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June 25, 2013



Sounds like Jay's in a hurry again; no mention of the F10's tried-and-true African roots, the even-your-grandfather-could-use-it interface, and its awesome battery life is only noted in passing (it would outlast the other two radios in the review even if you used them consecutively..)


I'm surprised Jay didn't show more appreciation for an inexpensive old school radio with relatively decent audio quality and reception. Radios like the F10 are a rare treat these days. It's certainly good enough for the beach or bathroom. I would go farther and say it's decent enough for listening to strong signals at home.


Of course, Jay did say that the "old school" Sony ICF-38 works better in every way than the ICF-F10, and it costs only about $25, so it may be a better buy for those who want more performance in a budget-priced radio.


I'd have to disagree with the opinion that the Sony ICF-38 sounds better than the ICF F-10. I've owned several 38's, and each time I give away the radio because its speaker tone is so tinny. I found the F-10 to have far superior audio quality. In my opinion, there' no comparison between the two radios.


Once the power goes out, sound quality and DX ability suddenly aren't so important - the F10 will play your local news station for *over a week nonstop* on the same pair of batteries.


I've believed for years that a decent AM-FM portable is survival gear, at least Out Here in the Pickers.

I have a F10 myself. I took it to the office. As I said here before it's great for that; cheap, durable, decent sound, and the ability to pull the faintest signals doesn't matter when you're surrounded by electronics and fluorescent lights.

But before I took it to work I tried it out at home. It pulled in all the local stations in the day, so it's fine for a local emergency. At night it pulled in AM stations well enough to grab a powerful station 700 miles away, so it's enough for an emergency that kills the local radio too. It's good enough.

In my crackpot opinion a radio like this and a blister pack of fresh batteries- useful for your flashlight too, at need- is a better emergency radio than one of the little solar- dynamo- LED flashlight combo sets sold for emergency use. There's less to go wrong with it. Also, it sounds good enough that you'll use it when it isn't an emergency too. That way, when an emergency comes, you'll know where it is, you'll have kept good batteries in it, and you'll know that it works.


I have a few battery powered radios that work well for emergency use. Living in the Oklahoma City area, storms knock out our power for days at a time. I have a small Radio Shack DX-396 that runs on two C-cells. It pulls in stations well, sounds good, and lasts forever on battery power. I have a Tecsun R-308 that runs on D-cells, as well as many vintage portables that run forever on alkaline batteries. I used to have a solar/dynamo emergency radio, but found I prefer to use my other radios that sound better and work for long periods without needing recharging. For me, the F10 or the 38 would be better than one of the "emergency radios."


I have both the ICF-F10 and and ICF-38... The 38 is still good, but I do agree with Tim, the tone for music and talk does sound better on the F10.


The old "Free Play" radios made in South Africa are good stuff. No batteries needed and they even have shortwave. And they have a flashlight built in. "Baygen Freeplay." Yes, I also have emergency radios that take batteries----I have tons of radios. But the Baygen gives me the opportunity to listen by turning the crank----so worst case, if the batteries I have are dead or weak, I have a great back-up. The one I have is built like a tank. I think they're probably made in China or somewhere else now. Mine is older----manufactured in South Africa.

John Boehner

Jay got two things wrong:
1. About the sound quality of F10
2 and about how good the radioshack pocket radio is.

Going by the results of his handheld AM portable shootout, I bought the radioshack pocket radio. I found it to be terrible, in ergonomics, sound quality and reception. So I returned it and bought another one, with the same results, that too was returned. I think Jay just got lucky with the one he has.

Jack Marshall

A $13 radio that provides just "entry level performance."

What an outrage.


When it comes to emergency radios there's something most people don't keep in mind for some reason; battery type. The first batteries that are going to get wiped out are D cells. Just about everybody has flashlights that run on them so they are always the first size to sell out.
I would not want to rely on anything that runs on D cells for that reason.
Radio on a battery for emergency use? Good old fashioned 9V batteries are plentiful and will be the last to go. Also you can run a boombox almost forever on a car battery.

Beyond that everyone should have a good old fashioned crystal set. No batteries needed. Yes, you need a long antenna if you're outside of the city, but you could just about always at least find a telephone line even in a worst case scenario. Of course you could just keep a roll of wire around.

Vimal Oberoi

I agree with you,John Boehner.
Going by his reccomendation in "handheld AM portable shootout", I bought the RS 12-586,Which I duly returned as sound output on AM was almost one third of that on FM.And to my surprise RS had redesigned the radio based on Si DSP chip without any mention of this devolopment.See this link for internals


Drive-In: The "which batteries sell out first" topic pops up frequently over on my native flashlight forum; thanks to our broad audience there, we have guys who will literally go out and photograph the battery section of their local stores when trouble's looming. Here's what we've deduced over the last several years of disasters, including Katrina and the NY flood - If you're going out to buy batteries because of an impending emergency, *you're already screwed because so has everyone else in town.* It's right around the time that the national news outlets start giving a town/region more attention that the batteries sell out, almost when the coverage starts, that's when the shelves are already empty. Many people who do the very early battery buying are just doing it impulsively, and so they buy impulsively; I remember the story of a woman who took the entire stick of AA batteries off the display and put it in her cart. When asked what she needed them for, she said she wasn't sure, she just wanted to make sure she had batteries. So the bottom line is, you're only as prepared for the emergency as you are before it begins - have a stock of the batteries you'll need ready to go, because they won't be in stores when you need them.

Also, we've revisited the crystal set idea a few times, and the problem there is that even the most rudimentary do-it-yourself kit is now more expensive than a nicely-rounded name brand radio, the F10 being an excellent example. The odds of success with building a crystal set are also hit-and-miss; only about half the folks who have attempted to put one together have gotten anything, most likely due to the extreme diligence needed in winding the coil.


I have built a few crystal radios. I have one I use as a bedside radio. I use a long wire antenna with mine, as well as a good copper ground. I wouldn't trust it as my sole source of emergency radio, as my antenna has been brought down by storms. It is also not well suited to taking into a storm shelter. A crystal radio can be a good tool to have available during long term power outages. A well built crystal radio won't be cheap, but can perform well when paired with a good ground and antenna.

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