It is said in radio engineering circles that all possible advances in improving radio reception reached a pinnacle decades ago. As anyone who has used some of the classic radios of ages past can attest, there are burled wood, chrome, hand-wired, and even vacuum tube examples with reception and fidelity that put modern units to shame. So in the 21st century, the age of portable entertainment and miniaturization, why isn't there a pocket example of a "pinnacle of engineering" radio?
Recommend this product?
Leave it to a small overseas company barely decades old itself to create the solution. The Sangean DT series of radios have long been considered the "pocket DXers" of portable radios, DX meaning distance listening, and this most recent design ups the ante and raises the bar by lowering the weight and shrinking the size. Weighing in at slightly less than a cell phone, with dimensions on par with an iPod, it's the device of vintage performance and modern size that many serious radio listeners have been waiting for.
And a serious radio it is. For example, The stereo-mono-speaker switch is a blessing on many different levels; weaker FM stations that cause most radios to bounce noisily back and forth between mono and stereo mode can now be forced to mono for a much cleaner signal. When you're ready to listen using the speaker, you can just leave your headphones plugged in - they become the FM/TV antenna. Alternately, a length of antenna wire is included, plus the plug is standard mini 1/8" size (not the rare sub-mini size found on some other DT series units) which means that any antenna with a mini plug can be used for ultra-long-distance/rural listening.
Sensitivity is nothing without selectivity, which is the ability of a tuner to pull in a weak station that's right next to a strong one on the dial. This is where the cost-saving measures of other manufacturers become annoyingly obvious, and where the little Sangean shines. Here in Southern California on the FM dial, between 88 and 90Mhz there are at least *ten stations*. In the space of 2Mhz! I had no idea prior to owning this radio that so many were there. Any other radio might be able to pick up a scant few of the more powerful stations with some antenna positioning and tuning trickery, but the Sangean gets them all casually, no hassle or drama. AM reception is similarly impressive; KOA Talk Radio out of Denver, Colorado, nearly a thousand miles away, comes in audibly and regularly without the aid of an antenna.
Once you've tuned that rare station, you'll want to enjoy the listening experience, and the good news continues here also. The small speaker is nicely balanced and seems specifically designed to bring out the human voice, so that when listening to a weak/distant station, voices stand out from the static. The real joy begins when you use headphones - the included earbuds are cheap (as they should be, the purchase price should go towards the actual radio, not earbuds) and only adequate, but a quality set of headphones will produce an amazing high-fidelity sound. The bass boost helps balance out cheaper earpieces, and with better sets, pushes the bass into DJ territory.
There are a couple negative points - the interface relies on a single set of up/down keys, which means a third button has to toggle between tuning and memory presets. It's a little stilted and requires some practice before you can scan presets without looking. Also, using the headphone input as an antenna means you can't listen to FM or TV without something plugged into it. But these are small issues in light of pure tuner quality.
So is the Sangean right for you? You don't have to understand any of the technical fine points or jargon above - if you notice a difference in reception between your car radio and your portable, or if a friend's radio seems to get a station you can't, you're ready for the DT-210V. Fifty dollars for a pocket radio might seem steep, but then other portables don't provide fifty dollars worth of performance. If you take radio listening seriously, it's time for an equally serious radio you can take with you; the Sangean DT-210V nets my highest recommendation.
(Postscript: The user manual correctly specifies that for this model there are 10 memory presets for each band. The image on the Epinions site isn't entirely correct, view the image of the DT-210V on CCrane.com for the correct [and better-looking] final American version.)