|The Sony Walkman SRF-M37W|
Winter is finally about to arrive in the Tri-State (there's a bit of snow in the forecast for Thursday), and when the weather turns bad in this part of the country, there is always the possibility that the power could go out somewhere, as it did in Evansville this morning ... although that wasn't weather-related, as far as I know.
If and when you lose power, it's a good idea to have a battery-powered radio around to keep you informed about what's happening. Of course, even if the weather isn't bad, sometimes you just want to take your favorite radio station with you.
I've already told you about the RadioShack 12-256 pocket radio, and while that's a good, inexpensive choice, there's another option for just a bit more money: The Sony Walkman SRF-M37W.
Read the rest of this review after the jump.
This particular Walkman has been on the market for a few years, and can be found in a number of stores for around $30. (The Walmart stores in Owensboro carry it for $29.76.) Yes, that is roughly twice as much as the 12-256, but you get a lot of great features:
- Digital tuning with 20 presets (10 FM, 5 AM, and 5 weather band)
- Weather band with one-touch access
- Hold switch (which helps avoid inadvertent tuning)
- DX/Local sensitivity switch (helps eliminate interference)
- Headphones (there is no internal speaker)
- Belt clip
Sony has a long tradition of making great, high-quality radios, and this one is no exception. It's well-constructed, not overly complicated to use, and doesn't cost the world to operate.
Reception quality is, in a word, excellent. It's able to pick up FM stations at a fairly decent distance. For example, WMSK-101.3 in Morganfield, which is more than 40 miles away from my home base, is listenable. The signal isn't as strong as WBKR (which is practically within spitting distance from me), but it does come in. That's impressive, especially when you consider that the radio's sole FM antenna is the headphone cord.
AM reception is equally impressive. At night, clear-channel stations are easy to lock in, including my longtime favorites, KMOX in St. Louis and WBBM in Chicago. During the day, stations closer to home are easy to receive as well.
The weather band is a very handy feature. Living where I do, we're relatively close to the nearest NOAA Weather Radio transmitter near Whitesville, Ky., so reception of that station is fairly good, as long as you're close to an outside wall or a window. Of course, if severe weather strikes, that's not where you want to be! (Your results may be different.)
EASE OF USE
If you're looking for a simple radio, this one will fit the bill. Despite the radio's small size (it's roughly as wide as the average man's hand), the most-used buttons are nicely sized, with the sole exception of the tuning buttons, which are slightly smaller than a pencil eraser. That said, they work well.
When you first put a battery in the radio, setting the clock (which is displayed any time the radio itself is off) is a matter of holding the clock button to the right of the display until the hour begins to flash. Then you use the tuning buttons to select the correct hour, press the clock button again, do the same with the minutes, and press the clock button once more to finish the job. It takes only a few moments.
The power button, to the left of the display, turns the radio on (as you'd expect). Once you tune in a station, you can commit it to the memory by simply holding the desired preset button until you hear the "beep."
Speaking of the "beep," the radio will beep for every button press, with a double beep when you reach the end of the band. This is handy if you're in bed or anywhere else where it's dark, enabling you to tune to the next station without looking at the display. (Some call this tuning via the "Braille method.")
With the included headphones, sound quality is decent, although not great. Unlike the RadioShack 12-256, the Walkman does process FM stereo, which is a plus if you like music. However, for the best sound, you'll want to invest in a good set of earbuds or headphones. My "weapon of choice" is my aging set of Koss UR/29 headphones, which make just about anything sound good.
Overall, the Walkman appears to be well-constructed and made of high-quality plastic with a nice finish. The buttons, which are made of rubber, have a solid feel yet are easy on the fingers.
Even the battery door, which is one of the first things to go when a radio gets older, is solid and actually remains attached when you open it, although it can be removed. This is a nice touch and helps reduce the chance of losing it when you swap batteries.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
While this radio does have a higher initial cost than the RadioShack 12-256 (around $30 versus $15), it makes up for that with long battery life, which will save you considerably over the life of the unit. The Walkman requires just one AAA battery, and Sony claims that an alkaline battery will last 31 hours if you primarily use the weather band, 34 hours on FM, and 54 hours on AM. Based on my own experience so far, I would say these estimates may indeed be conservative.
Sony includes a battery indicator in the Walkman's display. This is yet another nice touch, and.
SUMMING IT UP
The Walkman SRF-M37W does cost more than other small radios, but the included features, ease of use and low cost to keep it going make it well worth the price. It's handy to take anywhere, and is a wise choice for use as an emergency radio.
WHERE TO BUY IT
My Walkman was purchased at Walmart in Owensboro for $29.76 plus tax. In addition to area Walmart stores, the radio is also sold by numerous online sellers, and prices vary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This radio was purchased from Walmart in Owensboro, Ky. This review was unsolicited, and I have not requested nor received any compensation or promotional consideration from Walmart or Sony for the contents of this review.