Radio Buying Guide

Today’s radios still play your favourite stations, but they offer hundreds of new ones too. You can also use them with all your portable devices. This radio buying guide outlines your options.

Radios 101

Portable music devices are increasingly popular, but the radio still offers some unique advantages. That’s because radios have evolved too, allowing you to connect them to your computer and mobile devices to stream music and other content. And with digital, satellite and internet radio, there are more stations than ever to choose from, all with better sound than traditional analog radio. Most models also feature Bluetooth technology, which lets you control your radio wirelessly from different rooms in the house. Radios continue to play an important safety role too: a good weather radio, for example, can be invaluable during a power outage. And a shortwave radio is handy for camping or traveling in remote locations.

Types of Radios


Clock Radio

A traditional clock radio helps you wake up on time and start the day on a positive note. Most AM/FM models allow you to roll out of bed to either an alarm or to the sound of your favourite station simply by setting a switch. Clock radios are small enough to fit on your nightstand, but have speakers that are loud enough to fill the room and prevent you from drifting back to sleep. You can also leave your radio on to hear the latest news and traffic info while you get ready for your day.

Portable Radio

A portable radio combines high sound quality with complete mobility in a convenient, cordless package. Whether you’re in the garage, yard, kitchen, or living room, there’s no reason not to enjoy your favourite radio programs. Battery-powered or hand-cranked portable radios are also great for travel, camping, on the dock at the cottage and in case of blackouts. Some models will also let you connect to a media player so you can have music even if you’re in an area where you can’t get reception.

Radio with Docking Station

A radio with a docking station can play music from your mobile device while charging it at the same time. Connecting to your smartphone, tablet or music player also lets you play your favourite tunes through louder, higher-quality speakers. This makes it ideal for backyard parties or even dinner parties. You can create your own playlist and/or allow your guests to take turns docking their devices and sharing their music. When buying a docking station, make sure it’s compatible with all the devices you plan to connect. 

Wireless Radio

If you’re seeking an alternative to regular AM and FM radio, wireless radio is an excellent choice. A Wi-Fi connection gives you access to thousands of great stations from all over the world. Tuning is easy: you just select the station you want and start listening! Many devices show the artists and titles of songs being played, and some stations even let you rewind to earlier programming. That way, when you hear a song you really enjoy, you can listen to it again. Bluetooth technology is also a great advantage: it provides a wireless connection from your smartphone or portable music player to your radio, giving you mobile control while you move about the house.   

Satellite Radio

Satellite radio can help make any commute enjoyable. More than 100 stations with crystal-clear reception open a world of content for you to explore, whether it’s news or sports talk or Top 40. And it’s easy to install a satellite radio in any vehicle. Simple controls ensure that you stay safe on the road, and there are nifty features like pre-set stations and artist information. Even if you don’t drive, satellite radio is a great entertainment option for at home or when you’re out. There’s a wide variety of both portable and home players so that you can choose a model that best suits your lifestyle.

Boom Boxes

Boom boxes are great when you’re entertaining a crowd. Featuring large, powerful speakers, they really pump out the sound during house parties, family get-togethers and outdoor events. The extra volume can penetrate multiple rooms and floors in your home and entertain public gatherings at the soccer field or school gym. Most boom boxes include an AM/FM tuner, CD player and inputs for an MP3 player or other audio source so you’re always ready with the perfect playlist.

Vintage Radios

A radio can be decorative as well as functional. Vintage-style radios combine modern electronic components with classic, retro design to add character to your room and stir memories of radio’s Golden Age. A retro-style, transistor radio can give you big sound in a small package, whereas a tabletop edition might include a vinyl record player and MP3 inputs. Other, popular, vintage styles include the classic, cathedral shape and streamlined models with art deco trim often inspired by architecture and automobiles from an earlier era.

Shortwave Radio

A good shortwave radio can be a useful tool on trips or at home. Shortwave radios can receive radio signals at great distances, making them perfect for picking up broadcasts from overseas or when you’re in an isolated location. Shortwave radios are generally battery or hand-operated, making them ideal to bring along on camping or cottage trips. You can also listen to foreign news and music broadcasts to stay up to date with world events (and maybe brush up on another language).

