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Tesco Value RAD-306 Wind-Up Radio
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Tesco Value RAD-306 Wind-Up Radio
Advantages: No batteries needed, has a torch as well, simple to use
Disadvantages: Torch not bright, bulky design, hard to tune
I might have given up a (semi) lucrative job in the UK to volunteer in Africa for a year, but that doesn't mean I'm totally skint. The rent I'm charging is more than my mortgage and I'm actually getting paid to live it up in the sun, despite the volunteer moniker, so when I got a list of things I might need for the year I didn't balk too much at the fact that most of them weren't already in my possession and would require a shopping trip.
One of the things on the list was an FM radio (no doubt for early warning of military coups etc). Now for the time being at least I have a decent electricity supply, and also internet access which means regular Podcast downloads, but I didn't know this would be the case, so decided to look for a wind up or solar powered version. I spotted this one up in Tesco for the small sum of £6.97. The fact that it was combined with a torch (another item from the list) made it doubly worthwhile, and I didn't bother shopping around to see if alternative models would be any better. I mean, a radio's a radio, right?
My first week in the country I was in an ok hotel (see review) which boasted satellite TV and continuous light, so this baby stayed at the bottom of my bag. Moving up country, though, I was hit almost immediately by a power cut, and found myself digging this out. I hadn't bought it for the torch, but that was what I needed it for at first. With it out, I decided I might as well have a play with the rest of it, and since then it has been my faithful companion over breakfast every morning.
This is an AM/FM radio, reasonably compact and with a retractable, pivotable antenna. It runs on your choice of normal (AA) batteries or through winding it up using the handle that pops out of the casing on the front. You un fold it to give you some leverage, churn it round, and then fold it back up to stow it away. Simple.
One of the first things I discovered was that it's a radio/torch but not at the same time. You can only have one function in use at once as the button is an either/or to toggle between the two. This means that if I want to listen at night, it has to be in the dark, which isn't great, but no worse than a normal, non-torch radio.
The torch is not all that bright, and since the whole thing is a bit bulky, it's not worth carrying it with you in your handbag (while it wouldn't even fit in a pocket). But, when I'm home and the lights go out, it will do to help me locate my proper pocket torch at the very least, and of course you don't have to worry about running out of batteries.
Winding it up is a very noisy affair. It makes a proper racket (louder than the volume setting on the radio itself) but you have to get used to it as it takes a fair bit of winding to power it up for a decent length of time. It does keep its power when switched off, so I can wind and wind on a Monday and then not bother again all week, but I tend to just whizz the handle round the bare minimum of times each morning so it has enough juice to get me through the BBC World Service headlines while I eat my porridge. While there is an LED on the front to tell you when the battery is dying, this is the only indication you get. The sound doesn't fizzle out, it simply stops mid sentence, which is annoying if you're listening to a show, so whenever I see the red light light up, I spring into action and crank the handle round a few more times. You can wind it while it's still switched on: not too useful with the radio as you won't be able to hear the broadcast, but good when you're using the torch and just want to keep it going for a bit more.
The one really annoying thing for me is that the dial knocks very easily, so I am forever retuning it to the one station I listen to. The display is quite vague so you need to make micro movements to adjust it, and when I'm half asleep and simultaneously trying to play with my hideous bottled gas to prepare my breakfast, this is something I really can't be bothered with. When it's dark it's almost impossible to retune, given that the torch and radio won't work together, so now I try to be extra careful not to knock it, as if I do the headlines will probably have been and gone by the time I find the station again.
You can switch the radio on by using the volume dial, which is also how you switch on the torch too (though you need to make sure the switch is set to the right mode). It's simple, but because both this dial and the tuning one are on the same side, you have to be careful not to knock the latter when all you want to do is turn the volume up a little.
The picture above illustrates this product well. This radio is a bit chunky, and looks old fashioned next to my laptop and iPod, but is not too heavy to carry around from room to room. I sleep with a torch next to my pillow (inside my mossie net, along with a book, my watch and who knows what else) and will use this one if I can't locate my normal, pocket torch though it takes up significantly more room. It makes me smile that this comes with a wrist strap, as I can't imagine ever wanting to carry it round town with me.
You get a good signal when it's finally tuned in. It's hard for me to comment on the reception as I've not used any other radios over here, but it's not notably poor, and seems to like the BBC just as much as local Krio language stations. The broadcast comes across clearly and without crackling, except when it's been knocked slightly and needs a retuning tweak.
The radio also has a headphone socket, though headphones aren't provided, and I've never used my iPod ones with this. Because it's such a bulky design it doesn't seem the sort of personal radio I'd want to listen to in private, but the feature's there if you want it.
Overall I am impressed by this radio because it was just so cheap. It may have its flaws but on the whole it delivers what it should and costs nothing but elbow grease to keep it going after purchase. It's well made and sturdy, so suitable for outdoor use too, if you're a camper or gardener or whatever else, and while I'll probably leave it here when I come home, I'm already feeling like I've had my money's worth from it.
Available from Tesco, in store, online for home delivery or to order to collect from a Tesco Direct desk.
Summary: A simple model but cheap as chips
|Ease of use:|
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