I really wanted to have a good pocket radio. Mainly to have something to listen to when cycling. But not only, also at work etc. MP3 may be good, but sometimes radio can be better because you can hear news or you can simply listen to something you have not heard before yet. Well, it depends.
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The following is aimed to help people who have the same dream about having a nice tiny pocket radio.
I wanted to have something really usable and satisfactory. My criteria follows (roughly ordered by importance to me):
- good sensitivity/selectivity
- low background noise
- ease of operation (do not have much both time/sense in touch when tuning my radio when riding the bicycle)
- robust design (dust/water/shock resistant as much as possible)
- I wanted no embedded speaker (only headphone use)
The following is the shopping story. I have more or less ignored sport radios because I suspected I can have the same for less money if I place regular pocket radio to a good neoprene case.
1 - At first I bought Sony's SRF-MP35 which has very good reviews on the Internet.
2 - Then I bought Panasonic RF-SW70, which is probably relatively new and I found no reviews on the net. It is sport radio which claims to be water resistant.
3 - Then I bought Sangean DT110.
All three are good products, but...
The biggest difference among the 3 is that both Sony SRF-MP35 and Panasonic RF-SW70 can be reasonably used only if you have stored the radio frequencies of preferred (up to 10) stations in the memory.
To do that you must either know the frequencies, or you must use up/down tuning to find them. During active use it is almost impossible to scan the FM band manually to find a station you could best listen to. It is simply too tedious and awkward, it takes a lot of time to scan the FM band by continuous pushing the up/down buttons. If you keep the button pushed the frequency goes up or down very quickly and you may easily skip over the station. If you are lucky enough to hear something you have to go back to find out what it was.
Only the Sangean DT110 solves this problem reasonably well. It has scan (both up/down directions) capability. If you keep up or down button pushed for a while the frequency changes until a signal of some defined level is received. All auto radios have this capability - because cars move and frequencies change during the move. Sangean even has auto tuning feature - it can store 15 stations to memory automatically. Then you can go through the memory and decide yourself what you like the best...
Panasonic RF-SW70 has beautiful design and great sound, best of the three radios I have tried. It should be also noted that it uses only one AAA battery whereas the other two use two AAA.
All three radios have roughly the same sensitivity but Panasonic RF-SW70 seems to me is the most sensitive. It is also least sensitive to electomagnetic noise - you can listen to it right by your computer without hearing anything from the headphones. The Sangean feels better one or two feet off the computer.
All three allow the user to choose between 9 and 10kHz per AM station and .2 .1 MHz per FM station (USA, Canada vs Europe). Well, Panasonic claims it on its website but in fact RF-SW70 ignores this for AM. It sticks on 10 kHz. Though this is not important for US use, it is definitely a bug made by Panasonic.
Panasonic is beautiful but only Sangean is ready for active use. The other two are only for people who do their sports always at the same area.
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