On Wednesday I saw a tweet from Mountain Dew about a new flavor I hadn’t heard of. It’s a flavor which was released to stores in 2010 but hadn’t been made in over a decade. It was only available through The Dew Store. It seemed like people had loved it, so I ordered a 6 pack of 16 ounce cans, which ran about $20 after shipping.
I have a head cold this weekend so I wanted to drink a couple of cans before writing my review. This is easily one of the best flavors I’ve had, maybe only second (other than the original) to White Out. I’m glad I have four more cans to enjoy, but I don’t understand why they don’t keep some of these fan favorites around full-time.
Last week I was contacted by Hychika, who asked if I’d like to try one of their tools in exchange for a review. They offered their 20v Drill/Driver, a small tire inflator, or a small cordless screwdriver. I’m set on drills and impact drivers with my Ryobi collection of tools and I don’t have a bike, which would be the ideal use of the inflator. The 3.6V Cordless Screwdriver caught my eye and it arrived in a couple of days.
The set came with an injection molded case, which I usually think are a waste because they’re junk; the parts are always hard to get out and put back in. This case is really no different than my other experiences with them, but for how I’ll use this screwdriver, I’m actually glad to have it. It’ll make the set easy to store in my hobby room.
At only 3.6 volts and 180 RPM, this is not a powerful screwdriver by any measurement. I won’t be driving screws in to hardwood that’s for sure. I’ll keep it in my hobby room where it will get a lot of use working on electronics and small appliances/machines. It’s the perfect size and muscle for that type of use. I did pull it out today when I had to take the face plates off some outlets and was able to remove the outlets too, so it may prove useful in the kitchen or garage when I don’t want to run downstairs for a full size driver.
The kit comes with a USB charger, a mini wrench, and a nice assortment of sockets and bits. The screwdriver itself has a couple of nifty features, like a flashlight, rotating head for use in two orientations, and a quick release chuck. The quick release chuck seems similar to the one on my 18V Ryobi impact driver and I love that thing.
I did a quick search and Ryobi makes a four volt version of this tool, which seems almost identical. Overall this Hychika screwdriver seems like a decent tool for what it’s designed for, but I’m curious how it’ll hold up over time.
This doesn’t even sound like a good idea and of course I was going to try it. The left side of the label says “Caution: Flamin’ Hot Taste” but there is no such thing. I definitely get a citrus flavor and can tell it’s a Mtn Dew, but there is no kick to it and not even a hint of an aftertaste. It’s actually a decent flavor, but due to falling short on its name I give it a 4/10.
Last month I was messaging my brother, who said he loved his 40V Ryobi snow blower and lawn mower. I’ve had an Ariens 520 two stage snow blower for over a decade, but haven’t used it much the last few years. It used up a lot of space in the garage, took a long time to get started for the winter season, was slow to use, and left me smelling like exhaust. The thought of getting away from gas yard tools was exciting and I have a large collection of Ryobi’s 18V power tools, so they’re a brand I trust.
The only steps involved in assembly were to twist on the chute, secure it with a screw, and tighten the handle. I immediately loved how compact it folded up.
We got snow the next day, so I put it to a test.
The snow blower was easy to start with the push of a button. It was very quiet, light, easy to maneuver, and has a bright LED light. Right away I noticed it didn’t have the power to throw the snow very far as you can see in the video. I would be throwing the snow right in to an upcoming path, so would be moving the same snow 2-3 times! Not a good start.
The triggers on the handle that need to be held in order to keep it running were awkward to use and I accidentally let go multiple times. Then after less than 10 minutes of use, I let go and the motor wouldn’t start again. Both batteries had about 75% charge left and the LED headlight was coming on without a problem. I could hear a bit of a clicking sound from the motor.
I loaded it in my car and returned it to Home Depot the next morning.
I was extremely disappointed in the machine and due to my positive experience with other Ryobi products, I felt the need to leave an online review, which I almost never do. To my surprise, I got a response the next day.
I also received the following email.
My name is Christian, and I am the Product Development Coordinator for RYOBI Snow Blowers.
We received your online review on the RYOBI 40V HP 21” Snow Blower. We understand you have had an issue with your RYOBI Snow Blower. It is our policy to make absolutely sure that 100% of our customers are pleased with their experience with RYOBI. Could you please call me at 864-642-8094? I would like to investigate this issue with you and make sure that your experience with our products moving forward is a positive experience and that you walk away understanding that our customer service is unmatched.
