4. Black and Decker 3.6V Lithium SmartDriver
The mighty mouse in the bunch was the B&D SmartDriver. With only 3.6 V, it was the smallest in the test, but after our thorough evaluation, if all you need is an ultracompact screwdriver, this would be the best choice. So why did it come in Fourth Place? It's a matter of juice, and the other drill/drivers at the price point have considerably more juice. It may be small, but the SmartDriver is packed with features, such as the magnetic and retractable screw guide, a blue LED light, and 11-piece bit/accessories kit. Feeling natural in your hand, the SmartDriver worked well in the light-duty tests, but the forward/reverse selector is a little cumbersome. Unique to this unit, the screwdriver rests/charges in a cradle and can be wall-mounted. Looking at both the Black and Decker models, we couldn't justify spending $10 more on this unit compared to its larger 7.2V cousin.
5. Craftsman 4.0V Lithium-Ion Screwdriver
Craftsman has several different cordless screwdrivers in its lineup, however, this is the only Lithium-ion–powered unit that fell in the under-$50 category. With a ¼-inch quick-release hex coupler, it accepts all ¼-inch size shank bits, which are very common, but it also limits you to using bits with that shank. Features included a two-speed gearbox, 24-position clutch, and forward/reverse toggle switch instead of a selector switch. The light and compact screwdriver worked well in light-duty use, but as soon as we asked more of it, there wasn't a positive response from the screwdriver. After each torture test, we also noticed an odd smell coming from the electric motor as if it was ready to tap out. For around the house use, this unit may just fill the bill, but for the garage or shop, we'd look elsewhere.
6. Ryobi 4.0V Lithium-Ion Screwdriver
Heading to Home Depot to see what options they had, we were pleasantly surprised to see Ryobi's new TEK4 line of 4.0V tools with interchangeable batteries. Once we tested the unit, we weren't impressed. Anything above “light-duty” drilling stopped the TEK4 dead in its tracks, and much like the Craftsman, the ¼-inch chuck is nice for those size bits, but it does limit things. The 24-position clutch is easily adjustable, and it has a convenient forward/reverse switch, along with a two-speed motor, but those features can't take away from the testing results. It finished last in each test. We've had great experiences with Ryobi tools in the past, but this compact screwdriver wasn't one of them.