Customer Reviews: Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black)
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on October 16, 2009
I'm a big time radio guy, and have used many models over the years. There are two things that really make any radio stand out, and this one has both of them.
The ICF-38 is an excellent performer as far as reception of both AM and FM signals go. Weak signal pick up on both bands is markedly better here than with almost all small portable radios I've used, and even more importantly, selectivity (ability to seperate stations cleanly) is better as well. The tone switch (which some radios don't even have) cuts the treble when desired, if you want a less harsh sounding AM signal. The dial has no clock or light, but an LED for indicating if a station is tuned in. Battery life is excellent if alkalines are used (it takes 4 AA batteries). Output volume is listed as 4 watts, quite loud for a radio of this size, with little distortion at top level.
The other ingredient for a good radio is ease of use and a well thought out design. There are little things here which most people won't notice that actually make this radio a joy to use. Many radios today that run off both internal batteries and AC require a seperate wall-wart that plugs into the radio and the outlet, but the ICF-38 has the power cord built in so you won't have to search for it when needed. Also, the battery cover is hinged, which is great as battery covers can disappear as easily as wall-warts (and you can't just go to Wal-mart to buy a new battery cover). The carry handle flips up when needed, and there is an indentation in the cabinet which allows you to slip in a finger to raise it easily, and you'll find out how nice this is when your hands are full and you need to bring the radio with you as well. Both slide switches for band selection and power have a raised bump in the middle which makes it easier to change bands or turn it on. Finally, The shape makes it easy to place in most locations and it is very stable, making it unlikely to get knocked over.
If there were no markings on this radio to indicate the manufacturer, I would have easily guessed that it was a Sony product. It has the great performance and clever design that I associate with Sony.
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on March 7, 2009
Having been a radio nut for years, and using this radio for about five months now, this review is not given casually. Probably could stock my own radio store.

If you're looking for a basic AM/FM portable radio with excellent reception, sound, portability, quality and brand, you've come to the right place. And there's even a Tone High/Low switch which gives a nice variety of sound choices.

Rather than going into the specifics of the antenna, carry handle, aesthetic appeal, speaker size and quality, functionality of the knobs, battery life, suffice it to say, for $25 you can't go wrong! Try it - you'll like it.
(and no, I'm not a Sony nor Amazon representative)
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on August 7, 2008
Just what I was looking for--a quality desktop radio with nothing fancy-- just a radio. The sound quality is very good and the reception is excellent with a telescoping adjustable attenna. Great value for the price.
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on August 14, 2008
This radio brings in distant stations, sounds good, and takes up little space. The controls are easy for me to use. These were the qualities I was looking for so I am pleased I made the choice to buy Sony ICF38.
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on July 14, 2012
I wanted a small, simple, inexpensive radio for kitchen use. The Sony ICF38 is well made, can use either an AC cord that stows in the back of the radio, or 4-AA batteries.

Styling is simple and clean, with clear, solid controls. Sound quality is very good for such a small radio. Very happy with the radio to this point.
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on August 3, 2008
batteries run forever. this is replacing the older version of this model which had the tv band and emergency weather, never the less this one works great I use this for the yard and beach and it is also fairly sturdy.
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on July 27, 2013
This is one of four Sony Radios I recently purchased. I wanted a whole bunch of radios for each room in my home, one in my shed, my Travel Trailer and one to keep in my JEEP. All the Sony radios are perfect. Just the kind of quality I would expect from Sony.

What sets this radio apart from the others is it's large speaker, among other things. After purchasing all the Radios this one is only one of my favorites. The radio accepts 4 'AA' cell sized batteries which has kept my radio playing for well over 2 weeks. I use the radio for about 2~3 hours per day. I don't use the AC corded power very much but it's nice to have that extra capability.

The large speaker is what makes this rig beautiful, though. It has a full rich bass sound with ample mid-range and very sufficient treble. Compared to other radios with a single speaker (not including boom boxes) the sound from this Sony is almost High-Fidelity. There is a tone switch on the side of the radio which helps reduce the level of noise during AM reception. I prefer the bass tone rather then the treble tone but regardless of how you have the switch set the radio still sounds really good in either position.

I like that there is a large tuning knob which makes for easy, accurate and dead-on fine tuning. I also like the tuning indicator which helps to further fine tune the radio. A also like how the handle folds down into the radio and out of the way, too.. The handle easily flips up into the carry position when your ready to go.