If you prefer you can reply to this email, and we can discuss your experience to find a solution that meets your needs.
I emailed back…
I returned it to Home Depot two days after it was delivered (the night after trying it). We had less than 2 inches of light snow and the unit was pretty terrible. It barely threw the snow 5-6 feet, so I would end up going over the same snow multiple times to do the driveway. Then after maybe 10 minutes of use, the auger wouldn’t start again. The LED light was on and both batteries had 3/4 charge. Maybe there was something wrong with the motor on this unit, but it seemed very under powered and I wasn’t confident it would be able to handle any real storm. It was quite disappointing because I have a lot of Ryobi hand tools and they all work great. I was hoping to replace my gas snow blower and lawn mower with Ryobi units for ease of use, space saving, and not having to deal with gas, but I’ll be sticking with them now.
Their next reply…
This issue your snow blower experienced has become know and we have since corrected the issue with our units in inventory!
I would like to offer to upgrade you to our brand new RYOBI 40V HP 21″ Whisper Series Snow Blower as I see you were not impressed with the previous models performance. This kit has an upgraded controller and 2x 7.5Ah batteries for increased power and runtime.
Would this be something you are interested in? I want to make sure you are taken care of.
The unit had some damage to the knob used to adjust the auger speed so I asked if they could send me a replacement part and I would fix it myself.
Apparently it’s not an easy fix, so they sent me another snow blower. FREE! Same model, fully complete with the batteries and charger. I was floored!
This new model is better in every way.
Build quality of the machine feels much sturdier.
Larger batteries provide more power and runtime.
The handle folds away in one step instead of two.
Triggers to keep it running were replaced with the more traditional bar you find on lawn mowers.
I’ve had the chance to use this snow blower during a few different sized Michigan snow storms and it did a great job. It throws the snow much better than the other model and it didn’t miss a beat. The machine maneuvers so much better than a heavy gas snow blower and is actually fun to use. There’s no worry about it starting up, so I can just throw in the batteries, push start, and be good to go.
I quickly sold my Ariens gas snow blower, gave the “broken” Ryobi to my brother, and am enjoying the extra space in the garage. Isaac had an older Ryobi model and said this one is awesome.
One minor negative is the snow blower doesn’t come with any kind of shovel tool to clear snow out of the chute or auger. I came up with my own solution though.
Before I purchase a lawn mower I’m waiting to see if Ryobi releases one in their Whisper series before spring. If they don’t, I’ll buy one of their current models. The mowers fold up better to save even more space, which will be great.
This whole experience with Ryobi’s customer service makes me happy I switched to Ryobi a few years ago. It even pushed me to buy their cordless nail guns to replace my pneumatic ones last week. One of my shop projects after the kitchen is finished will be to build a system to better organize and store all of my cordless tools, so I’ll share my Ryobi collection then.
For the last three months of 2021 I’ve been on a three month sabbatical from Automattic and I go back to work on the 4th. I’ve joked that I need a vacation now because I’ve been putting a lot of hours in to the kitchen. The last few weeks have been very busy and I’ve accomplished a lot, but the remodel will not be finished. I do have a post coming soon with some major updates.
Once the kitchen is finished I’m looking forward to tinkering with some electronics again and having time to work on much smaller projects.
I wasn’t expecting much from this special Dew, but I was quite impressed. The gingerbread flavor is very noticeable while not being overpowering. It paired well with the cider donuts I was eating. Solid 7/10 and would be higher if it was a taste I would ever select.
They combined Code Red, White Out, and Voltage for this patriotic flavor, aptly named. The White Out was my favorite alternative Mountain Dew flavor, but they don’t carry it anymore. When I first tried the DEW-S-A it seemed to have an odd aftertaste and I couldn’t place it from the 3 flavors. I got used to it after a few sips and it ended up being a solid drink, earning a 7.5 out of 10.
Once I found the spark, the rest of the year felt balanced, in terms of not doing too much and varying the types of projects. My favorites were the new home office, the Gympac, and the picnic table / benches. 2021 is off to a great start with several posts already published and others being planned. The hobby room updates will allow me to get back to electronics projects.