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4.3 out of 5 stars
Sony ICFS79W AM/FM/Weather Band Digital Tuner Shower Radio (White)
Price:$102.99 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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281 of 290 people found the following review helpful
UPDATE: June 2011

The Sony ICFS79W AM/FM/Weather Band Shower Radio is well designed for its purpose, but some flaws do show up over time. I spent a long time searching for a shower radio that had more than just AM/FM, like a CD player for example. I eventually gave up that quest and gave this a try. There are few options in shower radios.

I was open minded but skeptical when I got this. The strong reception is really the best feature, and the weather band and auto on / off timers are nice extras. It would be almost perfect if not for a few cons. Still, it's hard to find alternatives.

After using this unit for several years, the plastic covering the buttons has worn away. This creates openings that water might be able to get into, damaging the unit. However, even with all the humidity that goes along with being used in the bathroom, it's still going strong. As some have commented, the batteries have indeed lasted forever. Given the fact that over 2 years I've only had to change them once, perhaps the larger cell batteries were best for this design.

PROS
++ GREAT reception; it's actually surprising how good it is
++ Nice simple and intuitive controls
++ Included Weather band reception
++ Convenient timer to get you going
++ Auto-Off feature for easy morning operation
++ Batteries last a very long time

CONS
-- Plastic covering the buttons wears away over time
-- Button placement makes it difficult to see buttons and the screen at the same time
-- Analog volume adjustment provides little control at lower volumes
-- Uses large C batteries, that are less convenient than AA
-- List price is quite high
-- Wire Antenna is difficult to stick up and often comes loose
-- Weather band has more static than AM or FM

Some of the cons are minor. Still, this unit could use some improvements. It's hard to believe that for this price only AM / FM and Weather bands are included. But while the weather band has static from time to time, the AM and FM bands are some of the best I have heard in any radio. Whatever internal antennae and supporting electronics they used, the reception is surprisingly strong and clear.

Having to worry about replacing those large batteries is also a throw-back to 1989. It would have been nice if they used AA batteries. Most people with lots of electronics already have rechargeable AAs, but few people have rechargeable C batteries on hand. Still, the batteries last a really long time in it.

CONCLUSION

If you need a shower radio, this is still one of the better options. There are some that offer more features, like a CD player, but most have less reliability and performance. For the time being, it seems like despite a rather high price this might be the one to go with.

Enjoy.
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166 of 170 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2008
Verified Purchase
I very rarely write reviews but I love this radio so much I felt inspired. (Actually I own the S79V, but it seems to be identical to this one.) It is simply the perfect shower radio. Reception is excellent and better than some of the more expensive radios in my house. It has a clever suction cup aerial that sticks to shower tile well. The controls are simple and I particularly like the timer function, so I don't need to worry about turning it off. It goes forever on a set of batteries. I also like that this isn't equipped with a CD player, which would add bulk for a questionable extra function.

The white plastic has yellowed over time (four years?), and the top control panel membrane has deteriorated slightly, but it's still going strong. I purchased a replacement just to have a spare handy should I need one and find that Sony has stopped making these gems.
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94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2008
I love this radio! We own 2, and I'm about to buy 2 more - one more for our home and one for a gift. I keep one with my gardening tools and carry it around with me and listen while gardening. The others travel between the bathrooms and bedrooms. Good sound quality, takes dirt and water abuse, and the preset buttons are great for a portable radio. No playing around trying to tune in favorite stations. The batteries seem to last forever (I don't even know what kind they take, since I've never changed them and we've had our 2 units for years). So the time is always right, even with the occasional power outs we have in our area, which messes up all the plug in radio times. The best portable radio ever!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I've been using this radio since 2000 for the house, never in the shower. I keep one in the bathroom and that travels with me to my bedroom while getting dressed, and I keep one in my kitchen that goes back and forth between kitchen and office. Fabulous sound. Very sturdy. A great gift, too. 5 presets for AM and 10 presets for FM. I wish it were the other way around.

TIP: after a few years the plastic covering that you press on to switch stations and turn on and off will start showing signs of age, as in with enough years of use, the plastic will start to deteriorate. For me, it was the on and off buttons on one of my radios. I let it go and the plastic ate right through. The button won't work without the plastic over it, and I had to throw it out! If not for the plastic eating through, who knows how many years I would have gotten out of that radio.

My other radio had less deterioration of the plastic but a little so I covered the on and off buttons with one layer of clear packing scotch tape. It does not interfere at all with the operation of the radio at all. The clear tape just protects the plastic covering.

I am now ordering 3 more, one for a gift and two to have on hand as gifts or a possible replacement for me. I'm worried that Sony will discontinue this radio (or maybe they have already and there's some inventory being sold).

If you love radio, don't just listen in the car. Listen at home too. This is an attractive and great radio!
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60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2008
Verified Purchase
This sony radio is a good shower radio and clock. It has an external antenna that suction cups to the wall.

