Makita’s newest jobsite radio, model LXRM03B, puts out some pretty nice sound, especially given its toaster-like size. It’s not completely new, but a revamp of an older 18V model.
The new radio features an iPhone/iPod dock and can run via AC adapter or Makita’s 18V compact, 18V LXT, and 12V Li-ion batteries. It’s actually said to be compatible with Makita’s 9.6V – 18V slide-style and post-style battery packs.
Features and Specifications
- Built-in iPhone and iPod dock
- Aux inputs for connecting to headphone jacks and media player outputs
- Digital AM/FM radio with built-in fixed antenna
- Two 3-inch speakers
- Rugged construction and protective bumpers
- Water and dust-resistant controls
- Dimensions: 11″ L x 11-7/8″ H x 6-3/8″ W
- Weighs 10.4 lbs with battery
- 16-hour runtime with 18V LXT battery and 8 hours with 18V compact
One thing I’ve noticed is that the jobsite radio grabs song and station information from radio signals, similar to what modern car radios do. For example, did you see “Rude Boy” on the display in the above photo? This is not an essential feature, but it’s nice to have.
Sound, Design, and Construction
Other than how well ruggedized the radio is, the first thing I noticed was the blue backlight illumination that activates whenever the controls are touched. It probably helps with low-light readability, but I just liked how it looked.
This radio is superbly built. I didn’t drop it down a flight of stairs, but it could probably handle it. It sports roll cage bars on the front, and rubberized bumpers all along the chassis.
The first thing I tested was the radio reception, which was excellent. I tuned into Z100, and the speakers output static-free and distortion-free tunes.
The digital controls worked well, with instructions printed right on the device itself in case you forget which button does what.
While the Makita radio doesn’t have a built-in subwoofer like the popular Bosch Power Box 360, I didn’t find the sounds to be lacking. No, it’s not going to give you rich bass, but the sound was clean and clear.
I opened the door to snap an image of the battery compartment and was fairly impressed at the thickness of the rubber bumpers. They’re not huge, but thick enough to absorb minor jostling you can expect to see at a jobsite.
The handle is robust and comfortable to hold. It folds down for storage to help keep things compact.
Makita opted to give the radio a fixed and somewhat flexible antenna. The good thing about this is that it’s not going to break, at least not easily, and it should be somewhat weather proof. On the downside, it sticks up all the time and will get in the way if you want to place the radio on an enclosed shelf.
You can power the radio via Makita’s 12V or 18V battery packs, and even a couple of the older slide and post or stem-style batteries. Plugging the radio into a wall outlet with the included AC adapter does not charge any attached batteries.
That green circle above the battery pack is an auxiliary input, meaning that your mobile device or mp3 player can be enclosed within the sealed compartment.
There’s also a separate aux input on the front that allows for easier access to your phone or mp3 player’s controls. The DC input jack is right next to it, behind a flap that offers a reasonable level of protection against water and dust.
Since I don’t have an iPhone or iPod I couldn’t properly test out the dock. The aux inputs work as expected, although I find myself tuning into the FM radio a bit more.
I can’t imagine anyone wanting to operate the radio out in the rain, or even being able to hear it in the rain, but the radio can probably handle a light drizzle if all access points are properly sealed. Just remember that it is water resistant, not waterproof.
The included wall-wart AC adapter can be stored inside the battery compartment when not in use. It fits right in there with an 18V LXT high capacity battery.
As for the two AA batteries, those are so that the clock and radio preset settings don’t change every time you unplug the radio or change out the battery packs. I’ll pop them in… eventually.
Overall I found myself quite pleased with the radio’s quality and capabilities. It’s robustly built, thoughtfully designed, and it sounds great.
I wish this was a combination radio and charger, but there’s really no room to cram charging capabilities in there.
The price is a little steep – $150 for the bare tool, but you get a number of added features and upgrades compared to the previous generation model.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
More Info(via Makita)
Keep in mind that this is just the radio, so you must bring your own battery and charger if you want cordless operation.
LXRM03B vs. BMR100W
To be honest, I cannot identify too many differences between the new radio reviewed here (LXRM03B) and Makita’s previous model (BMR100W). The new version has an iPhone and iPod dock and what appears to be improved ruggedness and bumper protection.
The older BMR100W radio has been on the market for a couple of years now – at least 5 if you go by the age of reviews on Amazon – so it’s probably that the internal circuitry was updated as well.
Going by online images, the newer radio’s LCD display looks easier to read as well, with its thick and dark lines.
I found the new jobsite radio to be an excellent product. If you don’t need the iPhone/iPod dock and don’t mind the look of the older model, you can save a bit of cash by foregoing the latest and greatest.
Buy now(Older Version, via Amazon)
Thank you to Makita for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.
FYI – the “thank you” blurb at the bottom is addressed to Case (I’m assuming a carry-over from the last post).
I love reading your reviews. Keep up the good work.
Oops, thanks for the catch! I was… uh… testing you. You passed! =)
I have Makita 18v cordless tools so I am bound to their radio for battery use. The old radio is pretty good. Won’t go loud but usually not an issue since I don’t want to blast it out too much on the jobsite. But I use my radio at home too and wish I could crank it up.
The thing I have been hoping for when a new radio came out is charging ability. Really wish Makita could have come through with that.
Two other issues: 1)The internal aux port on the old radio didn’t have enough room for the battery to fit without a low profile jack. From the picture it looks like this might be an issue again. 2)The older versions of the previous model had crappy wires on the plug-in ac adapter that broke easily. The more recent ones seem a little more robust.
