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With the advent of the internet and all the information of the world at our fingertips, we have grown apart from things closer to us. Radio channels, and mostly local, present all the relevant information one might need to see things around them. From finding great songs from recent times to rediscovering old classics, the radio is an ultimate device of leisure and information. From table top radio to small pocket sized large outdoor radio, there is one available for everyone. With a mix of vintage technology and a sprinkle of current day features like docks and Bluetooth connectivity, the medium has survived the test of time, unlike very few. While it can be a really classic addition to your household, there is a wide range of options present in the market which can make the task of selecting the ideal radio for ourselves an intimidating task.

 Therefore in this article, we have tried to prepare a comprehensive guide to help you find out the best portable radio which will not only meet your needs, but also act as a beautiful classic living room piece.

1. Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio, Silver

D’Addario Prelude Violin Strings is a solid steel core string that comes in various scales. They provide durability that is unparalleled in its price range, with a warm tone and adjustable tension. It has a quick bow response, which makes it an ideal fit for students and beginners. As far as violin string names go, D’Addario is very well known because of being the Educator’s Choice. It is highly stable when it comes to pitches and tuning, and brings in a unique blend of warm tone with affordability and durability. Moreover, pitch stability makes it easier for users to tune their violins conveniently without any hassles. These strings are an ideal choice for both, beginners, and professionals.

PROS

  • Solid steel core makes it durable and provides a warm tone.

  • Comes in multiple scales- ½, ¼, ⅛, 1/16, ¾, and 4/4 scale.

  • Has earned the honor of being awarded the Educator’s choice, making it reliable and go-to option for students and professionals alike.

CONS

  • The tension can not be adjusted over medium.
  • Isn’t as consistent as synthetic strings.

2. Kaito Powered Emergency Flashlight Cellphone

Kaito KA500 has an unparalleled durability attached to it, which pretty much adheres to the company’s aim at making it usable under any circumstances. Powered in 6 different ways(including AA batteries, the Kaito KA 500*.5 has a wide range of 88 to 108 MHz on FM and 530 to 1710 KHz on AM, while also having access to  NAOO weather channels and 24/7 weather and emergency alert system as it is weatherproof portable radio. The telescopic antenna is highly sensitive, and the radio also doubles as an LED S.O.S beacon, power output for mobile devices and reading light.

PROS

  • Very useful in emergencies with emergency light, S.O.S beacon, and other facilities.
  • Excellent built quality. Made with ABS material, leading to water and impact resistance.
  • Multiple methods of charging includes 5V AC/DC source, 3 AA batteries, USB input, solar charge, and battery pack.

CONS

  • Poor short wave reception.

  • Slow charging and poor crank power performance.

  • Poor battery life that might last only up to 1.5 hours even after completely charged.

  • NAOO alerts may not be issued properly depending on location.

3. Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio 40th Anniversary Edition

The Sangean WR11se is a table-top radio set, packed in a real Walnut Finish case. If vintage is the way to go, then the WR-11 is the choise radio. With a tuning LED indicator and dynamic bass compensation, it is no slouch. Despite its looks, it is well prepared to take on the competition for the title of the best portable AM FM radio, with 3.5mm headphone jacks coupled with a 3.5 mm auxiliary input for one to connect the set to act as a loudspeaker for their digital library, with the 7W speaker present in the set.

PROS

  • Auxiliary input and output recording are present.

  • Vintage design and great build quality.

  • Excellent loudspeaker quality and range. 

CONS

  • A bit on the expensive side.

  • Bulky design may not be comfortable to go around with.

4. Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio

The Sony ICFP26 portable AM/FM radio is one in the line of Sony portable radios. Weighing just 6.70 oz, this compact unit runs on 2 AA batteries and a range of 530 to 1600 KHz on AM and 80 to 108 Mhz on FM. With a built in speaker and headphone jack, this portable radio is a complete set with an output power of 100mW. And just to make sure, you don’t forget to charge it or can use it in the dark, the portable radio integrates LED tuning and battery status indicators right into itself.

