DPReview is still alive, let’s save it! Kobalt electric mower update (Week 19, 2023)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 19, 2023

Q. Where we can send messages to Amazon to persuade them not to close DPReview.com?

-J.P., Los Altos, CA

A. I suggest going straight to the top with jeff@amazon.com and jbezos@amazon.com, Jeff Bezos’ customer-facing email accounts. Despite the announced April 10 closing date, new content is still being published as of May 9. Hopefully the site will ultimately be saved, and with the unexpected May 6 closure of Imaging Resource we need quality camera review sites more than ever. Spread the word!

Electric mower update: In February I spoke favorably of the Kobalt KPM 1040A-03 cordless electric lawn mower, $329 at Lowe’s. I recently came across the self-propelled version at a Lowe’s store, unused with all included accessories for $214.50, 50% off the $429 MSRP. (It looked to be a display model.) One of God’s gifts to me is the ability to sniff out deals, and one of my shortcomings is difficulty passing them up, so home it went. The original Kobalt is with a friend so now we both have one to use. I also have a self-propelled Honda gas mower purchased from Home Depot ten years ago for $399, and a Cub Cadet SC100 purchased eight years ago for $249. Both were top recommendations from Consumer Reports at the time, but my experience has been mixed. My Honda has been fussy and unreliable, and the wheels are adjusted individually. A single wheel often falls a notch during mowing, leading to an uneven cut. The Cub Cadet has been flawless. I decided to try cutting the whole yard with the self-propelled electric to see if I could satisfactorily ditch both gas mowers.

The self-propelled Kobalt works much like the basic version, but using propulsion drains the battery more rapidly so I recommend only using it when going uphill. It is easy to push so you probably won’t miss it other than some extra speed. I cut thick grass with the mower, which it handled easily with little bogging down. I split the task over two days as it seems I will need a second battery to do the whole yard at once. Some cost comparisons made me realize buying a second battery wipes out any potential gas savings. The batteries sell for $159 for a 4 Ah Kobalt battery (smaller than the included 6 Ah battery, which is not available separately) and $125 for a compatible third-party 6 Ah battery. At $4 per gallon that $125 buys 31 gallons of gas, enough for six seasons in the northeast. You will definitely save on maintenance because the electric mower only requires blade sharpening. Over the past year I visited some independent retailers that are still pushing gas mowers (no pun intended.) The simplicity of electric ownership, along with the rows of gas mowers tagged for service and repair at these establishments, shows me one of the possible reasons. Widespread electric mower adoption will be very disruptive to these businesses.

On a personal note, I also felt much better physically and mentally after using the Kobalt. It is quiet and smooth and I never realized how draining the noise and vibration from a gas mower can be. The verdict is the Honda is going to a new owner and the Cub Cadet will be kept around for backup, at least for now. This is my personal experience with a modest, yet highly regarded cordless electric mower, and there are undoubtedly even better ones out there. If you have wondered if you can get all you need from a cordless electric walk-behind mower, I think for most people the answer is now yes.