Zenith Pop-Up Portables - Pop-up ray-dee-oh.

Today, we have some eye candy courtesy of Zenith and their Pop-Up line of portable radios from 1949.

These are pretty slick radios. People like gizmoey things like this. Plus, having just the one button to open the radio up and turn it on was not a bad idea. One thing I do not miss, however, is analog tuners.

You know... a tuner with a knob and a needle that has only a vague relationship to the numbers silkscreened on the dial? You may remember endlessly adjusting the tuner's knob, trying to feel around for a decent signal on your radios back in the 70s. Until the day, that is, when the nylon string inside the radio comes off the spool somehow and the tuner then becomes unusable, with the radio forever stuck on a local station playing ranchero music. That's funny. I don't remember ever tuning in a ranchero station, but every time one of my radios broke, there was Radio Domingo 475.3 FM, ready to entertain. Ug. Good-bye analog tuners.

The downside of digital tuners is that almost every affordable radio with a digital tuner is now equipped with a one-inch LCD display made in the same Nanjing factory as the one in your magnetic kitchen timer. LCDs are pretty bulletproof, but man, it's hard to hide their ugliness or work them elegantly into a highly designed case, like the ones in this Zenith ad.

Holy crap. $59.70! That seems pretty steep for 1949. What's the equivalent in current Future-Bucks? Holy jeez! $567.36! The cheaper model at the bottom would just be $379.67. Man, you'd better like your Glenn Miller. Zenith must have been using every bit of available technology to make these radios work. Imagine cool-looking portable radio made of carbon fiber with bluetooth, every kind of USB port, an incredible speaker, and a lithium-polymer battery. Something like Bang & Olufsen would make. That would be your modern equivalent. Man, you'd better like your Michael Buble'.

Click for big.

Click for big.


Steve Miller said...

Plus, with the shutters, they're hurricane-proof.

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