Sangean TB-100 “Toughbox” Radio Review
As an avid gardener and backyard dweller who enjoys listening to music, I have struggled to find a good outdoor radio. I’ve tried smaller handheld battery-powered radios without a good volume, heavy boomboxes that aren’t outdoor-friendly, and old-school radios picked up from thrift stores for a few dollars.
I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the Sangean TB-100 “Toughbox” Radio, and I’ve been very happy with the purchase.
Size, Look, and Feel
When I received the radio from Amazon, the first thing I noticed is that the box was enormous. The pictures of the radio are deceiving – the Sangean TB-100 is a big radio, measuring 12 inches long, 9 inches tall, and about 7.5 inches deep. The antenna, when attached, is just a shade under 6 inches tall. For perspective, the TB-100 is about the size of a couple loaves of bread stacked on top of each other (and probably a bit deeper than that!). The actual radio part of the TB-100 is smaller; much of the extra size comes from the shock-absorbing bars that surround the radio, helping to make it easy to carry.
I like the size of this radio, even though it is larger than I expected. I set the radio on my patio or on a bench. Its size means it’s very hard to lose – I’ve lost countless amounts of small Bluetooth speakers and radios over the years.
The TB-100 is made from impact-resistant ABS plastic, with a rugged design that will stand up to the elements. The olive green shade of the radio is generally appealing, and is a nice alternative to the standard black and silver radios on the market today.
The Sangean TB-100 “Toughbox” Radio operates on 4 “C” batteries, or using its built-in 9′ cord. Yes, the cord is 9 feet long…a perfect length to allow you to plug it in around a corner and point the speaker towards your garden or shop.
A great feature of the radio is that it recharges your rechargeable batteries when it’s plugged in. I wasn’t able to find any rechargeable size “C” batteries in my local store, so I purchased these Size C Rechargeable Batteries, which work great with the TB-100. I also tried using Eneloop AA batteries with C-size spacers, which performed well, but the AA cells were only able to deliver about 75 minutes of playing time. Batteries are contained in a secure compartment on the back of the TB-100, sealed by a rotary screw, providing extra protection to the elements.
The TB-100 radio is operated by two large, easy-to-handle dials on the top, one for volume, and one for tuning. Both dials have a nice action, and feel solid, just like the controls on all Sangean radios. The tuning dial provides clicky feedback as you change frequencies. My only complaint with these dials is that the volume knob is a bit too easy to adjust. Turn it too fast and you’ll quickly hear the upper decibel level of the TB-100!
The front of the radio features the power button, a button to change the band to FM or AM, and 5 quick-tune buttons. You can set 5 FM presets as well as 5 AM presets, for a total of 10. These buttons also have a nice feel to them, considering that the buttons on the TB-100 are meant to withstand harsh weather conditions. The radio station frequency is displayed clearly on the backlit digital LCD screen, which measures 2.25 inches x 1 inch, easy to see from a distance away.
In addition to the FM/AM radio, you can also use a headphone cord to attach any music source to the AUX unit. Consider using the AUX port for your iPhone or Android phone, or an iPod you may have around the house. If the weather’s nice, and you want to listen to music on your phone, simply connect the cable and set your phone on top of the TB-100. You could also attach a Bluetooth unit to the radio to go handsfree with your music.
The Sangean TB-100 features one large speaker, 5 inches in diameter. The speaker is water resistant and provides a good level of sound, indoors or outdoors. The speaker excels most in the midrange and provides a good level of bass. A limitation of the speaker is its sound on the high end of the spectrum.
I’ve used the TB-100 to listen to a variety of music and talk radio. Rock and country music sound great on the radio, and sports/news talk radio and sports telecasts are very clear and understandable. I’ve found the radio to have very good AM reception compared to other radios I’ve used – not quite as good as the reception I can get in my car, but very admirable for a portable radio.
The TB-100 “Toughbox” radio is a mid-priced radio that you may consider to be a “Buy It For Life” item. It is not an impulse decision like a dollar-store portable radio, or even an under-$20 handheld radio – but once you own it, you’ll have the TB-100 for years to come. Its cost is certainly justified if you consider all the portable sound equipment you have purchased in the past for outdoors, gardening, camping, and tailgating.
The Best Outdoor Boombox Radio
The Sangean TB-100 represents a unique value as you are considering the purchase of a new portable radio. This one radio will replace other sound equipment that you own, and provide extra features not readily found in other comparable radios, such as the ability to recharge batteries within the radio itself. Buy the Sangean TB-100 Toughbox and you’ll quickly find it to be a keeper as your main outdoor entertainment source!