Smartphone Review: Ryobi’s High Tech Home Improvement Gadgets

Tool giant Ryobi knows tools and just about everyone knows smartphones, so it only makes sense to try and marry the two – and that’s exactly what the company aims to do with its new Ryobi Phone Works line.

The idea is simple enough: your smartphone (iOS or Android) serves as the brain for a bunch of handy home improvement devices by using Ryobi’s free Phone Work app.rtyobe2

To use the app, you need one or more of the following Ryobi Phone Works-branded items (ranging in price from $25 to $70 each):

There’s also a tough and convenient storage case for all your new Phone Works devices.

ryobuThe first thing I did was download the app, which of course was simple enough. The first tool I tried was the Ryobi Phone Works Laser Distance Measure. It seemed like I should just be plug and play – I plug it into the headphone jack (how most of the Phone Works devices connect) and begin home improving until my heart is content.  Not so fast. First, you have to register the device with an email and enter the product’s serial number. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but a lot of online consumer feedback indicates it incredibly frustrating. Since you are reading this on a tech blog as opposed to pro-contractor/home improvement page, however, chances are this may be less of a sticking point for you.

Another important note: once you link the product to your phone via registration, the device goes with your phone and your phone only, effectively eliminating any notion of using this in a shop where more than one person may have a smartphone AND a use for any of these tools.stud

A warning: Be sure to check out the tutorials. It’s tempting to think these things are simple plug-and-play devices, but that isn’t the case.  For example, when trying the Ryobi Phone Works Inspection Scope you need to actually reconfigure your smartphone’s Wi-Fi settings so that the scope can transmit images to your phone’s screen.

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The tutorial for the Stud Finder is another example: You need to calibrate it properly or you may end up anchoring a shelf in a bad spot.

You also may need to remove your smartphone’s case, depending on the size.

Once you get past the unpacking, smartphone case removal (if applicable), account setup, serial registration, and tutorials – these tools are a breeze to use.

They would be great for someone who doesn’t necessarily make a living from home improvement, but is a hardcore DIYer and/or often called upon by friends and family to help with various projects. And the convenient case makes storage, transportation, and protection much easier than trying to throw them into a traditional tool chest.insectionscope

But because each of the devices (yes, even the laser pointer) marries the phone they are registered with,  it isn’t advisable to invest in these tools if the idea is that they are used in a shop or shop-like setting where more than one person may need to use them.



Posted in: Gadgets & Gear

About the Author:

Andrew is a writer and producer/content developer for and the PC Mike Techcast at He has been a professional storyteller for 16 years, building a successful career as a newspaper reporter and public relations specialist. Andrew's work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Oshkosh Northwestern, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Crain’s Chicago Business, Advertising Age, Automotive News, Waste News, Appleton Post-Crescent, and Real Detroit.
  • SallyWhite

    Wow! This is the first time I’ve heard of such. Well, this is a great move since many are now involved in home remodeling. I believe consumers will find this very helpful in renovating their homes. It will probably save more time and effort on the consumers’ part. Anyway, thanks for sharing this article. It’s great!