This Sony sits easily on any table and is very stable since it's very wide and not so tall therefor, it won't accidentally tip over even if you bump it really hard. The radio also has a very nice appearance. It's a pretty radio which would look very nice on any kitchen counter-top or Bathroom shelf. I think it would look great anywhere you place it though.

I've been a Ham Radio Operator for over 35 years so I think I am very qualified to offer these three very important characteristics for a radio. A good radio has to have good sensitivity, selectivity and good sound. Well, this radio has all three of those quality's which makes this Sony the perfect companion.

FM reception is very impressive. I have six commercial stations on my Island and the radio receives all of them without me even having to extend the FM antenna. AM reception is equally impressive, I am able to hear stations 100 miles away loud and clear with very little receiver noise. I don't have to turn the radio all that much to try and capture AM stations either, so it's very sensitive, again with almost no receiver noise.

All this being said and for the price it's being offered for, it's also a great radio to kick around town with. You don't have to worry about bumping it around harshly since it's easily cheap enough to buy another, not that I would do that but it's certainly a radio that can withstand some decent abuse.. Anyway It's pretty hard to find a decent sounding radio with good sensitivity, selectivity and great sound these days but this particular Sony has absolutely blown me out of the water. I highly recommend the purchase of this Sony. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

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on October 20, 2008
I just recently purchased this gem for use in my office & garage & my first impressions are as follows:

-Decent sound quality

-Reception is very good,actually better than a few portables I own that
cost much more.

-Very easy to use,you don't even need a manual.

This radio is a throw back to the 70's,no bells and whistles
just a tone control for music & talk. What impressed me the
most is the ease of picking up on AM lower powered stations
over 100 miles in the day time. For giggles & grins, I used a
'Select A Tenna' antenna in the night time & this unit turned
into a serious DX,ing machine! . In a nushell, for the money you
can't go wrong.
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on July 9, 2008
This radio has great sound and bring in the stations clearly especially when I use it on the beach.
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on November 29, 2014
I ordered this after extensive searching on Amazon. I wanted a portable radio with a handle, but most important was it had to have great reception. I didn't want to spend a lot, but my trusty old GE radio was dropped a few too many times, and I finally completely broke the antenna and the handle so it was time for a new one.

I could not find the same GE model I had so off to amazon I went to find an equivalent.

The only thing I use this radio for is for listening to the Green Bay Packers radio broadcast while watching the game on TV. Depending on which TV network carries the game, the radio broadcast is not in snyc with the TV, so I have to search among the six or seven radio stations that broadcast the game in order to find the one that is closest in sync with the TV. Some are AM some FM. This means I have to go from one station to another and try to fine tune in some distant stations, but most are fairly local. The Sony was supposed to have an excellent tuner with great reception. This was NOT my experience.

I didn't find the manual tuner to be very easy to fine tune, it seemed kind of "loose" to me so I couldn't easily fine tune the stations. The FM had a hard time differentiating stations that were close to each other on the dial. An FM station that is located only 35 miles away would come in fine, and then a few minutes later it was a problem. I had to continuously move the antenna or lay the radio flat, or sideways, etc. to get the station in decent.

SOUND: The sound on this radio was not good. You could only turn it to a medium volume, and then no matter how much higher I tried to turn it up, the sound never got louder.

SIZE: The radio was larger than I expected. It was okay, but I would have preferred a bit smaller. My GE radio was the perfect size, and this radio was probably 2" longer and 1" taller.

ON/OFF switch and Band Switches: These switches seemed very cheap and very touchy to me. I was very surprised as I expected much higher quality from a Sony device.

I have owned other Sony radios that I have been very pleased with (very small portables) so I was very disappointed in this radio.

I tried it for 3 Sundays in a row thinking that maybe it was just weather affecting the reception, but each week I had the same problems, and the sound issue never went away. So I returned it. Thanks AMAZON for a great return policy and easy system.

I then went back and revised my search and decided I would spend a little more to get what I want. This is what I ended up with: Sangean PR-D18BK Portable Digital Radio (Black/Grey) also bought from Amazon. WOW.... other than not having a handle, this radio is the perfect size, shockingly better than the Sony. Brought in same FM stations with better clarity even without the antenna extended. Had it for about 5 days now, and LOVE IT!
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