We recently extended WiFi to our shop annex, and with that capability wanted to be able to stream tunes from services like Spotify as well as listen to podcasts and other media while working. In our main shop we use Jawbone Jambox, which works great but is a bit pricey for simple Bluetooth stereo speaker with no other features. For the shop annex we wanted something with a few more options and a bit more “rugged”.
After searching the Interwebs and looking over options at the local big box stores including Home Depot, we settled on the Ryobi Dual Power Stereo. It offered what we wanted in features and fit into the ONE+ family of Ryobi tools that we already owned, making it a bit of a bonus for battery operated use.
We originally intended to purchase the P746 model which lists at $159CAD that comes as the radio only (no battery/charger), however our local Home Depot had the P1881CAN 5 tool combo on sale for $199CAD which includes the same radio. So for an extra $40 we got 4 tools (which we already owned) and 2 batteries and a charger, so well worth the little added cost for the batteries alone! So check your local store for deals before making a purchase, and you could pick up a great bargain.
As outlined on the product website, the radio is a well featured shop/work site Bluetooth radio, that can be powered by ether AC or the ONE+ batteries:
RYOBI introduces the new 18-Volt ONE+ Dual Power Stereo with Bluetooth® Wireless Technology. This stereo features hybrid technology which means the user will never run out of power with the option of powering the stereo with an 18-Volt ONE+ Battery or an extension cord (sold separately). Stream music directly from a smart phone with the Bluetooth® Wireless Technology connectivity. This stereo is backed by a 3-year warranty.
- Battery: 18V
- Modes: FM/AM/Aux-In/BLUETOOTH®
- Auxiliary In & Out Jacks: 3.5mm
- USB Charging Capacity: 2 Amp
- Tool Weight: 6 lbs.
- P746 Dual Power Stereo
- (2) AAA Alkaline Batteries
- Aux-In Cable
- Operator’s Manual
One of the biggest pluses in the Ryobi unit, beyond the core Bluetooth stereo functionality, is the 2A USB port. Most other work site type radios only feature a 1A port, which is not ideal for full fast charging of your phone or tablet. The 2A port is able to charge your device while in use streaming, where many 1A will only hold the battery level while in use.
Another nice feature of the Ryobi stereo is the built in equalizer, giving some basic tone control to tweak the sound to your preference. The built in clock is also a nice extra, along with the AM/FM radio, which can save favorite channel presets.
As noted the radio works on both AC and ONE+ 18V batteries. While our primary use will be in the shop on AC, it is nice to have the portability to take it around the yard or to a work site if needed, as well as a backup for power outages when access to local radio is nice for getting updates.
On the cons side the biggest issue we have with this system is the lack of an AC cord for the price. At $159CAD here in Canada it is not a cheap radio, other brands are $10-20 cheaper and most of them come with the AC cord. Also the cord it requires is a single outlet type only, so most small multiple outlet cheap home extension cords will not fit. Not the end of the word but we would like to see one included for a more complete package for this much money. They do however include the 2AA batteries used for the clock and preset memory at least, as well as a 3.5mm AUX cable.
The radio paired easily with our iPhone 6S and has good sound quality and volume levels. One item to note is to be sure to have the volume up on your device as it will limit the max volume of the Ryobi, so it takes a bit of balancing between the two volume levels to optimize things. When we first tried it the Ryobi volume maxed out below expectations, but once we upped the iPhone volume it was plenty loud for our needs.
Overall we are pleased with the Ryobi Stereo, good sound and great features at a decent price if you can get it on sale or in a bundle. It fit our shop needs especially within the ONE+ ecosystem of tools we already have, and the extra tools in the bundle will make nice backups.