The Sangean DT-400W Portable Weather Radio
The Sangean DT-400W Pocket Weather Radio is a popular portable AM/FM radio with an adequate weather radio function. Adequate but not great, and it is not easy to recommend if you are looking for a good portable or desktop radio whose main purpose is to give you timely warnings about impending severe weather or other emergencies.
But… if you are looking for a very good portable or pocket radio that you can take with you when walking, jogging or camping that will warn you if an emergency is developing (weather or otherwise) then this well built and compact radio could be ideal. It is not cheap, but most buyers have thought it worth the price.
This is a battery powered radio – no AC inlet – but its 2 AA batteries do seem to last a long time.
Buyer reviews rate the Sangean DT-400W highly, but it is very obvious that people buy and like this radio for different reasons. Some are looking for a good portable radio with good reception and high quality sound on AM and FM, whereas others are after a pocket weather or emergency alert radio with extra features for the vast majority of time when all is well with the world around them. Ratings seem to have improved over the last year, although there seems to have been no technical upgrade.
Since this is mostly a weather radio review site, I’ll concentrate on how well the Sangean DT-400W works as a weather radio.
Strengths and Weaknesses as a Weather Radio
Like all weather radios it will pickup the weather radio frequencies and will override either standby mode or existing reception to let you know of a developing emergency – the alert is given by a repeated tone. Details of the alert are shown on a well designed screen, and you can get further details by tuning in to one of the weather radio frequencies.
The radio will normally select the strongest signal from local weather radio transmitters. There is no SAME function so you can’t select the most relevant counties for where you live, or where dangerous weather is most likely to come from.
The radio is powered by 2 AA batteries – rechargeables work but you will have to charge them separately. Provided you can replace the batteries within one minute, you won’t lose your presets. Battery life is good and unlike most other portables, a battery power indicator is visible on the screen.
The Sangean DT-400W Weather Radio is reasonably robust, as is the belt clip which makes it easy to use if you are away from home. It also has a lock switch which means you won’t turn it on accidentally or change any settings.
There is one significant problem here, although it is easy to overcome. The Sangean DT-400W has no internal aerial, but comes with an external aerial in the form of a wire that you can plug in to an outlet in the radio. You can then listen to AM, FM or the Weather Band through a small inbuilt speaker. The included ear plugs will also act as an aerial, but sound will only come through the plugs, not the speaker in the set. However, if set on speaker, a tone will sound through the speaker if a weather alert is transmitted.
If this were a serious weather alert radio, it would have the option that the alert tone (beeps rather than a siren) would automatically switch to a voice message describing the emergency. Although there will be a message on the display, to find out about the location and timing of the threat, just press any button.
So if you wish to use the DT-400W as a weather radio in your home you will need to make sure it is set up properly, preferably with the external aerial.
This also applies to the 90 minute auto timer which starts automatically when the radio is turned on. It is easy to disable, but if you forget then the weather radio alerts won’t be available after 90 minutes.
One thing which I find really hard to understand is the miniscule 90 day guarantee or warranty. 90 days! This really makes no sense when other Sangean weather radios such as the CL-100, and most if not all competing radios, have a one year warranty. It’s not as if the radio is likely to fail in a hurry – it’s got a good record and appears strongly made – but such a short guarantee period detracts from what does appear to be a reliable and well made product.
How good is it as a portable AM/FM radio?
This is where most reviewers concentrate, and with a few qualifications most buyers are pretty happy with it.
Sound quality through the ear plugs is quite good, and being digital there is no signal drift once the station has been found. It also comes with a Deep Base Boost which adds to the sound quality on FM, and being able to preset 19 stations gives you plenty of choice.
One common suggestion is to find or buy some better earplugs – the ones supplied work OK, but the quality of the sound can be improved greatly by improving the ear buds, or replacing them with a headset.
But while it’s a good little unit when earplugs are used, it’s not really designed for use as a desk radio. For a start you must have the antenna plugged in, and the small speaker will give a sound which is more appropriate to talk radio than to quality music broadcasts on FM.
This has been a hard radio to review. I don’t think it is a good weather radio, except when used purely as a portable radio when you are away from home, when it seems to fill a gap in the range of weather radios. Similarly it is not a great home portable – it definitely works best through ear phones.
In my opinion, the best portable alternatives both come from Midland – the Midland HH50 or the Midland HH54VP2 – more flexible, designed purely as weather radios without AM and FM radio. Both are significantly cheaper. Follow the links to find full reviews. It gets back to that choice between strong weather alert capability and AM/FM with less emphasis on the warning function.
So to sum up. If you like getting your information or music through earphones or ear buds, if you want good quality sound while out on a walk or jog or otherwise away from home, and if you still want or need to be able to find out about developing weather or other emergencies, then this is a fine choice. And bear in mind that storm cells can move at 50mph or more, and in a bad tornado year a good reliable portable weather radio that can go anywhere with you is a very wise investment.
If you are looking for one radio to provide entertainment and break in with weather warnings when necessary it is worth considering, while its battery operation means that you won’t be left wondering when the power goes down.
I think you should do your own research to make sure this is the most suitable weather radio for you. You can find out more about what buyers think about the Sangean DT-400W Pocket Weather Radio at this link, where you’ll also find an excellent price.
For more information on other types of Weather Radios, and the Weather Radio system, visit Home Weather Stations Guide.