Best Portable Radio Reviews – Buying Guide

It’s interesting how radio still holds a place in our daily lives despite the presence of more advanced technology. Perhaps that is a mark of a truly useful invention.

Radio technology has also continued to develop to bring us better and more versatile devices. For example, we can find different portable radio models on the market today with multiple functionalities and modernized features.

So, if you’re looking for the best portable radio to accompany you through calamity situations, camping trips, and other outdoor activities, you’ll find yourself with plenty of great choices at different price points. 

Check out our list of the best portable radios and see which one will best suit your needs and budget.

Best Portable Radio 2018 Comparison Table

Device Name

Frequency Range
AM/FM

Battery

Kaito KA200 Pocket AM/FM Radio

530-1600 kHz/ 87-108 MHz

Triple A x 2
(not included)

Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio

530 - 1605 kHz/ 87.5 - 108 MHz

Double A x 2

​TIVDIO V-112 Portable Digital Tuning AM / FM Stereo Radio

520-1719 kHz/ 87.5-108 MHz

V-112
(charged via USB)

Panasonic RF-2400 AM / FM Radio

530-1710 kHz/ 87.5-108 MHz

Double A x 4
(not included)

Horologe AM FM Pocket Radio/Portable Clock

520-1710 kHz/87.5-108 MHz

​Triple A x 2
(included)

OnLyee Digital Dimmable Alarm Clock Radio

Unspecified

​USB chargeable battery
(included)

Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM/Clock Portable Digital Radio

520 - 1710 kHz/ 76 - 108 MHz

Double A x 2
(not included)

iHome iBT29BC Dual Alarm Clock FM Radio

Unspecified

CR2450
(backup)

SONY XDR-V1BTD Portable DAB/DAB+ Clock Radio

Not applicable, DAB

​Built-in rechargeable battery

Roberts Splash DAB/FM RDS Digital All Weather Radio

Unspecified

​D battery x 2
(not included)

Best Portable Radio Reviews

Best AM/FM Radios

Kaito KA200 Pocket AM/FM Radio
— Perfect balance of size and performance

The Kaito KA200 strikes the perfect balance between size and performance.

It’s just a bit smaller than a deck of cards and can easily fit inside pockets and make for easy handheld operation. But don’t let its small size fool you, this portable AM/FM radio is comparable to regular-sized radios when it comes to performance.

It can go on 55 hours of producing clean sound when used with one change of alkaline batteries and even more when powered by lithium batteries. The Kaito KA200 pocket radio is also equipped with an LED indicator which shows a station’s signal strength to guide the user and a 7-inch retractable antenna to get the best radio signals.

You can enjoy listening to this radio either through its built-in speaker or earphones as it features a headphone/earphone jack as well. 

Specifications:


Dimensions: 3.5” x 2.25” x .75”
Frequency Range:AM: 530 - 1600 KHz | FM: 87 - 108 MHz
Battery life: about 55 hours (on alkaline batteries)
Antenna Length: 7”
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Compact and fits easily in pockets

•    Produces clean and ‘natural’ sound

•    Has LED tuning light to identify best radio reception

The  Cons

•    Antenna is a bit weak at getting proper signal

Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio
--- No nonsense portable AM/FM radio

The Sony ICFP26 is a pretty simple and straightforward portable radio for those who just want a radio to bring with them outdoors or to keep with them indoors during power outages.


It is designed for easy and efficient operation, so you won’t have to deal with unnecessary added frills when using it. The Sony ICFP26 has a simple on and off slide switch doubling as the AM/FM station selector, thumb wheel for volume control and another thumb wheel for tuning control. Another one of its useful features is the LED light which indicates tuning and battery status.

One downside though is that it’s a bit too big to fit in pant or shirt pockets. However, it comes with a built-in hand strap which increases portability. 

Specifications:


Dimensions: 2.7” x 4.7” x 1.5" (when antenna is folded)
Frequency Range:AM: 530 - 1605 kHz | FM: 87.5 - 108 MHz
Battery life: up to 100 hours (with fully charged AA batteries)
Antenna Length: 17”
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Can be powered by rechargeable batteries.

•    Easy to tune

•    Excellent size for traveling

•    Long extendable aerial for better signal

The  Cons

•    Sound from built-in speaker isn’t too great

TIVDIO V-112 Portable Digital Tuning AM / FM Stereo Radio
–Best digital-AM/FM portable radio

The TIVDIO V-112 offers a modern twist to the traditional AM/FM radio. It is equipped with a digital screen where users can more accurately control and tune their radio. With it, users can save up to 20 preset stations which they can easily access and switch between when desired. 

