AM/SW/FM Portable



Thanks to Radios4You.com, I got a chance to try out the new Kaito WRX911, 11-band palm size portable.

Receiver Coverage

Switch Position Frequency Meter Band
AM 530 - 1710 kHz
FM 88 - 108 MHz
SW1 4.6 - 5.2 MHz 60 Meters
SW2 5.75 - 6.4 MHz 49 Meters
SW3 6.95 - 7.65 MHz 41 Meters
SW4 9.3 - 9.9 MHz 31 Meters
SW5 11.55 - 12.1 MHz 25 Meters
SW6 13.55 - 13.85 MHz 21 Meters
SW7 14.85 - 15.8 MHz 19 Meters
SW8 17.4 - 18.05 MHz 16 Meters
SW9 21.3 - 21.95 MHz 13 Meters


The WRX911's dial is plain but easy to read. Note the TUNE light in the top right. Stronger stations make the TUNE LED light up. While Powered up, the POWER LED lights up as well.

2 AA batteries or external 3v DC

2.9"high (75mm) x 4.5" wide (115mm) x 1.1" thick (29mm) - very light weight.

18-1/2" 360-degree rotatable telescopic antenna. No connector for external antenna.

The Kaito WRX911 is available in two different colors - blue and black

So What's It Like? First Impressions
Though a very simple and straight forward radio to operate, there are a few things that stood out when I first used the radio.

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)


Quality of Construction - Picking up the WRX911 for the first time, the first you notice is the quality of exterior construction is the best I have played with so far for a radio that is less than $35. It just feels good. The volume and tuning knob is not flimsy nor too thin. The band slide switch pushes very smoothly with little effort while making very little noticeable noise while changing bands. Though all plastic, the WRX911 has a solid feel. Construction appears to be top notch and solid. It doesn't have that "it's going to break with regular use" feel at all to it. I was quite impressed.

Separate ON/OFF Switch - One thing I really liked about the WRX911 is that it has a separate ON/OFF switch on the right side of the radio. Most radios in this price class either incorporate the ON/OFF switch in the volume control or the bandswitch.

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.

How Well Does It Receive?
A good looking radio doesn't mount to a hill of beans if it can't not receive reasonably well. Fortunately this isn't the case with the WRX911. Sensitivity on the WRX911 is surprisingly quite good. Frequency stability and drifting is a non-issue. The WRX911 I used had no noticeable drifting and seemed to dig the weaker stations in quite well and was not over run by powerful closer stations.

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

Shortwave - 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
WRX911 providing good selectivity in separating them from each other.

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.

Additional 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.

Bands Kaito WRX911 Grundig MiniWorld 100PE
AM 530 - 1710 kHz 525-1710 kHz
FM 88 - 108 MHz 88 - 108 MHz
60 Meters 4.6 - 5.2 MHz missing
49 Meters 5.75 - 6.4 MHz 5.80 - 6.40 MHz
41 Meters 6.95 - 7.65 MHz 6.90 - 7.50 MHz
31 Meters 9.3 - 9.9 MHz 9.40 - 10.00 MHz
25 Meters 11.55 - 12.1 MHz 11.65 - 12.15 MHz
21 Meters 13.55 - 13.85 MHz missing
19 Meters 14.85 - 15.8 MHz 15.00 - 15.65 MHz
16 Meters 17.4 - 18.05 MHz 17.50 - 18.14 MHz
13 Meters 21.3 - 21.95 MHz missing
* Frequencies are approximate as listed on the dial.

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.

Bands Kaito WRX911 Sony ICF-SW12
AM 530 - 1710 kHz 530 - 1600 kHz
FM 88 - 108 MHz 88 - 108 MHz
60 Meters 4.6 - 5.2 MHz 4.75 - 5.1 MHz
49 Meters 5.75 - 6.4 MHz 5.85 - 6.30 MHz
41 Meters 6.95 - 7.65 MHz 7.05 - 7.50 MHz
31 Meters 9.3 - 9.9 MHz 9.40 - 10.00 MHz
25 Meters 11.55 - 12.1 MHz 11.60 - 12.4 MHz
21 Meters 13.55 - 13.85 MHz 13.45 - 14.00 MHz
19 Meters 14.85 - 15.8 MHz 15.05 - 16.00 MHz
16 Meters 17.4 - 18.05 MHz 17.40 - 18.15 MHz
13 Meters 21.3 - 21.95 MHz 21.35 - 22.15 MHz
* Frequencies are approximate as listed on the dial.

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.

What I Didn't like About the WRX911
I really couldn't find a whole lot to complain about but there are just a few things I would change or add. I am not a big fan of TUNE LEDs on radios. Especially radios that use batteries. I could never figure out why radio manufactures insist on putting them in radios. The Sony ICF-SW12 had one as well. If I can hear a signal then why do I need a TUNE LED to tell me so? Though LEDs are very, very efficient, having TUNE LED in a radio unnecessarily lowers the life span of batteries by a small fraction. While the POWER LED is more useful than a TUNE LED, it too wears on the batteries. Though it's really no big deal, I prefer a leatherette type carrying case for a radio than a cloth bag to protect the radio. All of these small gripes are not decision breakers for getting a WRX911. LEDs cuts very little into the batteries' life and I am getting radio and not a bag. So really no big deal.

Is It A Keeper?
You bet! Though there are cheaper radios available, the Kaito WRX911 is the best bang for the buck for less than $35. As with most analog radios, they are much more efficient with batteries as compared with digital readout radios. Though I have not tested the life span on 2 AAs with the WRX911, no doubt you will get lots and lots of play time with this radio on a set of batteries. If you use headphones at a lower volume then who knows? Radios4You also offers a combo windup reel antenna and AC adapter for $15 more when purchasing the radio. This is ideal for anyone who prefers to save their batteries and/or use the radio with a longer and better antenna than the WRX911's telescopic antenna.

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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