one the size of a postage stamp that is mainly concrete) then you don't need anything more than a 301 and I think it would be the perfect purchase, especially since it is so cheap.
If all you require is a tool that will edge the lawn and take down a bit of excess grass in those hard to reach places with the mower then I would recommend the 301. However, I would suggest that it is not used for long periods and that you let it cool down for 10 minutes or so, otherwise you may find the plastic parts melting together like I did.
If you are looking for a 'proper' strimmer to take down weeds, thistles, thorns and all other similar foliage, or looking for something that will go for hours then the 301 definitely is not for you and I would recommend spending a bit more and getting a petrol strimmer that is man enough for any task.
Summary: Looks like it was made by Fisher Price