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506550
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Pick up Bosch's new Litheon PS20-2 10.8-volt lithium-ion Pocket Driver and you'll immediately start looking for ways to use it–or should I say, excuses. From the way this compact driver form-fits into your hand to the soft-grip handle and its perfect balance, this tool will quickly earn its way into your starting lineup.

This is a perfect example of lithium-ion (LI) battery technology at work, bringing new power to lighter-weight cordless tools. And while a lot of companies, Bosch included, are also using LI batteries for heavier workloads, the Pocket Driver is in a class of its own.

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Switch out hex-shank bits and drivers easily with this quick-change collar.

Credit: Photo: DOT FOR DOT, Inc.

Weighing-in at less than 2 pounds and measuring 6-1/2 inches long, this tool will become an electrician's best friend, an HVAC installer's right hand, and a cabinet installer's trusted ally, plus a regular all-around handy tool everyone will want to borrow.

Drive & Torque

With 80 inch-pounds of torque and a no-load speed maxing out at just 400 rpm, the Pocket Driver isn't going to be replacing your screwgun or high-speed drill/driver, but it's a serious tool that isn't afraid of hard work.

I charged up the two LI batteries that come with the Pocket Driver and went to work. Of course, a compact tool that fits so well in your tool pouch and in your hand will be useful for the obvious small drilling and driving tasks anyone faces, especially trade contractors involved in setting hangers, installing breakers and boxes, and driving self-tapping metal screws into ductwork (although you might want to stick with higher-rpm tools for this). And these are at the core of Bosch's intentions for this tool. Working around fixtures, face plates, and HVAC equipment cabinets are naturals for this tool.

But carpenters will be surprised how much power it has, too. I know I was. Even though the Pocket Driver is a lot slower than larger cordless drill/drivers that can generate 1,200 to 1,500 no-load rpm, this tool's size and balance make up for that, especially in tight spots. The tool will fully drive (read, bury) a kitchen-load of 1/4-by-4-inch cabinet screws, so be careful to set the 10-point clutch properly so you don't over-drive through the back of a cabinet. Actually, it's an 11-point clutch, with a "Max" setting to take seriously.

In addition to using the Pocket Driver to hang and set cabinets, I also fine-tuned the cabinet doors without missing a beat. I've always used an 18-volt drill/driver for that, but the Pocket Driver seemed more at home inside a cabinet carcass than its larger cousins, and it's rare to find power and finesse in one tool.

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This tool is right on target, even if its work light misses a bit.

Credit: Photo: DOT FOR DOT, Inc.

As far as driving 100 3-inch screws, as the company claims, we maxed-out at driving 75 screws into softwood on one charge, even allowing the battery 15- to 20-minute "rest" periods in between batches of 25 screws.
Features

Quick-Change Chuck. I love the category that is building around compact cordless tools, especially with the quick-change collared chucks that make switching from drill to driver really easy. The Pocket Driver has a pull-collar chuck that receives 1/4-inch hex-shank bits and driver adapters that works one-handed if you need it; holding the tool pointing up, drop the bit down into the collar and then pull the collar up to let the bit drop all the way into position. Discharging the bit requires just one hand–and gravity.

Trigger and Controls. The handle on this tool seemed molded to my hand, and gripping it naturally and comfortably I found my trigger finger always in perfect position. The variable-speed motor is very responsive to the trigger. And the forward/reverse switch was easy to reach without changing my grip, although people with smaller hands might have to shift a little to reach it.

The clutch adjustment moved easily into each detent and stayed there during use. And the battery replacement action leaves nothing to be desired.

Work Light. The only thing that slightly misses on this great tool–literally–is the LED work light located on the front end of the body beneath the chuck. Directed lighting built into tools is a pretty good idea, but in this case the chuck extending out above the light actually shades the work point a bit, reducing the light's effectiveness. You still get some light in the area of the drill or driver, especially the farther out you are from your work, like when you're starting to drive a long screw, but then the work point becomes eclipsed by the shadow of the tool. I like lights on tools, but I am still a strong proponent of setting up well-lit areas to do your best work.

Warranty and Accessories. The PS20 is covered by Bosch's three-year ProVantage warranty, and comes standard with two screwdriver bits, two 10.8-volt lithium-ion batteries, a 30-minute charger, and a nice soft case with Velcro hold-downs.

Bosch Litheon PS20-2: $129. 877-267-2499. www.boschtools.com.

–Rick Schwolsky