Let’s face it. Radio is a service today that is seldom enjoyed by the public, thanks to the flurry of music streaming services that offer you the ability to listen to exactly what you want at any given point. But we still see radio on cabs and on shopping malls, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re surrounded by them everywhere. If you’re the kind of person who truly enjoys radio broadcast, be it to listen to expertly curated music or just to listen-in to a prank call being made to some unfortunate user, there are ways you can significantly enhance your radio listening experience.
How? Well, using portable FM radios of course. There was a time when portable FM radios were in trend, and they shortly died down, and now they’re back again. So we’re going to talk about four excellent portable FM radios (and one surprise inclusion) to help you get back on those radio waves.
5 Best Portable FM Radios
Sbode Bluetooth Speaker/Radio
This has a design similar to that of the Amazon Echo, and its functionality is somewhat similar (although without the iconic voice assistant). It functions as a standard Bluetooth speaker, allowing you to play content from your phone, tablet or computer. However, it is also an FM radio on its own, thanks to the sensors inside. This means you can use it pretty much like a portable radio, without requiring any additional equipment. Sbode is a popular manufacturer with rave reviews, which perhaps explains why it’s listed under Amazon’s Choice. You don’t need any additional equipment to use the FM radio function, so it’s good to go out of the box.
To conserve the speaker’s battery life, it goes into an automatic shutdown mode if the speaker is quiet for 10 minutes. If you’re more of a conventional music listener, you can stay worry free knowing that the speaker will be paired with your phone/tablet automatically. Since it’s supposed to work as an FM radio as well, it can work without a phone or tablet, offering ultimate utility on a small sized product. The speaker quality is pretty decent as reviews mention, and for a product that costs $49.99, it’s very impressive. The speaker comes with a microSD/TF card slot, allowing you to store music natively. For the kind of features that it’s packing, a price tag of $50 is mightily impressive.
Sony CFDS50 Boombox
This one is definitely a throwback to the past, allowing you to play audio CDs, and use the radio at the same time. It work on AC power and using batteries (6 size C), which is sold separately. The company mentions that the battery offers a run time of 19 hours, which is pretty decent for a portable radio. Of course, if you still have your CDs, it’s still good to go. It seems like the device was designed with a lot of nostalgia in mind, and since it’s coming from Sony, you can expect nothing but the best here. Since it can be operated with a wire, an AC cable is provided with the packaging. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack here as well, which means you can plug in your headphones if you don’t want to create a lot of noise in public.
This also allows you to use these only as speakers thanks to the aux port on board. However, the auxiliary cable will have to be bought separately. Since the speakers are designed traditionally, the company promises amazing performance, particularly the bass. There’s a dedicated button on the device to activate “Mega Bass”. All of this will cost you $104.99, which isn’t all too much considering it’s from a massively popular brand like Sony.
Sangean is a popular brand setup in 1974. They have been making quality audio equipment products since then and satisfying the needs of the markets since then. They have their own variation of a boombox/radio, known as the TB-100SE a.k.a. the Toughbox. It comes with a rugged exterior, as you could make out from that moniker. It has a stand like design with a speaker encased within to make sure the speaker remains safe. This makes it an excellent candidate for parties and outdoor picnics.
It uses an ABS plastic construction, which in addition to providing a firm grip also offers some resistance against drops, although it is never recommended to drop your speaker. The speaker runs on rechargeable C batteries, which have to be bought separately. It will also run on conventional AC power. However, I recommend investing in the batteries so that you can have the extra layer of convenience. The speaker has a few buttons on board to help you adjust the frequencies of the radio station or control other aspects, so it’s not too complicated to understand. It’s a reasonably good product, and for a price tag of $89.95, you really can’t ask for more. The Sangean TB-100SE comes in a range of colors, including Blue, Green, and Black. This model lacks Bluetooth support, so we recommend getting the model with this feature, currently priced at $99.95 on Amazon.
C. Crane CC Pocket Radio
If you want a no frills conventional pocket radio, this one has to be it. It’s small, which makes it easy to carry around. Its speakers are not too loud, which means you can listen to music or talk shows without waking up your neighbors. To conserve battery, the device comes with a built-in sleep timer, which will put the device to sleep after a while of non-activity. The speaker runs on two AA batteries, so make sure you’re stocked up on those if you’re planning to get this. Oh, and it comes with headphones, so you don’t have to rely entirely on the onboard speakers. The C. Crane CC pocket radio will set you back by $64.99 and has plenty of positive reviews from the customers, so you can get it without worry.
This is not a hardware speaker, but a smartphone app that can help you get all the radio stuff you’re interested in. The best part is that this is perhaps the cheapest way to get your radio fix of the day, as it’s free to download and has no hidden subscriptions. You can choose to get an iHeartRadio All Access subscription for $9.99 per month, after taking the free trial. So you don’t lose your money if you want to cancel mid-way through the free trial. With the All Access subscription you get access to some additional features, like offline playback, unlimited skips etc.
Users can create their own playlists by choosing music from a large catalog. This, in addition to the user interface and the ease of use is what makes iHeartRadio an excellent alternative to hardware speakers with radios. Since the user is always with a smartphone, it seems more feasible to use an app rather than invest in hardware separately.
The iHeartRadio app is free to download from the Play Store and comes with ads.