SONY ICF-P36 COMPACT PORTABLE RADIO (FM/AM)
Amazingly when Philips has almost wind-up its Radio business, the premier Japanese brand Sony is introducing some portable AM FM radios in the market. In today’s fast-moving digital age, when portable AM-FM radio devices are almost extinct, Sony dares to challenge this changing trend.
Evolution cycle- Radio TV Smartphone
The evolution of mobile phone has almost finished the market for AM FM radio device. Those days are gone when one of the first things gifted to Groom was a Philips radio. In last one decade, television replaced portable radio as the primary source of news and entertainment, and now TV is facing the similar threat from 4G smartphone/tablet.
In fact, Reliance Jio’s 4G plan is out offers 75GB data for just 200 that too with extended three months validity. Everything is going to be live on 4G smartphone now. Who bothers to turn on a TV when all news channels are live on 4G smartphone?
Sony’s AM FM radio
Sony has launched an old-fashioned ICF-p36 AM-FM radio in India. Much like radios in the nineties, a regular battery set powers this Sony device.
We are going to do a review of this device here and at the end read my final verdict that can help users to take a correct decision in its purchase decision.
Best Choice for Senior citizens
I may be wrong but my instinct says, the market for this portable AM FM radio is very small. Such basic one function gadget will not attract young generation.
In terms of look, this looks like a replica of best-selling radio in the 90s. However, besides being small than any Philips AM radio, it is much more powerful with hot audio production and good signal reception.
The Sony radio is a brilliant device to have in the home or to gift someone very special in life. In fact, I am planning to present this as a gift to my father. He does not appreciate mobile phone radio and not very keen in a Boombox type of multifunctional jumbo device.
Cheapest Product in Portable radio Segment
Not many options are available in the portable radio market. Even if you like one somehow due to high price cannot buy it. In fact, today you cannot get a good quality radio set in less than 2000 rupees.
One good solution is to consider a Philips product, but all Philips models are almost outdated now. In fact, most of them are four to five years old model. In spite of them (Philips radio) being outdated models now still cost somewhere between 1000 to 1500 rupees. Philips has almost stopped the production of portable AM-FM radios.
In such situation buying this Sony radio – a 2015 model makes sense. It appears to me, for the first time, Sony has done correct pricing for a product. The device performs better in audio delivery, battery backup, and signal reception.
Built and Design
I have always been a fan of Sony’s simple yet elegant designs. That is true for this device as well. Made using some premium quality plastics, it is strong enough to sustain falls from a great height, some hard collision, and few direct kick from naughty kids in the home. It is sleek, compact, and remains lightweight even after adding a two fuel cell for power. There is a built-in hook to fix hand strap, adds a great flexibility in carrying it around easily.
One more brilliant thing about the design is; control buttons hides in the outer surface, so its front, sides, and rear are very flat. This does help it surviving in some major falls without losing any of the control buttons. Because of this, pushing it in your backpack also becomes very easy.
Volume Control and Modes
Adjust volume of this radio using a control wheel that resides at its left side. In fact, the placement of audio control wheel is very right and user-friendly. To switch between AM, FM, and OFF mode, one sliding switch is present on its right side.
Thankfully, ON status is not, as one of the modes here. From OFF status, any user would want move to either in AM or FM mode not, as first to ON mode, then AM and finally FM. Slide from down to up, modes changes as OFF to AM, and then FM.
Here, in my opinion, FM mode should come first in the order since most users will prefer jumping to FM mode from the OFF status.
Due to local mix entertainment, FM stations are much more in demand than AM channels. All AIR national and regional channels are AM channels in India. In fact, popular AIR AM channels like Vivid Bharati and FM gold are available at government-owned local FM stations.
Notifications Light and Tuner wheel
LED notification for the signal receiver and battery does help in tuning this radio in the dark. Tuner lights glow brighter if the station signal strength is good at user’s place. And, lights show weak for the battery means you should keep two extra fuel cell as a backup.
A tuner built-in at the top makes easier to search a radio channel; this is a manual analog channel search options supported by the LED notifications at the front.
There is a little antenna, users can stand it up for a better signal reception and when done, it folds down and sticks to the side of the radio. The antenna rotates in 360 degree and users can always adjust its length for better signal strength.
Headphone Support and Audio Quality
On the left side and near the volume controller wheel is the 3.5mm port for mono headphone out. Using this, enjoy endless live FM music without disturbing people around.
Single driver speaker generates hi-fi sound on this Sony radio with middle to high frequency. This is monaural type speaker has the 57mm driver unit with 8-ohm impedance. 100 mW sound output, which is crisp & clear and loud, more than enough got enjoying all radio programs in utmost quality.
Bass production is not assuring, but you will not feel much about that. One great thing in terms of audio output is it remains smooth and very clear at low to high volumes. I have to agree in terms of audio production, Sony is at its best with this portable device.
The Sony radio requires two 1.5V fuel cells in R6 size. Approx 100 hours of battery backup is possible if using it in full volume in speaker mode (it has one headphone mode too). Thus, one of the biggest disappoints is it cannot run on electricity. This way its battery consumption will surely add 100 to 150 rupees extra in your monthly budget.
FM signal reception is just great. This is true even if you stay at ground floor in a closed surrounding. AM radio also connects well but unwanted breathing noises in the background annoy listeners sometimes. Actually, this is persistent problem in the local AIR station towers, cannot blame this Sony radio for it.
- Super clear audio due to Sony’s walkman technology
- Headphone jack
- Ultra portable and lightweight
- Hidden control buttons & wheel
- Arms strap for easy caring it around
Runs only on battery, no support to external power source
Since the beginning of radio era in India, Philips has been ultimate king in the portable AM FM device market. However, now Sony wants take lead with some good quality products at decent prices.
The Sony ICF-P36 is one latest portable radio with many positive things. This has a super built, powerful sound production, headphone support, and strong signal reception. Buy this radio at an affordable price of 1400 rupees without a second thought.
In the Box
The unit, hand strap, user manual, and service warranty card.