A portable or “table” radio is just one of those must-have life’s little luxuries that touch us in a big way. In fact there’s literally a minimum of one (working or broken; old or new) small radio in almost every household in the world!
They are convenient (battery powered or rechargeable), portable, ideal for all ages, ideal for outdoor excursions, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes you can ever imagine. They’re also cheap and fun to own plus extremely easy to use. Most of them have turning knobs (both for volume and frequency search) and a clear dial to help you navigate to your favorite station with ease.
After a wide search of the best and cheapest small radios on portable radio reviews, these 7 were clearly light years ahead of any other competition.
Sony ICF-F10 FM/AM Transistor Radio
Pro: Very easy to use and compact build
Con: No AC power option or cord
Old School Touch: The Sony ICF-F10 has a classic old school look and feel but still managing to bring you the convenience of modern technology. The small analogue radio is ideal for survival kits and going to the beach or chilling the pool side. Being battery powered, it means you can literally bring it with you everywhere! The sliding switch on the side makes it easy to choose between the 2 available AM/FM bands and turning the radio ON or OFF. The panel displaying the dial scale for both AM and FM frequency selection is clear for easy navigation between stations plus the clarity on the speakers is worth the price. Standard headphones can be used for private listening. There’s also a swiveling antenna to enhance reception.
Sangean PR-D7 BK Digital Radio
Pro: The channel preset and auto shutdown timer function
Con: No carrying/hanging strap
Digital Convenience: The Sangean PR-D7 BK Digital Radio is what you’d call a thing of beauty as far as small radios go… The design, especially with the button shapes and the mix of colors as well as placement is just total genius. How does a small digital radio built to act as both a radio and an alarm clock sound to you? Portable radio reviews carry a lot of good words for this fella. With a simple and “very” red ON/OFF button, auto scan capability, large LCD display, AC/battery power options and a funny but nicely shaped knob on the side for volume control; the Sangean PR-D7 BK sure brings heat into the small portable radios market. The LCD display allows you to control and program the alarm, station(frequency) selection, time, and even see how much battery life is left. You will also enjoy the channel preset function which allows to quickly scan through 10 (5 AM & 5 FM) of your favorite stations readily available at a click of a button.
C. Crane AM/FM and “NOAA” Weather Radio (CC Pocket)
Pro: Child lock, 5 radio station presets and carrying sleeve
Con: No auto shutdown functionality
Fits Like a Glove: This pocket radio literally fits in your palm like the proverbial glove. It’s very easy to use and operate thanks to the limited functionality. It only has five buttons that can be used to scan through preset channels and 2 scan buttons to scroll up or down through radio stations. The radio is so small that everything can be done using one hand and your thumb only. However, the most exciting feature is definitely the NOAA weather band. Of course this comes in handy in the event of harsh weather emergency broadcasts. You can use earbuds and the radio is powered by 2 AA batteries with over 70 hours of play time.It also comes with full factory reset capability. The CC pocket will give you the time and also double up as a bedside alarm. Your earbuds act as extra an antenna too!
Tecsun PL-660 FM, AM, LW, MW, Air, SSB & SW World Band Receiver
Pro: Combines 4 automatic and manual channel search methods seamlessly
Con: Too much button clutter
The Best of Both Worlds: The buttons may be too much (especially in operation) but the functionality they provide more than covers for that slight disadvantage (since they are all needed anyway…). The channel selection function can be operated in 4 ways. You can scan automatically or key in the channel frequency manually using the provided buttons. Another way is using ATS or simply go old school with the good old reliable tuning knob on the side. There are two more knobs; one for the volume and the other one for tuning SSB. On the opposite side there is a port for the headphones, external antenna, a sliding switch for antenna gain and another one for changing the tone. With the exception of the large LED screen and the speaker, control buttons cover the entire front face of this radio. The radio can be powered using both AC and DC.
Tecsun PL880 FM, AM, SSB, SW & LW Digital PLL Radio
Pro: Unmatched selectivity and sensitivity plus line-out jack
Con: Button clutter
Refined Audio Output: The radio is compactly built with the same button clutter as its cousin the PL-660. However there are slight differences like the fine tune knob and the general button positioning. In addition to having both LSB and USB modes, the SSB works like a charm. The small radio has a sleep timer of up to 120 minutes and an alarm clock to help you wake up on time. The in-built lithium ion battery keeps on running for a long time between charging to ensure you always have your favorite news or music station with you. The large LCD display allows you to keep track of available battery life as well as set the alarm, time or program channel presets. When it come to audio clarity, the PL 880 sits up there with the best of them. It also has a traveling case ideal for when on the move or on an outdoor adventure.
Sony ICF38 FM/AM Radio
Pro: Compact build and LED tuner indicator
Con: Only MONO audio output
Down to Earth: Small radios don’t come in a simpler design than this! Kids, elderly relatives, and everyone else in between can use this pocket size radio with ease. The Sony ICF38 runs for 80 hours on 4 AA batteries which means crisp clear music for you… for longer. Operating this radio require the most basic of technological knowledge since it only has an ON/OFF switch, FM/AM band select switch, tuner, tone control and that’s about it! The good thing about this radio is the fact that it can easily go into your pocket and it has a carrying pouch where you can store it when not in use or when traveling. The LED tuning indicator comes in handy when operating the radio in limited lighting or total darkness making it the ultimate camping partner. It’s also perfect for the porch or garage.
American Red Cross FRX3 NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio
Pro: Smartphone charging and hand crank functionality
Con: Battery draining even when off
Being Red Cross Ready: A good scout is always prepared and part of that preparation includes having a gadget like this in your emergency kit. This small radio is one of a kind. It has 4 powering options that include solar, rechargeable batteries, hand crank and regular AAA batteries. And that’s not all, in addition to receiving FM and AM stations, it receives 7 NOAA emergency weather channels to help you stay ahead of disaster! Charge your smartphone for an emergency call with just 15 minutes of cranking or just place it outside and let it soak in all that good sunlight. This means it will always be functional even without any source of electric power available. It comes with a flashlight, glow in the dark locator, alarm clock, AUX-in and headphone jacks plus a flashing beacon. It’s a total package with everything you will ever need in a small radio and more! It’s simply a life saver.