Invented in the 1950s, the humble leaf blower has pretty much made the broom obsolete when it comes to sweeping away leaves. Despite its name, the sole purpose in life isn't just limited to blowing leaves off your driveway - rather, leaf blowers - or just blowers for short, can be used for a myrid of other applications such as to quickly rid a jobsite of debris, to quickly cool down machinery prior to speed up servicing (thus reducing downtime) or even in car detailing to quickly blow off the bulk of water off the car. You could probably even use it as a hair drier for your Golden Retriever.

Today, we're looking at the Hitachi RB 40VA blower. Equipped with a 550-watt motor and weighing in at 1.7kg, the RB 40 VA has a no-load speed of 16,000rpm with a claimed air volume flow of 3.8m³/min and a variable air pressure output of 0 - 5.5kPa (your car tyre pressure by comparison is at 200kPa), making the RB 40VA twice as powerful as a similar-sized and similarly priced cordless air blower (minus the battery) and literally (well, almost) blows them away.

While you don't have to worry about maintaining a battery pack, the downside with a corded blower is finding a power outlet or having a long enough extension to reach all your compound. In our tests, the RB 40VA is a compact and fairly well-designed unit, and despite its claimed 1.7kg, feels lighter than it is. We also appreciate the fact that Hitachi coated the handle with a layer of soft, grippy rubber to improve grip and comfort.

Party trick: Variable trigger with variable output dial.
Hitachi actually offers two models; the RB 40VA and the RB 40SA. The RB 40SA is exactly the same unit as the RB 40VA minus the variable switch and is some RM50 cheaper.

Hitachi didn't just leave the variable switch as is, they incorporated a dial into the trigger, much like their D 10VC3 drill, which allows you to lock and incrementally adjust the air volume up or down via the dial - giving you not just more flexibility in the usage of the RB 40VA but also makes it significantly quieter and would also save you wear on the carbon brushes in the long run, so we feel the variable switch is well worth the asking price.

Speaking of which, the brushes (part number 999021) are also easily accessible on both sides of the motor with a 10 Sen coin.

Plastic nozzle and dust bag.
While most of the competition would use a rubber nozzle, Hitachi equipped the RB 40VA with a plastic nozzle. Hitachi also included a dust bag, which when attached to the exhaust port, turns the RB 40VA into a mini vacuum cleaner. However we feel sucking debris through a high-rpm turbine isn't an ideal solution and manufacturers offer it more as a marketing bulletpoint - if you need a vacuum cleaner, get a vacuum cleaner.

The Hitachi RB 40VA is a very specific tool with a very narrow job focus. We like the RB 40VA for its high performance in a compact and lightweight design.

Air Pressure: 0-5.5kPa
Air Volume Flow: 0-3.8 m3/min.
Power Input: 550W
No Load Speed: 0-16,000min.
Overall Length: 447mm
Weight: 1.7kg