Bosch Power Box PB360S – The Full Review

Earlier this year we got a first look at the new Bosch Power Box PB360S, during the World of Concrete (See earlier PB360S Post), these are now out and the user reviews are coming in. We were lucky enough to get one of these units to demo and as luck would have it, the unit was just in time for the perfect testing ground. Some 200+ Co-eds in their 20’s & 30’s playing an all day kickball tournament; yep the game you played in 3rd grade gym class is now Columbus, Ohio’s “Premier Social Experience”.

How Long Does a Battery Last on the PS360S?

One of the big questions I keep getting is, how long do the batteries? Unfortunately it depends somewhat on how you use it so you aren’t going to get an exact answer but we tested it as loud as you would want to push it, 18 of 20 volume, with custom set equalizer (bass & treble at 8 of 10). The first 18V FatPack BAT618 ($99, Ohio Power Tool) lasted 2:43 of continuous use. The second battery lasted about the same however on the second battery I then turned it back on and got approximately another 12 minutes and a third time for an addition 10 minutes before calling it a day. We would assume the first battery still had some life left but didn’t try that one again as at this point the sun was setting and the day was done. If you are thinking 3 hours isn’t going to be long enough we were really playing this thing loud in an open field which entertained everyone with 30-40 ft earshot. We tried it again at home on level 6 (about right for a workshop) with an FM station and default EQ, this time it ran for somewhere just north of 7 hours.


How Many Digital Music Options Do You Need?

In addition to a nice digital radio AM/FM tuners with plenty of pre-sets there is an entire media bay full of possibilities. There are 2 Aux inputs for iPods, iPhone, MP3 players, Satellite Radio, CD players, Tape Decks or whatever new should come out next. There is also a SD card slot and USB Card slot which you can have all these slots full, simultaneously, for ultimate flexibility when it comes to music options. Simply toggle through with the large source button and pick the option you like best. Something we found to work perfectly was a Blackberry (or iPhone or Android) with the Mobile Pandora App where you put in a favorite artist and it will play continuous for hours. Surprisingly the Blackberry lasted all day and still had ¼ battery life left.

Next Generation of Mix Tapes

Your first though when you heard the new Bosch Power Box took USB & SD cards might have been to get an 8gig card, load all your music and never have to worry again. Unfortunately this theory is not very good in practice. Even with a few hundred songs you will never be able to locate the songs you want and the Power Box unfortunately starts from song 1 every time it powers off. In practice the cards work better like a long mix tapes, even a 256MB card can hold 4-5 hours of music and only cost $2-3 online. 

Handling the Elements

The day couldn’t have been a better single day testing ground not only did we get some continuous rain for the first hour or so but the Power Box also took an unexpected spill off the refreshment cooler. Didn’t even skip a beat, literally, just picked it up and put it back on top and didn’t worry about a thing. On a real jobsite these are the types of dings you would expect everyday in addition to saw dust, drywall particles, getting thrown in the back of a truck with tools and materials piled on top. 

In a Perfect World

In looking at Power Box PB360S with a critical eye there are some issues when using the unit. First, the runtime left a little to be desired at just shy of 3 hours. The PB360D (Deluxe Model) will be launching later this year with “2x the sound” output which really would of blown the sox off the crowd last weekend but if that equals 50% battery life it could be a big problem. Second, the EQ settings, tiny issue but every time you would switch a battery or power off, the EQ setting goes back to default. This just seemed weird because the unit also has 2 AA batteries (included) that only function to remember time, radio presets and even custom EQ levels just not which setting it was last on. Third the Handle & Aux 2 Storage, could have been better though out. Ideally you would load an iPod in the media bay lock it up and have it safely protected however in practice that doesn’t always work. Inside the media bay there is no control over the Aux device to switch songs, playlists, etc. If someone wanted to keep switching the songs instead of using the media bay jack it would be much easier to use the external input jack. Unfortunately the very short Aux cord provided isn’t really long enough to use outside the media bay and also the top handle seems like it could have been made larger to accommodate the inevitable ipod/MP3 player that would be sitting in there. Forth issue Battery Storage, it would have been nice if a spare battery had some way to travel conveniently with the unit such as a slotted holder on the side. Fifth issue battery gauge, on the display is a picture of a battery but it doesn’t tell how much juice is left until it starts blinking and at that point you are only minutes away from tunelessness. Last issue, what no cup holders, alright we’ll let that one slide?

The Complete Package

If you already have any Bosch 18V Litheon Tools it would probably seem natural, the idea of upgrading the charger to a near indestructible jobsite radio/charger. If you don’t already have Bosch 18V Litheon Cordless Tools you can of course just buy the batteries individually or a drill/driver kit with 2 batteries is just $169.    

And the Call Is: All Around Great Jobsite Radio

The performance on this radio is really impressive in so many different ways. First I was impressed at the World of Concrete by the toughness of taking a dozen or so drops on pavement. Then when I got my hands on it I was impressed by the forward thinking, on digital music options. Even battery life, while under 3 hours isn’t really good enough, I suppose for most people who aren’t trying to start a mid-day dance party, getting somewhere between 5-8 hours is going to be plenty. I’m having trouble seeing why there is a need for a Deluxe model later this year other than the GFCI but I’m pretty sure both models will be very popular. My guess is these Power Boxes will make it on to many jobsites… and beaches, barbeques, tailgates, kickball tournaments, etc. 

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