In 1961, the Royal 500 went through a total redesign to it’s cabinet and chassis. The result was a new and completely re-engineered 500 H. This 500 (Model H) is the choice of collectors who value rich, clear, undistorted strong sound from their pocket radio. This is made possible with a large new oval extended range speaker and a redesigned chassis. The audio output of the 500H was increased from 100 to 200 milliwatts, and it’s overall performance set a new standard for all pocket transistors. The vernier tuner has gear reduced action and is very sensitive to pick up those tough stations (even those that are very close to one another).
The cabinets were offered in black, white, and a scarcer two-tone blue/grey. Zenith still used the more expensive “unbreakable” nylon material for the cabinet, but the material was very thin at the edges of the front and back halves, so many have chipped from use. All that said, I still agree with most collectors that state if you are looking for one transistor radio that you want to use and listen to, the Zenith Royal 500H is the one to have.
During a visit to Florida, I had the good fortune to be invited to the home of Norman Smith and saw his amazing Zenith collection. He told me the story about how he obtained his first transistor radio, a black 500H which he still plays every day. He also told me several stories about how he has compared it’s performance with almost any other kind of transistor you can imagine, and his opinion still remains that this is the one to own. Good enough for me.
|Colors:||Black, White, two-tone grey|
|Size:||5 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 1 1/2|
|# of transistors:||8|
|Power:||4 AA batteries|
|Undistorted output:||200 milliwatts|
Check out these Royal 500H radios.
NOTE: In 1963, Zenith offered the 500E and 500H in an economy model. These were called the 500E-1 and the 500H-1. Many cost reductions were incorporated into these look alikes, but they made it possible to price these more competitively at $39.95, but the quality did suffer. They were made of plastic instead of nylon and finding one of these sets in excellent condition is not easy as they did not hold up as well as the originals. There rarity could also be because they were produced in limited numbers.