Portable Radios for Clear Reception on the Go
With so many ways of accessing news, music, and information nowadays, whether by means of computer or by mobile phone, a radio may seem a bit anachronistic, almost “primitive”. After all, if you can get Internet access, there are websites that allow you to also get access to radio stations. And you don’t have to wrestle with an antenna or find the best orientation to get reception.
But there are still situations where a portable radio can be useful. There are emergency weather radios that use a battery that you can charge up with a hand crank or solar panels if you’re stuck without power. They hone in on particular stations to alert you about severe weather. And if you’re traveling, hiking, or camping, either within the country or abroad, there are portable radios that will help you pick up the local radio stations. Or maybe you just want a simple device that picks up AM and FM stations, without requiring an Internet connection or any hi-tech equipment.
We’ll go through some of the options in the Best Reviews Guide list of popular portable radios. Whether you just want something simple to take with you when going for a walk or trip or a more antique model with a classic wooden case, you can find the right portable radio here!
Why would I want a portable radio?
A portable radio will allow you to listen to the news or your favorite music while you are on the go. Maybe you want a radio that you can take with you camping or hiking so that you can stay up to date on the weather forecast.
Which types of portable radios are there?
The most common type of portable radio is a handheld or pocket radio. Handheld radios are small and lightweight, making them easy to carry with you wherever you go. There are also tabletop radios, that are larger than handheld radios and are designed to sit on a table or other flat surface.
Types of Portable Radios
Looking over the Best Reviews Guide of the best portable radios, we can distinguish between two main types of displays:
Analog display: There are still radios with a classic look, with a tuning dial that runs through the stations. But that makes it a bit tricky to zero in on the station that you want. An example is the Jazmm AM/FM Portable Radio. It uses 4 “D” size batteries, but it can also use an AC power adapter.
Jazmm AM/FM Portable Radio
The Jazmm radio measures 9.4” x 2.4” x 5.9”. That’s certainly portable, but it won’t fit in your pocket. If you’re looking for a pocket analog radio, try the PowerBear Portable AM/FM radio. It works on two “AA” batteries, and measures only 2.7” x 1.1” x 4.6”.
PowerBear Portable AM/FM radio
Digital display: You’ll also see portable radios with a digital display. This makes it much easier to zero in on a particular radio station. Also, a radio with a digital display will allow for preset radio stations that you store in memory. You can access the station with just the press of a button! An example is the Sangean WR-2 AM/FM Digital Tuning Radio. It lets you store up to 5 radio stations.
Sangean WR-2 AM/FM Digital Tuning Radio
The radios we studied above are AM/FM radios. But there are also shortwave and long-wave radios, such as the Eton-Elite Traveler Radio. It’s a small model, only measuring 6.3” x 1.72” x 4.76”. It is also able to pick up overseas stations (even though the signal may be a bit weak). And it’s capable of storing 500 different radio stations!
Eton-Elite Traveler Radio
What reviewers say
Here are some of the impressions of customers regarding their choice of a portable radio:
Prefer rechargeable batteries: Some radios use as many as 4 AA or D batteries. Even listening only for 1 hour a day, you may end up finishing the batteries in two months. So it’s best to use rechargeable batteries to power your radio.
AM reception may not be so good: One customer noted that AM reception was weak on his device. It’s not necessarily a fault in the device, but rather because the signal environment for AM signals has to compete with WiFi and cellphones, so there is more interference. But, with a properly installed FM antenna, you should always be able to get proper reception.
You can settle for a portable radio that has nothing more than a volume dial and a tuning dial. But there are also some tips and nice features to look for when selecting a portable radio:
Aux input jack: This will allow you to hook up an Mp3 player, iPod, or iPhone to play additional music content over the radio’s speaker. There will be a button on the front of the radio to select either AM or FM radio, or from an auxiliary source.
Headphone jack: This allows you to listen to the radio with a pair of headphones, instead of through the radio’s speaker. That’s good if you’re in a public place, and you don’t want to disturb people around you.
Line out/Aux output jack: This allows you to take the output from your radio directly into a recording device, like an Mp3 player, or to an amplified speaker system.
Clock radio: You can also find portable radios which allow you to use them as a sleep timer, to take a short nap (as long as 90 minutes!), or to use them as an alarm clock. The Retekess V111 Digital Radio has this feature.
Retekess V111 Digital Radio
Antenna: The antenna on a portable radio may be a bit tricky. The antenna for picking up AM stations is inside the device. You may have to rotate the device somehow to get better reception for the station you’re interested in. But, the FM antenna is a telescopic piece of metal on the outside. On some devices, it’s something that you screw on yourself. That’s the design in the Sangean Table Top AM/FM radio.
Back of the Sangean Table Top AM/FM radio, showing where to attach an FM antenna
We went over some of the most popular portable radios on the market nowadays. Some models, like Sangean, are a bit nostalgic, with a real wooden cabinet, but with quality electronics inside as well. Other radios are smaller and more compact and are intended for taking them with you when hiking or traveling. Others can get you weather stations or shortwave radio. All told, you’re sure to be able to find a nice portable radio out there!