When you first use any new tool, it is a highly exciting moment. A new tool represents new possibilities and new convenience. Now it’s going to be easier, quicker and more enjoyable than ever to do the work that you do every day.

There’s a tangible excitement when you open it up out of the packaging then and many of us will feel like kids on Christmas morning as we flick through the instruction manual, toss it to one side and then get to work.

But what follows is always going to be one of two emotions: abstract joy and excitement at having found a tool that really does the job… or disappointment and dismay when you realize that the new tool you’re working with is clunky, awkward and underpowered.

The problem is that you don’t know which it is going to be until you get the tool home. Even in a highstreet store, you can’t try it out until you get to this point! And that’s where we come in.

So when you get the Hitachi M12VC out of its packaging and set it to work on a piece of wood, can you expect your heart to sink or to jump for joy? Let’s find out…

Taking a closer look…

The Hitachi M12VC is off to a good start on appearances alone, although I would say that it has the slight look of a lawnmower about it…

That aside, this is a tool that looks and feels well made, is solid in the hands and that has an ergonomic design. The handles on each side offer a firm grip and are satisfying to hold and to move the tool around.

Once you actually turn the thing on, you should have no problem at all in terms of power. This thing can really dig and at 2-1/4 peak HP, you’re going to blaze a trail through any kind of wood or many other materials. This is quite simply a much more powerful tool that it has any right to be for the price or for the size. We’ve worked with similar tools in the past that cost a lot more and they’ve been nowhere near as powerful. So well done Hitachi!

What’s also very welcome is variable speed control. We always love to see this and this is no different. That allows you to switch power to suit a range of different materials and when you combine that with the smooth electronic speed control, you have a very versatile and capable tool.

All that would be enough on its own but you also get a useful 2-stage motor release clamp for easy base changes and depth adjustments and ‘class leading noise levels’. Specifically, this is only 79.5dB, so you should still be able to hear your music over the sound of your work. That’s not going to be a big issue for most people but it’s certainly not a bad thing to have!

The good, the bad…the ugly…

In terms of features, this is a tool that seems to do it all for a fraction of the price of the competition. Now, if you’re at all cynical and jaded like this reviewer, then the question in your mind might be: what’s the catch?

Well, while the reviews are good, it would seem this tool isn’t quite perfect. And in our reviews and testing, we found a few issues too with collets releasing bits. It’s also important to inspect carbon brushes for wear regularly, otherwise you can cause unwanted damage. The plunge base is a little stiff when you first get it too.

So what’s the verdict?

It’s a hard one to judge because in terms of power and performance, it has got everything you could want for the price. The problem is with the user experience, which is just lacking compared with similar models and similar products. That makes it a little hard to recommend wholeheartedly, as there’s just more work involved here than there should be. This is simply part and parcel of getting something that is very much a budget tool punching above its weight. Corners had to be cut somewhere presumably and this is why the tool isn’t quite as smooth or pleasant to use as perhaps it could be if it were a little more expensive.