Did you ever wish you had a radio which was small and lightweight enough that you could take it with you anywhere? Portable radios are designed for just that purpose. Bring one to a volleyball game at the beach, take it with you to a party or picnic at the park, or simply keep it at home. Many people purchase them as table radios, and may keep them in one location or move them from room to room throughout the house. Whatever your needs, the portable radio can deliver high-quality audio for crystal clear talk or music wherever you go.
If you are thinking of purchasing a portable radio, but you are not yet sure what you need, you can look at the comparison table below to see top-rated portable radios on Amazon.com.
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If you still do not know where to begin in your search for the perfect portable radio, read on to learn everything you need to know to start shopping.
What is a Portable Radio?
A portable radio is precisely what you it sounds like—a radio you can carry around with you anywhere. It is lightweight and compact so that you can walk it around if you need to. It is not a device designed for two-way communication; it is simply an AM/FM receiver for playing music and talk radio. If you are looking for two-way communication, you need to shop for two-way radios.
Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Portable Radio
How and where do you intend to use your portable radio?
This is the first and most important question you should ask yourself. Will you use the radio indoors or outdoors? Will you be setting it on a table and keeping it in one place, or moving it around? Will you be bringing it to parks or beaches? Will you be playing music in the shower? Will it be exposed to water and/or dust?
Who will use the radio?
Sometimes you may be purchasing a portable radio for a child or elderly person. In these cases, you may want to shop for accessibility features like large knobs and simple buttons.
Features and Add-Ons to Look For When Shopping for a Portable Radio
Portability features (dimensions, handle, etc.)
Check the dimensions of the radio before you buy it to make sure that it is small and light enough for your needs. Obviously this is most important if you will actually be taking the radio outside your home. If you will be carrying it a lot, a design with a handle can be very helpful.
While you may want some extra features on your radio, you do not necessarily want too many buttons and dials. Many portable radios are more complicated than they need to be. Look for something which unites a feature-rich experience with simple and intuitive operation.
This is arguably the most important feature of a portable radio. If you cannot get the quality you are looking for with the sound, the other features are not going to matter much. Look for a radio which gives you control over balancing treble and bass. Some radios even include adjustable antennas which you can use to try and reduce static and pick up specific stations more effectively.
Some portable radios include an illuminated display. This can be very helpful, particularly if you will be keeping the radio at home on your bedside table, and may be using it in the middle of the night. On that note, you may also find a clock a useful feature. This is standard with many portable radios.
How many presets does the radio you are thinking about buying allow you to select? If you listen to a lot of different stations and do not want to manually scan through to find them, you should buy a portable radio which gives you a large number of preset selections. If you typically only listen to a couple of different stations, this is not as important.
The majority of portable radios perform poorly on rechargeable batteries, which forces you to use single-use AA alkaline batteries. If you search around, however, you will discover there are some portable radios which can use rechargeable batteries without any quality loss. You may also be able to purchase an AC adapter to plug the radio into a wall outlet. Check to see if the adapter is included or if you need to buy it separately.
Another feature which you will not find on every portable radio but which may be very important to you is waterproofing. If you will be using your radio outdoors, you do not want the first rainstorm to short it out. Or imagine that you will be taking the radio to the beach. There you have to contend not just with spray from the sea, but also sand and dust—so dust-proofing may also be important. Planning to use your radio in the shower? There are portable radios built specifically for this purpose.
Want to listen to your portable radio without disturbing other people? Some models include a jack so you can plug in a pair of headphones. You can also use the jack to plug in a pair of external speakers. This may help you to improve sound output quality. Just remember that it will not make up for poor reception.
You now know everything you need to about portable radios. These are relatively simple devices, so it should be fairly easy to figure out what you need and select a radio which offers the portability, reception, and sound quality that you require. Ready to start shopping? If you scroll back up to the top of this page, you can take a closer look at our product comparison chart. We have done the hard work of searching for the best portable radios and have compiled information on pricing and features so that you can find exactly what you need.
Sangean PR-D7 BK: Built-In Battery Recharger
Just about any radio that accepts normal batteries can also run on rechargeables. However, very few radios come with a built-in internal charger– that’s why fans of Sangean’s handy PR-D7 BK radio love it so much. When it’s time for a recharge, all you have to do is connect the radio’s AC adapter.
- Internal charging. You don’t need to buy a separate charger to use rechargeable batteries with this device.
- Clean and crisp. The PR-D7 BK’s speakers are perfect for news and talk radio.
- Efficient. This radio can use NiMH batteries with no loss of performance due to lower voltage.
- AC adapter included. No need to pay extra for an AC adapter if you don’t already have one.
- Straightforward operation. All the buttons are clearly labeled and easy to figure out.
- Receives faint signals. If you live in a rural area, the PR-D7 BK will help you lock in faint signals.
- Sleep timer. Switch on sleep timer mode if you want to fall asleep to your favorite nighttime talk radio program.
Because this radio is a bit hefty because of its built-in charger, it would be nice if it came with a collapsible carrying handle.
Sony ICF-F10: A Simple Portable Radio with Long Battery Life
The Sony ICF-F10 isn’t fancy– in fact it’s probably the most bare bones radio that you’re likely to find. But if you’re looking for a radio with an extremely low price tag and super battery life, you’ll probably like it. Fans of this radio also appreciate its large analog dial and its convenient carrying strap.
- Simple and basic. If all you want to do is tune in to your favorite radio station, the ICF-F10 is the portable radio for you.
- Super battery life. This little device can play music or news for up to 220 hours before it runs out of juice.
- Economical price. The ICF-F10 is one of the cheapest new radios out there right now.
- Large tuning knob. Navigating up and down the radio spectrum is a breeze, thanks to this radio’s analog dial.
- Decent reception. The ICF-F10 isn’t made for “DXing” faraway stations, but it does a fine job of picking up local ones.
- Good for camping trips. This radio’s awesome battery life and low price make it a good radio to bring along on outdoor adventures.
- Carrying strap. Though some people complain that it’s made out of cheap material, the ICF-F10’s carrying strap is a nice bonus feature.
The ICF-F10 has no AC adapter jack, so you can’t plug it into the wall if you run out of batteries. Also its headphone jack is mono, not stereo.
Sangean DT-400W: A Pocket Sized Portable Radio That Receives Weather Alerts
DT-400W is an inexpensive portable radio that can receive NOAA weather alerts. Fans of this device appreciate its small size, large display and surprisingly big and deep bass. Another good thing about this radio is that it can use your headphone cord as an antenna. It’s a bit more durable and versatile than radios equipped with collapsible antennas.
- Good reception. Even though it’s small, the DT-400W can easily pick up far away stations.
- Weather alerts. NOAA alerts allow you to notified of potential weather hazards.
- Big display. Even people with vision problems can read the DT-400W’s display.
- Bass boost. The DT-400W is tiny, but its bass boost mode sounds surprisingly warm and deep.
- Belt clip. Attach this radio to your belt when you’re on the go.
- Earbuds serve as the antenna. This feature eliminates the need to fiddle with a collapsable metal antenna when you want to get better reception.
- Pocket sized. This mini-radio is 4.19 inches long, 2.5 inches across and 1.18 inches deep.
This pocket radio receives all NOAA alerts, but it’s a bit disappointing that it can’t read Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) metadata.