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Ryobi heated up competition in the low-to-mid-end tool market with their dramatically improved 12V One+ power tool line. But what about all those other jobsite tasks, like measurement, safety, security, and documentation? That’s the whole point of their new Tek4 line — a collection of everything from a multimeter to hearing protection to a digital camera, all powered via a compact 4V li-ion system.

On the measuring side of things you’ll find a multimeter, laser distance measure, self-leveling plumb/cross laser, and an infrared thermometer. The safety category consists of a high-intensity LED flashlight and a set of active noise-suppression headphones. A motion-sensing alarm with remote and digital key lock box comprise security. And a digital camera, portable power source, and jobsite music player wrap it all up with documentation and convenience/lifestyle products.

Some of these we’ve certainly seen before. Milwaukee offers an excellent flashlight and power source in their compact 12V line, plus a number of measurement products. But I haven’t seen compact li-ion integrated security products — or a digital camera for that matter. While it may sound frivolous, there’s a lot to be said for these products drawing from a battery source you’ll already have on-site.

We haven’t had a chance to test any of these products yet, but we look forward to it. The specs don’t look to bad. The IR thermometer, for example, ranges from -4 to 590 degrees F and includes both a real-time readout and an internal memory that sores up to 10 readings. The digicam boasts 8 megapixel resolution plus a “high power flash” that Ryobi claims reaches out to 15′ or more — and it’s TPR-coated with a lens shield to help it survive drops.

Pricing varies dramatically, from around $20 for the flashlight to around $200 for the digicam, though Home Depot offers a starter kit consisting of a cordless screwdriver, powered snips, the portable power device, the LED flashlight, and the noise-suppressing headphones — plus two batteries and a charger — for $100.

Tek4 Products [Ryobi]
Street Pricing
[Google Products]
5-piece Tek4 Combo Kit
[Home Depot]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


17 Responses to Tek4: Ryobi’s 4V Li-Ion Job-Site Helpers

  1. David Bryan says:

    For New Year’s you can resolve to stop using the word “dramatically”.

  2. Blair says:

    @David Bryan ,

    Twice in one article may seem excessive to you, but most of us read these entry’s for tool knowledge, not word-craft, and the article provided the requisite tool information.

  3. Kevin Kadow says:

    So does Ryobi offer a 4V charger that runs off one of their 12v or 18v ONE+ batteries, for charging in the field?

    I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind a special low-voltage rechargeable. Why would you go with this system instead of a handful of lithium rechargeable AA batteries?

  4. David Bryan says:

    Blair, anybody who wants to write probably wants to write well, and I respect the efforts of those who write for this site. But once was too many.

  5. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    I really like the concept of this system. But I really would like to hear some serious user reviews of the gear. A Ryobi laser range meter worries me a little bit, I had trouble learning to trust my hilti range meter.

  6. Jaxx says:

    Those ear defenders look nice and lightweight.

  7. Geoff says:

    Here’s a crazy idea, maybe there should be a “standard” for battery pack connections the same way there should be a standard power connector for devices such as cell phones and laptops. I like the concept of a modular rechargeable cell that fits lots of different devices — yes, I just described a AA or AAA battery — but it needs to be reusable, have more run time than standard batteries and the format needs to be practical and widely implemented.

    Ryobi making a range finder with a modular power cell might encourage another vendor like Hilti to use Ryobi’s power interface for their own devices. I also like the idea of these smaller cells being able to recharge in their big brothers’ chargers.

    As for the comments on writing, you’re both correct. The information was indeed conveyed successfully, albeit with some hyperbole. Ryobi did significantly improve their One+ line, and the price range is wide across the line. I’m not sure either one is quite worthy of the attributed drama.

  8. Chuck Cage says:

    @David Bryan @Geoff You busted me. But in my defense, both “dramaticallys” (while indeed redundant) are accurate: $20 to $200 is quite a bit of variance, and the difference between Ryobi’s old blue One+ line and the new green one is, well, astonishing.

    I try to avoid heavily personal stuff like this, but I had nothing but crappy experiences with the blue Ryobi. The tools were thoroughly forgettable, and the batteries died quickly and sadly. When the green tools arrived for review, we were ready to thrash ’em.

    But as (we’ve discovered) often happens in the world of tool journalism, things didn’t go as we expected. We liked ’em. We liked ’em a lot. And at the price, they’re a steal.

  9. Zathrus says:

    Chuck — while I agree that the original One+ Ryobi batteries were… ah… subpar, they were also extremely inexpensive and worked pretty well for DIYers. I’ve even seen some tradesmen using them. The LiIon batteries are far better though.

    As for the tools — what issues did you have? There’s really no difference between the “blue” and “green” tools except for what color plastic they get.

