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These days when it comes to radios, consumers are forever buying DAB radio products from companies you've probably never heard of - and never will again. The cheap budget brands are passing off DAB radios like they are going out of fashion and whilst I required just a basic kitchen radio many years ago to keep me entertained from breakfast to dinner, at the time of purchase DAB radios cost £200 or more. Like a lot of other lifestyle products, the far more traditional method is sometimes made to look "old and laborious," but frankly, I don't find tuning a radio station to be that difficult. Besides, even if we have more satellites and radio signals around us, DAB radios wont automatically pick up stations in your area; so sometimes it is better to go with what you know, traditionally.
Now in 2012, after eight wonderful years of reliable service, I still have my old Morphy Richards "Companion," and keep it at our holiday home where other relatives rely on it for most of the year. It has been thumped, dropped. kicked and at one point "went on holiday" only for it to reappear the next year, adopting a "garden gnome" scenario.
Nar'2s Quick Skip Product Spec
FM/MW/LW, 3 bands from slider dial selectable control: Simple
Rotary volume control which also switches the radio on: Simple
Rotary tuning control - large and easy to grab.
Analogue tuning, headphone socket
LED mains power indicator - Also lights up with batteries when used.
FM telescopic aerial
General price: £14-95 (2004) to £19-99.
Generally speaking one of the features, which I love about this little radio, isn't the fact that it is simply designed, but because of its slightly oval shape it blends in easily with any kind of décor. I've had it in minimalist kitchens, 1980's country kitchens, and a practical kitchen and more recently in my parents kitchen before I bought them a Pure digital DAB radio and thanks to mum, its all black and white in there. As such and normally I don't spend a lot of paragraphs padding about the design but the Morphy Richards is a generally well shaped sound box with easy enough to see controls, well marked and professional looking in its wipe cleanable soft grey colour. The biggest gripe however isn't the fact that it has clearly marked controls but the radio dial, a strip on the top at the front of the radio can be hard to see, particularly from a distance although if you know your radio stations, then finding a station is easy enough from the weak action of the tuning dial which allows a precise action to hone in on all stations available from the FM/MW and LW wave bands available. The weak action of the dial may not give quality aspirations, but when my hands are caked in oil and baking, the dial is incredibly easy to turn!
Where sound quality is concerned, the MR Companion R1902 is easy to make friends with! I think is okay for the price and at a time when radios just gave sound control and nothing else the Morphy Richards does exactly this. As such the tone on this radio is middle ground - it is internally set which means you can't control it - but it does have a bright tone with FM stations and a fair amount of bass rather than a bass box type radio designed to threaten your worktop or shelves with vibrations.
On MW and LW wave lengths however the tone isn't as bright but it may well have something to do with the radio tuning into stations rather than finding the right sound quality. The volume control is easily controlled and unlike some cheap analogue radios on the market, the control is infinite and precise - I can get this radio down to the lowest level so that only me and it can be heard when other folk are in, possibly on the phone or just chatting away; being a musician is hard to detract from normal life; I need constant music around me when studying or doing work.
Another issue that does need addressing is the stability of this product. Although it has an easy enough to carry handle which sits flush in its recess when not in use and a telescopic radio aerial that can be turned at a 180° angle, the weight of the radio comes in at around 680grams - hardly heavy. It is therefore prone to falling over if it isn't on a level flat surface and thanks to its general plastic construction there are no soft feet on the base to which it can grip surfaces.
Most of the time it can sit happily on an average window sill if it is left permanently plugged in, and once the plug is switched on a small LED red light comes on to show the radio is on. Batteries can be used in lieu of main power but then adds the weight in with two medium-sized 1.5 V batteries; this radio came in useful when a flat mate's car radio wasn't functioning and we needed the football scores!!
Over the years the volume and on control which acts as one has started to reveal static which produces a crackle at the start but like almost all analogue radios this can simply be removed by turning up the volume control up and down to get rid of any static once it is switched on in future use. Sometimes although easily marked I feel that the control could be a bit larger so that all sizes of hands can activate it.
Changing radio stations is very easy to do thanks to the fact that the radio only has one slide bar on the right hand side. An ear piece also allows owners the option to listen to the radio in privacy and although it is a Mono speaker set on the front, stereo headphones produce Mono sound rather than putting the sound into one ear phone as some radios have done in the past.
Now, where practicality is concerned, the Companion's basic grab handle fits flush as soon as it isn't required but over the years I've only ever used the handle to hang the radio off trees if I'm working out in the garden - but due to its thinner than normal shape like other radios where the external mains cord socket is located, Morphy Richards have been wise to fit everything flush - this means the radio can be hung up in my shed as opposed to having it sit ON a shelf, because the radio can fall over if it is left on an unsteady, angled shelf.