Another modern feature of the TIVDIO V-112 is that its built-in lithium battery is chargeable via USB. A downside though is that the battery only lasts up to 6 hours of use which is relatively low battery life as compared to the previous portable radios on our list.

However, it also has a feature that enables it to make efficient use of its battery. This TIVDIO portable radio will automatically shut down after 90 minutes of none use. It also has a key lock feature which prevents buttons from being accidentally activated while the radio is in your shirt or pant pocket.

Specifications:


Dimensions:3.3” x 1.8” x 0.5”
Frequency Range: AM: 520-1719 kHz | FM: 87.5-108 MHz
Battery life: 6 hours (one full charge)
Antenna Length: n/a
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Has clear tone and sufficient volume

•    Convenient digital display and preset option

•    Very small and compact

•    Great FM radio reception even indoors

The  Cons

•    Loses its charge rather quickly

Panasonic RF-2400 AM / FM Radio
--- Classic, no frillsportable AM/FM radio

If you’re a no-frills type of person looking for a classic AM/FM radio that will do the job, the Panasonic RF-2400 may be the portable radio you’re looking for.

This analog radio with a pleasing retro aesthetic will be more than sufficient in providing you AM/FM service both in and outside the house. It is conveniently powered by four double A alkaline batteries (You can also buy the rechargeable kind to save money on batteries). It can operate for hours on end without a hitch as long as you don’t put it on the highest volume. 

Its control design is also pretty straightforward and basic. It has an easy-to-read radio dial which has a separate scale for AM and FM stations, a built-in LED indicator perfect for tuning in low-light environments, a thumb wheel volume control, and 4-inch built-in speaker. This radio also includes an AC cable in the package so that you can use it as a plug-in radio.

Specifications:


Dimensions:9” x 4.8” x 3.2”
Frequency Range:AM: 530-1710 kHz | FM: 87.5-108 MHz
Battery life: n/a
Antenna Length: n/a
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Excellent sensitivity, provides clear sound even with folded antenna

•    Great for both indoor and outdoor use

•    Runs on rechargeable batteries

The  Cons

•    Too much bass sound when set on the AM band

Horologe AM FM Pocket Radio/Portable Clock
—Multifunctional and affordable

The Horologe AM/FM pocket radio/portable clock is a great device for those who are looking for an affordable yet multifunctional clock radio.

Being compact and battery-operated, this clock radio can easily be used on-the-go in various activities and situations. Its carrying strap also adds to its portability. 

It can be used as a regular radio for listening to AM or FM stations either through its built-in speakers or headphones as it features a 3.5mm jack. This Horologe clock radio also promises better signal as it is equipped with a DSP chip which makes its reception ability better. It also doubles as a clock and alarm clock. You can monitor the time and set alarms using its LCD screen as a guide.

Another selling point of this clock radio is that it is made from eco-friendly materials which can efficiently handle shock and falls. 

Specifications:


Dimensions: 3.9” x 2.4” x 0.6”
Frequency Range:AM:520-1710KHz | FM:87.5-108MHz
Battery life: n/a
Antenna Length: n/a
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Great portable radio for outdoor use and power outages

•    Excellent at picking stations

•    Stereo speaker produces great sound

•    Easy to carry, fits in shirt and pant pockets

The  Cons

•    Battery compartment is sometimes hard to open

Best Clock Radios

OnLyee Digital Dimmable Alarm Clock Radio
--- All-in-one clock radio

This OnLyee device packs in six functions in one. It is the perfect bedside or camping trip companion as it can be used as an alarm clock, an AM/FM radio, a Bluetooth speaker, an MP3 player, a bedside lamp and a smart device charger/charging port.It can be used at home as a plugin device or outdoors powered by its backup battery. 

Its AM/FM radio function enables it to save up to 20 presets (10 for AM and 10 for FM) and set your favorite station to play when the alarm goes off. It plays audio through its built-in stereo speakers. Meanwhile, its digital time display makes it a great and efficient clock.

 If you’re looking for an all-in-one clock radio but can forego exceptional radio quality for multifunctionality, this one is definitely the one for you. 

Specifications:


Dimensions:3.9” x 3.9” x 3.9”
Frequency Range:
n/a
Battery life:
n/a
Headphone Jack:
None

The  Pros

•    Has a lot of useful features

•    Stylish design

•    Bluetooth-capable

•   Dependable as a clock and alarm clock

The  Cons

•    Made of nondurable materials

•    Not so good radio function

Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM/Clock
Portable Digital Radio
--- Best clock radio

The Sangean PR-D18BK is a reliable portable AM/FM radio that doubles as a fully-functioning clock/alarm clock.

