Though it may seem a bit outdated, there is actually a thriving market for the best portable radio as manufacturers begin to adapt to new, emerging technologies and making products which look nothing like the portable radios of old. Of course, there are still plenty of portable radios out there made to cater to the utilitarian buyer as well.
Whether you look for a more modern style that includes numerous features found on most electronics today or something that can serve in the direst of situations and provide life-saving information, you need a guide to help you navigate the different options available to you.
- Best Portable Radio 2018
- 1. Sangean PR-D18GR Protective – Best Portable Radio
- 2. Sony ICF-F10 – Best Portable Radio AM FM
- 3. Avantree SP850 3-in-1 – Best Portable Radio with Bluetooth
- 4. Sony ICFP26 – Best Portable Radio for FM Reception (Best Price)
- 5. C.crane CC Skywave – Best Portable Radio for AM Reception
- 6. Kaito KA500 5-way – Best Portable Emergency Radio (People’s Choice)
- 7. Sangean H201 – Best Portable Radio for Beach
- 8. Grace Digital Mondo – Best Portable Internet Radio (Editor’s Choice)
- 9. Tecsun pl-380 – Best Portable Radio for Camping
- 10. Sangean HDR-14 (Updated 2018) – Best Portable HD Radio
- Best Portable Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
Best Portable Radio 2018
When trying to figure out which portable radio is the best for you, it is easy to get confused by the jargon and random specs. That is why we have put together a list of the 10 best portable radios, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best portable radio to suit your needs.
|AM/FM||3.5 mm||15 Hrs|
|Sony ICF-F10||AM/FM||3.5 mm||200 Hrs|
|Avantree SP850||FM||BT, USB, SD, 3.5 mm||6 Hrs|
|AM/FM||3.5 mm||100 Hrs|
|CC Skywave||AM/FM, Airband,|
|3.5 mm and USB |
|3.5 mm and USB |
|Sangean H201||AM/FM, NOAA||N/A||120 Hrs|
|Grace Mondo+||30000||BT, WiFi, USB, 3.5 mm||13 Hrs|
|Tecsun pl-380||AM/FM, Longwave,|
|3.5 mm and USB |
|Sangean HDR-14||AM/FM||3.5 mm||55 Hrs|
The data collected in the article are relevant for 2018. The article will be supplemented and corrected as soon as the new information appears.
1. Sangean PR-D18GR Protective – Best Portable Radio
The Sangean PR-D18GR is not for everyone but it quite possibly could be as this portable radio comes with a little bit of most features that you look for. This attempt to find a balance and best all-around value have led the Sangean PR-D18GR to be our best portable radio.
Great Reception and Options
The Sangean PR-D18GR has a decent AM and excellent FM radio reception. Moreover, this portable radio includes DSP chip which has definitely improved many recent AM FM portable radios to new performance levels at low cost. For instance, aside from 10 memory channels and a backlit LCD display, this best portable radio also features a rubberized border to help keep it in place and absorb any shocks.
On top of that, the Sangean PR-D18GR also features a digital tuner for precise tuning as well as a convenient auto-seek feature to help find the clearest channels quickly. Finally, this easy to use portable radio also features a fairly robust clock that has 2 different alarms.
2. Sony ICF-F10 – Best Portable Radio AM FM
Sony needs little introduction, but as one of the largest and most respected electronics manufacturers in the world, it only makes sense that they would cover the niche market of nostalgia. If you are looking for a simple portable radio that delivers top-notch performance, then the Sony ICF-F10 has covered and more.
Though it is a bit larger than many of the other portable radios we reviewed, it is also far more durable as well. The Sony ICF-F10 made our pick for the best portable radio AM FM.
Radio Reception and Battery
3. Avantree SP850 3-in-1 – Best Portable Radio with Bluetooth
Avantree is definitely a bit unique in that they actually specialize in audio equipment more generally but with a focus on providing Bluetooth compatible products regardless of the specific product category.
The Avantree is an impressive portable radio in many respects, but not necessarily the ones you would expect definitively placing the Avantree in a target market aimed more for a younger audience. On top of that, we declare as the best portable radio with Bluetooth out of all the models we saw.
Excellent Digital Features
Specifically, the Avantree SP850 3-in-1 provides so many different connections, formats, and features that it can be a bit easy to overlook the fact that this portable radio with Bluetooth does not play AM radio stations. This will definitely give you something to think about, but the FM digital tuner still offers great reception while the ability to use Bluetooth, a USB port or an SD card is just icing on the cake.
