Insignia's little gem is perhaps the best FM radio for its price ... even if you don't really want or need HD Radio reception
I decided to buy something a little different for myself for Christmas this year – an HD Radio receiver.
Inexpensive HD Radio receivers are few and far between, but given my line of work, I feel it is important that I have one, so I bought an Insignia NS-HDRAD tabletop radio, which retails at the company's Owensboro store and online for $51.99. (The radio was on sale for $39.99 the week after Christmas.)
Quite honestly, I wonder why I didn't buy one long ago! It's truly an impressive piece of equipment. It's simple, which I like, and easy on the eyes, which everyone will like. It's also pretty versatile (as you'll read in a moment).
Read the rest of this review after the jump.
Read the rest of this review after the jump.
Now, mind you, the radio isn't perfect. Here are my least-favorite things:
- It has no AM band, despite there being more than a few AM stations which are HD Radio-enabled.
- The audio quality is good – but not great – with the built-in speakers. There is little bass, but at least the sound that is there isn't “buzzy” or overly “tinny.” Headphones or a connection to a home theater system help greatly, but that's been the case with most smaller radios I've owned over the years.
- It's somewhat slow to recognize HD Radio signals. (Although, in its favor, it does lock them in tenaciously once it finally pulls them out of the air.)
Reception of “standard” FM stations is outstanding. Here on the southwest side of Owensboro, distant and seldom-heard stations such as WYNG-94.9 and WVUB-91.1, along with stations like WUEV-91.5 that get drowned out by adjacent-channel stations, can be received with relative ease. And it's not difficult to get great reception – you can use the included “stick” antenna, the included plug-in pigtail, or you can buy an adapter and connect it into your home's attic or outdoor antenna.
The controls are simple and intuitive to use. All of the operational buttons are in a silver-colored strip beneath the glossy monochrome LCD information screen. You can connect an external audio device (such as an MP3 player, computer or phone) to the 3.5mm input jack on the right rear of the radio.
It runs on 4 "AA" batteries or the included AC adapter, which has a nice, long cord to make use more convenient. So far, I've only used it for about two to three hours on battery power and it has yet to warn me of impending battery death, so it must be fairly easy on them. We'll see.
So … now the big question: Do you need an HD Radio receiver?
That really depends on what you want to listen to.
In this part of the country, there are few HD Radio stations (and you can find the list on my Radio Stations page). However, some of those stations (such as WDKS-106.1 and WKMD-90.9, just to name a couple) offer unique secondary formats not available with “standard” FM radio. You may find (as I did) that these appeal to you.
But, oddly enough, HD Radio itself didn't make me glad that I bought this radio.
It was the greatly improved regular FM reception – which I did not expect – that made this radio well worth its price, at least to me. I enjoy listening to many different radio stations depending on my mood, and this radio has easily increased the number of stations I can receive clearly. It's a major improvement over my 17-year-old Magnavox bookshelf stereo system that was previously my benchmark for sensitivity (and it's still good in its own right).
On the whole, my feeling is that this radio is worth a look if you're shopping for a new radio. Its outstanding reception and good quality make it something you should consider if you're at all interested in HD Radio – or even if you just want a good FM radio. I'm glad I made the investment, and I give it JDTVB's new PROVED & APPROVED seal, which means that it meets my standards for recommendation to my readers.
- Best Buy also offers a pocket/armband HD Radio with most of the same features as the model tested as well as a full-color display. Its list price in Owensboro and bestbuy.com is the same at $51.99.
- The product reviewed for this story was purchased by me for my own personal use. Best Buy has not compensated me for this review, nor did they solicit my recommendation.
- Product reviews are based on my own experiences with products which I own personally or am supplied with for the purpose of testing them.