Place your left hand on the radio, raise your right hand and repeat after me, "the Kaito KA105 is a $50 PLL portable radio that fits in your pocket the Kaito KA105 is a $50 PLL portable radio that fits in your pocket " This is the smallest least expensive direct entry PLL shortwave radio available today. Okay, now that we have established that this is not the Drake R8B or even a Sony 7600GR, let's go!
The left front of the radio is dominated the 50 mm speaker. The display and up/down buttons are located in the center/upper right of the radio. Beneath the display are three rows of buttons. Six buttons are in each row.
keypad layout is different. This is the first radio I have used that
doesn't have the standard 10-key layout or something very similar.
I imagine this layout saved a bit of space and in a radio this small,
every bit of saved space would be important. Controls are pretty intuitive.
I was able to figure out everything except setting memories without
having to go to the operating instructions. A quick check to the instructions
was all I needed to figure that out. As you might expect, some of
the controls do double duty.
The layout is logical. I like the fact that the buttons are not exactly flush with the radio. They protrude enough where you could find them in low light conditions. The buttons have a "solid" feel to them.
Both the external antenna jack and telescoping whip antenna are housed on the left side of the radio along with a mono/stereo switch for FM listening. The following controls are located on the right side of the radio: volume (via a thumbwheel potentiometer control), earphones, lock and DC power input.
The battery hatch is accessed from the rear of the radio. A slot for a "flip stand prop" is also located on the back.
Manual tuning is accomplished via the up/down buttons to the right of the display. In shortwave, the tuning increment is 5 kHz. On MW, the tuning increment is 10 kHz (and can be set to 9 kHz for listening outside of North America .via a small switch in the battery compartment). The up/down buttons move you in .1 MHz jumps on FM.
Direct frequency entry works easy enough. When on the MW and SW bands, push the AM-In button, use the keypad buttons to punch in the desired frequency and then hit the AM-In button again. Same process on FM, except you use the FM-in button.
The radio will also scan to the next received strong signal. Just hold down either the up or down button and let go. It will scan and stop at the next strong signal. It does not continue after that.
The display shows the frequency, of course, as well as what band you are on. There are indicators for alarm status, low battery, stereo, selected clock, memory preset number, lock and sleep countdown. When the radio is off, the time is displayed.
The KA105 exceeded my expectations for shortwave reception.
FM - does a good job of picking up my strong and medium strength local stations. It is not selective enough to separate weaklings between the big boys (very few of my portables can do this). Calibration seems to be about .1 MHz off (station at 92.3 comes in best at 92.4 .104.7 at 104.8, etc.). I noticed the same phenomenon with the Kaito KA1101.
AM (MW) - Daytime: I have a local 5 kW station at 1440 about 3 miles away. During the daytime, it overloads the 105 badly, essentially covering up 1350-1540 kHz. Outside of that, it receives the stronger stations within 100 miles without difficulty. Adjacent channel weaker stations cannot be heard. Nighttime: I would describe night time MW reception as average. The powerful out-of-towners were received pretty well. My local MW station at 1440 was spilling over + / - 20 kHz, which didn't surprise me much.
Audio - it is what you would expect on the tinny side with the small speaker. If you were around in the 60's, it takes you back to the sound coming out of your "transistor" radio! However, it sounds pretty darn good with headphones. There is no tone adjustment on the KA105.
Two clocks are provided and you can switch back and forth between them with the clock select button. As far as I can tell, the radio has to be off in order to read the clock. The clocks are in 24 hour format.
The alarm is one that turns the radio on to the last listened to station. After being turned on by the alarm, the radio stays on until it is manually shut off.
The Sleep function does not work as described in the instructions or like other radios I have owned. Normally, you can turn on a radio with the Sleep control and then it shuts off when the cycle is complete. This is what the KA105 instructions indicate. However, on my sample, the radio does not power on with the Sleep control. Once the radio is on, then you can use the Sleep control to vary the on-cycle to between 90 and 10 minutes (in 10 minute increments).
What do I like the most? The small thin profile which makes it very portable, ease of use, and the sharp looks (aluminum front). Also, I like the simplicity of the alarm set up. You have to have a PhD in Radio to figure out some of the alarm set ups on some of these portables. I like the innovative side loading telescoping antenna as well a clever approach. I also like that battery hatch cover that stays attached good thinking. As mentioned earlier, the KA105 did surpass my expectations for shortwave reception, particularly off the whip antenna.
What do I wish were different? I listen sometimes to WWCR at 5.070 MHz, so I wish it tuned that low. Coverage of the expanded MW band should have been included in my opinion. From a performance standpoint, the MW overloading described above and the .1 MHz off-calibration on FM are the biggest downsides. As with many radios from China, the translation efforts for the instruction pamphlet aren't going to win any awards.
appreciate this radio the most? - the radio hobbyist that can appreciate
the KA105 for what it is and doesn't expect the impossible from a
low cost single conversion radio. The travelers may especially appreciate
the small KA105's portability and dual time clock. If the idea of
a fun little digital AM/FM/SW radio that easily fits in your pocket
appeals to you
check out the Kaito KA105! Radiointel.com wishes
to thank Radios4You (www.radios4you.com)
for the opportunity to check out the KA105 and provide this review
to our web site visitors.
UPDATE: Thanks to a Radiointeller for pointing out that the "whip collapsing into the radio horizonally" is not a new idea. Sony used that idea for their ICF-SW1 . Additionally, they also used the plastic prop idea for the radio support.
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| This page was last updated: January 27, 2004 |
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