Which radio to buy
A radio buying guide
When you need to choose which radio to buy, the features to look for depend mostly on what you intend to use the radio for and your budget. This radio buying guide will make the process a bit easier.
>> Where will you be using the radio?
There is a wide range of radios to suit various locations and functions. The first thing to consider is where you will use your radio. For instance, if you plan to use your radio by a pool, looking for water-resistant features will help you narrow down which radio to buy. For your car or home theater area, you'll want a radio with bigger speakers that can handle louder sounds without distortion.
You might need a portable type of radio - during exercise or as you move around your house. If you're a trucker, work in remote locations or just want to talk with a specific person in case of an emergency, consider a two-way radio. There are also radios for use specifically in cars, showers and outdoors for a wide range of purposes.
For listening while working out at the gym, invest in a small radio and a pair of earbuds or headphones. The same goes for other public locations: public pools, beaches, shopping centers and so on.
>> Types and features of radios
Handheld radios - Small, handheld radios range in size from a few inches in length to the size of a beeper in order to clip onto your clothing. These are highly portable battery-powered radios, so they're a good choice if you want to listen to tunes or talk shows as you move around.
Satellite radios - Rather than getting signals from local radio stations, this type of radio acquires its signals from satellites. These radios can come in all shapes and sizes, including handheld models, car models and more.
Car radios - Car radios are exactly what the name implies: radios that go in your car. They can be conventional radios, satellite radios or some combination of the two. Some have CD players included. Some can be connected to an iPod/iPhone or other digital music player, so you can listen to your playlists while you're on the road.
Boom boxes - The boom box is one of the most widely sold types of radio. As the name suggests, they are usually box shaped and have large speakers (that might be detachable) designed for heavy bass. Boom boxes feature a radio, along with additional music playing options, such as CD players and/or docks for digital music players.
Shower radios - Shower radios are designed to hang in your shower, usually from the shower head or on the wall by using suction cups. They are waterproof and durable, so they won't get damaged by the water and steam from your shower.
Clock Radios- There are many variations on the clock radio, both to help you get up and go to sleep. Clock radios usually have sleep timers, so you can drift off listening to music, and "snooze" settings that give you a few minutes to wake up gently. Some clock radios have docks for digital music players and let you program different playlists for going to sleep and waking up. There are clock radios with projected clocks, so that you don't have to turn over to see what time it is if you wake up during the night. There are even clock radios with dual wake-up timers.
2-way radios - These are specialized radios for communicating with a person in remote locations, where mobile phones and other forms of contact are not always reliable. 2-way radios use radio signals and allow you to contact others who have a 2-way radio on the same frequency. Basic models have a short range, usually less than 25 miles. Advanced models are usually for shorter distances (within a tall building, for example), but have more frequencies to choose from. They also have privacy features to block interference from other people using their 2-way radios.
>> What will the radio be used for?
Rugged conditions, such as camping, require a sturdy radio. If you want a radio that you can take camping, for example, choose one with a harder outer casing and better-insulated components inside the radio. This type of radio, sometimes called a field radio, receives shortwave frequencies in addition to AM and FM frequencies. For even more versatility, some radios are designed with hand cranks and/or solar cells for power, so you can listen when there's no electricity available. Knowing what you will need the radio for can help you pinpoint the features you need and which radio to buy.
>> Will you need any accessories?
The accessories you need tie in with the location and function of your radio. As mentioned earlier, earbuds or headphones are a must for listening to your radio in public settings. Harnesses allow you to clip small radios onto clothing, making them easier to wear while exercising. If you buy a 2-way radio, you likely will need a kit with chargers and additional specialized batteries.
You might also consider getting speakers to go with your radio. While radios generally come with built-in speakers, there are high quality speaker systems that you can add to create a full home entertainment system. You can also add wireless speakers throughout your home for some radios. These speakers allow you to listen to music on your patio or as you move from room to room without having to turn the volume on full blast. High-quality car radios (usually called head units) demand good speakers for an enjoyable listening experience.
Knowing which radio to buy is easier after you think about two major factors: where you'll use it and for what purpose. Armed with the information from this radio buying guide and some product research, you'll be able to choose the best radio to buy for you.