But when faced with the task of choosing a new long arm hedge trimmer or multi/combi tool, one name kept popping up in the forums as being the best or at least coming very highly recommended: Echo.
So I decided to take a punt and 'go off brand' and brought myself the PAS-265ES engine unit and hedge trimmer attachment.
Fairly conventional design, first impressions are that it's well balance and has a reassuring weight to it, but not overly heavy.
The cutter head has a range of settings and a simple pin/ring combo to easily alter the angle of cut. It looks significantly less robust when compared to the stihl equivalent (hardly a surprised when you look at the price difference) but is of a similar weight and size, although the cutter bar is slightly shorter.
A nice touch is the inclusion of conventional sized grease nipples, meaning you can use a normal grease gun rather than relying on the expensive stihl tubes.
Another nice touch is the fact that when folded flat against itself for storage the cutter bar clips into the handguard, providing extra security from damage when storing in the truck with other tools.
Here's a size comparison next to an old style stihl HL75, not much in it really.
Initially negative thoughts are that it does seem to lack the overall build quality and feel of stihl and husky machines, but having only used it for a day it's way to early to judge it too harshly.
The trigger assembly inparticular concerns me as both the trigger and dead mans seem very flimsy and exposed, I suspect if anything is likely to break in a hurry it will be these.
Having only used it for a single days hedge trimming I can't fully comment on its use, this is only a first impressions review, though it cuts well and seems balance, the power is there, leaving a nice finish on thick conifer hedges but definitely lacking when it comes to cutting anything bigger than 10mm. And you certainly wouldn't want to give it the abuse that I've given my stihl over the years.
More to follow...