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A trip through the archives of Tools in Action and ToolGuyd displays how far the cordless tool market has come in the past decade or so.  Early articles on each site capture the look of the 2008-2011 tool market, and there are many gems that cover the tools available back then--established brands, new products, and optimistic predictions of what the future would look like.  Well, it's the future, and I'd venture to say that few of us expected the cordless job site to look like it does now back in the dark days of 2009.  The tools have gotten smaller, smarter and become brushless, and a number of brands have cut the cord on tools that necessitated a generator or other power source just a few years ago.  Not everything has changed, though, as Ryobi One+ was already over a decade old and the M12 and M18 lines were getting off to a decent start.  DeWalt, on the other hand wouldn't release 12v Max tools until 2010, with 20v Max coming about a year later.


Anyway, the point of this thread is to examine exactly how the cordless tool market has changed since 2008.  If you have the time, share a few articles from way back when along with anything you want to add.

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To start, consider the early TIA reviews of the Milwaukee V28 combo kit.  Eric reviewed each tool separately as well, and linked them all to each other.  Given the time stamps of the comments I think these reviews were written in Fall 2008.  Now, this was before I had a need (or desire) for cordless tools so I can't speak from experience, but opinions seem mixed at best, with users liking the power while berating the longevity of the batteries.  


Well, lo and behold, there's this subsequent article and, for a time stamp, this one.


Less than two years after the original TIA review, Milwaukee revamped their 28v line.  Ten years later, M28 still seems to be around, but where's the marketing?  It seems that Milwaukee has chosen to put most of the effort into M12 and M18, making it doubly painful for those who traded V28 for M28.  Anyone own either 28v line of tools?  Do you think M28 will be around in another ten, or even five, years?

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Meanwhile, 9.5 years ago, ToolGuyd offered a preview of the recently announced DeWalt 12v Max line.


At the time, no one would guess that the seven tools in the preview were to comprise the bulk of the 12v Max collection for almost nine years.  A pivoting reciprocating saw and a few lasers would later be released, and some accessories such as radios/speakers, heated gear, and USB power source could use 12v Max batteries, but as everyone here knows, the system sat stagnant while Milwaukee continued pumping out M12 products and cornering the market in the US.  


Nearly nine years after announcing the 12v Max line, Dewalt announced a massive update to the tools in form of the Xtreme subcompact series


Too little too late?  Perhaps, I still have my original 12v Max tools but caved in and bought into M12.  At the moment, Milwaukee offers larger and more varieties of batteries, several generations of both brushed and brushless (Fuel) tools, and prominent end cap displays at The Home Depot.  DeWalt offers better ergonomics, chargers and radios that are compatible with all 12-60v Max batteries--from the old 1.3Ah 12v to the 12Ah FlexVolt--and a dominant presence at Lowe's where their largest competition seems to be their sister company Craftsman.


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TTI isn't the only corporation guilty of having some missteps (see V28 post above).  Stanley Black and Decker (SB&D) not only neglected their 12v Max DeWalt line, but also released a rather decent (in my opinion) 18v line of tools, only to toss it to the side a few years later.  Around a year after they launched, ToolGuyd did an assessment of Porter Cable's 18v lineup as they seemed to have replaced B&D Firestorm tools at Lowe's.

A few years later, Dan announced a giveaway of the PC 18v drill TIA had reviewed the previous month.  Well, a year after the giveaway, Porter Cable 20v Max tools were getting ready to make 18v obsolete.  I'll be honest, this was both a blessing and a curse for me.  My first lithium-ion tools were the PC 18v line and they are what turned me into a bit of a tool addict while providing a crash course into the tool market.  Not knowing how tool trends worked and the habits of manufacturers as they make room for new products, I eagerly bought every 18v tool I could find.  I even jumped on the PC 12v Max wagon.  The tools were on clearance at both Lowe's and military exchanges, and I had what I call a "project house" that I was renovating without electricity.  By the time I started buying DeWalt, I owned every PC 18v tool except for the grinder, thermometer, and hammer drill.  I also had five 1.3Ah batteries, offering a colossal 6.5Ah of power.  Yep, you read that right, SIX-POINT-FIVE COMBINED AMP-HOURS!


I used these tools for a number of projects long after this 18v Li-Ion system was killed.  My tool situation changed rapidly starting in 2016, though, as I bought into DeWalt and eventually into Ryobi, Ridgid, and Milwaukee.  I finally gave all of my Porter Cable tools to a young Drill Sergeant I worked with who was about to be medically retired.  For all I know, he's still using them.

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Eight years ago Eric posted about a new Kobalt drill, part of the 18v platform released in 2011.  Even so, battery technology was advancing at a seemingly unprecedented rate and the standard 1.3Ah-3.0Ah batteries were soon to be replaced by similarly sized 2.0Ah and 4.0Ah versions.  Also, Ni-Cad was in the process of being supplanted by Li-Ion, leading some brands to make transitional tools such as Kobalt and Porter Cable 18v, while others committed to releasing entire new platforms (DeWalt).  


In 2013, Kobalt updated the 18v line with a new name and upgraded batteries but little change to the tools themselves.  Three years later, Kobalt decided to ditch the 18v class altogether, with the announcement of 24v Max.  Now, with the influx of SBD Craftsman, the question is raised at to the fate of the traditional Lowe's house brand.


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