There are a few parts of this design to note that make this a good product, not a great one. First, the radio has a strap that clips on the back and while hanging, it does not lay completely flat. Second, it takes C batteries and three of them. They are generally sold in packs on two or four and they are not included. Third, the buttons are on top. Style-wise this is a good decision, but because the radio needs to be high enough to see the clock, it makes it more difficult to see the buttons. There is a sleep timer built in to the on button. It would be great if I did not have to push the button five times to get the radio to turn off after 10 minutes. Lastly the volume control; it is well designed and simple to grip, but has only one purpose, unlike all the other pieces on the radio. It stands out as odd.

I wish there were another sleeker option for a clock radio for the shower, but until this one breaks it is good not great.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2010
Verified Purchase
I happily owned the analog predecessor to this radio for at least seven years and finally gave up on it when all the knobs broke off after falling on the shower floor. I really cannot complain because I accidentally dropped it. I then purchased this digital version. When I bought it, I was surprised that there was no gasket around the battery compartment. However, the compartment seemed to be designed to drain water away, so I did not worry about it.

Over the year that I used it, I occasionally noticed that the batteries were low. When I checked, it turned out that the water had corroded the battery contacts. The main drawback is that I had to be careful about getting corrosive battery material on my hands and the need to replace batteries that should have lasted much longer if they had not been exposed to water. Cleaning the electrical connections with steel wool generally did the trick. However, after about a year, the metal springs that hold the batteries in place (and provide electrical contact) snapped due to corrosion from the battery acids.

Now, I kept this radio on the shelf in my shower and I typically shower for about 5 min each day. It is not drenched in water, but it did get some drips from the showerhead. In thinking about it, I should have made my own gasket when the radio was new by using silicone caulk after the batteries were in place. This is a odd solution for a major design flaw and would require breaking the seal and putting in a new seal with each battery change.

I went ahead and replaced the metal springs with some careful soldering, then put in new batteries, and sealed it up with caulk. It worked for a few days, and then I noticed the low battery indicator. Apparently the moisture from the drying caulk was sufficient to again cause a corrosion problem. I then removed the caulk seal and gave the radio to a friend. It is sitting in his dry garage and working fine as long as it is never again exposed to moisture. I now have the Sangean H201 and hope that it will serve for many years. At least it has a seal around the battery compartment.

I am therefore giving this product a single star because of this design flaw that could have been so easily fixed. If you have this radio, I recommend that you never get it wet. Since it is sold as a shower radio, this is a clear problem.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2009
Verified Purchase
I bought one of these about 3 years ago and I love it! My girlfriend and I listen to music or NPR every time we shower, so it gets easily an hour of use per day. The radio has yellowed a bit with age, and the battery connection has finally corroded to the point where it no longer works. I scraped the corrosion off the battery connection a few times but now there is almost no metal left... she's finally hitting the recycling bin.

(I'm posting some pictures of the new vs. old radio for those who are interested.)

I have owned other shower radios that didn't last more than a month, so to me this one lasted an eternity. I have mine hooked around the shower head where it receives a continuous trickle of water. If you can place yours out of the direct flow of water it would probably last even longer.

We have become so "spoiled" that we can't live without this radio! I'm buying 2 more because I moved to a place with 2 bathrooms. If I don't put a radio in the second bathroom then nobody will ever shower in there!

This radio was very handy during and after hurricane Ike last year. Our power was out for about 2 weeks. During that time we listened to the radio and TV. The radio is so energy-frugal that the batteries never needed changing, even though it had been using those same batteries for about 4 months of regular showering.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2010
Verified Purchase
"Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me." My first purchase of this product was satisfactory for around four years, then the rubbery top plate began to crack, allowing water to seep inside, and kill, the radio. Well, I guess four years isn't too bad, so when I wasn't confident in competing products, I bought it again. On the second one, after one year only, water found its way inside and onto the speaker, which no longer produces clear sound. The radio still operates, but the sound is unlistenable. I'll probably try the Sangean H-201 this time. I have a Sangean table radio that is used daily --- for over 19 years. Whereas Sony gives dire warnings about letting water splash directly onto its shower radios, Sangean says the direct contact is not a problem. Of course, I always kept my Sony radio away from direct contact with water, but the MERE PROXIMITY of water appears to have killed my second radio.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2011
Verified Purchase
I have owned this radio for nearly a year. I used it in the shower almost everyday. The water from the shower seeped inside the radio case, and destroyed the contacts for the batteries. My understanding is that this radio can be used in the shower and that water would not seep into the battery compartment of the radio, and damage the contacts, rendering the radio useless. I have owned Sony shower radios in the past, and never had this problem before, because they were sealed, which this one was -supposed- to be.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2008
Verified Purchase
A shower radio that actually gets great reception! The design is a little clutzy, especially the hanger clips, but the number of stations that I can listen to makes up for a few external design issues.
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