Remember portable boom boxes? Loading up eight D batteries and dropping in your favorite cassette tape meant you had a few hours of music freedom. Hopefully I didn’t just age myself, but the fact is that was then and this is now. Now we don’t use cassettes, CDs, or other restrictive media, we use iPods or MP3 players. Combining the best of portable audio with the charging needs of worksites, Ryobi recently launched its new 18V ToughTunes Radio/Charger. The high-impact polymer rollcage protects the radio from any would-be damage, while a storage compartment protects your iPod or MP3 player. A real bonus, the ToughTunes also charges your music device via an onboard USB plug. Keeping your favorite tunes playing on the move, the radio is powered by a single Ryobi 18V One+ battery, both lithium and Ni-Cd types, which also serve as enough power to charge your music device.
Music player charging is a nice feature, but the ToughTunes also provides charging for all 18V One+ batteries by way of the attached cord with convenient cord reel under the body. Using the ToughTunes around the shop to play music and charge batteries, we found the transition from 120V wall-powered to cordless music player completely seamless. Simply unplug the cord from the wall, make sure an 18V battery is installed in the back of the unit, and go about your business with music playing wherever you need it. Digital tuning allows you to find AM/FM radio stations, while a backlit LCD screen displays a clock, radio station, presets, and low battery level. We were pleased with the bass quality, though for a big, wide-open space, the radio might not get as loud as you desire. Overall, we came away pleasantly surprised with the ToughTunes, and for $139.99, it’s less than many comparably equipped worksite radios.