Silver Sony Pocket FM/AM Radio: As Good It Gets For A $12 Gadget

I don't use many gadgets every single day. Smartphone, sure. TV? Nope. But these little battery-operated Sony radios — I have two of them — receive local airwaves every morning, every night, and for almost 48 hours straight on weekends.

It could just be a quirk of personality. I occasionally live a sort of 1957 lifestyle. Every summer night, I tune in to local sports broadcasts while I wash the dishes after dinner. The rest of the time, the radios are permanently tuned to news shows.

Spinning its knob to scan past the stations, you mix that half-second of static with the clipped sound of a real signal — a quick blare of Spanish radio, a few shouts from some sports game — it's an analogue experience. The phrase "tune in" seems appropriate to this device in a way it doesn't quite fit when you're dialed in with the station's digits displayed on an LCD.

Participating in a totally mature broadcast technology doesn't cost much. The Sony ICF-S10MK2 is only $US11.70 on Amazon today. It comes in a handsome silver shade with a collapsible antenna. You have to change the pair of AA batteries every season or so. As far as rich bass and punchy treble, it honestly sounds pretty flat. But it's certainly loud enough for me to hear Morning Edition's peppy, soothing tones over the sound of my shower at 7 am. From a little radio on a bathroom shelf, what more could you want?

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