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Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver
Very cool, well made and just as handy
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-5-2008
Bosch revisited their venerable PS20 Pocket Driver and made a few upgrades that make this already handy tool even more useful in the shop. I
have been using the first generation Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver in my shop since reviewing it in May of 2006 and it has been my go-to driver ever since. Until now anyway. The second generation Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver is well on its way to taking over the top spot in my cordless tool drawer....
In the Box
The Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver kit reviewed here comes packaged with the driver, two 12V Max Litheon battery packs, the 30-minute charger, two bits and an instruction manual. Bosch also includes a nice canvas carry bag/case that makes finding everything at the same time way easy. Bosch makes a habit of supplying these canvas carry bags with many of their tools (when they apply) and it is a refreshing change from the blow-molded cases so many of us throw away.
Same "Old" Cool Design
Making the jump from the first generation Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver is the thoughtful, ergonomic design that truly makes the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver a hand-friendly pocket-sized driver. At 6 1/2"-long and weighing in (with battery) at only 1LB 13OZ this really is a pocket-capable tool. When a postal scale is needed to get an accurate weight of a woodworking tool you know it's "bulk" isn't going to wear you out.
The grip area is ergonomically designed to be comfortable to your hand. Chalk up another gold star for the engineers because the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver actually is very comfortable to use. The rubber overmold in the grip area gives both a very secure, slip-free grip while cushioning any vibration that might come from the fastener being worked with. There is no vibration coming from the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver itself.
The controls are easy to reach and use. A simple slider button above the trigger controls the forward and reverse directions. It also has an Off position when left in the middle detent. This can help prevent the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver from running in the carry bag.
The trigger is a real variable speed switch. Controlling rpm is easy as is maintaining a slow speed for starting a screw. Despite it's small overall size, the trigger throw on the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver is long enough to give you full control over rpm.
Stepping Up the Battery Claims
One of the first things Bosch did was to increase battery power rating from 10.8V to 12V. In a press release on the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver Bosch states, "The change is due to lithium ion battery voltage ratings that have been adopted in the marketplace since Bosch first introduced its ultra-compact Litheon products in 2006. The new terminology, which replaces 10.8V, is meant to reduce confusion in the marketplace by clearly identifying tools that are rated at maximum voltage (i.e. 12V) rather than nominal voltage (i.e. 10.8V) by using the "Max" designator. Bosch's 12V Max Litheon batteries are 100% compatible with all past and future Bosch ultra-compact tools."
I know that sounds like double-talk but my experience with the older 10.8V Lithium packs suggests that Bosch did not have to increase the available power. I still can't remember when I last charged the packs in my older Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver. And, I have never felt that the old Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver lacked battery power in any way.
I think this is simply Bosch bringing the marketing verbiage in line with what has become the industry standard. What I admire about this bit of in-your-face marketing is that Bosch is telling you something up front that most others are hoping you won't notice.
The new 12V Max Litheon(tm) battery still refreshes in a quick 30-minutes using the included charger. The actual use life in the shop is remarkable, especially when you see how small and light this pack is. I have no clue how they get that much power out of these little batteries, but they do and my old packs from 2006 show absolutely no sign of wearing down despite being used constantly in my shop. I think Bosch has this battery thing figured out.
Bigger Speed & Torque
I don't know if Bosch actually asked anyone or just made the safe assumption that woodworkers wanted more power. However they arrived at
the decision, there is another 25-percent-worth of torque and operating speed to keep us happy. The Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver now features 100 inch-pounds of torque and a 0 to 500-RPM operating speed. The first generation Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver didn't seem to lack power so this increase should rule out even perceived deficiencies for even the most power-hungry of users.
The Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver comes with the quick-release, tool-free chuck that accepts the 1/4" Hex-shank bits that are virtually the industry standard these days. The chuck uses a simple sliding sleeve to install and remove bits. This is a trouble-free design so there was no change needed or made there.
However, Bosch did add a magnetic insert (presently the only one in this class) within the chuck that helps retain steel bits and screws. This is a nice touch that will probably be more helpful than you realize. This kind of feature works silently and the only thing you might notice is that you are dropping fewer screws or bits. Go ahead and credit your inexplicably improved dexterity but know that it is the Bosch engineer who slipped the magnetic part into the chuck that is really responsible.
The 11-position clutch is operated with a twist ring just behind the chuck. Actually, there are 10 slip positions and a lock-up setting for drilling. The clutch ring has easy-to-read markings as well as dents at each position. The clutch settings appear to repeat very well when returning to a particular setting. This allows the user to get used to which setting works best for them in common situations.
The Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver has an LED light below the chuck that comes on when the trigger is pulled. I have to admit that I initially thought that a headlight was pure fluff on the first generation Bosch PS20 Pocket Driver. After I began using it, my opinion changed quickly. I don't know if it is my 50-something eyes but the LED light actually does come in handy far more often than I thought. Here again, the Bosch engineers knew what I needed before I did.
In the Shop
Testing the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver was simple. I charged it up and put it on the bench where I could grab it whenever I needed to drive a fastener. Since getting the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver in the shop, it became my first choice for driving most fasteners. It has plenty of power to handle virtually any screw I use and the charge lasts way longer than my memory. I cannot remember when I charged the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver battery last or when it needed charging. I know I have recharged both battery packs that came with the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver at least once despite often standing at the bench and running screws in and out for no other purpose than to use this tool some more for the evaluation.
In every situation I could think of, the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver performed perfectly. I never felt lacking for power or control. The variable speed trigger is very easy to use and control. The motor, despite it's apparently tiny size is strong and consistent throughout the battery life. It seems that the battery runs out and the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver slows down all at the same time. If you notice decreased power, just go get the other battery pack.
The Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver is a very handy, well-made and cleverly designed tool that virtually any woodworker will enjoy having in the shop. It fits into small spaces yet packs plenty of power to handle nearly all of your driving needs. And, Bosch is sure enough of its quality that they cover the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver with their 3-year ProVantage warranty.
I know that somebody is going to ask if I don't specifically say - Yes. It does fit in a pocket. Just why you would put a driver in your pocket, I dunno. But it does fit in most pockets I have on me when woodworking. It is kind of tight in my 'jammies though....
With a street price of $115.95 (8-05-2008) the Bosch PS20-2A Pocket Driver is not going to break the budget. It will be a frequently used tool that will please today and for many years to come. That makes the cost-per-use ridiculously small.
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