Thanks to Radios4You.com, I got a chance to try out the new Kaito WRX911, 11-band palm size portable.
What's It Like? First Impressions
Color Choice - The WRX911 I used mainly for the review was the very attractive aluminized blue. Though the radio is available in black, it is refreshing to see a radio offered in something other than gray, black or silver.
Reception - The WRX911 has excellent sensitivity for its price class. (Read further down on how the WRX911 faired with the Grundig Mini World 100PE)
Ergonomics - The WRX911 is laid out very nicely, especially for someone who is right handed and likes to tune a radio with their right hand. The radio is ideal for those who like hold the radio in the palm of your hand while turning around. The tuning thumb wheel control is located on the right side of the radio (as well as the ON/OFF power switch) [see photo above]. While the volume control is on the left side of the radio. [see photo below] Changing bands is simply done by moving your thumb over to the band slide switch located on the front of the radio. The radio also has a small flip stand on the back for those that like to have the radio sitting at a 45-degree angle. The WRX911 is perfect briefcase size for carrying around every day or have as a small office desk radio.
Sound - The WRX911 has plenty of volume for such a small sized radio. The audio is very clear and clean. As with most radios this size, the speaker is a bit tinny. However listening through headphones, the WRX911 has very nice fidelity. The WRX911 does not receive FM stereo but there was no problem in listening with stereo headphones. As you may know, many mono only radios are not stereo headphone friendly. This isn't a problem with the WRX911.
Well Does It Receive?
For comparison purposes, I used the Grundig Mini World 100PE and the more expensive Sony ICF-SW12. All three radios are analog, have basically the same coverage, use 2 AA batteries and roughly the same size.
The Kaito WRX911 vs the Grundig Mini World 100PE
- While comparing both radios with just their telescopic antennas,
it was very apparent that the WRX911 was the clear winner on shortwave.
For example, RFPI in Costa Rica on 7445 kHz was barely audible on
the Grundig Mini World 100 PE while the Kaito WRX911 was able to pull
them in quite clearly with the frequent lighting of the TUNE LED on
the display. Many Shortwave stations were easily received during my
testing with the
FM - One thing the Grundig Mini World 100PE lacks is a rotatable telescopic antenna. This is the clear advantage the WRX911 offers though reception was about the same when the 100PE was moved to the same angle as the WRX911's antenna. If stereo reception is important to you, the 100PE has the advantage, as the WRX911 does not receive FM stereo.
AM - Without a doubt the WRX911 blew away the 100PE. Both radios did very well picking up strong local AM stations. It was more difficult to compare both radios as the WRX911 was much more sensitive on AM than the 100PE thus filling the dial with audible stations.
Notes - There are a few other things worth mentioning in comparing
the 100PE with the WRX911
I liked very much how the WRX911 has the single ON/OFF power switch. While the 100PE uses the thumb wheel volume control to turn the radio on and off. Having owned the 100PE for over a year, there have been a few occasions that I mistakenly thought I had turned the radio off when I did not to later find that the radio with dead batteries the next time I wanted to use the radio.
The 100PE has 3 less bands than the WRX911. Missing on the 13, 21 and 60 meter bands. Chart below for coverage comparison.
The 100PE does not have a handy carrying wrist strap that comes on the WRX911. This may be something that is unimportant to some people but I find the wrist strap useful for picking up or caring around the radio. Yes, you can fit your hand in the wrist strap of the WRX911.
Dial Accuracy on both radios are more or less the same. As with most inexpensive analog radios, dial accuracy is not 100% perfect. The WRX911 appeared to be a bit more accurate but I have also seen dial accuracy vary from radio to radio of the same model. What I do not like about the 100PE is that the frequency dial goes from highest frequency on the left to the lowest on the right. This is reverse to just about every analog transistor radio ever made. I guess if there is on advantage to this is that rotating the thumb wheel knob up it tunes the 100PE up in frequency. With the WRX911, rotating the thumb-tuning wheel up tunes the radio down in frequency.
The feel of the 100PE's tuning thumb wheel is much more flimsier and has a cheaper feel. The WRX911 tuning thumb wheel is much more smoother and solid.
The 100PE doesn't stand up as easily as the WRX911. Being top heavy, the 100PE is more likely to tip over. The WRX911 is wider but not as tall as the 100PE and is not as likely to tip over. The WRX911 also has a built in flip stand so the radio can easily rest at a 45-degree angle.
The Kaito WRX911 vs the Sony ICF-SW12
In comparing reception with the WRX911 and the ICF-SW12, both radios faired up about the same on all bands (Shortwave, AM and FM).
There are some differences though worth making note.
Though both radios cover the same 11 bands, there are some minor differences in coverage.
The Sony ICF-SW12 turns off/on by sliding the band switch. While this may save one less step in turning on the radio as compared with the Kaito WRX911, it is very annoying to hear the different bands switch through and in my opinion is likely to wear out the switch before the radio dies.
The big advantage of the ICF-SW12 is the alarm clock and lighted clock display on demand. Note that the dial of the ICF-SW12 does not light up, just the digital clock.
The Sony does not receive in stereo with headphones nor is it stereo headphone friendly. If you use stereo headphones as I did with the Sony then you need to use a mono headphone adapter. Using stereo headphones with the Sony will only give you audio through one side of the headphones. The WRX911 has no problem in hearing in both ears with stereo headphones though it does not receive in stereo FM.
The Sony has slightly better audio through the internal speaker with more of a bass response but does not play as loud as the WRX911. At a higher volume, the ICF-SW12 distorts more than the WRX911. Both radios though have pleasant enough and clean audio though from such small packages.
I Didn't like About the WRX911
While I was using the WRX911, I kept thinking that this would be an ideal radio for soldiers in the field to use so they could catch up on the news. Small enough to pack away, loud enough for a group to hear, sturdy enough to take a few bangs and powering the radio on two AA batteries would give plenty of air time. If you get a WRX911 let me know. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
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