As you’ve no doubt noticed, the cordless power tool industry is in the middle of a full-on lithium-ion revolution. The new battery provides longer run times, longer shelf charge life, and the opportunity for greater torque, and tool manufacturers are rushing to apply it to all cordless tools.
We’ve watched as the revolution began with large, high-amperage tools, then moved to smaller tools, and finally we’re beginning to see it trickle down to tools designed for home use — such as the Skil iXO.
Its feature set is impressive for a screwdriver that streets for just $40: an integrated Li-ion battery that holds its charge for up to 18 months and can be recharged at any point in the charge cycle without fear of battery “memory” issues, a slick charger stand, and lots of accessories in the kit.
Read on to see exactly what’s included with the iXO and how it performed in real life situations.
The iXO comes pre-packaged in a round nylon soft case, which contains the tool, its charger stand, a 34-piece pit set in a rubberized organizer, and the manual and warranty paperwork. A clear plastic pocket in the case is designed to hold the manual and warranty materials for safe keeping.
Here you can see that the iXO is indeed “palm-sized.” It fits nicely in your hand and has a relatively durable feel to it. The non-locking chuck accpets standard hex-shaped screwdriver bits, so you can use any that you may already own, though Skil kindly packs a ton of bits right in the kit including multiple sizes of standard, Phillips, hex, torx, and square bits as well as a magnatized bit holder and a small drill bit suitable for pre-drilling screws.
A set of arrow-shaped lights on the top of the iXO light up green (forward) and red (reverse) to indicate its direction of operation which is controlled by a thumb-activated sliding switch just above the trigger.
The iXO fits snugly into its shape-matched charger stand, connecting to power via two metal charging studs near the bottom of the grip. A light on the charging stand indicates that charging is in progress. It’s a “smart charger,” so you can store the iXO on the charging stand if you want to since it won’t overcharge or otherwise damage the battery.
We tried out the iXO in our shop, using it to install numerous screws when assembling a table saw stand, and we were impressed with its performance considering its price point. We specifically liked the large trigger. You can get a couple of fingers around it, which makes it comfortable for long-term use. Even though the iXO is a single-speed tool, we found that it’s pretty easy to “simulate” slower speed by pulsing the trigger quickly.
However, the iXO is designed more for home use than shop use, so to get a more real-life perspective we handed the iXO to a friend who’d just purchased a bunch of Ikea furniture for his apartment.
After a day of furniture assembly, he was quite pleased with the iXO. He’d owned Skil cordless screwdrivers in the past and told us that the iXO felt and performed pretty much identically to the ones he’d owned. So, if you’re a Skil cordless screwdriver owner, you’ll be happy to hear that the iXO is essentially the same as the one you have but with an updated battery.
He also raved about the bit kit, indicating that he was surprised to find such a complete set included with an inexpensive tool. His one negative comment was that the iXO doesn’t put out quite enough torque to drive some longer wood screws when they’re not pre-drilled. (Normally you’d just pre-drill them with the included bit, but he was assembling furniture from the instructions and didn’t want to deviate; he just used the Ikea-included tool for those few screws.)
While the iXO doesn’t compare favorably to professional drivers (like Bosch’s I-Driver, for example), you have to keep in mind that at a $40 street price — less than the price of a replacement battery for the I-Driver — it makes more sense monetarily to compare it to a manual screwdriver set than a cordless tool designed for installers.
It’s targeted for home use, and it’s designed well for that purpose: you can leave it on the charger or throw it in a kitchen drawer for months at a time and still find it ready for use. The design — like, for example, the inclusion of lights indicating direction of operation — facilitates frustration-less operation, a fact borne out by our testing.
Our tester described the iXO as “easy to use and handy as hell.” We’d agree. Even if you already have a high end driver — and we know from email that many of you Toolmongers do — the iXO would make a great tool to keep in the kitchen or pantry for family use or as a gift to an apartment- or dorm-dwelling friend.
If you have an iXO, we’d love to hear your thoughts in comments or email. And remember, posting a valid comment automatically enters you in our Game Chair Giveaway.