PROS

  • It is quite inexpensive.
  • Incredibly compact, can be easily carried in pockets and by hand.
  • Built in hand-strap to secure the unit in place.
  • Battery indicator alerts you when the battery is low.

CONS

  • Loudspeaker not powerful enough.

  • Doesn’t offer DAB radio.

  • Weaker signal reception than previous model, ICFS10MK2.

5. Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Digital Rechargeable Portable Radio

Sangean PR-D7 BK is a radio that has all the bells and whistles for someone who wants their rechargeable portable radio to just be enough. Using 6 AA batteries, the radio unit features a large backlit LCD screen for better readibility and auto seek makes tuning easier and convenient. It also employs an alarm feature called Humane Wake System which wakes people up by slowing increasing the volume of the buzzer instead of starting off with harsh noise from the beginning. It can also store unto 10 memory present channels, and can also be adjusted to turn itself off after a while.

PROS

  • Can run on 6 AA batteries or 110V AC input.
  • Can be used even when batteries are recharging.
  • Good set of automatic features that avoid having to repeat them every day.
  • Easier to navigate and work with since there are absolutely the essentials.
  • Humane Wake System wakes you gently.

CONS

  • No auxiliary input or connections.

    Stereo sound is not available.

  • LCD screen is not backlit even at night.

  • Poor battery life if non-rechargeable batteries are used.

  • Design leaves much to be desired for.

  • Bit expensive for the feature set provided.

6. Battery Operated Portable Pocket Radio

Vondior’s AM FM Battery Operated Radio is for people who are tired of complicated technology and seek to go back to the simplicity of yesteryears. This battery powered AM FM radio uses 2 AA batteries, and can last for weeks. It has a range of 88 to 108 MHz on FM and 530 to 1600 Khz on AM. With the absolute bare minimum of a built in speaker, telescoping antenna, mono earphone jack and a carrying strap for convenience. This compact miracle is the radio with best reception reviews.

PROS

  • Compact design.
  • Very sturdy build and speaker quality.

  • Excellent coast to coast reception.

CONS

  • People might want to commit to Sony at the exact same price point.
  • Aerial placement makes it difficult to stand on flat surfaces.
  • Antenna has to be up at any point to get a signal.

7. Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM / FM Radio

If there was ever a piece of equipment that looked exactly what the name lunchbox radio would suggest, then Sangean LB100 is definitely it. With a backlit LCD display, rugged design with water, dust and shock resistance, this is a great radio for outdoor job sites. The five-inch speaker in itself is resistant to water. Featuring a pivoting antenna, the AM/FM Digital PLL Radio Tuner Offers excellent reception alongside 10 station memory presents (5 AM, 5 FM) and dynamic loudness.

PROS

  • Rugged design and extremely resilient due to ABS body material.
  • Rain, shock, and dust-proof design makes it ideal for workplaces.
  • Good sound quality.
  • Works with either 4 AA batteries or AC input.
  • 9 foot long AC cord included.

CONS

  • UThe unattractive design comes as a tradeoff to ruggedness.
  • Mediocre sound volume with more bass that can overpower the music.
  • Batteries may get dried up soon when not in use.

8.  Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio with AM/FM

The Running Snail radio is a lot of things, a radio, a tool for emergencies, a light, a power bank for cellphones and a life saver. Out of all Amazon weather radio, this one comes close to the best you might get. Along with AM/FM frequencies, this radio is equipped to receive NAOO weather alert for hurricanes, tornadoes and storms. The 1W LED flashlight and flashing red S.O.S are available and it can use a hand crank to recharge itself, alongside conventional means such as 3 AAA batteries. The 2000mAh battery provides up to 12 hours of light and 4-6 hours of radio time.