I am sure this is a fine radio but all they really added was more rubber and an ipod/iphone jack in an unprotected vulnerable location so not sure it’s worth the price versus the older model. I found mine for $60 about 4 years ago and have seen it reconditioned for good prices. Makita missed a chance to really upgrade their radio.
Makita’s 18V chargers are quite large and have built-in fans to help cool down the rapidly charged battery packs. There’s no way they could have built that into the same form factor.
Adding charging abilities or a pass-thru power outlet would have required additional space, R&D costs, and a certain amount of risk. The final product might have then been too expensive to develop.
I think that the decision to build off of their previous version was a smart decision. They also have years of returns, repairs, and customer feedback to listen to. If they saw a lot of plug failures they would (should) have sourced a beefed up AC adapter.
I haven’t cranked up the radio to its max, but halfway up it delivers enough sound to fill out a small room or garage comfortably. It should have no problem covering a small outdoors work area.
One thing I was disappointed to see was no 1/8″ cable to connect devices to the aux inputs. The cable I had available has thin rubber or PVC jacketing, so it fit with the 18V battery connected without a problem. It was a somewhat of a tight fit, but I hadn’t realized it could be an issue until reading your comment.
I call bulls**t on that one. The reason nobdy but Dewalt and Bosch have chargers built into their radios is Dewalt owns the rights to the charger and Bosch paid an arm and a leg to license rights to use it. I understand that this duopoly on radios that charge batteries may run out in the next year or so (end of 2013) so perhaps next year we will see something better.
Its a shame Makita just rehashed the same radio instead of addressing some legit concerns like the usability of the rear port or beefing up the power cable but since my tools are all makita what other options do I have?
I am not aware of any licensing between Bosch and Dewalt regarding a Dewalt-owned built-in radio charger patent, but it sounds plausible.
I like the form factor……..much prefer the small compact stuff to the large goofy plastic roll cage units. This should be tool design direction moving forward. Smaller housings, efficient use of space, ease of portability, etc.
Veering off topic but………This kind of product is what will decide my future adoption of the next cordless system…….a versatile niche filled product line like Makita’s is really looking interesting……cordless planer, cordless palm sander, cordless mini vac, cordless stapler, cordless oscillating tool, jigsaw with LED………these kind of unique tools are perfect for the “up a ladder” type battery powered jobs.
I dont understand why the other 3 major brands don’t exploit the possibilities of cordless power the way Makita has.
-dewalt 18v 15 pc user.
Let’s not forget about their 12V line! Makita is still the only pro brand to offer a 12V mini circular trim saw.
They also have a 18V cordless miter saw.
I can’t imagine there being exceptionally high demand for these products, but they’re great for those who need or want them.
Can I ask if you have the 18v radio can I use my cordless drill 12v battery pack in the radio?
This version came years before the current 12V Max platform, and so I wouldn’t think it to be compatible. Looking at current product descriptions, there’s no mention at all about 12V compatibility.
Too bad they didn’t come up with an integrated charger. The space saved by doing this is defeated by having to bring in a charger as well and use up extra plug space which is usually very limited at the stage of construction I’m in. A/C power cord has long ago broken so I strictly go wireless. At least it allows the use of 1.5 ah batts as opposed to my makita vac and jigsaw and universal tool. It’s a great sounding unit, but they really missed the boat by not putting a charger in.
I know all the people would like for it to have a built in charger.So would I
Well Dewalt has the patent on that.
royalty issues I guess.
Got the info from the sales rep at Makita
I bought the old BMR100 original when it first came out, still works and has seen a few impacts and short falls. I still get complements on how good the sound quality is after 5 years.
When I bought it, my three top requirements were that it (1)use the same battery as my tools, and that it (2)be compact, and it should (3) sound good. All 3 were met easily.
I didn’t want a charger in it because I knew that would bulk it up, also a great way to get opportunistic Bozos to mess with my radio charging THEIR batteries. The charger can be replaced for as low as $40 all by itself anyway.
Compactness is good thing when you have to pile it in with other people’s tools and all the job material, big radios just take up too much room.
The sound is very clear, not tons of bass (irritating IMHO) volume is adequate, Booming your music so loud that it bugs other people who may not share your taste for Death Metal Hip Hop is no way to make friends on a job site.
As far as batteries go, when my tool batteries (18V LXT) start to get where they won’t run an impact or a drill motor very long, I just retire them to radio service where they work just fine.
My old one has an input jack on the front only, I never use it anyway, last thing the boss or foreman wants to see is you footzing around with your radio when you should be producing.
My radio is just a couple years old and it just stop working while listening the other day.Batterys fine ,and also tried the i pod and know change. all the controls work but no sound. where can i get it repaired?Really do like the radio.
Boo hoo on the charger, your tradesman right? Just mount your charger onto the radio casing. better yet, add a outdoor double gpo…
Great radio but after 6 mths now it has come up with POWER 904 on the screen and not working. Tried to find the code on internet and Makita site and nothing to be found
it may be a low or high voltage on the power supply circuit. if you have a dmm you can check for input voltages and output voltages verify that they are all at an acceptable level. it could be an issue with a component hopfully not a software issue.
Fail on the iPod/iPhone dock it broke the first time we used it and of course they won’t warranty it. Too bad because I love the unit for the most part.
Radio is load. But from using Aux 1 and 2 the sound is low.