After reading all of the negative reviews for this product, I was very nearly put off buying it altogether. But, due to my undying love of the series, I couldn't resist taking the plunge.
I've been playing around with it for a couple of hours, and I must say, I'm quite impressed with it.
Upon unpacking it, I realised just how much larger this new version was compared to the previous iterations of the Sonic Screwdriver. Not that this is a bad thing, it has a much better weight and shape to it, far more suited to the human hand. It's far less likely to drop, because you'll never forget it's there. It's not pocket-sized by a longshot, which could pose a slight problem to Doctor Who obsessives that like to take their Screwdrivers around with them. But the extra size adds a certain impressiveness to it.
Now, first gripe. The Sonic Screwdriver toys have NEVER been easy to dismantle and power up. This one is no exception. In fact, it's probably the fiddliest to set up. The manual states that you must "twist the emitter one-tenth anticlockwise, then pull the emitter away from the handle". Due to its nature as a toy, I was very anxious about twisting or turning any components for fear of breaking it. But eventually I managed to get the batteries in fine. This version takes the most batteries out of them all so far, requiring 3 of those little watch batteries rather than 2.
Reassembled, I took some more time to get to grips with the Screwdriver. Now, these toys have never been of high build quality, they've mainly been 'just so'. Due to the enlarged and stretched profile of this iteration, that fact becomes far more apparent. The prongs, or 'claw' at the end of the device feel quite breakable (hence the difficulty in assembling and disassembling it), and the somewhat hollow handle feels very plastic-y. Not a major problem, but it feels less natural than its predecessors.
The tip of the device lights up with a bright green hue. Gone is the ultra-violet functionality of the original Screwdriver, but that doesn't detract from its list of features. Another feature that remains with this toy is the extendible head. However, this version is spring-locked and shoots out at a considerable velocity. I daresay it even feels quite powerful. As the device extends, the 'claw' at the end opens up, giving further prominence to the green light. Below the 'Extend' button is a switch that activates the light and signature 'whirring' sound. However, this button WILL NOT work whilst the device is extended. For when it is extended, you can either press a small black button on the battery column (which is very fiddly and probably not intended for actual use), or a 'hidden' red button at the end of the device. There is a tip on a hinge that will swing away to reveal this button. Despite this seemingly pointless design choice, it'd probably be fun for kids.
There are four different sounds this time around, all of which are unique in their own way. The activate button has a slight delay to it, thereby allowing multiple presses to utilize the different sounds. One press will emit a standard whirring noise, three presses will cause an 'alarm' sound to begin, accompanied with alternating flashes of light from the tip (presumably, this is utilized somewhere later in the New Series, but I haven't seen it). Four presses will make the device appear faulty, as if damaged (which also probably appears later in the Series). Overall, the sounds will be enough to sate a demanding Whovian, despite the delay and slightly muffled tone of some.
Mostly, I'm pretty satisfied with the Screwdriver. Despite some of its build faults and niggles, it's a genuinely fun toy to play with, regardless of how old a Whovian you are. Although I'm certain that someone will eventually have someone's eye out with the rapid Extend feature, it's a whole lot of fun. I disagree with most of the negativity associated with the Eleventh Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver, as I've encountered little to no technical issues whatsoever (although I may in the future, we'll see). But overall, a reccomended buy!