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Admittedly, it’s so covered with carefully-branded “features” that we almost completely overlooked this little driver when it launched. But considering the positive experiences we’ve had with the Smartdriver, we spun around for another look. Here’s what we see at second glance: a Smartdriver-like 3.6V li-ion screwdriver with the addition of a clutch and a screw holder.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Remove the contrived “SmartSelect Technology” sticker — complete with “project icons” representing lengths of screws — and you’ve got a simple clutch just like you see on larger drivers. And even with only 44 in-lb of torque to apply toward stripping a screw, we can clearly see uses for a clutch in this application.

The screw holder we’re not so sure about. It’ll prove handy if you’re driving screws a lot, but many of the people we know who’re big fans of the Smartdriver use it primarily for removing and installing machine screws. They’d benefit from the clutch, but the screw holder — not so much. Of course, it’s retractable, so just keeping it stowed makes sense, too.

So the bottom line: For around $55 — and as low as $40 online — you’ll pay about $15 more than a new Smartdriver, and about $25 more than what we’ve normally seen the Smartdriver go for on sale. Is $15-$25 a fair price to pay for a clutch and screw holder? That depends entirely on how many wood screws you drive.

LI4000 Li-Ion Screwdriver [Black & Decker]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

5 Responses to B&D’s Decked-Out Li-Ion Driver

  1. der5er says:

    I don’t know if I’d say you overlooked it, Sean beat you to it a year ago: http://toolmonger.com/2009/03/10/black-deckers-2nd-gen-smartdriver/

    I still use mine all the time, but you’re right about the screw holder. It doesn’t see much use unless I’m reaching deep into a narrow spot or working with a really tiny screw (in which case it’s almost certainly aligned wrong).

    “Smart Select Technology” is just B&D’s way of saying, “We think you’re too stupid to set the clutch properly.” When the real reason people strip screws is that they are too lazy to set the clutch properly.

    The LED Load indicator (i.e. light shuts off under heavy load) is still the most useful feature IMHO. As I said before the light isn’t very bright or well directed. AND it doesn’t come on until you pull the trigger. Hey, B&D, if I need the light, it’s probably for lining up the screw with the hole BEFORE I pull the trigger.

  2. jonesy says:

    Except for the Workmate, I would not buy anything B&D makes.

  3. fred says:

    @Jonsey

    Black & Decker was one of the pioneers in portable electric tools. At one time the B&D name was put on a range of tools from homeowner quality to top grade professional tools. Some of theier circular saws (we used their Super Sawcat) were top-of-the line.
    Then what seemed to happen was consolidation and sorting out of tool lines and mergers of tool companies perhaps spurred by global competition.. Even before China entered the market – there was competition from Makita, Hitachi and Bosch to name a few companies. Along the way, Skil (also a full line power tool maker) was acquired by Bosch (who also acquired Dremel and Roto-Zip) – while Black & Decker acquired Dewalt, and then Porter Cable and Delta (from Rockwell International). In the case of Black & Decker, I think that they decided to sort out their trademarks with the Dewalt brand (originally known predominantly for their big radial arm saws) being marketed to professional contractors in the construction trades. The Porter Cable brand – which had been more expansive – was collapsed a bit into predominantly tools aimed at woodworking. Further – it seems that B&D’s DeVilbiss acquisition was used to beefu up the Porter Cable brand into pneumatics – while their acquisition of Emglo – seems to have resulted in Dewalt’s air compressor offerings. The low end tools – once sold under the Rockwell (stand alone) name disappeared from the market – perhaps replaced by tools marked as “B&D”.

    Similar things happened at Skil-Bosch – where the Bosch brand is applied to more of the professional grade tools – while many of the Skil tools (perhaps with the exception of wormgear saws) are being marketed to homeowners. TTI – is probably doing the same thing with their Milwaukee and Ryobi lines.

    Now with the acquisition of B&D by Stanley (who also once made or marketed a few portable power tools like routers and saws) we may see even more sorting out of the B&D brands.

  4. ShopMonger says:

    Yeah Jonsey, I think that kind of attitude just shows lack of tool knowledge and does no one any good. I know a guy who says the same thing about Craftsman.. I uses a BnD D handle ROS and love it. In fact i am thinking about buying two more to make tow more sanding stations in the shop. I think is is comfortable. reliable, and does not vibrate my hand as mush as other sanders. I have other higher end sanders and yet i always reach for my BnD I even have a knock off of the t “not decked out” model shown above. What a great little driver..

    ShopMonger

  5. Brau says:

    Being from Canada and having screws that actually stay on the bit (Robertson) … I just can’t see much point in owning a tool with such an unwieldy solution.

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