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I purchased this product from tesco direct to replace my old tesco portable radio which was accidentally left outside in the rain this winter! I have been very happy with this product, I usually buy the cheapest product on the market, but I am glad I went for a more upmarket brand as this has proved to be a real good capture.
I purchased this radio for 19.99 using some of my clubcard vouchers which I had saved up. Its a middle of the range product, but suits me perfectly. It is currently selling for 25 pounds, yet this price seems to fluctuate between stores on no regular basis.
This is a portable radio and requires 3xAA batteries, it also comes with a headphones socket which can be very useful if you want to listen privately in the garden. This is only an analogue radio and can not be used a DAB radio. You can also plug this into the wall if you would like to use it inside.
It is of very good quality and the sound is impressive, it''s very sturdy and has survived a few falls off the table. It''s very simple and easy to use and I have no problems so far. Sometimes I can lose signal which is frustrating when previously it was recieving signal, however this could just be an issue with my actual location. The sound of thr radio can easily fill a room, and it also is loud enough to be heard from some distance when in the garden, overall this is a very high quality portable radio and is much better than any I have owned in the past.
I would recommend this to a friend or to anyone who would like a small radio for around the house, it''s handy to keep in the bathroom too! It has many uses and is pretty good on battery life, if you use decent batteries it will last a pretty long time. I have been very happy with this item and I hope it continues to work. It''s reliable!
Thanks for reading
When is FM analogue radio actually going to cease? On the Internet, buyers are told it is 2012, then it's 2015 and even last year we were told it was 2010! Whenever it is going to be, I've noticed brands are changing over to DAB/Digital radio quickly with the analogue style being quickly replaced much smaller DAB clock bedroom radios that make no sense if there are to be used in a kitchen. No sense in small button like controls on a radio then and if you're anything like us, we leave things to the last minute when trying to tune into Kings College choir concert and even with the best DAB radio in the world (Pure Evoke 2XT) unless it's constantly plugged in and the channel saved to memory, it takes forever to find the right channel. An analogue-tuning dial is a lot simpler and faster - particularly if you know the channel you're after!
Finding the right portable "cheap" analogue radio "before they all disappear" is like finding gold dust amongst budget brands and premium brands that still sell the analogue radio style amongst hoards of DAB radios that seem to have mixed reviews from sellers like Argos, Comet and Currys. The LCD screens aren't lit, Which magazine have slated two cheaper priced Pure radios to my surprise, for poor controls and the Alba/Goodmans DAB variations have both received similarly poor ratings. The Sony ICF404 however costs £22-99 and weighing in just below 500grams is about the same weight as a half bag of flour and has one mono speaker central to its design. The weight is important because although this is a fairly light radio by weight, the diameter is narrow and the radio feels liable to fall over on unlevel surfaces. It measures 20.3 cm by 4.8 cm diameter by 10.8 cm height which is fairly compact but yet again, narrow which makes it ideal for taking on holidays jammed in your suitcase. Compared to many other DAB radios on the market, which are usually smaller in size, the Sony is curvaceous, stylish in silver paint and has good, chunky controls which are easy to find and three main switches fit flush down the right hand side at the front that gives you instant access to the control functions of the radio such as on/off, tone on/off and volume control. (Dooyoo state AM/FM but in reality there are three wave band choices: FM, MW and LW). Although Long wave (LW) may not be to everyone's cup of tea, I like to tune into French or Italian channels from time to time, as the music they feature is usually worthwhile - and you can't get that with most DAB radios that only feature FM and MW. Plus the inevitable thoughts fly by in my mind sometimes, what if one day DAB channels go down because of a fault? My reception was already difficult to get this morning with BBC channels as the snow came down.
