THE U.S. TOOL INDUSTRY SELLS more cordless drills/drivers per year than any other power tool. An extremely useful and versatile product, the cordless driver is likely the most popular piece on the job-site as well. Not content to leave well enough alone, manufacturers have found ways to create specialized versions in the category.

Mount Prospect, Ill.–based Bosch Power Tools, for example, has introduced a new 10.8-volt Litheon I-Driver for smaller tasks. The company says it is a good complement to a full-size drill because the product gives users easier access to hard-to-reach areas.

Ridgid Tool Co. in Elyria, Ohio, also offers specialized drivers to handle specific needs—including the new 14.4-volt impact driver and the 12-volt angled impact driver. The angled product has a compact head for maneuverability in tight spots and has some of the same features as a traditional drill, such as variable speed.

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PLAYING THE ANGLES: The 12-volt angled impact driver has a compact head for easy access to tight  spots. High-performance impact limits reaction torque to users, and variable  speed and reverse allow for slow, easy starts and fast finishes. It offers 700 inch-pounds  of torque and 2,200 revolutions per minute. Ridgid. 800-474-3443. www.ridgid.com.
PLAYING THE ANGLES: The 12-volt angled impact driver has a compact head for easy access to tight spots. High-performance impact limits reaction torque to users, and variable speed and reverse allow for slow, easy starts and fast finishes. It offers 700 inch-pounds of torque and 2,200 revolutions per minute. Ridgid. 800-474-3443. www.ridgid.com.
SUDDEN IMPACT: The 18-volt DMR cordless impact wrench offers more power than a traditional  cordless drill, the manufacturer says. It has 1,950 inch-pounds of torque, a  fan-cooled motor, and a five-position belt hook with an integrated LED work  light. It weighs 4.63 pounds. Hitachi Power Tools. 800-829-4752. www.hitachipowertools.com.
SUDDEN IMPACT: The 18-volt DMR cordless impact wrench offers more power than a traditional cordless drill, the manufacturer says. It has 1,950 inch-pounds of torque, a fan-cooled motor, and a five-position belt hook with an integrated LED work light. It weighs 4.63 pounds. Hitachi Power Tools. 800-829-4752. www.hitachipowertools.com.
LIGHT WEIGHT: The new line of 18-volt lithium-ion drivers offers 50 percent more run time  than nickel-cadmium batteries, the manufacturer says. In addition, the products  have been completely reengineered to be smaller and lighter, but they  deliver more torque and offer longer runtime than the previous models. Milwaukee  Electric Tool Corp. 262-781-3600. www.milwaukeetool.com.
LIGHT WEIGHT: The new line of 18-volt lithium-ion drivers offers 50 percent more run time than nickel-cadmium batteries, the manufacturer says. In addition, the products have been completely reengineered to be smaller and lighter, but they deliver more torque and offer longer runtime than the previous models. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. 262-781-3600. www.milwaukeetool.com.

So why would pros need specialized products in their toolboxes? “It comes down to efficiency,” says Jason Feldner, public relations manager for Bosch. “The most efficient tool gets the job done quicker.” The I-Driver, for example, “has a 90-degree articulation, so it is designed for tight spaces such as electrical work between studs or for where things are already installed.”

Now that manufacturers have conquered power, the trick is balancing all of the other features that end users want: run time, comfort, and flexibility. Companies such as Norcross, Ga.–based Hitachi Power Tools and Brookfield, Wis.–based Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. are attempting to do just that.

Hitachi has introduced a steady stream of compact drills and impact wrenches that are ideal for small jobs such as hanging doors and installing cabinets, and Milwaukee has redesigned its 18-volt drivers to be lighter. Tool manufacturers are following the trend of just about every portable powered device by going smaller and more compact, Milwaukee says. Their goal is to make these tools easier to use, all day, every day.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, at www.builderonline.com or www.ebuild.com.