This spring Bosch released a pair of radios that are a fraction of the size of their Power Box.
The 12-volt model (PB120) was announced in March and the 18-volt model (PB180) in May. I have only seen the 18-volt model (more on it in a future entry) but have been using the 12-volt model for about six weeks now.
The PB120 contains a pair of speakers, an AM/FM receiver with a scan function, and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input for a media player or phone. It has an LCD screen, equalizer (bass/treble), mute button, and five buttons for preset stations. The device can be powered by an AC adaptor (included) or the same three-cell lithium ion batteries (not included) used in Bosch's subcompact power tools. The AC adaptor stores in a compartment on the back of the housing – which is quite convenient because it makes it less likely you'll lose or misplace the adaptor. The auxiliary connector cord fits in there too.
This is a good radio for use in the shop or on a small jobsite - where you are not planning on blasting tunes so people can hear them 100 feet away. That's not to say the radio lacks volume; it puts out the amount of sound you'd expect from an audio device of its size (approx. 12 x 8 x 3 inches). The radio reception is fine, though I rarely made use of the tuner – preferring instead plug my phone into the auxiliary jack and listen to podcasts or streamed music. The radio has one annoying feature; it does not retain the volume setting. When you power it up it automatically goes to about half-volume. I'd rather it came on at the setting it had when I turned it off.
When the radio arrived I was disappointed to find it did not have a compartment to hold a phone or media player – as most current models do. But after using it for a while I realized how much easier it is to answer the phone when it's not inside the radio. I have been using Milwaukee's M12 radio for the past few years and half the time I leave the media bay door open so I can answer the phone or change what I'm listening to. I'm fine with this radio not having a compartment for the media player; it's easy enough to route the provided 6-inch connector cord through the gap at the bottom and into a phone or media player that sits in front of the radio.
In an ideal world jobsite radios would have Bluetooth so you could keep the phone in your pocket and not have to connect it to the auxiliary input – but I understand the need to keep the price of the device within reason.
The PB120 has a rugged housing with nail slots on the back so you can hang it from the wall. The protective frames double as carrying handles. I would recommend this radio to tradesmen who own Bosch's 12-volt batteries. For shop workers it really doesn't matter, because it could be plugged in all the time. That said; it's preferable to power the thing with batteries because it allows you to be more mobile. The PB120 is made in China and sells for about $99.