For the price, the total power level of 0.3 watts isn't much to shout about but thankfully the sound quality is not bad for the price even though Sony could really have played the value card a bit better here in updating the watts for a bit more power. Being a Sony where sound quality is usually taken for granted, most sounds are not tinny and bright, even though you can add extra tininess by selecting the bright tone adjustment, even if it is a pity that in these days you don't get a variable slider but a simple on/off switch idea for low or high tone. Where bass is concerned, it isn't boomy and when the volume is selected to the maximum, the Sony's built in mono-speaker has no crackle or hiss which is another boon to this product's quality. Having had Sony products in the past it is good to see that Sony have fitted a proper separate on/off control as opposed to combining the control within the volume that often gives a large expanse of silence between the control when it is switched on and when it is adjusting the power. When tuning for example, another control dial at the top of the radio actions this and moves lightly for finer tuning possibilities. On the other side the selection switch for radio band wave choice is mounted whilst in the middle you'll get the view window of the radio channels on offer and they are displayed in an easy sense of fashion without peering too closely. There's even a tiny red LED light that lights up as soon as the Sony hones into a station near the tuner dial.
The ICF 404 however seems to have caused a few problems for buyers thanks partly to a lot of companies who have been supplied the wrong information on the stats (and any reason alone to why when it comes to reviewing, you must never rely on stats, alone!) The ICF 404 "S" model logically has the SW radio wave band fitted instead of long wave channels (reason to why there's an "L" added to the end of the model number) and this seems to be an issue with many buyers who haven't been made aware of the slight change to the model number. This is where there has been confusion of whether the radio has AM fitted or not. It is true, that whilst AM is not the same as LW/SW you can pick up a few AM channels on LW bands. At least on both models you get the same controls and a headphone socket with likewise power adaptor socket if you want to plug the radio in permanently to a UK mains socket. However! As I've just found out from a few members after I've posted this review, this radio doesn't always come with a UK adaptor to get you started and you'll need a 4.5 volt adaptor with a rating of 700ma.
Like most of Sony products nowadays and remembering our DAB clock radio in the bedroom, Sony have stuck to a seamless design that looks up to date complete with micro perforations for the speaker. For the fact that it is in silver and not black, the two Sony products do look similar even though they have different colours. Unlike a lot of rivals on the market, the Sony ICF 404L is quite a nice wee design that is easy to wipe clean should any baking prep get on it. I feel a lot more peace of mind putting this kind of radio in the kitchen than moving our Pure Evoke 2XT around despite its great to grab handle and blocky design. After all, when comparing the Sony's actual cost price compared to the Pure Evoke radio, I know which one is the farthest from my mind if it ever breaks! The Sony may lack DAB but it is a heck of a lot lighter and has four feet on the base that should keep the radio planted on flat level surfaces. A telescopic aerial around the back is easy to pull up and adjust to 360° axis. As with most radios of the period, the aerial tucks neatly away at the back of the radio and click locks back in to fit flush with the design. Unusually for Sony product though, there is no handle on this radio even though a logical hand grip on the back of it has already been made for purposing of grabbing. A few other surprises for this product are found along the way such as three AA batteries that can be installed for powering up if not using the 4.5 Volt plug adaptor which is something you do get IF you check the seller before purchase. The nearest rival on price is the Roberts R9993 model that has the same amount of power costs around £17, same radio wavebands on offer but needs 4 batteries to power it up if using it without the power adaptor.
At the end of the day, it isn't hard to warm to the Sony ICF 404L on design and quality alone even though it lacks a grab handle and volume power could be a bit higher. Putting batteries in is fairly easy to due to the sloping nature making it easy to take the batteries out when they've expired whilst the battery door is easy to clip on if it is attacked roughly. The natural curving of the flush fitting speaker to the right hand side of the radio lends a stylish edge whilst the left side lends a grabbing nature, which in time may well dirty the light silver metal appearance but at least the design will satisfy most Sony fans due to the features and compactability. What Sony needs to do though is to make the ICF 404L a little bit thicker in diameter. It's all very well having a radio that can sit on a level surface, but its general lightweightness means that it can be knocked off fairly easily despite having the four plastic feet on the base. When used as a kitchen radio left in one place, this is the least of the Sony's worries in my case! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2010