Customer Review

282 of 291 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sony S79W AM/FM/Weather Shower Radio - Reliable Performer With Some Flaws, November 16, 2008
This review is from: Sony ICFS79W AM/FM/Weather Band Digital Tuner Shower Radio (White) (Electronics)
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.

++ 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

-- 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.


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.

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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2009 6:39:33 PM PST
I agree about the batteries, a very odd choice. I've been using Eneloop rechargeables for the last year and they offer C & D cell adapters to go with the rechargeable AA cells. A decent solution for it, I've found...

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 4:26:21 PM PST
Actually, I like the C batteries since they last FOREVER. This isn't a good choice for most rechargeable anyway since the power draw is so little. Most types of rechargeables are likely losing more charge from their natural decharge then they are from the actual use of the radio. Alkaline batteries keep their charge much better so most of the energy in the batteries actually go to actually using the radio and not just evaporating. I'm all for using recycled but there are applications that alkaline simply work better.

Posted on Apr 7, 2011 9:07:00 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 7, 2011 9:07:30 AM PDT]

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 2:53:53 PM PDT
J Pilven says:
Thanks for reviewing about the batteries! This is the first Amazon item I've ever seen that doesn't have the battery info - or even the battery type - on the product description.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2011 10:06:48 PM PDT
Mark says:
You are welcome. Glad to be of service.

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 8:23:56 PM PST
Audiophile says:
You have undersold this radio, and I think the pricing is actually quite good for what it offers. $49 is not bad--do you expect everything to cost $25-30 bucks? Then you should expect junk that won't last more than a year for a piece of electronics designed to work in a shower!
I have owned this radio for over five years and it has been great. Yes, the top wears out--I pulled out my packing tape, which is just wider than the depth of the radio, cut and trim it every year with a pen knife. No leaks.
I use the radio every day of the week as I listen to NPR news or music in the shower. The C batteries are a big plus: I use Rayovac rechargeable and they last a couple of months at 15 minutes per day. The little suction cup for the antenna sticks great if you wet the cup. Reception is excellent, especially important for those weak stations at the bottom of the tuning dial (88.5-91.1), unlike the maxed-out rock and pop stations in the middle of the tuning dial.
The analog volume control is a LOT better than a digital control--the adjustments are much finer and easy to change with wet hands.
Sound is not bad, so I can't complain, definitely not as good as my Tivoli Songbook, but the Sony is cheap in comparison.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 6:56:07 AM PST
J. Seigle says:
I have had this radio for 10 years (with one slight difference which I'll describe in a moment) and agree with most points of this review. This radio is bulletproof, with the exception of the wearing off of the plastic buttons. This problem is very common to any device with a membrane control panel like this; I have the same problem with my vacuum cleaner. On the radio, I kept it alive by putting a strip of electrical tape over the worn-out button, which works just fine though you have to remember what the button is for since you can't read it through black tape.

As for the batteries, you have to remember that the larger the battery, the longer it will last. AA batteries would have to be changed much more frequently, and my experience with rechargeables is that their life is significantly shorter than regular batteries. I am happy to get several months of life from the C batteries.

The reception for weather is not a flaw in the radio. The weather broadcast is on a special band and frequency that in my experience is just difficult to receive, depending on where you are located. It is normal for it to have more static than a commercial AM or FM station.

By the way, my model also has a TV band so you can listen to broadcast TV shows on channels 2-13. However, since the conversion to digital this feature has become quite useless, and it appears that it has been dropped from the newer model rather than modifying it to receive digital broadcasts.

It's a great price for what you get. I paid a higher price 10 years ago, so today under $50 is a very good value. I use mine every day so that's about $0.40 a month, a bargain compared to my iPod, computer, and cell phone, which all become obsolete pretty fast.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2012 1:22:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2012 1:24:04 PM PST
Exactly. Cs are WAY better. They last far longer. Also, I disagree with the reviewer saying the buttons wear down. I have had mine for 5 years, with no problem. Mr. Seigle is right (and I have the earlier version with the TV band as well, so maybe it's been longer than 5 years, I lost count). But I haven't had any problem yet with buttons wearing out.

Posted on Jun 6, 2013 2:08:33 PM PDT
We have had the TV band version of this radio for quite a few years. It worked fine at first, but it wasn't long until the top started wearing out. I can live with that, but the main problem is that the radio doesn't work very well anymore. When it's turned on, it periodically goes off by itself. This happens after inserting new batteries, so it's not that the batteries need changing. I'm currently looking for a new bathroom radio. Another problem (minor) is one that most white electronics have in that they yellow over time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2013 2:17:04 PM PDT
J. Seigle says:
I had a similar problem. I think the wear on top allowed water in, causing the controls to short out and turn off by itself, or not turn on. I let it dry out and then put a strip of clear packing tape on the top and haven't had further problems. Every single thing I've ever bought with those damn membrane buttons wears through much sooner than they should. I'm having the same problem with a Sears vacuum cleaner, but fortunately I don't have to use that in the shower :-)
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