A Review of The Sony ICF-P26 AM/FM Portable Radio

Just so we’re all clear, I do not own the featured image on this page and I give credit to whomsoever credit is due.

I always enjoyed listening to the radio growing up.

The style of radio that I enjoy most are those that resemble the transistor radios made from the 1950s through the 1980s. There is just something about that style.

By the way, such a style is getting rarer and rarer as time goes by.

I believe it was some time in 2015 when I discovered the Sony ICF-P26 and, fun fact, it was through a MEME I saw on social media.

I finally bought one in March of 2017 and so I have owned one of these radios for almost your years.

That radio by the way is what this piece will be a review thereof.

In reality, I had been wanting to write this review since July of 2018, when I started writing product reviews, but there have been numerous distractions that hindered me from doing so.

In March of 2017, I had a little bit extra money, so I ordered a Sony ICF-P26 on eBay.

It came in a few days later and I began to use it extensively. It even gained a spot for a few years in my EDC backpack.

I was thoroughly impressed by the clear and generous sound, the tuning accuracy, the reception range (especially on AM, but FM as well), and the overall solid feel when handling this radio.

On every trip I took, it was a frequent companion, allowing me to hear local radio stations. One of my rituals is while traveling I wash my face, then shave as soon as I enter the hotel or motel room. For some reason traveling in a car for an extended period, even with the windows up makes my face ultra dirty. I also like to be clean-shaven when going out and about anywhere, so after washing my face, I shave, then apply the Aqua Velva. Usually while shaving in a place besides home, I listen to a local music station. One particular memory I have about carrying out this ritual is being in Texas and hearing Jim Ed Brown sing “Pop a Top” on a local AM station. Music sounds so much richer when played on AM and Jim Ed Brown already had a very rich voice, so it was a very pleasant experience. When not traveling, I used to listen to NPR whilst I was doing my laundry.

I did keep this radio when my ex-wife and I split up the community property and I left her a Sangean DT-200VX because she always liked it and I was trying to make the divorce as painless as possible. She and I are on much better terms now but I am 100% sure that we are not compatible as husband and wife. I just wish I would have realized this before the relationship became too serious. Well, she clearly stated that she wanted to marry me six days after meeting me. At the time, I was thrilled, because I didn’t see the red flags yet.

Speaking of red flags, my one gripe about this radio is that it lacks an AFC circuit. This wasn’t an issue at my previous residences but is very much an issue at my current residence since I am only a few blocks away from an FM transmitter. That station’s signal bleeds all over my FM dial and drowns out almost all other FM stations that would normally be available. So I upgraded (and I use that term loosely) to a cheap, unbranded radio, that has a phase lock loop synthesized oscillator, for most of my portable FM listening. It also gets AM (mediocre) and Weather (quite well, actually), but isn’t as solidly built as my Sony. Although it is as small as an MP3 player and I do have a dedicated pocket for it in my EDC backpack. However, on some nights I will still use this Sony for AM listening, both local and long-distance. If I’m not in my neighborhood and have it with me, I will also use my Sony for FM listening.

A few evenings ago when Winter Storm Uri was wreaking havoc across the country, our local governments and our electric utility companies were advising us to conserve power until 10:00 PM. So, I unplugged all of my grid-powered electronics, set my central heater (which is electric) to 68 Degrees Fahrenheit and I even turned off the lights. To be able to see, I used a highly efficient battery-powered LED lantern. My previous product review was about that very lantern. And for entertainment, I listened to the AM band on my Sony radio. I did some AM DXing until finally, I decided to listen to WSB out of Atlanta. There is a local show on there that I have listened to a time or two prior. It is a good, wholesome, and even Christian show. They were talking about Rush Limbaugh’s passing. I listened until the signal faded out. By that point, it was past Ten O’Clock, so I resumed my “normal” nighttime activities. The AM ferrite bar antenna on this radio isn’t very big, so it’s not the best radio for AM DXing, but, in my location, it will catch most of the clear channel AM stations between The Rockies and Appalachians after dark.

A very wise feature on this radio is that it isn’t turned off or on by the volume potentiometer, but rather a three-position sliding switch “OFF” “AM” “FM.” There is a volume potentiometer and after almost four years of use and three years of carrying in my EDC backpack, it needs to be dusted out. To tune the radio, a knob is connected to a slide rule indicator. For FM listening, there is a telescopic antenna that can be changed out if it is ever damaged. Why can’t all radios be made this way?

There is also a removable nylon lanyard.

Two other features on this radio include a green LED, whose brightness indicates how much battery power is left and a red LED which indicates that the radio is locked on a station’s signal.

For power, it runs on two AA batteries. I always used Alkalines and always had generous run times. I think the run time is rated at 35 or so hours on a set of batteries but I’m not 100% sure.

Currently, I have my Sony radio on a night table in my living room, but if I were to have to travel, especially to evacuate from a hurricane, it will be coming with me.

If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these, they are widely available online and even in some brick-and-mortar establishments.

I give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars and this rating is subjective to where one uses it. Had it been manufactured with an AFC circuit, I would have given it the full 5 stars.

Sony is a reputable brand and they make some fine radios, so why couldn’t they have installed an AFC circuit and made this radio even better?

I’ve mentioned on social media in the past how I wish all FM radios would have an AFC circuit, but terrestrial analog radio is gradually dying out, much to my dismay.

In the event of an emergency remember KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid! The simpler a communications system is, the less chance there is for failure and typically the cheaper the equipment. Analog terrestrial radio should remain in use, at least as a means of communicating important information to the public, especially in the event of an emergency!

I’ll get either one or another response for this statement and it is:

You’re preaching to the choir (from those who think like me.)

OR

Change is inevitable (from those who don’t realize what I realize.)

Currently, I am thinking of buying a Bluetooth-capable radio very soon so I can pair it with my tablet and Stream online radio stations. The model I am looking at is sold at The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General and if it is like its predecessor model, then it will have an AFC circuit, which is the other reason for me to consider purchasing it.

So, yes I do embrace new technology, but I also have a prepper mindset, not to mention I hold a General Class Amateur Radio license, and therefore am very much aware of how older simpler technology is more reliable, especially as a means of mass communications.

Well, look at this, I’ve turned a product review into a lecture.

My apologies.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

I guess this concludes my review of the Sony ICF-P26.

May God richly bless you!

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