Still, the unpowered reel mower that they test -- it's very similar to the one that I own -- gets high marks:
This archaic, human-powered technology still has its strengths. At a run, it was faster than the walk-behind mower. It was the most maneuverable and lightest machine, and the easiest to store in a crowded garage. The sweat level was high, but it scored well on moral superiority: No emissions, little noise, and the only fuel to buy was Gatorade. Big complaint: It rolls over weeds without cutting them — a real drawback at my place.
That is the main drawback, one that I deal with by using one of these. Another advantage of the unpowered mower is that you can start your kids mowing with them earlier -- my daughter mowed her first lawn at the age of 9. And the PopMech advice to wear earplugs when using any kind of power mower is good advice -- I've done that since I was a teenager (also for live music and shooting), and my hearing remains surprisingly good.
And I use exactly the same kind of tools, a hand-powered mower ably assisted by an electric grass-cutter or weed-whacker. Long extension cord recommended.
And I see absolutely no-drawbacks, all beneficial results. Since I jog regularly, what better exercise for one’s upper body than mowing your lawn – this way.
And economic benefits, too. Got this mower over 15 years ago and the grass-cutter, a relatively new addition, about 3 years since the previous one got retired. The old one was commissioned many times for hard-labor duties, cutting over-grown weeds and small brushes. Still that one loyally served for over 20 years.