I’m a big cricket fan and so LW radio has been a big part of my life. They say that if nuclear war does happen LW will still be broadcasting and so maybe the cricket will still be on. It takes a big blast to get Geoffrey Boycott away from the crease. You can’t get more eccentric than Test Match Special on LW as the commentary is regularly interrupted – bang on time – by the daily service at 9-45pm and the Shipping Forecast at 5-55pm. It’s as strange as the tree in the Canterbury outfield at Kent CC but reassuringly British all the same. You do wonder if the crew of those trawlers and freighters are cricket fans as they get used to tuning into the cricket to get the weather. LW is used for the Shipping Forecast as LW is the radio band that can travel the furthest, why you can pick up World Service in the Namibian desert, which I did. It’s still better than mobile phone signals.
So I needed a new portable radio with LW on. I can get the cricket on DAB with Radio Five Sports Extra and often do but my portable DAB only lasts a day so cheaper to just stick my LW radio in my rucksack to listen to the cricket. The radio also has AM and FM and plenty of presets to store your favorite stations. Another problem with portable digital is if the battery runs out or the headphones slip out of the socket in your bag you lose all the channels as the headphones are the aerial. The fact portable DAB is such a power hog you cant really afford to take them abroad with the cables and chargers either as your smartphone and other devices also need recharging. This is why portable radios with LW are so useful to backpackers. I can recall listening to English football in a minefield in Botswana! You cant do that on AM.
Volume is good and the channels track in nicely. Roberts are a good brand of radios. Because they are you have to pay a little more for LW with them. I also like their LW brand as it’s not too big and fits into the side packet of my rucksack. Any man seen listening to a big radio without earphones in the town center is not looked on favorably or, indeed, sanely. You have to be discreet when you take a portable analogue radio out to change a channel as it’s extremely uncool to have one.
It takes two AA Batteries and they last for a surprisingly long time, compared to my digital kit. I change them in the summer every three months. I use rechargeable so very cost effective. The radio is not top of the line though so lacks the comforts of digital radio of station selection and tight tuning. It’s not cheap at around £30 but you have to pay more to get LW as not that many people want it as you can now get Woman’s Hour and The Archers on new digital radios. Ideal for cricket fans.
When is a Roberts’s radio not a Roberts’s radio? The answer is, when it's a Sangean product badged as a Roberts, or a Morphy Richards, or any one of the number of brand names owned by the Glen Dimplex group. Got a Goblin Kettle? Or an AquaVax? Maybe a New World cooker? You've got a Glen Dimplex. Buy one of Roberts' "Classic" or "Revival" range radios and your buying into the pre-Dimplex production quality based in South Yorkshire, UK. Buy from the Roberts "Worldband" range (and most of the "Lifetime" range) and you're buying a badged Sangean, made in the Far East. This shouldn't really matter of course (most would indeed argue to the contrary)...except that it does. I have had two replacements for my R9917, made necessary on both occasion because of substandard casing and button controls. Whether my third R9917 goes the same way, it remains to be seen. It seems worthwhile to report, also, that the timer electronics of a friend's Roberts have not lasted beyond 30 months. In addition, it is interesting to note that the release of the latest Sangean product trading on the Roberts name, the RR9929 has been put twice on hold because of production problems with the casing. Maybe this means Roberts -- sorry, Sangean -- are getting their act together. On the other hand, maybe....buy a Sony?
The Roberts R9917 is a radio thats small enough to fit in a pocket (100 x 80 x 25 mm and weighs 85g). It has a small speaker as well as ear pieces which wind back into the case. Its nice to have both. Ear pieces are nice to have, but they are quite fiddly and not good if more than one person wants to listen. Likewise the speaker isn't great if you don't want to bother other people. There is a socket for plugging in a seperate pair of headphones too. The plus points are that it has RDS (Radio Data System), for FM stations. This means that when you tune into a station, you get the station name instead of the frequency on which its broadcasting, although you can get that if you want too. The other big advantage with RDS is that it automatically retunes to a different frequency for the same radio station if the signal is stronger than the one you were listening to in the first place. You can also set it to cut into other programs with traffic news from BBC local radio. This is great with a car radio. With a portable radio, it might still be useful if you're using public transport. FM reception is pretty good, although you need to extend the telescopic aerial for best results. It also has medium wave and long wave. This doesn't need the aerial to be extended and so is better if you're listening with the radio in your pocket. I do this if I'm listening whilst cycling. A nice feature is that you can set the medium wave frequencies to increase in increments of either 9KHz (for Europe) or 10Khz (for the US). Long wave means that you can listen to the cricket on Test Match Special in the summer. The MW and LW reception is pretty poor inside an electric train. Then its better to listen to an FM station. The radio is powered by two AA batteries which last about 20 hours. You also can use it as a clock radio. The time can be set accurately from signals broadcast on an RDS radio station. The downside is that these f
eatures come at a price. £65 to be exact. Thats a lot of money for a pocket tranny. You can get radios which you tune with a dial for £10. If you want digital tuning, and a speaker as well as the ear pieces, then there is less choice. Add in LW and RDS to the features list and this is about the only alternative that will fit easily into a pocket. I justified the expense because it makes me more likely to commute to work by train and bicycle than by car and the savings from this might pay for the cost of buying the radio. This radio isn't sold by many places. I bought mine from http://www.simplyradios.com/acatalog/rev99177.htm Its a nice WWW site with reviews of various radios. The order went smoothly and they delivered it within a day or two. There is no postage charge, but don't get much of a discount though.