Pros: Powerful for its size, light weight, longer use without recharging batteries.
Cons: Reverse/forward tab switches directions accidentally and too often. Recharging temperatures critical.
The stock batteries only lasted about a year. After doing some research it appears this is a predictable event. It has something to do with an electronic monitoring chip that draws power from one of the individual batteries in the cell pack. If left uncharged for several weeks-months the one dead or low cell tells the "Optimum Charger" there's a faulty battery and will not charge the cell pack. In November 2012 I decided to go with an upgrade, purchasing a 2-pack of the 2 Makita BL1830. I'll update the performance and reliabilty of these later. So far, Sept 29 2013 they are doing very well.
The Makita LCT200W combo kit includes the following:
2-speed ½ inch Drill Driver - ¼ inch Impact Driver - 2 (18volt 1.5 Ah) Lithium Ion Batteries - Rapid Optimum Charger - Contractor Carrying Bag (no bits) :(
A friend of mine was bragging about how well his Makita combo kit was working out and let me borrow it for the day. As he handed me the drill my first impression was how much smaller and lighter weight in comparison to my older 6 lb Ryobi's were. Before embarking on an upcoming project I decided to buy the LCT200W kit for myself. I'm into my 4th week of ownership and must say this combo kit is hands down the most versatile cordless drill and impact driver I've ever used. My experience has only lead to one disappointment, the reverse/forward tab. I'm a lefty plus due to the location of the mechanism and what little effort it took to switch modes, I found myself having to reset the switch dozens of times. I should mention that it usually happened while bearing down, installing deck screws.
Now the good stuff:
What set the Makita from the rest of the pack are its features. Keyless chucks are nothing new but how about being able to change a bit with one hand? Believe me, this helps in a big way, especially while you're 8 ft in the air on a wobbling ladder. Also I'm impressed with the ease in securing drill bits or hexed drive tips with the ratcheting chuck one handed. Not once did a drill bit spin in the chuck, nor did any bit become loose. Next would be the 18 volt Lithium Ion batteries. I was able to run mine intermittently all day without having to recharge, in fact after about 60 2.5 inch deck screws it never even slowed down. Getting up to a full charge is advertised to be 15 minutes and that's what I experienced. If a power source is unavailable or downtime an issue I honestly see no need purchasing the higher capacity 3.0 Ah (amp hour) batteries but possibly just a spare instead. I did fine by just switching out the battery in the impact driver.
Another unique feature on both the ¼ inch impact driver and ½ inch driver-drill is the rubber incorporated into the plastic outer housing. It's not only ergonomic and comfortable, it's functional. After nailing in the roof sheathing I anchored facia boards to the outer edge with deck screws. Laying down the drill gun on smooth plywood with a 20 degree slope would have most other makes sliding off and hitting the concrete below, not the Makita.
I've only used the impact driver to install about a dozen ¼ X 6 inch lag bolts. The torque and speed was more than sufficient, very impressive for its size. Although not magnetic, the ¼ drive hex head has a spring loaded coupling that locks in hex bits with reset shanks.
The Charger & Batteries:
Quite unique, fully automatic, warning-status lights and even has a cooling fan. I read a few consumer reviews in which the owners complained of having battery problems, more so in colder weather. I'll be sure and update if this or anything else happens. Just a heads up but the instruction manual mentions: Do not charge battery cartridge when temperature is BELOW 10° C (50°F) or ABOVE 40°C (104°F)
The Carrying Bag:
Decent quality and room for a few more accessories. I've got a 70 piece Hitachi drill kit plus a Makita Extension Kit.
A power drill with a headlight?
I have to mention the LED "headlight" on both the driver and impact gun. I was replacing some old power outlets in an unlit hallway and the built in light really helped. The light (located just above the trigger) comes on the instant you engage the trigger, then turns off automatically after 10-15 seconds.
For you contractors or serious DIY's:
My next accessory is a decent tool belt. There's a study metal clip on the base in which to hang your driver and impact. I haven't tested this feature but I'm sure it's handy one.
Technical details from Makita:
2-speed 1/2-inch driver-drill (0-400/0-1,500 RPM) delivers 450 in./lbs. of max torque and weighs only 3.5 lbs.
Variable-speed impact driver (0-2,300 RPM) provides 1,280 in./lbs. of max torque and weighs only 2.8 lbs.
Both tools feature a built-in LED light and an ergonomic shape for even pressure and easy control
Includes 2 compact lithium-ion batteries and Energy-Star-rated 15-minute rapid charger
3-year warranty on tools; 1-year warranty on batteries and charger.
While not a serious concern, I believe my last Makita power tool said: "Made in Japan". I was somewhat surprised to see "Made in China"
We'll have to see.
Price paid: $225 US