Among desktop weather radios, no model gets more consistently positive reviews than the Sangean CL-100 (Est. $60). It's a bit pricey for a weather radio, but reviews indicate that its features and performance justify the price tag. It includes nearly every feature you could ask for in a weather radio: Public Alert certification, SAME technology, selectable alerts and a memory function that stores the last 20 alert messages. Users especially appreciate the fact that the CL-100 automatically shuts down at the end of a broadcast alert, rather than waiting for you to get up and turn it off.
Moreover, reviewers say that the Sangean CL-100 is not just a great weather radio; it's a great radio, period. Users at Amazon.com say it has good FM reception, and its sound quality is far better than you'd expect from a weather radio. It also includes RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System), which provides additional information in text form about radio broadcasts, and functions as an alarm clock (in either music or buzzer mode). Owners are impressed with the CL-100's build quality, and most of them describe it as very easy to set up and use. However, the few owners who ran into problems say that Sangean's technical support is disappointing.
The Midland WR-300 (Est. $45) receives far more feedback from reviewers than the Sangean CL-100, but it's much more mixed. Like the CL-100, this weather radio is Public Alert-certified and SAME-equipped, with selectable alerts. However, unlike the Sangean, it doesn't shut off automatically at the end of an alert message, a feature many users say can be really annoying in the middle of the night. Also, while the Midland can double as an AM/FM clock radio, most users say these additional features don't work nearly as well as its weather alerts. However, the main weakness of the Midland radio is reliability. Some users say the device stopped receiving alerts after a period of several months, while others say it never worked properly.
The Reecom R-1630 (Est. $40) doesn't have nearly as much feedback from users as either the Midland or the Sangean. However, it's the most recommended weather radio at sites for radio buffs, such as eHam.net, RadioReference.com and WXForum.net. Users there praise its sensitivity, easy setup, reliable performance, and wealth of features. Unlike the Sangean and the Midland, it doesn't double as an AM/FM radio, but it does include all their other features-including the end-of-message (EOM) response that the Midland so annoyingly lacks. This radio might have earned our Best Reviewed title had we not found one complaint popping up over and over in user reviews at Amazon.com: Reecom's customer service is absolutely awful. While the Reecom radio has far fewer complaints about malfunctions than the Midland, the few users who had problems say that Reecom's representatives are rude and unresponsive, and it's all but impossible to get them to honor their one-year warranty. One user at WXForum.net who admits that Reecom makes great radios says, "the way Reecom treats their customers with issues has me no longer endorsing their products."
If you just need a cheap, reliable weather radio, and you don't care about extra functions like AM/FM reception, then the Midland WR-120 (Est. $30) may be your best bet. This stripped-down version of the WR-300 actually gets better overall reviews from owners; there are still a few complaints about malfunctions, but most owners describe it as very accurate and reliable. Their biggest complaint is that unlike the pricier WR-300, the WR-120 doesn't let you block unwanted alerts-a frustrating feature for owners who don't want to be awakened in the middle of the night for a non-life-threatening weather event. Users generally have less trouble programming the WR-120 than they do with the WR-300, but some owners still find it difficult.