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Outside of portability, almost every variable from design, sound quality, transmission, connectivity, power usage and more should be considered before taking the plunge into the world of radio. Here is a guide outlining some of the common options on the market and some of the ways in which portable radios can vary.
Analogue vs. Digital
One of the biggest decisions consumers will have to make is whether to opt for an analogue radio or a digital radio. You might be familiar with AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) radio stations; this is the analogue way of sending signals. AM works by varying the amplitude of the signal or carrier transmitted according to the information being sent, keeping a constant frequency. FM, however, varies the frequency and keeps the amplitude constant. However, interference can be a big issue for analogue radios and the sound quality can vary wildly.
With DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radios, the information is sent in a coded numeric format and is therefore harder for the signal to experience interference. In addition, digital sound tends to be much clearer as digital radio tends to read at gigahertz whereas analogue reads at kilohertz or megahertz.
The advantage of portable digital radios is the device is able to receive analogue signals as well as digital so the user can listen to AM or FM radio depending on their preference. However, this option comes with a quite literal cost; digital portable radios tend to be more expensive than standard analogue portable radios.
Wi-Fi or internet radios look similar to standard digital/analogue radios but on the inside, the differences are vast. Internet radios can be connected to a home wireless network, offering thousands of internet radio stations playing hundreds of genres of music. Users can access podcasts, listen to 24/7 music stations with no ads or DJs, foreign language stations and much much more. However, internet radios work using an internet connection so if you're taking your new radio with you on holiday, you'll need to be in the vicinity of a stable internet connection for it to work.
If the portable radios speakers aren't powerful or clear enough, it might be worth acquiring portable audio speakers. Most portable speakers run on batteries or charge from mains and, to connect, users simply have to plug in the 3.5mm audio jack or connect their speakers wirelessly.
Frequency response, sensitivity, output power and portability can all vary in portable speakers so it is worth conducting some research into the compatibility of different speakers with a radio. In addition, your personal needs carry weight during a speaker purchase - do they need to be portable or are you looking for power and clarity?
By outlining the key features of portable radios on the market, buyers should hopefully find the best one for their personal needs. Enjoy!