in China in 2002, the Degen DE1101 started to catch the attention of
radio users around the work.
the past couple of years, we have seen Kaito introduce several low
cost analog shortwave radios for the USA market. More recently, they
brought three Degen digital portables to the USA with enough features
to cause traditional Sangean / Sony / Grundig (Eton) users to take
notice. Just how well do these new offerings perform? Thanks to Radios4You.com,
we got a chance to review the Kaito KA1101. A separate review on radiointel.com
covers the Degen DE1102 (sold in the USA as the Kaito KA1102).
Of The Box
it's smaller than I thought it would be. The 1101 measures approximately
3.5"H x 5.5"W x 1"D and weights 11 ounces with batteries.
Included with the radio is a 22 page operating manual/pamphlet. Included
also is an AC adapter, earbuds, extended antenna wire, carry case
and three 1300 mah NiMH rechargeable AA cells.
is Where? Front
The 66 mm speaker is located at the left front of the radio.
The LCD display is at the upper right. Centered below the display
is the 10-key keypad organized like a standard telephone lay
out (the 0 key is centered under the 8 key .thanks!). To
the right of the keypad are Enter and Erase (clear) buttons
that also serve as mode changers (alarm, time set, sleep, etc.)
primarily when the radio is off.
buttons are located to the left of the keypad. These are: Power
on/off, band change (also functions as battery charge), memory
(also functions as lock) and a wide/narrow filter in AM/SW (functions
as mono/stereo in FM). A small reset is located next to wide/narrow.
A small light sensor is located to the left of the display.
antenna jack for FM and SW. Local/DX switch (note this works
top to bottom:
2 position tone switch
Line out jack
Mini headphone jack
DC power jack.
stand and battery compartment.
whip antenna (28" fully extended) pivots fully from the left
side. It folds over to the right and locks in when not in use.
does it play? AM/MW The
1101 can toggle between 9 and 10 kHz spacing (via a "menu"
setting which is activated by resetting the radio). There is no 1
kHz fine tune feature. The radio covers the full expanded MW band,
the 1101 to be quite sensitive. It was able to pick up weak signals
better than the Sangean 606 (Radio Shack DX-399) and nearly as well
as the Radio Shack DX-375/396.
The downside here is that it is quite susceptible from overload from
local stations. My local 5 kw slopper at 1440 could be heard +/- 50
kHz in wide filter setting. The narrow filter contained the sidebands
to about +/- 30 kHz. Both the 606/399 and the 375/396 were far better
in terms of selectivity. I found the DX/Local switch to have no impact
in the AM/MW band.
is covered in two different ways. "FM" covers the North
America FM band (87.7-108 MHz). "FML" covers the frequencies
70-95 MHz; this covers the FM band in parts of Asia. Stereo reception
is available via headphones. It is possible to switch between stereo
and mono. Up/down steps in FM are 50 kHz.
reception was quite good. Relatively weak signals were received. I
would characterize the audio as being somewhat above average. It appears
that the read-out is off by 50 kHz on FM. For example, reception of
a station at 90.1 is better at 90.15. I noticed this phenomenon for
several stations. It could well be due to unit-to-unit variation in
is where the KA1101 really shines. The 1101 breaks its shortwave coverage
into two bands. 3 - 10 MHz is called SW1. 10-26.1 MHz is the SW2 band.
Up/down steps are 5 kHz and there is no fine tuning capability. Reception
is exceptional just off the whip antenna. In the late afternoon on
the east coast, I was easily receiving stations in the 16, 22, 25,
3, 41 and 49 meter bands. WWV on 15 MHz was fairly good copy. The
wide/narrow filter is effective on shortwave as does the DX/Local
attenuator control. Note that the 1101 does not receive single sideband.
The 1102 model does, however.
tune through the 12 defined "shortwave bands", the band
is shown on the display (i.e., 19 M). I found the 1101 to be the equal
of the Sangean 606 and the Radio Shack DX-375/396. The use of the
included extended antenna wire plugged into the external antenna jack
improved reception slightly. Perhaps this is more of a benefit in
weaker signal areas. I also tried a real external longwire antenna.