As a clock/alarm clock, it has a dual alarm feature activated by a buzzer or the radio. It also boasts of a humane wake system (HWS) and a snooze button for those who aren’t easily awoken by alarms. Not only that it can also be set as a sleep timer so you can have the option of falling asleep while listening to the radio and not have to worry about manually turning it off. 

Meanwhile, its radio function features the ability to store up to 10 presets (5 for FM and 5 for AM). It also has an LCD display with backlight for easier use. Another useful feature this Sangean clock radio offers an auto seek station option.

If you’re looking for a quality portable clock radio that will last for years to come, the Sangean PR-D18BK is the one to invest in.

Specifications:


Dimensions:6.5” x 1.5” x 4.3”
Frequency Range:AM: 520 - 1710 kHz | FM: 76 - 108 MHz
Battery life: n/a
Antenna Length: n/a
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Has great radio reception

•    Very well built and sturdy

•    Produces high-quality sound and does not distort at high volumes

•    Excellent for household and backyard use

The  Cons

•    Drains ordinary AA batteries fast (use rechargeable ones instead)

iHome iBT29BC Dual Alarm Clock FM Radio
--- Clock radio with modern features

If you’re looking for a device to use as an alarm clock more than as a radio, you may want to look what the iHome iBT29BC has to offer.

It is primarily a battery-powered bedside clock which has plenty of functions including an FM radio and alarm clock option. Its FM radio function can store and save up to six station presets. 

It can also be used as a bedside night light which can be coordinated to go off with alarms. You can also use the iHome iBT29BC as a Bluetooth speaker to play music directly from your smart devices. Not only that, you can also charge this device via USB port.

However, be warned that as the iHome iBT29C has multiple functions, its FM radio isn’t as great as the other ones on this list. 

Specifications:


Dimensions:6.03” x 5.28” x 6.03"
Frequency Range: n/a
Battery life: n/a
Headphone Jack: Yes

The  Pros

•    Has a lot of useful and modern features

•    Built-in light is great

•    Radio function works great

The  Cons

•    Tends to fall off the nightstand when alarm is triggered

•    Hard to tell which button does which

•    Doesn’t have AM band

Best Digital Radios

SONY XDR-V1BTD Portable
DAB/DAB+ Clock Radio
--- Portable digital radio with Bluetooth features

This next one may not be for casual radio listeners but if you’re looking to invest in the emerging technology that is digital radios, then the Sony XDR-V1BTD is a great radio to start with.

It is a digital radio which can also function as an FM radio making it a versatile device. Its main selling points are its long-lasting battery life and Bluetooth features which makes it compatible to use with smart devices.

The Sony XDR-V1BTD is equipped with amazing 45mm built-in speakers. Watch out for its excellent midrange sound performance which makes broadcasts sound clear and focused. However, its volume range leaves something to be desired. 

Specifications:


Dimensions:4.5” x 2.2” x 0.9”
Frequency Range:
n/a
Battery life:
25 hours
Headphone Jack:
Yes

The  Pros

•    Rechargeable and long-lasting battery

•    Great signal sensitivity

•    Easy to set up and use

•    Small and compact

The  Cons

•    Maybe too expensive for some

•    Not too good bass sound

Roberts Splash DAB/FM RDS Digital
All Weather Radio
---Best Digital Radio for outdoor use

The Roberts Splash DAB/FM Digital Radio is the perfect outdoor companion for those who want to listen to the news or music while doing yard work and the like.

This weatherproof and water-resistant digital radio can withstand just about any weather condition and still function well. You can set it up poolside, in your bathroom or out in the garden. It can also be safely-attached to a wall if you want a semi-permanent place for it in your home or garage. 

It’s also capable of saving 8 presets (4 for DAB and 4 for FM) and can show the name of the FM station you’re listening to through FM radio data system (RDS).

Specifications:


Dimensions:9.2” x 5” x 2.2”
Frequency Range:
n/a
Battery life:
can last weeks with moderate use
Headphone Jack:
Yes

The  Pros

•    Batteries are long-lasting

•    Water-resistant and weather-sealed

•    Has clean and pleasing design

The  Cons

•    Not compact enough for some

•    Does not include batteries in package

Buying Guide

As you may have seen from the wide variety of portable radio choices we’ve shown you above, there are different types of portable radios you can choose from depending on your needs and preference.

