Power Box 360 by Bosch
This tricked-out jobsite boom box puts your paint-splattered clock radio to shame. "Gear Up" from our September 15, 2010, SW eNewsletter
A rugged external frame protects the Bosch Power Box 360 jobsite radio from the hazards of the boatyard.
To call the Bosch Power Box 360 overkill would be an understatement. This 26-watt jobsite radio features four-way speakers, a subwoofer, a digital media bay for connecting your iPod or even an SD card filled with MP3s, and an array of auxiliary inputs and power outlets. When it's plugged into the wall, the Power Box 360 will charge a Bosch battery pack; unplug the radio, and it runs off the rechargeable battery.
Do you really need all these features in a radio that's just going to get covered in bottom paint? Maybe not. But once you get used to the luxury of listening to your iPod on the job and having four extra power outlets at the ready, you won't want to part with your Power Box 360. And you won't have to—this stereo is built to last. All of the buttons and knobs are sealed to lock out dust and moisture, and an aluminum/rubber roll cage protects the unit from all sorts of accidents. Bosch is so confident in the durability of the Power Box 360, the company even released this video showing a construction worker dropping the unit down a flight of stairs.
What really got me excited about the Power Box 360 was its potential for portability. Sailing World's 26-foot sailboat, AO, doesn't have an electrical system. In the past, if we wanted tunes aboard, we either had to bring along a battery-powered iPod dock, crank the hand-powered lantern/radio—which provides about 30 seconds of radio static for every 1,000 revolutions—or bust out the ukulele. With the Power Box 360 running off its rechargeable battery, we can listen to music for hours on end at high volume. Now, everyone in the mooring field can share in my newfound appreciation for Warren Zevon!
I have three complaints about the Power Box 360, and none of them is very fair. First, the unit weighs 25 pounds, which is way too heavy for me to hoist atop my shoulder when I'm rolling with my homeboys. Second, the sound is only okay. With five speakers crammed onto a box the size of a milk crate, the "stereo" doesn't offer much in the way of stereo sound. And the 26-watt amplifier isn't all that loud, especially when the sound is competing with all the power tools buzzing around the boatyard. But I do like the fact that you can adjust the bass and treble settings manually; you're not a slave to the equalization presets.
My third complaint is actually more of a wish. I wish the 120-volt AC outlets worked off battery power. As it is, the outlets only work when the unit is plugged into a power source. If the outlets could run off battery power, the Power Box 360 would become an infinitely handy portable power source, a mini generator of sorts. On a stripped-down boat like AO, you could use the Power Box 360 to charge cell phones, power laptops, even watch TV. Now that's sailing!