Impact drivers - really better ?

I admit to being a bit of a slave to new tools. I like new tools. I actually look for excuses to buy new tools. Now I've been reading about how great these new impact drivers are, and I'm sure I'm not the only one curious. A few questions for those in the know:
I can easily see one of these in my hand when I'm reaching over my head trying to drive a long screw, hanging a cabinet. But how about the casework itself ? I was reading on Woodweb, that several shops have gone exclusive for them - they use them for assembly and every other aspect around the shop.
Can you drill with them ? I mean pilots, c-sink etc ? Do they spin fast enough ?
Is it really a one tool do all ?
What's the down side ?
Preferred brand (and battery type) ? I was just looking around my garage and I see my 15.6 Panasonic batteries and charger, my Dewalt 18 XRP, batteries and charger, my makita batteries and charger - how many different batteries and chargers can a man stand without going insane ?
jim in fl (maybe I should forget this and just go get a Domino)
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I bought a Bosch driver a couple of summers ago, and think the world of it. It's lighter, quicker, shorter front to back, and does its thing really well.
It does not replace a good drill/driver for drilling. And my Bosch is not what you'd call subtle. It can bury a McFeeley's screw 1/4" deep in cabinet grade maple plywood, if I'm not careful.
But well worth the money, and the extra battery charger, and all.
By the way, you can own a Domino AND an impact driver. It's only money.
Patriarch
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Jim Bailey wrote:

<snip>
Except for the new (and $$$$) Makita, you can't specify a torque setting, so all control of drive depth is up to the user.
They start spinning fairly fast, then kick over to impact mode when there is enough resistance. You can't start a screw at a nice slow speed.
When they're in impact mode they're pretty loud.
Chris
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You can with my Panasonic impact driver (also expensive). It includes a digital clutch, three impact settings, and has another setting "snug up" that turns the screw between one quarter and three quarters turns more.

Mine starts slowly, unlike the Panasonic drill that starts a little fast.

The Panasonic is loud in impact mode too. The tool seems loose, but I'm sure it's designed that way.

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On Mon, 09 Jul 2007 20:05:25 -0400, Jim Bailey wrote:

I've had mine for several years. It is great. I've used it to hang cabinets and to build cabinets. Takes a few screws to get the feel of it, but I don't have any issue with over-driving screws. I've got the Makita and also a Makita drill. Same voltage, same charger, almost the same battery (2.0 AH vs 2.4 AH) so they are inter-changeable.
Don't know about other brands.
A few cautions:
They are loud, wear hearing protection. I've broken both screws and drivers, so buy good quality on both. They can drill, and switch to impact once the torque goes up. They do a poor job of drilling, so I just have a drill with counter sink handy.
D. G. Adams
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This is going to come as a shock to some - I picked up a Ryobi 18V impact driver, two batteries and a charger - on sale at the local Borg. Total was around $150, the pound - inches rating was up there with Bosch and Makita which go for $100 to $150 more. The Borg was sneaky though - the driver without a battery or charger - was around $80. Couldn't use the tool without the additional outlay of $70 for the batteries and charger. "Oh, if you already own one or more Ryobi you don't need more batteries and another charger."
This thing doesn't have a three or four jaw chuck but rather a built in quick release thing that takes the notched 6 sided base bits and drills - so you can't use a simple twist drill bit or anyting with a round shank. Don't now about the set up with other impact drivers.
The one I have has variable speed, and unlike my Panasonic cordless drills, has good torque at low rpms so starting screws or lag bolts is no problem. The variable speed control is pretty good - a range of speeds you can control without thinking about it. The high end of the rpm range works fine for drilling and counter sinking.
The LED could be handy when working inside a piece of furniture - say install drawer guides - but is only on when the driver is running - which is too late. Would be nice if it came on and, if you kept squeezing the trigger, would begin driving.
As noted by another poster, this thing is louder than the Panasonic, but not loud enough to require hearing protection - if you've already lost 20 - 25% of your hearing ; ) .
charliel b
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My kitchen installer used the Ryobi impact driver and works pretty good. The problem I have with Ryobi is the batteries only last about two years and doesn't hold the charge as long as it should, perhaps that's why its $100-150 less that the more expensive brands.
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