These days consumers are forever buying DAB radio products it makes little sense to buy the old fashioned analogue radio unless buyers just want the basics, and even then over an analogue radio, the DAB radios you can buy wont automatically pick up stations in your area; so sometimes it is better to go with what you know, traditionally.
Morphy Richards is a household name although over the years they have earned a poor reputation based on poor reliability and quality. If you are a Morphy Richards customer then you know that this company pride on bargain prices and the basics, with a few incentives here and there to make the final offer tempting on any one of their ranges.
Since 2003, I missed having an old kitchen radio in my flat since my previous flat in London had one and was forever checking out the news first thing in the morning - I'm not the best in the mornings, and although the radio will happily wake me up from my clock radio, I can't tell you what the first ten minutes of the song that was played or news which was heard...yeah I'm still dead at that time in the morning. So the need then was to buy a mains power option portable analogue radio that could be used to listen to whilst eating breakfast against the cheaper battery-alone powered units that appeared alongside the MR radio originally in Argos' catalogue. Fast forward five years later and in the general assumption that this product would no longer be on sale, it is still selling online and until early last year, even Argos had this radio reduced in price; that's a bit long isn't it for any analogue radio where the market is now awash with DAB radios?
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
* FM/MW/LW, 3 bands from slider dial selectable control: Simple
* Rotary volume control which also switches the radio on: Simple
* Rotary tuning control - large and easy to grab.
* Analogue tuning, headphone socket
* LED mains power indicator - Also lights up with batteries when used.
* FM telescopic aerial
* Carrying handle
* General price: £14-95 to £19-99
Generally speaking one of the features, which I love about this little radio, isn't the fact that it is simply designed, but because of its slightly oval shape it blends in easily with any kind of décor. I've had it in minimalist kitchens, 1980's country kitchens, and a practical kitchen and more recently in my parents kitchen before I bought them a Pure digital DAB radio and thanks to mum, its all black and white in there. As such and normally I don't spend a lot of paragraphs padding about the design but the Morphy Richards is a generally sound design with easy enough to see controls, well marked and professional looking in its wipe cleanable soft grey colour. The biggest gripe however isn't the fact that it has clearly marked controls but the radio dial, a strip on the top at the front of the radio can be hard to see, particularly from a distance although if you know your radio stations, then finding a station is easy enough from the weak action of the tuning dial which allows a precise action to hone in on all stations available from the FM/MW and LW wave bands available.
Sound quality I think is okay for the price and at a time when radios just gave sound control and nothing else the Morphy Richards does exactly this. As such the tone on this radio is middle ground - it is internally set which means you can't control it - but it does have a bright tone with FM stations and a fair amount of bass rather than a bass box type radio designed to threaten your worktop or shelves with vibrations. On MW and LW wave lengths however the tone isn't as bright but it may well have something to do with the radio tuning into stations rather than finding the right sound quality. The volume control is easily controlled and unlike some cheap analogue radios on the market, the control is infinite and precise - I can get this radio down to the lowest level so that only me and it can be heard when other folk are in, possibly on the phone or just chatting away; being a musician is hard to detract from normal life; I need constant music around me when studying or doing work.
Another issue that does need addressing is the stability of this product. Although it has an easy enough to carry handle which sits flush in its recess when not in use and a telescopic radio aerial that can be turned at a 180° angle, the weight of the radio comes in at around 680grams - hardly heavy. It is therefore prone to falling over if it isn't on a level flat surface and thanks to its general plastic construction there are no soft feet on the base to which it can grip surfaces. Most of the time it can sit happily on an average window sill if it is left permanently plugged in, and once the plug is switched on a small LED red light comes on to show the radio is on. Batteries can be used in lieu of main power but then adds the weight in with two medium-sized 1.5 V batteries; this radio came in useful when a flat mate's car radio wasn't functioning and we needed the football scores!!
Over the years the volume and on control which acts as one has started to reveal static which produces a crackle at the start but like almost all analogue radios this can simply be removed by turning up the volume control up and down to get rid of any static once it is switched on in future use. Sometimes although easily marked I feel that the control could be a bit larger so that all sizes of hands can activate it.
Changing radio stations is very easy to do thanks to the fact that the radio only has one slide bar on the right hand side. An ear piece also allows owners the option to listen to the radio in privacy and although it is a Mono speaker set on the front, stereo headphones produce Mono sound rather than putting the sound into one ear phone as some radios have done in the past.
Simplicity then is what the Morphy Richards "Companion" radio is all about. A cheap price and a choice of radio lengths wrapped in a reasonably compact body with generally good sound quality- May well it last for the next five years but it may be harder to find by then! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008