|Submited By: Robert M. Zumatto on 10/28/2009|
There s a lot to like about this radio, especially if you can find it for $5.99 like I did. I was looking for a small pocket radio that would unobtrusively fit in a shirt pocket and had decent AM reception. None of my mp3 or media players have AM, only FM. I purchased the Grundig "Buzz Aldrin" G6 to fill this void. I love that radio, however it was ill-suited to carrying in one s pocket. It DID fit in the large pockets on my cargo shorts, however, the jog dial came off a few times...luckily I found it in my pocket and easily snapped it into place, but if I d lost it, the radio would be worthless! It does come with a carrying case, but that made it even bulkier to walk around with. Furthermore, I didn t want it to get banged around in my pocket with all the jostling and jockeying for position that happens on the subway here every day.
I d seen this Coby cx-50 on Amazon for awhile and really liked the looks. When I saw it last week in a downtown electronics retailer for $5.99, I couldn t pass it up. I mean, at that price, it wouldn t be worth it to return it since the rountrip on the subway would be $4.50 lol. I was expecting a flimsily built radio based on the other Coby products I ve purchased, but once I wrestled it out of its clamshell, I was very surprised with the quality feel of this unit. It is almost exactly the size of a credit card and about 1/2 thick. It s thick enough that it can stand without falling over easily. It has a very attractive brushed aluminum face place, a small round LCD display (GRAY W/BLACK CHARACTERS, NOT THE ORANGE GLOW SHOWN IN ALL PICS OF THIS RADIO)surrounded by a ring of 8 mettalic buttons, giving it a nautical porthole-like look...POWER OFF, HOUR, MINUTE, POWER ON FM, POWER ON AM, ALARM SET, TIME SET,AND ALARM ON/OFF. It is necessary to read the fairly-coherent-mostly typo-free instructions first.
Under the brushed aluminum faceplate, the rest of the radio is simple black and gray plastic, with tuning wheel and volume control along the righthand side. On the left is the mono earphone jack, and a carrying strap. The battery compartment on my unit is very hard to open...I m afraid I ll break it one of these days trying to get it open, but other than that, fit and finish are surprisingly good. I liken Coby s products to early Hyundai cars, circa 1985, which built cheaply made cars that sometimes worked well, and sometimes they didin t, but bang-for-the-buck was impressive,and they kept improving their products little by little that now, their quality meets and exceeds that of Toyota! Panasonic and Sony are basically staying out of this low-revenue market segment, with each having like 1 excellent pocket radio in their lineup which hasn t been updated in years (not a bad thing...their pocket radios outshine the Coby on all fronts except portability...and can be found for $10 or so.
Reception here in Manhattan is quite good. I have no trouble tuning into all the major am and fm stations. True, the tuning is imprecise...try tuning to am 770, and you ll be likely to land on 775 or 769... either way, the tuning is still very good. FM reception is also good but is impeded by the tiny whip antenna. For this price and size, the sound is about what I d expected. Sure it s tinny, but I don t need a boombox to listen to talk radio in my tiny kitchen! FM is acceptable just don t expect hi fidelity...this is seriously the low rent kind.
So far, the only major flaw (and I ve only had this radio for a week) is the way this thing eats batteries! Apparently that "always on" LCD time readout has a big appetite for power. I m only using this radio for at most 3-4 hours a day. I am using fully charged Sanyo Eneloop batteries, and can t get 3 days of use out of them. The manual suggests not once, but twice, removing the batteries if you won t be using the radio for a long time under the guise of preventing damage from battery leakage...well, 3 days isn t long at all. Also, as the battery power wanes,the LCD display gradually dims to the point of being unreadable, yet you can still pull in a signal for a short time after the display conks out. I ll try some good Duracells to see if that makes a difference. I wouldn t recommend using this radio as an alarm clock to get you up for work, or to catch a plane...it might die during the night!
In stark contrast, the Grundig G6, which runs on 2 AA vs. 2 AAA batteries for the Coby, runs for at least 2 weeks on fully charged Eneloops.
Given the spotty reliability of Coby products and the unacceptable battery life, I am reluctantly rating this ***.