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Radio Designers Step Up Their Game

Cool features and design aesthetics are not limited to smartphones and tablets

Newsflash: Radio receiver manufacturers are still coming out with innovative products, even in this age of iPads and smartphones. Here are four of the most interesting that have come to Radio World’s attention.

CC Pocket Radio: The Transistor Radio, v. 2.0

The CC Pocket Radio Just because the pocket-sized transistor radio is iconic doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved.

C. Crane Company, a California firm owned by AM radio fan and engineer Bob Crane, has proven this point with its new CC Pocket Radio.

This standard-sized pocket radio supports AM, FM and weather band broadcasts, and can store up to 55 presets to boot. The CC Pocket Radio also comes with an onboard speaker, headphone jack (stereo for FM), and LCD display with digital up/down tuning.

That’s not all: The CC Pocket Radio has numerous cool programmable features built in. They include a NOAA Weather Alert (to trigger an alarm whenever NOAA issues a weather warning), an alarm clock, an AM 2.5 kHz narrowband filter to improve station separation and 1 kHz step-tuning on the AM band. For $59.95, the CC Pocket Radio is a true next-generation transistor radio.

“We loved making this guy,” said Bob Crane. “It is perhaps the simplest digital pocket radio made but it still has high performance.”


Pure Sensia 200D Connect: A Futuristic Internet Radio … Circa 1970

Pure Sensia 200D Connect With its egg-like shape, the Pure Sensia 200D Connect evokes images of a true futuristic radio — as seen from the sci-fi aesthetics of the 1970s.

But make no mistake: The Sensia 200D Connect is a 21st century Internet radio. In fact, it has so many features that Pure rightly describes it as a portable music streaming and radio system.

Among the Connect’s features, it offers a full-color 5.7-inch touchscreen and remote control, 30W RMS stereo sound (speakers mounted at either end of the egg) and the ability to receive stations on FM, the Internet and British digital audio broadcasting, DAB.

The Connect can also access music from WiFi-accessible PCs, tablets, smartphones, MP3 players and USB memory sticks. (The unit can also record to USB stick.) One last cool feature: The Sensia 200D Connect’s touchscreen can be used to access Facebook and Twitter.

It sells for $399 at

Etón FRX3: Emergency Radio Meets Sexy

Eton FRX3 Who says that emergency preparedness radios can’t be sexy? Not Etón: Their FRX3 AM/FM/weather band radio is as alluring in its red chrome (or black) X-shaped radio case as it is functional. The FRX3 comes with a rechargeable battery, plus solar panel and hand-cranked dynamo to keep it topped up at all times.

Besides AM/FM, the FRX3 covers all seven NOAA weather band stations and can be set to turn on whenever NOAA issues a Weather Alert. The hand turbine can be used to recharge USB-connectable devices like smartphones, by connecting them to the FRX’s own USB port.

Add a built-in flashlight, “glow in the dark” locator, a red flashing light for emergencies, and even an AUX port to bring in external audio, and the FRX3 is the sexy alternative to boring emergency preparedness radios.

It is readily available online and sells for $59.95. A special American Red Cross version of the FRX3 is available.


Grace Digital Victoria: A Nostalgic Internet Radio

The Grace Digital Victoria radio

At first glance, the Grace Digital Victoria radio is a 1940s tabletop receiver housed in an elegant 3/4-inch-thick wooden case with gold trim. Look again, and you’ll see that the Victoria is actually a fully-featured WiFi-enabled Internet radio.

Using its two knobs and four push buttons — or included remote — listeners can access 18,000 Internet-based radio stations; music services such as Pandora, Sirius and Live365; and audio files from other computers over WiFi.

Tuning information is shown on the Victoria’s black and white LCD screen, which seems appropriately in tune with this receiver’s nostalgic styling. Meanwhile, the audio delivered by this radio’s Class D Digital 16 watt RMS/50 watt peak amp and 4-inch full-range speaker with bass rear port is full and satisfying. Add the fact that you can plug in an MP3 player for extra audio, and use the Victoria as a clock radio, and one can see why it now occupies my bedside table.

“Grace Digital is about producing affordable quality audio products for customers who are looking for more than the standard clock radio,” said Greg Fadul, Grace Digital’s co-founder. In making the nostalgic Victoria, “we wanted to provide something truly unique to the marketplace, something we knew would elicit a genuine positive emotional response in our customers.”

The Victoria is available for $229.99 at

James Careless is a longtime contributor. He wrote about SoundCloud in the March 1 issue of Radio World.