4. Sony ICFP26 – Best Portable Radio for FM Reception (Best Price)
With such a large market presence, Sony has the luxury of identifying specific niches and catering to those consumers more specifically. The Sony ICFP26 may not impress upon first look with its exceedingly minimal design and a veritable dearth of features, but if you are looking for a simple portable radio that delivers on the basic functions better than most, the Sony ICFP26 is a great option.
This product made our pick for the best portable radio for FM reception that we saw on the market.
Great for the FM
For one, the portable radio has compatible rechargeable battery packs which are only made more efficient through the use of integrated circuits. On top of that, the circuitry of the Sony ICFP26 is superior in a number of other respects providing it with some of the best reception quality that we saw. With a compact profile and a convenient carrying strap, this best portable radio for FM reception favors quality over quantity.
5. C.crane CC Skywave – Best Portable Radio for AM Reception
C.crane is another company that has been around for a surprising amount of time almost 45 years and has made a bit of name for themselves within their respective market. Even better, C.crane makes it a point to specialize in radios, so they can offer products, which are more nuanced than general electronics manufacturers.
It ensures that their products achieve a standard too high for most other companies to reach. The C.crane CC Skywave made our pick for the best portable radio for AM reception that we reviewed.
Great for the AM
The C.crane CC Skywave is perhaps the aptest product for this brand primarily due to the fact that it includes a wide variety of different bandwidths not normally included with portable radios many of which are simply relevant for specialized fields or, more likely, hobbyists.
For example, on top of the AM/FM and even the NOAA channels which are common enough, the C.crane CC Skywave goes the extra mile to include shortwave and air band channels as well even if you are unlikely to make direct use of the information. Even better, this is a completely digital portable radio providing great tuning precision as well as 400 memory presets. Finally, this is by far one of the best portable radio we saw for listening to talk radio and other AM radio stations.
6. Kaito KA500 5-way – Best Portable Emergency Radio (People’s Choice)
Kaito is not actually a specialized manufacturer of radios of any sort and instead focuses more on providing sustainable, solar power solutions for consumer needs. Considering how the company got its start, it should come to an as little surprise to those with a little knowledge of the market that the Kaito KA500 tops our list as the best portable emergency radio.
Excellent Charging Functions
For one, this is one of the few portable radios we saw that came with a light though this model’s light is a bit underpowered.
7. Sangean H201 – Best Portable Radio for Beach
The whole point of a portable radio is to be able to take it anywhere with you, but there are all too often settings in which few portable radios would be able to survive. Sangean is back again and this time they have brought arguably one of the best portable radio for the beach that we have seen.
Great for the Beach
Granted, there is a bit more they could do to increase the body’s durability, but in terms of the general environment, the Sangean H201 has it covered. For example, this is the only best portable radio for the beach we saw which is JIS7 waterproof rated for use in official marine settings.
Still better, you do not even have to worry about losing the Sangean H201 in the water as it floats though it is fully submersible. Finally, the LED flashlight and emergency siren make this a great portable radio to signal someone on land.
8. Grace Digital Mondo – Best Portable Internet Radio (Editor’s Choice)
Grace Digital may not has a true specialty or a history that can speak to quality, but they do offer some of the most innovative designs on “outdated” technology. It provides a wide range of audio equipment that can function as the bridge between internet radio and home stereo systems.
The Grace Digital Mondo+ is definitely another portable radio that is truly stretching the definition of that term as this is far more of an integrated internet device than it is a traditional radio. This product made our pick for the best portable internet radio.
It also compatible cast apps means you will never be without a genuinely good option. Just to dunk on the competition, this best portable internet radio also provides the best sound quality on our list.
9. Tecsun pl-380 – Best Portable Radio for Camping
Though it may say Tecsun USA, this is actually a Kaito Electronics product, which goes a long way in explaining why it is the best portable radio for camping on our list. By the way, Kaito as the Tecsun only authorized dealer in the United States and Canada markets.
Though it may not be skewed quite so much towards emergency situations exclusively, it still offers plenty of options for outdoor use like longwave and shortwave channels the former of which is great if you are sailing or flying.
