Pros: Performance, Quality, Price, Big kit has all essential tools
Cons: No Battery Meter, Radio needs more features, LED lights only on drill and driver
Model and Description:
Makita LXT702 7 Piece Lithium-Ion Combo Kit
Battery powered power tool kit
It was time for me to retire my 10 year old Dewalt 12V cordless drill and get one of the new more powerful and lighter Lithium-Ion(LION) power tool combo kits. These tools perform as good as many corded tools so a cordless combo kit made a lot of sense. In addition to great performance the convenience and practicality of cordless tools they are really the primary tools of choice. The major players in the industry are Makita, Dewalt, Ryobi, and Milwaukee, Black and Decker, Craftsman and a couple of others. Makita, Dewalt, Ryobi, and Milwaukee offer commercial great tools in roughly the same price range. At the low end you have Craftsman and Black and Decker who target the occasional homeowner power tool market. In my opinion spending the extra cash for a quality power tool is well worth it. The biggest draw to Makita was the ability to buy a very large kit at one time. Makita is the only company offering more than 5 commercial grade tools in one combo kit. In fact, you can really go nuts and get a 9, 12, or 15 piece kit. No other maker offers kits with this many tools. The real advantage here is when you have all of your tools using the same type of battery it will save money and space.
The final decision to buy the Makita LXT 702 was based primarily on the following.
•1) Makita had a mail in rebate for a free tool and a free extra battery so now it is really an 8 piece kit. However the promotion known as "Get into LXT" which offers a free tool has a selection 7 specific tools but, 5 of the 7 are already part of the kit so they would be duplications and the 6th tool is a hammer drill only marginally better than the one in the kit. This leaves only the blower tool as a unique add in tool. I selected the blower tool and I do not need to duplicate any tools in the kit.
•2) A local dealer (Sunrise Tool) in West Islip Long Island N.Y. sponsored a tool show with all of the mentioned manufacturers on hand who had the ability to demo the tools and sweeten the deal along with free lunch.
•3) The LXT702 kit had all the primary tools I wanted in one package.
•4) The LXT line is rapidly expanding so I know it will be around for a while and I can build on the platform.
This review is going to focus on the overall kit and why it was a good kit to buy rather than a detail review of each tool. I will however comment on overall performance and key features of the tools included with this kit. Look for detail reviews of each tool here on Epinions that I hope to post in the near future.
The LXT702 is based on the Makita 18V LION platform which seems to be the most popular voltage for combo kits from all the major manufacturers. This platform offers a great combination of power and weight for most uses. However some jobs are better suited for larger and heavier 24 and 36 volt tools. Makita offers over 30 different tools on the 18V LXT platform so you can really expand on this kit. One thing that Makita and the other makers have failed to do is expand into more garden and outdoor tools. Black and Decker has stepped up to the plate in this area but their tools are really targeted to homeowners and are far less durable and not designed for everyday use. I told all the reps at the show they should expand to include outdoor tools. I think they will eventually do it but not fast enough for me. It would be great to have an LXT Hedge trimmer, line Trimmer, Pole Saw and more. If they did, I would consider buying those tools as well.
The LXT702 kit includes the following tools:
Bag with Wheels
When I bought this kit Makita has a promotion that includes an extra battery and one extra tool(limited selection and I asked if there could be any substitutions for something not on the list and the rep said it could not be done. Really this was still a valuable promotion and brings the cost per tool down considerably.
I would like to see Makita also implement a battery meter (like the one on the Milwaukee) so you know how much juice is remaining in your battery. Think of going up a tall ladder to do something or quickly grab a tool and battery one the way to a work site only to find out your battery is just about done.
LXT Battery Performance:
All of the tools in this kit function as advertised and are comparable with the competition 18V LION lineups. The power is there and they all are very comfortable to use. What I did like about the Makita LXT system is the smart batteries that have an embedded chip that controls the heat and discharge of the battery for maximum use. In addition, the charger actually has a cooling fan to also regulate temperature while charging. Heat is hard on batteries so I think these are valuable features. I really like the fact that the batteries fully charge in 30 minutes so if you get caught with a discharged battery you can be back and working in short order. Of course, with a big kit it is always a good idea to have an extra battery. The kit comes with 2 batteries and the promotion for the 7 piece kit also included a 3rd battery. The bottom line is the batteries and charger for LXT tools offer plenty of power, reliability and durability.
A bit about the tools themselves:
All of the tools in the kit are well balanced and very close in weight to similar size tools offered by the competition. The Drill and the Impact Driver both has an LED light that lights up the work. It can be activated just by slightly pulling the trigger. It will stay on for 15 seconds. This is a very useful feature. The rest of the tools do NOT have a light. However the next model up for most tools in this series does. I think Makita should have put lights on all these tools as these tools are not low end.
The Hammer Drill is a mid size 18V unit and has plenty of torque. It will handle 99% of the things you would typically throw at a ½" hammer-drill. If you do a lot of masonry drilling you will want to get the bigger LXT Hammer Drill. For me I really do not have that requirement so I see no reason to go for a bigger drill. I have driven a few holes in concrete for railing studs and it did the job with no problem. The controls for Hammer/Drill, Torque, Direction are all very straight forward and feel very solid. This drill has an amazing amount of torque and you will feel it the first time you pull the trigger. If you are not used to these modern cordless drills you will be impressed.