PROS

  • Great for emergencies such as power outage, tornadoes, cyclones and storms with built-in light, S.O.S features and NAOO alerts.
  • Large Power bank with a power of 2000 Mah.
  • A built-in 1W LED flashlight to help you get around even in the dark. 
  • Multiple means of recharging battery, including hand crank, AAA batteries, solar charging, and micro USB.
  • Can work as an external power bank for other devices.

CONS

  • Poor battery life for listening to the radio, capping at somewhere around 6 hours maximum with complete charge.

  • Bulky design makes it slightly difficult to carry around.

    9. Sangean WR-2 AM / FM-RBDS Digital Tuning Radio

    The Sangean WR-2 RDBS may look simple, but it has some tricks up its sleeves. Available in classic finishes like walnut, piano black or piano white, the WR-2 RDBS comes with Radio Data System (RDS) that displays short messages from applicable stations, Enhanced Other Network (EON) and traffic information available in select areas. It comes with an easy to read LCD display, external AM antenna and 10 Memory Present Stations (5 AM, 5 FM). Along with alarm and clock, and the ability to be controlled by infrared remote control, it also has the ability to play for six minutes after the power supply is cut down so that you can know about emergency broadcasts.

    PROS

    • LCD display is very legible and on par with the build quality of the rest of the device.

    • Standard features like alarm, with snooze function available.
    • Rotary bass and Treble control.
    • Very useful for areas where RDS and traffic information over are radio is used.

     

    CONS

    • Not portable 

    • Emergency features are not up to the mark when compared to other radios available at a cheaper price.

    • No AUX input or means to use it as a speaker for other mobile devices.

    • No internal batteries used, rendering the device mostly limited for household use.

    10. Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM/Portable Digital Radio

    The Sangean PR-D18 is probably the most balanced portable digital radio on this list. It has many of the features of its bigger siblings that make them good, and packs them in a much lighter body. Using true digital radio tuning, this compact radio has regular features like active station seeking and using your favorite radio channel as the alarm, to brand unique features like Humane Wake-Up system which wakes you up by slowing increasing the volume of the alarm. Running on four AA batteries or an AC input, with an informative LCD screen, the PR-D18 allows you to be flexible with multiple alarm times, and 10 stations present (5 FM, 5 AM)

    PROS

    • Very compact and portable, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

    • Has many of the features of the larger Sangean models like Humane Wake-Up system.

    • Buttons and knobs are user-friendly.

    • Clear and high quality of sound.

    • Uses both AA batteries and AC input.

    CONS

    • Very resource hogging with AA batteries barely lasting days.

    • Mediocre sound quality.

    • Does not have a handle for easy carry.

    • Sound and reception quality may become very poor at times.

      Buying Guide

      The best radio transmitter you can buy today depends a lot on your needs. With a vast range of options available for all kinds of consumers, it is also necessary to understand the kind of options available in the market. While certain features and specifications are optional, others should be mandatorily considered before buying a radio. Hence, we have enlisted some of the major factors one must keep in mind:

      1. Good sound quality and consistent reception are absolute necessities for a radio. While good sound here doesn’t equate to Dolby surround sound, the key requirement here is to have a radio with a speaker that can produce proper bass and treble. Muddiness in sound is a problem that plagues many radio units. Radios also need to have good antennas for better sound. Some radios use internal antennas while others use telescopic antennas. 
      2. Good reception is yet another feature to consider before buying a radio. While reception is also dependent on your location, sometimes a model may have some fault. You should make sure that there is no extra or static noise when you tune in. Certain radios are extremely sensitive, due to which even a slight movement can majorly affect the reception.
      3. Simplicity is the key when it comes to selecting the perfect radio. Even with additional bells and whistles like alarm, clock, traffic data, it is important that the unit is easy to use, and isn’t bogged down by its own set of features. A lot of radios have special features nowadays, which might make the unit more complex. Under these conditions, it is essential to take user reviews and expert opinion into account and which radio might serve the best amalgamation of features and usability.
      4. Form factor and size are two factors that are completely dependent on your needs and environment. Radios nowadays range from compact slabs that can fit in your pocket, to rugged boxes that can withstand natural disasters. If you are working outdoors, in a highly emergency prone area, your needs will be completely different from a consumer that might want a walnut shelled radio in their kitchen. Some of the different kinds of radios available nowadays include compact pocket radios, tabletop radios, rugged radios with S.O.S and emergency features build in. Modern or extra features that are present in the latest radio models too, are directly dependent on how much you are comfortable with them or would use them. Paying a lot of money for AUX input or bluetooth connectivity makes no sense if you are going to use them.
      5. Certain features like LED screen, speaker and headphone jacks are very common, easy to use and inexpensive. Some people have very specific needs and might need torchlight, power bank and iPod speakers from their radios and the best fit makes for a worthwhile purchase. Some radios nowadays come with the ability to dock them to better stereo systems. Some also come with the feature to automatically tune in to a specific channel at a set specific time, so that you do not miss your favorite show.
      6. You can opt between an analog or a digital radio. Analog tuning systems, despite being older, are still more popular and easier to tune into, with access to a niche but better channels that might have still not been known to many people as the digital channels. On the other hand, digital radios allow you to tune into any bigger channel from anywhere in the world by simply scrolling a list and choosing which one to listen to. Digital tuners do not need precise tune-ins and knob turning and while analog radios nowadays have the ability to recall and autoseek frequencies, it is still nowhere as convenient as digital tuners.
      7. Some digital radios are made to look like vintage digital players, but with the added functionalities of alarm clock and loudspeaker and as a clock. These make for a good buy considering a huge set of them can operate without the need for an AC supply, but runs when connected to one regardless. Many radio models now feature DAB+ technology which stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting. As stations are moving to DAB broadcasts for larger coverage, this technology is not only eco-friendly but also sends relevant information over the air for display on any LCD, like the name of the song currently playing.
      8. Other features to look for in your radio are:
      • Alarm Systems And Snooze Button: Alarm systems are additional features that you can look for if you are planning to buy a radio. Your alarm may either sound like a buzzer or a radio station, depending on the type of model you opt for. Some radios also have multiple independent alarms’ features that you can opt for. Some radios also come with built in Snooze feature to buy you more time in bed.
      • Bluetooth and NFC: If you want to stream music wirelessly, you can look for radios that support Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) features. Some radios also have an AUX input for a wired streaming connection.
      • Dock feature: Some radios also have Docks to slot your smartphone or MP3 player into and play music directly from your device. They are not only easy to use, but can also recharge the device simultaneously.
      • USB: A USB feature allows you to plug in other devices, such as a phone or tablet, and hence may come off handy.
      • Touchscreen: Some radio models have replaced traditional knobs with touchscreen features. Although it can hardly be used in workplaces, one might still want to keep them as optional.
      • Remote control: It is yet another feature present that can be considered optional. Some radio models also have free apps that you can download to turn your smartphone into a remote if the model doesn’t already come with one.
      • DAB+: DAB+ is a major upgrade to DAB offering improved sound quality and a greater number of radio stations. This feature is widely used in a number of countries across Europe.

      CONCLUSION

      In this article, we have tried to present an unbiased review of all the major portable radios currently present in the market. As we have gathered from the course of this guide, the perfect fit for a radio depends on a number of factors such as the radio size, its form factor, and last but not the least, its looks and features. Finally, it can be concluded that the selection criteria for having the perfect radio comes down to your preferences and comfort level. Understanding which features are most necessary for you is the first step of narrowing your search and understanding what you are open to learning or using helps you expand. While there are pros and cons to every model mentioned in the list, you should select the best one for yourself only after taking a closer look at their individual features and technical specifications. Take your time to compare all of these models and find the best fit for yourself. It can either be a table top radio or an outdoor radio you use while at work, and hopefully, this detailed guide helps you review and find the perfect portable radio for your style and space, all while staying in your budget.