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One product at the Bosch event which received close to no attention was the little SPS10 screwdriver.  It lacks the show-stopping bang of the new Full Force pneumatic line — however it’s a quiet acknowledgment that the millions of ixo’s and SmartDrivers that sold in the last couple years aren’t a fluke. Palm drivers have emerged as a well-defined class of their own, and Bosch has entered this market with the SPS10.

The box says it’s aiming at the professional cordless screwdriver market.  Having experience with three other units in the palm driver category — the Dremel Driver, the Skil ixo2, and the B&D SmartDriver — we decided to see how the SPS10 stacked up against one of its slightly older brethren.

For the head-to-head we pitted it against the only other competitor we had on hand that’s not owned in some way by Bosch –- the Black & Decker LI3000 SmartDriver.  The LI3000 also runs in the middle of the pack of palm drivers, so it’s a good horse to pace from.

Right out of the box the SPS10 showed itself the happy recipient of Bosch packaging. A soft zipper bag housed two removable 4V Li-Ion batteries and a charger, which already puts the unit ahead of the other palm drivers with their non-removable battery packs.  As you might imagine, the batteries are quite small. The charger that comes with the SPS10 will charge both 10.8V and 12V Max batteries from the Bosch line, so if you own other units you’re not out of luck.

Just like any other tool in the PS line, the fit and finish is solid and pleasing to grip, with enough heft that you’re aware the tool is substantial, but without it feeling like a brick or a toy.  The SPS10 is shaped a bit differently from the SmartDriver, but the size is comparable — when you compare it to the already small PS-20 you get a feel for how tiny it really is.

Another big feather in the SPS10’s cap is the 0-250 RPM variable-speed trigger — the SPS10 stands out as the only palm driver to sport the feature.  True, it’s not a whopping high number at full burn, but it’s good for drivers of this size.  Other features like the LED work light and directional button are more common.

To put the SPS10 through its paces we thought it only fitting to cycle it through the old standby gauntlet of 3” wood screws into 2×4’s and see how it does.  I realize these drivers weren’t really meant for this type of work;  but it’s a good measuring stick to start from since we’ve done it with all the other major players in this class.

The LI3000 came close to its original score of 18 — it drove 16 in this time around — but past scores aside, today it did 16, so 16 is what it gets.  If the SmartDriver did slightly less than expected, the Bosch did a lot less than that. The SPS10 only managed to crank down 1-1/2 of the 3″ screws into the same 2×4.  It was a little shocking, so we took another go at the same test after the batteries had charged up again — to the same results.  Obviously the SPS10 is designed for lower-torque applications.  I found that somewhat interesting, so the simple head-to-head test got a little longer.

Yes, the two-year-old SmartDriver whipped the pants off the SPS10 in the grunt category, but it might fare better on the easy/no-load side of the spectrum.  So I rigged up a nut in a bored-out hole in some pine to see how many 10-24 x 1.5” screws each driver could do.  Since backing out was the same as going in, I counted all the way in and all the way back out as “one” and prepared myself for an afternoon of repetitive fun and adventure.

An hour or two later — with a side of hand cramp — the Bosch SPS10 had driven 100 screws in and out on one full battery charge, and the LI3000 SmartDriver came in at 76.  So the Bosch lasted about 24 percent longer per charge than the old B&D.  The Bosch had the speed advantage with a 250 RPM max to the LI3000’s 180 RPM best.  I’d expected the Bosch to take the Black & Decker here, and it did;  however the margin was closer than I thought it would be.

Next up, the medium-load test involved driving 3/4” self-tapping screws into 3/4” ply, so there’d be some load but not nearly as much as with the 3″ wood screws.  Also, this time it’s just in, not in-and-out.

The SPS10 completed driving about 40 of the 3/4″ self-tapping screws before the battery finally gave out.  I say “about” because the last one was perhaps a thread shy of completely flush, but for this test we’re going to call it close enough. The LI3000 managed to spin 29.5 of the self-tapping screws home.

Read on to the second page for our conclusions.

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7 Responses to Head 2 Head Hands-On: Bosch SPS10 vs LI3000 SmartDriver

  1. SirFatty says:

    So the 3″ test. Was that at full speed? Since the B&D has a slower speed, which might be due to gear reduction, then it would not be too surprising it has more torque.

  2. Sean O'Hara says:

    Good question. 🙂 I tried it at full speed, half speed and just barely moving and the result was the same.

  3. Adam says:

    Lowes has the B&D driver on sale right now online for $12.97! I might just have to pick one up and check it out.
    http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=299433-79992-299433&detail=&lpage=none

  4. @Adam:

    Yeah but if a Lowes near you doesn’t have it in stock it’s another $11 for shipping and tax making it almost $24. Which is still a deal, but maybe not an impulse buy.

  5. Michael says:

    If you are only driving one or two screws, a real old-fashioned screwdriver (ok, I use a 6 in 1 screwdriver) might be the right tool for the job. Past 2 screws and I find myself searching for my cordless. I have the PS-20 and I would consider it the smallest cordless I would use. It works pretty well, but many times I wonder if I should have bought the PS-40 instead. The 20 is lightweight and has the important Lithium ion battery feature so I can be sure it will still have a charge when I reach for it.

  6. Zathrus says:

    Technicality — on the 1.5″ screw test, the Bosch lasts roughly 32% longer than the B&D, not 24%. You got the math backwards. The B&D did 24% fewer screws though.

    76 * 132% = 100, or 100 – 76/100 = 24%

    Good review though.

  7. DC says:

    I wonder how the new ryobi 4 volt (HP50LK) would do against those two???

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