It seems we just can’t get enough technology these days. Now that our smart phones are capable of streaming the music we really want to hear, Bluetooth speakers are in high demand on jobsites. If nothing else, most will at least let us take an auxiliary port to make use of Spotify, Pandora, or whatever source we’re using. It’s as if the radio in on its way out…or is it? The Ryobi 18V compact radio aims to keep it relevant.
I find that I get tired of the same old playlists. Sometimes I want to hear some human conversation. Better yet, sometimes I want to hear that 1:00 pm Rays game that I can’t be in front of the TV for. While it seems like everyone else is bringing out compact Bluetooth speakers, the Ryobi 18V Compact Radio, part of their One+ line of tools, leaves that small, inexpensive, wonderful radio in place.
At just under $40, the Ryobi 18V compact radio looks to be a good value with its AM/FM radio, auxiliary input, USB charging, and Bluetooth Wireless connection. Let’s a take a look at the other features, test the sound quality, and see if it’s something you should consider adding to your Ryobi One+ arsenal.
Ryobi 18V Compact Radio First Impressions
Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio with Bluetooth Wireless Specs
- Model: P742
- Power Source: Ryobi One+ 18V Battery
- Modes: AM/FM/Auxiliary/Bluetooth
- Presets: 10 AM, 10 FM
- USB Charging: 1 amp
- Auxiliary Port: 3.5 mm
- Clock: yes (separate AA batteries for time and preset storage included)
- Price: $39.97
- Warranty: 3 years
Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio with Bluetooth Wireless Features
Decked out mainly in Ryobi green, the design is really sleek and attractive. It looks like a radio rather than something designed to double as an unnoticed decoration when not in use. The control panel is simple and intuitive. There are separate buttons for power, mode, clock setting, presets (which doubles as play/pause for connected devices), volume control, and scanning. The antenna is a simple, rigid piece that folds down out of the way when not in use.
On the right side, you’ll find the auxiliary and USB charging ports. You can’t stream music through the USB, it’s only there for charging purposes. Behind the Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio is an elastic strap to hold your phone or music player in place.
One design feature that is handy (pun intended) is the handle on the top back of the housing. It’s simply molded plastic integrated into the housing that makes carrying the unit easy. Some people may still hold it around the side, but I’m glad to have the option there.
Ryobi 18V Compact Radio Build Quality
The Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio is certainly not going to be a “jobsite tough” radio like Ridgid’s Jobsite Radio. For one thing, none of the compact radios/speakers coming out offer cage style frames to protect such small units. There’s also no protection in the form of rubber overmold on this unit. By placing the battery connection on the base, Ryobi provides a pretty stable platform to begin with. Combine that with the fact that a fall is likely more risky for the battery than the radio and one could argue that they’d rather have a lower price than the additional protection.
You’ll notice some other things as well though. The USB and auxiliary ports are open, leaving the possibility for dust or moisture to get in. The device strap on the back, while handy, is also unprotected. The point is, that while a 3 foot fall might not be damaging to the radio, other jobsite hazards could be an issue.
Ryobi 18V Compact Radio Sound Quality
Features and specs on any radio are worthless if the sound quality is garbage. People gladly pay good money for feature poor home systems that offer crystal clear sound quality. So how does the Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Radio fare?
Well, it’s pretty average. Music is lacking the clear, deep lows and crisp highs that are characteristic of high end sound equipment. But hey, this never claimed to be a studio quality system! The bottom line is that spoken word comes through well and music is adequate.
One thing that I really like is that is seems Ryobi was very intentional in the high end of the volume scale. Topping out at level 16 (random, right?), there’s still no distortion in the sound coming through. If you pushed the speaker much more, you’d likely be at a range where distortion would start to show up.
Speaking of volume, how loud does it get? In my home, I am able to easily hear in the next room. With typical jobsite sounds going on, you’re likely best off thinking of this as a single room system.
Conclusions and Parting Shots
If you’re looking for a solution that will provide big jobsite sound or you’ve got an inner audiophile, you’ll want to look at some full size options. The Ryobi P742 is going to be an excellent single room option or for your office space. It’s going to be popular among users that aren’t at risk of getting moisture or heavy dust around the unit.
Taken away from the jobsite, other possibilities open up. This is a great unit for the beach or camping. It’s even light enough to be an option for short term hikes to provide entertainment and news updates in the evenings. This model sits perfectly on the side table on my grill for while I’m cooking or we’re enjoying an outdoor meal.
One quick note about the run time – using the 4.0 amp hour battery, the radio will easily last a day or more. However, it does seem to draw from the battery when it’s not playing. Be sure to take the battery out when it’s not in use to extend time between charges. There’s even a note on the back of the P742 reminding you to do just that.
Like other completely cordless options out there, you’re tied to the Ryobi One+ battery system. If you already own tools on that platform, this is a winner for you. If you don’t, there’s not really anything so outstanding that you’re going to go out and buy into the system just to have this radio.
For what it is and the price point, I really like the Ryobi One+ 18V Compact Radio with Bluetooth Wireless. It’s a $40 radio with auxiliary, Bluetooth, and USB charging. Plus it runs on my Ryobi One+ 18V batteries. My only real request would be to add a rubber cover for the USB and auxiliary ports. For users already in the Ryobi One+ family, this model gets my recommendation for smaller spaces.