We aren’t going to deny, we have been pretty big fans of the Bosch PB360S ($199 w/Free 18V Battery, Ohio Power Tool) & PB360D (Deluxe model). I guess that’s what happens when you can actually play corn hole for hours with the radio itself (see PowerBox Toss) while it plays music. This is a pretty impressive task, not to be taken lightly when it comes to durability. The new Makita LXRM03 ($149, Amazon) has some positive and negatives vs the Bosch radio which we will go over here as well as in the video below.
Our Beef with Power Tool Radios
The first question we always ask with any 12v or 18v jobsite radio is “Does it charge the batteries?” Here the Makita radio does get some points off because not only can it not charge the batteries, but the power cord is a pretty wimpy afterthought that could get damaged or lost on a busy jobsite. The Bosch does charge the battery as well as provide 4 additional outlets (GFCIs on Deluxe PB360D), which is very useful on any jobsite. First point to the Blue Team.
One area of weakness we have found over the years with the Bosch is that if not plugged in the Bosch batteries will drain in a week or two. You can remedy this by disconnecting the batteries but still leaving them inside the battery compartment, when not in use. The Makita, on the other hand, went about 3 weeks and still had plenty of juice left. This is a big plus for users planning on using the radio cordless most of the time.
Tipping the Scales
The Bosch Radio makes no apologies for its massive 25.45 lbs weight and fairly large size; we’ve had more people think it’s a generator than a radio. Honestly, we’d love to see a Power Box 2000 with a nice inverter generator inside, but that’s another topic. Where the Makita does shine is its compact 10.4 lbs design that is very handy for transport. The Makita radio is well constructed and we would feel very comfortable about it lasting for years in the back of a full construction van taking all sorts of dents & dings. The Bosch radio has already proven itself to the point we might say over engineered, but the last thing we are concerned about is a fall off the truck or a little mud.
We were very impressed with the sound quality of the new Makita, a very clean nice sound that we think does justify a premium. All the way up to the max “25” level it sounds excellent. The Bosch also does a great job of producing a high quality sound, which is certainly helped by the subwoofer in the base (only subwoofer on a jobsite radio). The Bosch does have a normal distortion we’d expect at their max “20” level. Typically we never use the Bosch above 17 or 18 to keep a clean sound. In the video you can see the Bosch does produce a higher dB rating at about 6 ft away, but it is not so significant.
Jobsite vs Non-Jobsite Use
Sure we call these jobsite radios but they are also ideal at the beach, camping, kickball tournaments (see rain or shine post), and any other outdoor events that will primarily run off the tool battery. When you take away the jobsite aspect and think about this radio for personal use the Makita really starts to look even more appealing. The compact size and lightweight design makes it a breeze to travel with and the iPhone dock (4 not 5) on the top makes it very easy to access playlists, skip songs, change Pandora stations etc. With the Bosch radio the iPhone is tucked away inside the weather proof compartment and can’t easily be accessed. If you are in the middle of putting up sheet rock on the jobsite you might not care about skipping songs anyway.
And the Winner is?
This is a tough call we probably can’t make for everyone, but it’s hard to get over the lack of battery charging ability with the Makita. That being said, if we were headed to the beach this afternoon we would probably grab the Makita. The Bosch has found a permanent spot in our workshop and there it will probably stay as we have really gotten used to the easy access to fully charged batteries and outlets now at bench level. Hopefully this post and video helps you make the call. When the new Dewalt radio hits the market later this year we will certainly revisit the subject.