In this part of the article, we will discuss the fundamental differences among the three and the corresponding advantages and disadvantages of owning each. 

AM/FM Radios


The oldest and most popular of the three is the AM/FM radio which traces its roots from the late 1800s. The modern AM/FM radio is mainly used to transmit entertainment content, such as music and radio dramas, or public affairs programs. 

AM/FM radios, as the name implies, can receive and process both AM and FM signals. But what is the difference between the two?


First, AM is short for amplitude modulation. It is the choice of format for transmitting talk-heavy radio programs as it is more capable of long-distance transmissions than its counterpart. Most AM radios made in the US can operate at a frequency range of 520 kHz to 1710 kHz. 


Meanwhile, FM stands for frequency modulation. Of the two, FM is said to be the more complex form of radio broadcast signal. Thus, it is mostly used to transmit music. The FM format is also less sensitive to noise and interference during weather disturbances.FM radios in the US usually operate at a frequency range of 87.5 MHz to 108.0 MHz.


Despite the rise in popularity of other entertainment technology such as the television and digital media, AM/FM radios still manage to stay relevant over the years. This is perhaps due to the continuous innovation in the various iterations of AM/FM radios. Here are some of the different types of portable AM/FM radios that are available on the market tod10ay. 

  • Pocket: This type of portable AM/FM radio is probably the most practical for everyday on-the-go use. Pocket AM/FM radios are usually small and compact enough for handheld use and to fit, as the name implies, in the user’s pocket.
  • Walkman: Similar to the pocket AM/FM radio, the Walkman is also great for on-the-go music listening but with the added bonus of having headphones. Another perk is that the modern Walkman is also capable of playing digital music and cassette tapes depending on the model.
  • Digital: Adapting to the user’s changing needs, digital AM/FM radios are capable of playing digital format music like MP3 and the like. They are also equipped with a more sensitive AM/FM tuner and a convenient digital display.
  • Boombox: Boomboxes are all-in-one stereo and radio system that are also portable. They are usually box-shaped and are equipped with all or most of the following features: an AM/FM radio panel, a CD or cassette player and one or two speakers. Thus, they are perfect for outdoor use in activities like camping or backyard parties.

Clock Radios


Clock radios, simply put, are clocks with built-in AM/FM radio capabilities. Instead of the usual alarm clock buzz sounds, the clock radio will turn on the radio when the alarm time comes. The user can preset which stations will play as the alarm goes.


Most clock radios are battery-operated making them portable. They can be useful to bring during camping trips as alarm clocks, standard clocks, and radio for casual listening.


Some useful features you may want in a portable clock radio are a dimmable digital display and the capability of having multiple alarms. 

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) Radios


Although it still hasn’t reached the ubiquitous popularity that AM/FM radio has, digital audio broadcasting is beginning to gain popularity and widespread use.


Digital audio broadcasting technology, as was launched in the mid-90s, is an improvement on the traditional AM/FM radio format. It uses digital broadcast signals in order to achieve ‘CD quality’ audio transmissions and thus, better sound quality than its AM/FM format counterpart. It can also be used to transmit other information aside from audio.


The digital radio format has already gained a footing in Europe (primarily UK), the Middle East and some Pacific Asian Islands with numerous digital radio stations commencing broadcast. There aren’t digital radio stations based in the US yet but digital radios are already available for purchase. A sizeable variety of digital radios are also available in the market now.


Both desktop and portable digital radio models can be easily purchased online. Just be warned that as they are relatively new technology, digital radios can be more expensive than traditional radios. Most portable digital radios retail for around $100 up to $450.


When purchasing a portable digital radio, be sure to look for these useful features:

  • Great speakers either mono or stereo
  • USB connection compatibility
  • A headphone socket for private listening
  • Channel preset option to save your preferred stations
  • A sizeable screen for easy scrolling 

Given its increasing popularity and given advantages over traditional radio, you may want to invest in digital radios as early as now.

Final Words

Radio technology sure has come a long way since its inception. It has continued to adapt to consumers’ changing needs and has managed to keep up with the latest technology.


With all the many portable models of AM/FM radio, clock radio and even digital radio, you can surely find the best portable radio that will fit your needs and preferences. 

(Last Updated On: March 21, 2018)
john andrews
 

HI, John Andrew here. I’ve been an audiophile since I was a little kid. I’m an original member of myaudiolover . It emerged as a way for me to share my passion and knowledge for audio technology. If you’re looking for tips, techniques, and insights about audio-tech, that can enable your productions that professional edge, then MyAudioLover is the place for you!

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