It created an overload situation for the 1101.
LCD display window measures approximately 1" x 2". The large
numerals (for frequency and time) measure approximately 5/16"
high. These numerals are pretty easy to read and seem less susceptible
to the viewing angle, as compared to other radios.
1101 displays the clock mode when the radio is off. The clock is in
24 hour format only. Hours and minutes are displayed in large numerals.
The seconds are shown in smaller digits.
frequency is predominantly shown on the display. An oddity of the
1001 is that the final digit in FM and SW is a small one. For example
on shortwave, the frequency 7.415 is displayed with the "5"
about half the size as the rest of the frequency numerals. The same
is true of the "5" on the FM frequency of 88.15, for example.
A W/N indicators is displayed to show what filter selection is in
use (on FM, it is replaced by indication of stereo reception). The
"band" selected (FM, MW, etc) is shown as is the shortwave
band (see the shortwave section of this review). The preset memory
chosen is also displayed (0 - 9).
to Clock and Radio Mode The
following symbols are shown in both the clock or radio mode: battery
level, alarm on/off, alarm chosen (beep or radio-on), lock
1101 can be powered by the supplied AC adapter or 3 AA cells. The
radio comes supplied with three rechargeable AA cells. The AC adapter
charges the Ni MH cells in the 1101's built in charger.
ran fine with the AC adapter. I did not experience any hash or buzzing
in the radio. The battery indicator has 3 bars. After running the
radio for approximately 10 hours on alkaline AA cells, the indicator
dropped to 2 bars. Based on that, I am predicting good battery life
on the 1101.
1101 provides 10 memory positions for each of the 5 "bands."
They are accessed by simply pressing the corresponding key on the
keypad. The radio has a light sensing device which is interesting.
When light conditions are low, the backlight will come with the push
of any key/button. The scan feature works well on the 1101. Just press
and hold down the up or down button for a second and the radio scans
to the next strong signal on the band in use.
1101 provides a digital clock in 24 hour format. Two alarms are provided,
one that beeps and the other that turns on the radio to the last listened
to frequency. The beep alarm lasts for one minute. The radio alarm
can be set to remain on for up to 99 minutes. A sleep countdown timer
comes on automatically when the radio is turned on. It defaults to
99 minutes. You have three seconds to turn it off or adjust it to
Do I Like? Well,
for sure the price is right. This is a lot of radio (plus AC adapter,
earbuds, batteries, etc) for $70. Beyond the price, I like:
- good overall sensitivity
- ease of use
- easy to read the main numerals on the display
- wide/narrow filter
- battery hatch that stays attached to the radio (see below)
Would I Change? For
starters, the selectivity could be better on AM/MW. Other stuff:
- the volume control is in a goofy spot. It is at the extreme top
of the right side just where the carry strap attaches to the radio.
You almost can't help getting "caught up" in the carry strap
when adjusting the volume.
- Some of the display icons on the 1101 are tough to see
- The alarm beep is pretty faint don't think it would wake me
up (use the radio-on).
- The flip stand is a very tight snap-fit. I can see this breaking
off before long.
The Difference Between The Kaito KA1101 and The Degen DE1101?
wise there are no differences. However there are three major
differences that one should consider before purchasing the DE1101
over the KA1101.
The wall wort is for 220v AC. This makes using the internal
AA charger on the DE1101 a little more difficult if you plan
to use the radio in the USA where 110v AC is the norm.
The DE1101 has 9 kHz tuning steps only for AM (MW). This makes
using the radio in the USA not as attractive. The KA1101 has
a 9/10 kHz option.
The keypad and all other marking on the radio are in Chinese (see
above for left and right side of the DE1101).
is a remarkable value at $70. The Kaito KA1101 would make a very good
shortwave radio for the hobby newcomer. It would also make an excellent
radio for the traveler who doesn't want to risk his $200+ portable
in a travel situation.