Highland Woodworking
Tool Review: Festool SysRock Jobsite Radio and SysLite II
By Jeff Fleisher

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I am a relatively modest user of Festool Power Tools in that I personally own the Festool Domino system and their Festool ETS EC 150/3 sander. They are extremely well-built tools and I enjoy using them. I was excited, therefore, to get the opportunity to try out some of their "alternative" tools..that is the Festool SysRock Jobsite Radio and the SysLite II LED Worklamp.

Festool SysRock Jobsite Radio

The Jobsite radio is an FM radio and Bluetooth streaming music player in a very rugged case. The weight and solid case are the first things you notice when you take it out of the box. This radio is built to take abuse (not that you would!) and to survive some very rough handling. It is also very easy to use with nice size buttons on the front and very minimal number of steps to use any function. The LCD display is very easy to read, even in bright daylight.

The radio can be used with the included AC plug-in adapter but will also work with Festool's optional 18V 5.2Ah Lithium battery. The literature states that the run time is four to five days on medium volume. There is also a swiveling hook that is stored in the back of the case for hanging the radio and a 1/4”-20 tripod mount for mounting on a common camera tripod.

The radio supports conventional FM over-the-air stations and displays the Artist and Track informaton using the industry standard Radio Data System. The radio will also sync to external Bluetooth devices and stream music or it can be used for hands-free calling. It also has a 3.5mm socket for non-bluetooth connections. There is a small 3.5mm connector cable included in the box.

I had the opportunity to really test the Jobsite radio because my son happens to be building a deck on the back of his house. I went down to his house to help and brought it along.

As shown, I set it onto a deck joist and plugged it in using the AC adapter and experimented with both the FM receiver and Bluetooth. He lives just outside of Richmond, VA so it easily scanned from one station to the next and found many usable stations. Scanning from one station to the next was accomplished with a single button press. You can store some of the stations as presets for easy recall. I also synched it to my phone and was able to stream music from the phone to the radio via Bluetooth.

How did it sound? Very good given the surrounding noise. The house backs up to a major expressway with a set of trees as a buffer.

I tried to take a picture and catch an 18-wheeler going by but the camera wasn't able to stop the motion so the vehicles are blurred in the picture. The point is, however, that there was a modest amount of road noise in his backyard. The Jobsite radio was able to produce a clear and robust sound that I could hear while walking around the work area, even with the traffic in the background.

I didn't drop it off of a ladder but I wasn't worried about having it sit on a joist with the potential of it falling onto the ground. You can see from the picture the ruggedness of the case. It is also rated as "splash-resistant". Overall, I was very pleased with the radio.

Festool KAL-2 SysLite II LED Worklamp

The Festool SysLite II is a high performance LED light. It has a built-in recharagable battery that will power the light for over 4 hours and this can be extended by adding an optional external Festool battery. It also comes with an AC adapter and an auto adapter. There are 12 LED's that put out natural daylight (5000 kelvin) across a 170 degree area.

Like the SysRock the SysLite is extremely well-built. Both the SysRock and the SysLite come with a padded carrying and storage case. The case holds the device plus all wires and accessories.

There are two versions of the SysLite – the basic version comes with all power adapters and the SysLite Set includes a rugged tripod mount. The mount can be clamped to a bench or tabletop (clamp not included) or it can be attached magnetically to a metal mount.

I experimented with the light in a couple of applications where I typically use a shop light. I often will use a light to help setup the bit in my router table. My router table fence casts a shadow which makes it hard to see if the bottom of the router bit is set at the correct height for a cut.

By setting the SysLite with the cool LEDs near the bit I could easily see the relationship between the bit and the wood.

For this round-over bit, I could see that the lower edge of the cutting blade is set below the surface of the board and I would get a nice, clean round-over.

I also use a light when working inside of cabinets, like kitchen or bathroom cabinets. It's always dark inside of a cabinet! I usually fight with the lighting when installing hinges and catches, especially on cabinets that are already installed. Here is an example:

The SysLite is small enough to provide light to easily see what you're doing. (Note: the black lines in the photo are due to an interaction between the LED lights and the camera...sorry about the artifacts).

The wide field of view and 12 LED lights provide more than enough light to work in these conditions.

I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the price of these tools. The SysRock is listed at $120.00. The base SysLite is $198.00 and with the tripod sells for $250.00. As with all Festool tools you will pay top-dollar for a high-quality tool. The same is true for the light and radio. When compared to a similar featured light or radio at a big-box store you would be surprised by the price difference but you are paying for the ruggedness and quality of a Festool.

Overall, I was very impressed with both tools. The overall quality of each tool is what you would expect from Festool.

Click here to purchase your own Festool SysLite II LED Worklamp and Festool SysRock Worksite Radio from Highland Woodworking.

Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at furnmkr@gmail.com

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