    About the only one of these 4V tools that I find very interesting are the headphones, simply because I haven’t seen any others with quite that range of features (noise canceling w/ the ability to still hear normal conversation). All the others, have competition that run on standard AA batteries, so moving from them to a proprietary battery and charger isn’t worthwhile IMO.

  10. Loomis says:

    I bought two of the portable power sources, along with two batteries and a rapid recharger, for children of a friend of mine. The recharger will charge one battery in 36 minutes (it will hold two batteries, but it charges them serially). The battery in a portable power source can recharge an iPod Nano and supply power to it for 80 hours.

    The power sources have a mini-USB connector and come with a variety of adapters. We tried them out on multiple cell phones, iPods and other portable devices and were able to come up with an adapter combination for all but one: a Nintendo DSi. (A quick trip to Amazon produced the cable needed for that one.) The adapters might be the weak link here since they are easy to misplace.

    The charger itself is interesting in that it has two inputs for power: a standard jack with wall wart and a USB port, which would allow you to attach the charger to a computer’s USB port and charge batteries. (I can’t think of a likely scenario for that. If I have a desktop computer, I have a wall socket. If I have a laptop, I’m trading its battery reserve for the Ryobi battery. OTOH, my needs don’t include everyone else’s needs, so someone might find this useful.)

  11. lens42 says:

    The problem will these systems is that you have to trust that manufacturer will not discontinue the line in favor of the new marketing flavor a year or two down the road. I don’t know if Ryobi has been guilty of that, but many makers certain have. If I’m to invest in a family of tools and standardize on a battery type, I stick to the major contractor brands (Milwaukee, Makita, etc), not because I need the rugged performance (I’m only a hobbyest/homeowner) but because I want long term stability in the platform.

  12. sawconundrum says:

    Zathrus, I just wanted to clear this up, the headphones are NOT noise cancelling. They are simply passive noise reduction the same as any standard ear protection. The active part is that they pick up low volume sounds, for example speech, and amplify them so that they can be more easily heard while wearing the ear protection.

    They also include a stereo jack interface for connection to an MP3 type player but they certainly are not built for high quality sound.

  13. Bruenor says:

    Looks like the kit is not selling to well, at least that’s what Home Depot says. They are liquidating the starter kits for $50.00 by me.

    I was interested int eh hearing protection because i wanted the audio input jack feature, my current budget electronic hearing protection does not have that feature. The headset sells for $69.99 by itself, so the whole starter kit for $50.00 seemed like a bargain.

    I gave all the pieces a once over last night and it seems pretty decent, especially for the discounted price. Not sure how much I’ll use the otherpieces, but the headset is going straight into my range bag..

  14. Dale says:

    I’m interested in the TEK 4 battery for a project I’m working on. I’m planning on wiring up 2 of the TEK 4 batteries in series to get 8V for my project. I noticed that there are 5 terminals on the battery: -, -, +, T1, T2. Does anyone know what the T1 and T2 terminals are used for? I’m also wondering why there are 2 negative terminals. I haven’t found any documentation on the battery that describes these terminals and their function.

  15. Nik says:

    Loomis!! I too, have a “universal adapter”, as you are speaking of–helps me with MANY of my gadgets I’ve lost the recharge plugs for and/or roommates had just “wondered off” with when they’d moved out (ugh!)… However; CAN ANYONE HELP ME-I’ve a Ryobi 2.4 cordless screwdriver my dad had given me (can’t seem to part with–He has dementia now, and I’m just attached to “the memories”)…used it A LOT before I moved…

    But–with the “POLARITY” issue on the UNIVERSAL charger?? It’s an AC adapter…I downloaded the manual and everything–there is NOTHING saying anything regarding the polarity–and I DO know this makes all the difference in the world–and can and WILL FRY my dad’s ol’ “twister”…

  16. evilsoup says:

    I think they’ve stopped selling the combo kit. I bought it as a clearance item at Home Depot for the earmuffs – the cost of the kit was less than the stand alone item. They’re great, and there are plenty of reviews out there affirming this.

    About the snips I haven’t heard much comment beyond, “haven’t used it yet; gave it to the wife; cut plastic packaging, etc.” Every indication from the manufacturer indicates that it’s for light use. But I have been using it to cut notches in light gauge steel roofing. It fits in my toolbelt, is light and nimble, and I can use it in awkward spots.

    When I read reviewers who say they have trouble cutting simple stuff, like plastic, it leads me to doubt their aptitude using tools. Sure, it requires a certain finesse of use, but as long as you’re not impatient and abusive (all too common), it works works surprisingly well.

    All I’m saying is not to discount the snips. Even if you use them for something they’re not suited for and you get limited use, it’s better than never having used them at all.

  17. SignGuy says:

    The new Li-Ion tools are great… I got a set of the one+ Li-Ion power tools for $249 at HD after the motor on my $200 dewalt drill blew… i am pretty impressed by the quality of the line at its price point and these little helpers are a great addition. i’m probably going to pick up the camera next.

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