Sunday, June 1, 2014

Daily Briefing For Sunday, June 1, 2014

First Impression Product Reviews - Sangean DT-400W and Grundig M400

My wife complains I carry too much stuff with us when we travel.  (Today, she also complained that I am too detail oriented when I clean the refrigerator, further proof that I am an exemplar for all American husbands to emulate.)

It's true I carry unusual items with us when we travel, including small radios.  I like radios.  I like being able to get news and information when I'm away from home.  The advent of the smart phone has radically changed how many of us consume information; arguably, it has almost replaced the need for small transistor radios.  Almost.

So before I share my thoughts on my two recent radio purchases, let me make the case for small radios as part of your preparedness gear.

  1. Smart phones don't run on AA, AAA or 9V batteries.  When your smart phone is drained, unless you have a way to recharge it on the go, it's basically a Steve Jobs paperweight.  Small transistor radios run on cheap, plentiful batteries you can get almost anywhere.  And good quality batteries - I personally prefer Duracell for alkaline - are reliable and hold a charge well for long periods of storage.  Further, if used judiciously, a good set of alkaline batteries in a small radio will run for a long time.  Try running your iPhone 5 for four hours sometime.
  2. When cell/data signals are tango uniform, commercial radio signals can still get through.  I'm not having to rely on my cell provider or the local wifi hot spot for info when I can pull out my handheld AM/FM radio.  If I'm on the road when a disaster strikes, I don't want to be beholden to my smart phone for news and weather information. 
  3. Even if the grid is down where I am, the radio can pick up stations in other towns which are still up and running.  If you're stuck in a town when a hurricane or earthquake hit, and the local radio stations aren't up and running, other stations down the road can still be transmitting into the affected area.  Try getting your smart phone to work in that environment.
Having said that, let me tell you about two new toys I've purchased to replace ones that no longer work very well.  First up is the Sangean DT-400W.  You can read more about the specs, features and pricing here.  This radio will replace the small weather radio I keep in my truck.  About four inches tall and two and a half inches wide, the Sangean takes up little space.  This particular model has AM/FM band reception as well, unlike the little Radio Shack weather radio it's replacing.  AM reception leaves something to be desired - anything beyond local stations is beyond the Sangean's capability.  FM reception is good, and it comes with a flexible FM antenna to improve performance.

The weather radio feature is the main reason I purchased this unit.  I haven't tested the alert feature yet, but I have already determined it gets good weather band reception. 

I'll be traveling with it over the summer for more testing.  If you want a detailed review and have twelve minutes, check out the review from The Urban Prepper:

Next up is the Grundig M400.  This replaces the Grundig Mini 300 I've used in my travel kit for over a decade.  It's about the same size as the Sangean, except it's much thinner.  More details about the radio can be found here.

This radio is a AM/FM/shortwave radio (it does not have weather band feature).  The reception on AM/FM is fantastic - when I put this radio and the Sangean on the same AM frequency, the Grundig blows the Sangean away, especially for out of town stations. 

The shortwave feature is nice to have, although I will confess I mainly use it for AM/FM function.  If you really need shortwave reception, you're better off with something like this
Sony model which I have and really like.  But for a shortwave radio that fits in your pocket, this is a good option.  I would consider getting a clip on antenna to attach to the telescopic antenna already built into the radio if you need better shortwave reception; I used the clip on from my Sony on the Grundig and saw a marked improvement in reception.

I'll start driving the radios harder in the coming weeks and will have more thoughts for you along the way.

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