Over the last 22 years I’ve had the best job in the world. Power tool and electronics manufacturers send me their latest gear, I use it in my work as a carpenter, cabinetmaker and digital media creator, then I tell readers how it all works in words, photos and videos.
Every once in a long while I discover products that separate themselves from the competition because they do new things in new ways. It happened again late last year and I’m still delighted by what I found.
Ryobi entered the tool scene in the early 1980s, and since then it’s aimed to deliver the best combination of quality and price. There are sometimes better tools that are much more expensive, and cheaper tools that perform much worse. Their new TEK4 line delivers excellent value, and is the most obvious example of how Ryobi’s definition of “good” keeps on rising. But as impressed as I am, a guy named Ken Brazell is the reason I’m not surprised.
I’ve only met Ken once, briefly, at a tool event in June 2005.
In a crowd of professional schmoozers, he was different — a real tool guy. He was also high up in the Ryobi design team, and that fact kept me watching the brand.
I hadn’t heard from Ken for nearly five years, but the quality of TEK4 got me thinking that he must still be involved. I checked. He is.
TEK4 is a collection of eleven, economically priced cordless devices built to use the same 4-volt, rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
“Device” is definitely a better word to use here than tools, because the TEK4 line includes things you wouldn’t expect from a power tool manufacturer.