The Tecsun pl-380 also provides by far the most memory presets with 550, though the absence of NOAA channels is fairly conspicuous. Still, the Tecsun pl-380 does have decent speakers for its size and also offers the precision of digital tuning for an all-around good experience. Finally, this best portable radio for camping can make sure you are up with the dawn by using the included alarm clock.
10. Sangean HDR-14 (Updated 2018) – Best Portable HD Radio
Considering how broadly they cover the market any lengthy list of the best radio from any category will naturally include numerous Sangean products. Of course, this means that not every portable radio they make will be jam-packed with features too.
Still, we end our list with a Sangean that for all intents and purposes is a traditional portable radio with some HD technology to provide a much better experience. Therefore, the Sangean HDR-14 arguably the best portable HD radio that we saw.
Multicast and HD Radio
Most importantly, this best portable HD radio is also exceptionally clear as it can use automatic multicast re-configuration to clean up the signal amid the noise. Finally, the Sangean HDR-14 also provides 2 different alarms with 3 different types of alarm to choose from.
Best Portable Radio Reviews – Buyer’s Guide
Therefore, the reception of a portable radio is arguably the most important factor. That is affected by too many variables to boil down here. Instead, the types of channels are often grouped for the particular use, which will help provide a clear guide for deciding on which portable radio is right for you.
Outside of the standard FM/AM frequencies, the next set of channels that are common and also incredibly useful are the NOAA channels. The NOAA, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is basically in charge of alerting the public to potentially dangerous weather.
On top of that, the NOAA channels are often better equipped to handle the actual weather itself. It will regularly continue playing even when FM/AM signals have been blocked. It is worth noting that these channels are more for large regions and will generally not provide the type of specified information that your local public broadcast might. For example, both will likely mention major interstate closures, but the NOAA is unlikely to mention smaller, local street closures something your local public broadcast channel almost certainly will.
This is the frequency range used for pilots and air traffic controllers. It should be seen more as an interesting oddity than anything else. The only obvious exception to this rule is if you happen to fly all the time say you are a pilot or even a busy businessman you may want these channels to be able to plan for potential issues as most of the chatter will be focused on the present conditions.
Most importantly, the pilots and traffic controllers will often discuss ancillary issues as well that may still be important for a passenger, like if there is a holdup in luggage processing or some other problem. Therefore, you are not allowed to communicate along these channels. You can only listen in something that is all the more difficult thanks to a code that the pilots and controllers use.
Shortwave radio is basically anything lower than AM frequencies which definitely place this feature in a bit of an odd situation. It also ensures that there is no lack of benefit. Specifically, shortwave radio signals can be reflected off of the atmosphere providing a length of transmission that can technically span continents.
These signals are commonly used for emergency broadcasts, especially when the potential disaster will affect a large area. That said, shortwave radio does technically include large swathes of the AM spectrum. This feature can increase the reception for those specific channels which do happen to be some of the more difficult to pick up at any distance. There is also something of a hobbyist community that enjoys listening to the official broadcasts various governing agencies send along these bandwidths.
This is pretty much an outdated type of radio transmission that is all but extinct in the United States. Though it still has a somewhat surprising life in Europe with Eastern Europe, in particular, providing a majority of the world’s longwave radio stations. That said, there are potentially other reasons to have a longwave radio. This is relegated primarily to navigation purposes with either marine or aircraft.
As such, if you are located in Europe, have plans to travel there, or will fly or boat long distances, then a longwave receiver is not a bad idea. If none of those conditions apply, then there is actually a good chance that you will not even be able to use this function as there will be no longwave transmissions close enough to matter. The only exception to this is a somewhat “underground” longwave community in the Americas that provides an “old school” feel.
Picking the absolute best portable radio will always be difficult because different situations will favor one set of features over another. If your needs are fairly basic and all that matters is how well the portable radio receives and plays AM FM signals, you likely will be unimpressed with various digital features or numerous channel communities.
Still, there are some products which check more boxes than most and for someone just looking for a great portable radio, we recommend the Sangean PR-D18GR. It is a less expensive portable radio that offers something for pretty much everyone with an easy to use interface. It has a solid clock system and a reasonably broad functionality.
Of course, if you are more interested in the hottest new thing that pushes the limits of the product, then we recommend the Grace Digital Mondo+. While this is certainly not the product for someone looking for a “simple” portable radio. It is surprisingly impressed with the sheer breadth of its functionality. If you do not mind spending more for this model than any other by a good chunk, you will not be disappointed.