The Circular Saw in the kit handled a 5 rips through a lengthwise sheets of ¾" plywood with no problem. I find this quite good for an 18V battery operated circular saw. In all fairness however I have seen the competitions similar sized products perform equally as well at the same type of task. I would like to see a laser point light added to this tool as I have seen on some other circular saws.
The Sawzall has a nice and easy blade switch setup so you do not need tools which is a nice feature. I used this tool to cut some PVC piping, cutouts in plywood, and cut through some old doorframes. It did all these jobs well. The main thing again here is for general use it will cover most jobs. If you plan to use it all day long you would be better off with a corded unit. This unit came with only one blade. I purchased a 12 blade multipack so I have a variety of blades handy. I would like to see Makita come out with a one handed sawzall like the one that Milwaukee makes. It would be a very handy tool.
One tool I was skeptical about is the impact driver. I was not sure how I would use it but I can tell you this is one tool that gets tons of use since it also works great as a screw driver or a compact drill(need an adapter or drill bits that fit the ¼" socket). I love the size, feel, and power of this tool. It can fit in tight spaces. This tool is getting a lot of use.
The Cutoff/Angle grinder can cut metal fairly quickly. This was also a tool that I was unsure of how I would find applications for it. You can get quite a variety of wheels to do a number of tasks with this tool. Users should read the instructions before using this tool and know how the various wheels are used as this is easily the most dangerous tool in the kit if you do not know exactly what you are doing. Having it in the tool bag and ready to go opened up a lot of opportunities to work with metal and take on tasks/projects that I just never really gave much thought to in the past.
Flashlight Tool is quite rugged and does a good job of illumination with the Xenon bulb. However I think it would be better to use a bank of LEDs that use less energy and provide powerful light. It is rugged enough and a simple light. It came with a fairly useless strap. I think a clip for a biner would be worthwhile so you can easily clip the light on something. A spare bulb is enclosed inside the light behind the lens which is a good idea.
The Radio is easily the tool that could use a ton of improvement. By adding a few key features the Radio can transition from simply a rugged boom box to essential tool. I think Makita should eliminate the AC adapter(just something extra to carry around) and use a standard ac plug that can be removed(like they use on computers). Next they should add integrated battery charger to the site radio tool. Also an auxiliary AC outlet that would be active when the radio is plugged in. How about a weather Radio band. Workers who are working outside would really benefit with a weather warning capability. This radio is a tool that usually remains stationary when working on a job so it would be a huge plus. It also means that the normal charger can remain at the home location rather than carry it to every job. Makita could easily add features to the radio that can offer significant utility to the kit with minimal design changes. The screw in antenna works well but again this is the kind of thing that is easily broken or lost. These days an integrated antenna should not be a problem. Maybe even add an extra ac outlet and 12V auto outlet on the radio for charging cell phones. If Makita made these changes to the worksite radio it would also become a "must have" tool at the worksite.
The charger does its job and the cooling fan to keep battery temperatures down will prolong battery life.
The bag that can with the kit is large enough to stuff everything into. It has lots of pockets but the internal pockets could have been thought out a bit better. The inside pockets should be designed to hold loose items like blades, batteries and other small items. The bag came equipped with luggage type wheels(good idea) and a luggage type retractable handle. The handle is flimsy and I do not expect it to last. It would have been far better to sew in a heavy strap to use when pulling along on the wheels. There is also a shoulder strap included which I use to carry the loaded bag. The top handle/straps are wide and strong so there is a way to carry the bag the traditional way.
Quality and Support
I am lucky to have a full service tool dealer in my area to help me out. I cannot tell you how valuable a good local tool dealer is. They have a better selection than Home Depot or Lowes and will be able to find the right tool for your needs. I would not buy these tools on-line as I like the idea of handling the tool to judge its performance, quality of materials/workmanship, and overall feel of the tool.
I also liked being able to chat with the reps at the show that was held at the store. I was able to also speak with reps from the other companies and see them show off their products. These reps and the shop employees know the products very well. However when I pointed out the few things that could be improved(eg: battery meter and integrating the charger into the radio) I felt the message would not really get back to Makita engineering. In all fairness I had the same impression from the other reps as well. In my opinion it is essential for a company to listen to its customers. In this industry the competition is fierce and the focus is on selling the technology. To get ahead of the competition a company needs to run with the things that will put them ahead of the others.
I called Makita for some questions on this kit and the phone system was simple, easy to navigate and I had a clear speaking knowledgeable rep on the phone in less than 5 minutes. The rep obviously had experience using the tools and was able to understand my questions and provide honest and accurate responses instantly. I was quite impressed and feel this kind of support is essential for an industry that provides products that usually are used by folks that depend on them to make a living.
The instructions for each tool are well written and easy to follow. I do think it would be helpful however to have more detail when it comes to using the tools. A little goes a long way so a few more tips regarding usage would be an improvement.
Perhaps instead of all the marketing hype on Makita's web site they could offer a few videos showing details proper/safe usage and ideas for use of the tools in an instructional format.