While at first glance Skil’s new iXO2 — the second-generation of Skil’s entry into the low-cost li-ion cordless screwdriver market, the iXO — doesn’t look that much different from its predecessor. But, after a little hands-on time around the Toolmonger shop, we’ve come to notice some significant improvements.
Let’s start, however, with things that remain the same: The iXO2 is a li-ion-powered, 3.6-volt driver that fits in the palm of your hand. Like other small household drivers, the iXO2 isn’t designed for heavy lifting but instead for more day-to-day tasks. And, at less than $40 street, it doesn’t cost heavy, either.
Read on past the jump for our experiences with the improved iXO2 — and lots and lots of pictures.
The iXO2 comes pre-packaged in a hard plastic “fish bowl” case which contains the tool, its charger, a 20-piece bit set that snaps into the charging stand, an extension, and a small drill bit.
Note: Click on smaller pictures for larger ones.
Like the original iXO, the new unit fits easily into a cupped hand. It also has a non-locking magnet chuck mechanism that holds the bits in the driver.
Something we noticed straight away is the redesigned trigger. The original model had a rather bulbous, bumpy design that felt a little strange and uncomfortable. The iXO2 sports a slimmer, more compact trigger that feels much better — more “integrated” with the rest of the tool. Furthermore, the shoulder on the back of the grip seems less substantial than the one the iXO, which marks an improvement in the area of comfort.
When you depress the trigger, the iXO2’s large, easy-to-read indicator lights illuminate to show which direction the fastener will go, and a yellow LED light in the iXO2’s tip lights up your work.
Though it is a li-ion tool — and still had some charge when it arrived here — we plugged the iXO2 in for some charge time before the test. When you place it in the charging cradle, the charge light on the top of the unit lets you know it’s receiving juice.
Once it’d received a good charge, we carried it down to the shop for some rough use. We started with the realistic task of driving 1-1/2 “self-starting” wood screws into a 2×4. While you wouldn’t really call the iXO2 “fast” at its 200 RPM speed, it did successfully drive the screws — which beats the heck out of hand cranking them. It did bog a bit at the at the bottom end of the drive, but the unit didn’t falter. It drove each screw flush.
One complaint: The iXO2’s side-to-side direction selector switch sticks out a bit, so if you put it down on a workbench on its side — the side that corresponds with the direction the driver’s set to run — the switch is forced back to the middle “off” position. This is a minor annoyance, but it does cause a hesitation if you think you’re ready to go and pull the trigger and… nothing happens.
The iXO2’s packaging contains a 1/4″ hex-shank drill bit, which made us scratch our heads a little bit. Would the iXO really work well as a drill? A bit skeptical, we loaded the bit in and started to drill. The 200 RPM speed is fine for small bits like the included one; we drilled the small bit through wood with no issues. However, when we tried to back the bit out, it wouldn’t stay in the magnetic chuck with enough force to remove the bit from the freshly drilled hole. So, drilling with this attachment might be a challenge unless the material you’re drilling into “grabs” less than wood.In all fairness, this isn’t really a specific issue with the iXO, but rather an issue that’d arise with any magnetic-chuck driver. The bottom line: Skip the iXO (or its similar competitors) for drilling. They’re really best for driving, anyway.
Overall, our experience with the iXO2, when compared to the older iXO, is much improved. The smaller trigger is a bit more ergonomic to hold and operate, and the work light LED is a nice addition as well.
The iXO2 represents well in its $40 price class. If you’ve previously skipped the iXO in favor of Black & Decker’s SmartDriver, you may want to give the iXO2 a look. This would make a great “around-the-house” screwdriver for basic assembly work, and its li-ion batteries allow it to hold a charge for quite some time in the drawer.