|The RadioShack 12-586 (RadioShack photo)|
When the weather's at its worst ― or when you're outside and want to take a little music, sports or talk along with you ― a good battery-powered radio is still a fine companion to have.
I know, I know ... there are a LOT of entertainment choices you can take with you these days, from smartphones to MP3 players, among other things, but sometimes a simple solution is just better.
That's the case with the RadioShack 12-586 Pocket Radio I bought a little more than a month ago. It doesn't get much simpler than this: Thumbwheels for volume and tuning (yes, it has good, old-fashioned, slide-rule tuning), a switch for AM/FM band selection, a decent speaker, an earphone jack and a wrist strap ... and that's it!
Now that I've got the description down, let's pick this thing apart, shall we?
AM stations in my area come through nicely. From my location on the southwest side of Owensboro, I have no trouble picking up my St. Louis Cardinals games on WFMW in Madisonville or WSON in Henderson, along with other stations at a considerable distance. I've been pleasantly surprised to regularly pull in WRUS (610) out of Russellville, which is more than 60 miles away "as the crow flies." Nighttime reception of distant "clear channel" stations from far and wide is likewise very good.
FM reception is great, too. For most of the stations I listen to, it's not even necessary to extend the antenna, which is good, because I'm klutzy enough that accidentally breaking radio antennas has long been a problem for me. If it's not needed, I won't break it!
During the severe storms we had last week, when having a good radio was a must, it performed admirably, giving me reliable reception so I could keep my family safe. While we didn't lose power (thankfully), our TV reception was affected enough that we had to rely on the radio, at least for a while.
Unlike some monaural (non-stereo) radios, if you choose to make use of the headphone jack, this one does allow you to use both sides of your best headphones or earbuds. You don't get true stereo sound, but what you do get is good and clear, not "boomy" or "tinny" ... it's just right for about any purpose. (I enjoy using my good old Koss headphones, which are comfortable, sound great and block out external noise quite well.) The built-in speaker is fine, especially for news, talk or sports. It's not the best for music, but it is perfectly acceptable.
Battery life is nothing short of spectacular. I bought the radio on April 25, and since then, I have listened to every Cardinals game but one using it, along with today's Indianapolis 500 and most of the Coca-Cola 600, as well as Wednesday night's storm coverage, which I mentioned above. All told, that's more than 95 hours of use. There has been no sign of weakness in the original batteries whatsoever. (By the way, I'm using Kroger store-brand alkalines that I got for $1.00 on sale, not anything special.)
The main complaint I have about the radio is its size. It's marketed as a pocket radio, but unless we're talking about a coat pocket, it's a bit too large for that.
Additionally, the tuning wheel is a bit stiff until you use the radio for a while. Now that I've had it for a month, it's gotten considerably better.
All that said, the radio is made of high-quality plastic, and, on closer inspection, the "guts" inside are similarly high-grade. Taken as a whole, everything about it gives the impression of being capable of withstanding many years of use.
SUMMING IT UP
If you need a good, dependable, long-lasting radio, and you're not worried about fancy features or frilly design, the RadioShack 12-586 is an excellent buy. At $14.99 (plus tax), it's not the lowest-priced radio you'll find, but price shouldn't be your only consideration. Sure, you can buy a cheaper radio ― but, as in many cases, cheaper is not always better. This one is as good as you'll ever want or need.
WHERE TO BUY IT
The RadioShack 12-586 can be found online at RadioShack.com and in most, if not all, RadioShack company and dealer stores.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This radio was purchased on April 25, 2011 from the RadioShack store in Wesleyan Park Plaza in Owensboro, Ky. This review was unsolicited, and I have not requested nor received any compensation or promotional consideration from RadioShack for the contents of this review. I am, quite simply, a satisfied customer.