I've been meaning to get a decent drill for years to replace my very basic single-speed mains drill with its iffy chuck along with my cheap 'n' nasty Ni-Cd battery drill that runs out of charge if I try to knock a hole in anything tougher than butter and which is waaayyyy too heavy and bulky for use as an electric screwdriver.
Recently the wife and I caught a few minutes of Channel 5's Gadget Show where they were raving about the Bosch Uneo and we decided to take the plunge.
The Uneo sports a comfortable non-slip hand grip and weighs in at 1.1kg making it light enough for screwdriver work. The non removable 14.4V Lithium Ion battery doesn't suffer from the self discharge and memory effects that plagued my old Ni-Cd drill however the battery is not removable on the Uneo and has to be charged in-situ via the supplied mains adaptor which plugs directly into the drill handle. The fact that a second battery can't be kept charged and fitted into place when needed targets the Uneo squarely at the home DIY enthusiast rather than the tradesman. A basic red/green LED charge indicator provides an indication of the need for a recharge long before the drill stops spinning.
The Uneo has an SDS Quick chuck and doesn't accept standard HSS or SDS bits. While changing bits is quick and convenient, I'm finding SDS Quick bits are somewhat hard to come by on the high street. My local Homebase stocked none and even the big B&Q Warehouse in Coventry stocked only a very small handful of these bits. As it happens there was a Bosch representative at B&Q the day I was searching their aisles for SDS Quick bits and I complained to her about the lack of their availability. She was quick to point out the Uneo was an award winning and well rated bit of kit but as I said to her, if I can't drill holes with the thing then it ain't of much use to me!
The Uneo does come equipped with four drill bits, two masonry and two woodwork plus four SDS Quick screwdriver bits. The chuck will accept bits up to 10mm in diameter – if you can find them! Armed with the supplied bits and the handful of others I was able to pick up at B&Q I was able to start doing some odd jobs around the house.
The first was a screwdriver job repairing a chest of drawers. With it's variable speed and forward/reverse function, driving screws was plain sailing. One gripe I do have is that the forward/reverse switch has no labelling and I keep forgetting which setting goes in which direction. To aid, Bosch have fitted a LED indicator which points up and down to indicate forward/backward rotation.
The second job was to drill into a concrete lintel. My previous drills had never been able to drill into concrete which was always a headache when I had to mount blinds above windows. The Uneo's 0.9 Joule pneumatic hammer action made short work of it though and I was pleasantly surprised that a battery drill could tackle such a tough job so easily (because my last two battery drills had been so cheap and crappy they had built up a bad reputation in my mind).
The Uneo keeps it's charge well and I'd completed a number of drilling/driving tasks knocking holes into a variety of materials before I had to give it a recharge. The Uneo is supplied in a tough polycarbonate case which has some internal compartments suitable for storing spare bits along with the mains charger.
The Uneo is a great product – but why do the DIY chains that sell it not sell the accessories required by anyone purchasing it? If you're thinking of buying the Uneo, have a good look around first to ensure the bits you need are available in the SDS Quick format. The current cost at the time of writing is around £120 - £130 which is pricey for a battery drill. That said, you get what you pay for and the last two cheap ones I bought were never really up to the job, however I think the Uneo will still be going strong for years to come.... or will it...