Cordless screwdrivers get jobs done quickly and easily. This tool is a must for any home, and many tradespeople (like woodworkers and electricians) say they prefer them on small jobs to heavier drill/drivers. "Their compact size minimizes hand fatigue and provides better access to tight quarters," says Bob Hunter of Wood magazine. If you will only be buying one tool to meet both your drilling and driving needs, experts say it's best to get a drill/driver. Find out which drill/drivers are the best in our cordless drill report.
One of the biggest differences between cordless screwdriver models (also called drivers or subcompacts) is power. Torque -- a measure of how strong the driver can twist -- is a basic indicator of how powerful the tool is. However, experts say that real-world performance varies among drivers with similar ratings. Instead of relying on manufacturer claims, it is more valuable to find out how powerful the pros and consumers find the drivers after extensive testing or with regular use.
Two body styles are available: pistol grip and straight. Drivers with a pistol grip feel more like a drill and can make it easier to sink tough hardware. Some drivers use an articulating hinge, allowing you to adjust the body from straight to angled, which makes working in cramped quarters easier.
The best drivers have enough power to sink long screws and drill holes. Expect to spend around $100 for a 10.8- or 12-volt driver that features two lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries (one to use and a spare), a carrying case and a charger. These models have more clutch settings, greater torque and faster rpms than cordless screwdrivers with smaller motors, and can tackle bigger jobs.
An inexpensive screwdriver is a better option for small household tasks: For around $30 to $50, you can buy a cordless screwdriver with less powerful motor (3.6 or 6 volts are common). These often use a built-in nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery and come with a charger. The best budget picks have a built-in LED light, a place to store your bits on the driver and more powerful Li-ion batteries.
ConsumerSearch has analyzed a number of expert reviews and hundreds of owner reviews to evaluate cordless screwdrivers and budget cordless screwdrivers by power, batteries, recharge time and features. The result is our pick for the cordless drill for any job, big or small.