Weather Radio

A weather radio is an essential tool and an early warning device in rural areas. These radios are designed to automatically broadcast alerts for your location so you’re never caught off guard by an extreme weather event. Weather radios are designed for emergencies which mean they’re durable, reliable, and have plenty of useful features. Look for an alternate power source such as a hand crank, a powerful flashlight and extended battery life. Some even include an attachment to charge your smartphone, a valuable feature when you need to maintain contact with loved ones or need help. 

Radio Buying Tips:

• A radio with presets allows one-touch tuning to your favourite stations
• Consider battery or solar-powered radios for outdoor recreation and travel
• Remember to purchase batteries with your portable radios
• Satellite or Bluetooth radios are ideal for use in the car
• Consider a clock radio with battery backup so your alarm will always be audible
• Select a radio with speakers that match your volume requirements and room size
• A radio with audio inputs can play music from other sources

Radio Features

AM/FM Tuner +

Every radio lets you tune into your favourite AM and FM radio stations. Digital tuners are common and easy to adjust with buttons and a digital visual display. Less common but still available, even on high-end models, are analog knob tuners you rotate by hand and adjust by ear. Vintage radios are usually equipped with analog tuners for the sake of authenticity.

Alarms +

Many radios have alarm and timer features, meaning you can wake up on time to your favourite broadcast or a loud buzzer or beeper. More advanced models have a gentle wake-up feature in which the sound volume escalates gradually. The snooze alarm feature buys you that extra five minutes of precious sack time (but don’t forget to turn it off on the weekend).

Speakers +

A powerful set of speakers will ensure great sound quality even in noisy conditions. This is important when you’re hosting a loud party or just moving around the house. With the right cables, you can hook up a smaller radio to larger, separate speakers to increase sound range and volume. Some radios have a main speaker built into the cabinet with an optional exterior speaker you can connect by cable or Bluetooth. Wood cabinet construction generally assures more resonant sound and deeper bass tones.

Power Options +

AC power cords are standard on radios designed for stationary home use on a nightstand or countertop. Consider a model with battery backup so your radio and alarm continue to work in the event of a power failure. Your best options are battery or solar power in a portable radio for use outdoors or when travelling. A manual hand crank allows you to generate your own power for about 20 minutes at a time. Consider buying a voltage converter kit if you plan to take your radio overseas so you can adapt it to different wall outlets.

Presets +

Pre-setting your favourite stations makes for quick and easy tuning (and relocating your favourite after someone else has changed the dial). It also makes for easier operation while driving or station-surfing. Programming instructions should be included with your radio for pre-setting up to 10 frequencies.

Docking Stations +

Many radios feature a docking station, allowing you to recharge your phone or media player while playing your favourite music. Docking station models also provide a more powerful set of speakers than your handheld device — just what you want once you’ve crafted your perfect party playlist.

Car Audio +

It’s easy to add a specialized radio (such as satellite) to your car, giving you access to extra stations that can make your commute more enjoyable. Basic car audio systems include an AM/FM tuner, CD player and MP3 inputs.

Digital Radio +

Digital radio offers thousands of stations, easy selection, and higher signal quality, making it the ultimate in variety. It also features artist and song titles, letting you track down every great song you hear.

Hand Cranks +

A good emergency or weather radio should feature a manual hand crank. That way you can listen to important broadcasts even in the worst conditions. It also means you’ll always have a handy flashlight or smartphone charger. Most emergency radios will play for about 20-30 minutes on a full charge and can be re-cranked repeatedly.

Shop Accessories & Related Products:

Radio Maintenance Tips:

• Retract or collapse the antenna when the radio is not in use
• Monitor battery strength and replace before completely drained
• Remove batteries before storing your radio for long periods
• Clean frequently to keep dust and debris out of ports and speakers
• Save power by unplugging your radio when idle
• Protect your radio from moisture and spills, and use with caution in wet weather
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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