Well it seems like a pretty simple idea, a jobsite radio that would run off a power tool battery and actually charge if it were plugged in. Unfortunately some patents have kept several of the tool brands from realizing this dream, Milwaukee being one of them… until now. While the New M18 Radio 2792-20 ($229, Ohio Power Tool) can be preordered today, you’re not going to find it under any Christmas trees this year sadly, as it won’t ship until February 2014. Here is the first look at what will no doubtable be a very hot seller for the red team.
This unit is very up to date on the latest technology trends which include Bluetooth that will work up to 100’ away from the radio. Of course it doesn’t stop there as the USB port in the storage compartment is 2.1Amp which means it can charge larger electronics such as tablets. The weather proof storage box is also large enough for newer smart phones (Confirm fit on Samsung Galaxy S4) when closed but when open also provides a nice ledge to place multiple smart phones or even a tablet. The radio can be used as a charging station in both AC or DC mode, powered off the M18 batteries. This is a great way to supplement your charging needs when away from a traditional power source.
Sound quality is another big area that has been criticized for other power tool radio units, as listening while charging a battery can create a buzz on AM/FM frequencies. We gave it a listen and could not hear any difference between charging and not. The new Milwaukee digital processor tuner also claims the best reception accuracy and clarity but we were not able to drive it around town to test it out completely. It did sound pretty good on most of the major stations where we were.
The unit features 4 speakers (looks to be 2 tweeters, 2 mid) which are all on the front of the radio. The speakers point up and out so should work very well on the floor or sitting on a table pointed in the direction of the listeners. The new design gives it a look more like a guitar amp which we like, it also feels well balanced when carrying and should store very nicely as well. Of course it has a heavy duty roll cage and it wouldn’t be a Milwaukee radio without a bottle opener on the side!
How Does it Stack Up Against the Competition?
There are now several jobsite radios out there, at least 2 from each major brand but the dominant players with built-in charging are the Bosch Power Box PB360S ($169) and the Dewalt 12V/20V DCR015 ($175). Another notable competitor is the Makita LXRM03 ($138) but it doesn’t charge their batteries. The Milwaukee stacks up very well, as you might expect from the newest kid on the block, it takes advantage of the latest cutting edge technology trends which give it several advantages.
The Bluetooth will be huge for many users but even some of the simple details like accommodating Tablets with USB 2.1 and large resting area are very smart. The competitors have trouble accommodate smart phones bigger than an iPhone 4 but that was what was popular when those units were designed. This pretty much makes the storage compartments worthless for newer smart phone users. The Makita even built in an iPhone 4 docking station which was awesome… when we were using the iPhone 4.
The Milwaukee one noticeable shortcoming is the lack of additional power outlets which both the Bosch and DeWalt do have but that is pretty easy to fix with a $4 power adaptor. The Milwaukee is also on the heavier side around 18 lbs with the battery. This is considerably more than the Makita, just shy of 11 lbs and just over the Dewalt in the 16 lbs range. The only one that outweighs it is the Bosch, which thanks to the built in sub-woofer tops the scales around 25 lbs.
The Milwaukee guitar amp style design does create a very well balanced unit so it does feel easy to carry. Check out some of our recent posts comparing the Bosch vs Makita Radios as well as both new Dewalt Radios to get more competitive info.
This radio is really very nice and we think the folks at Milwaukee did a great job delivering a terrific value with all the latest technology. At $229 it is a little pricier but we do think the value is there and they won’t have any problems selling. By this time next Christmas we’d expect the price to come down below $200 but chances are if you’re reading a tool blog about it you’re not going to wait that long.
If you have any questions on any Milwaukee Tools of course give the pros at Ohio Power Tool a call 800-242-4424 and they will help you find the right tool for the job!