Review by Judah Smith judah_smith<SNIP FOR SPAM>@netzero.com
Have you searched endlessly for a review of this radio only to come up empty handed? Perhaps you were up late one night on Ebay, and saw one of these radios staring back at you and were wondering...."Should I buy it? Is it junk? Has anyone else purchased one?" Well I wondered the same thing. And searched the web endlessly only to find a few commercial reviews (which I rarely trust) and the occasion comment in a newsgroup. But in the end the radio was so pleasing to the eyes....I had to have one.
As with most if not all Tecsun brand radios they have to be purchased off of Ebay, as they are generally sent directly from Hong Kong to your front door. Have no fears. The vendor I used...e-mailed me back in excellent english, answered every question I had about the radio, and as promised he sent the radio AIR MAIL directly from Hong Kong to my front door. (He stated that 99 percent of the time the item would arrive within 10 days, and it did...even over the busy Christmas and New Years holidays.)
"USING RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES: Rechargeable batteries must be charged in their own charger. They will not charge inside the YB-550."
As I said the PL-230 DOES CHARGE your rechargeable batteries inside the radio. So this is definitely an improvement. Granted the radio's AC plug/Charger is designed for the Chinese 220v outlets, but have no fear....both Tecsun radios I purchased were sent to me with a USA 110v converter. *FREE* (a 10-15 dollar value) My third reason for buying Tecsun is price. I have bought two radios new on Ebay from a Tecsun distributor and both were anywhere from 40-60% cheaper than their Grundig doppelganger. (even after you factor in shipping from Hong Kong). So in review....
BUY TECSUN OVER GRUNDIG
You always get the latest version of the radio (with any upgrades
or improvements) Not one that has been sitting on a store shelf for
a 6 months- a year.
WHAT YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY
radio comes with one PL-230 PLL dual conversion receiver. (I emailed
the seller, who said he believed it to be dual conversion, so if it
is single I apologize.) An AC Battery charger (which you can also
use to run the radio off AC power. A very nice carrying case. A pair
of earbuds (earphones, which I haven't used), 3 rechargeable batteries,
a number of manuals (all in Chinese, so download a copy of the YB-550
manual from Grundig, it works exactly the same). A reel external shortwave
antenna. And a neat little radio stand, so you can set up your radio
on the table at a comfortable angle for viewing. I would rate the
amount of extras that come with the radio as -
QUALITY OF THE PL-230
quality seems to be at par with most other Grundig products. Comparing
it with my Grundig YB-400. (the older pre PE version) the radio seems
to be of similar stock. I purchased the black model, and the plastic
seems just a little lighter, and slightly thinner than the old YB-400.
But not by much. I think the radio will hold up well when traveling
the world with you, assuming you don't drop it. The lighter plastic
may be due to the fact that the radio seems to be designed to be very
lightweight, and travel friendly. But in any case it appears to be
a tad less sturdy. As portables go, I would still rate the construction
I buy shortwave radios for shortwave performance. I could care less about FM and AM reception to be honest. But in any case the FM performance is very good. I have heard a few complaints about AM reception, and I'm not sure why. The AM band seemed to be quite satisfactory to me. Not nearly as good as my BCL-2000, but certainly equal to the YB-400 in a side by side comparison. Now for shortwave. I set both radios on the kitchen table, side by side....and started tuning the shortwave bands. The YB-400 has for years been considered an excellent value, for those in bad reception areas, as it is one of the most sensitive portables you can buy in its price range of $149-199 dollars. So I am using it as my benchmark. (NOTE: both radios were being tested off the whip antenna) (IN ADDTION: PASSPORT has always rated the YB-400 very well in sensitivity.)
In my comparison I found that the PL-230 was almost always 1 signal level higher than the YB-400. If I was tuning the BBC at a signal strength of 3-4 on the YB-400....it was always 4-5 on the PL-230. I spent at least two hours comparing the two. And found that in all cases the radios were either at a dead heat. Or the PL-230 would edge out the Yacht Boy just slightly.
would rate the sensitivity on this radio as -
is not a problem with this radio. It does an excellent job of tuning
in a selected frequency and allowing you to hear even the weakest
stations, even if they are sitting next to a more powerful one 3 to
5 kHz away. The default filter is very close to what you get in selectivity
when the YB-400 is set to its WIDE filter setting. FM and AM seemed
to be at par with the YB-400, and selectivity on SW is rated as -
PL-230 AUDIO QUALITY
This radio is small, which already puts it at a disadvantage in the audio department. Small speakers often produce small sound. Happily the radio does provide a HIGH/LOW tone switch. Very much like the YB-400. As stated above the audio is very similar to a YB-400 on the WIDE setting. In fact when I was comparing the two I left the YB-400 set to the WIDE filter. The audio is good for the size of the radio. And very pleasing with a good set of headphones on the LOW setting. It is very close to the YB-400's sound quality, but the speaker size just makes the sound slightly less full, rich and mellow. However, it does have very good volume, and is quite good if your working in the kitchen or garage and need some room filling sound.
There is one additional item that needs mentioned in the sound department. AUDIO HUM. Most digital PLL shortwave receivers have this. And it often makes listening to weak stations very difficult, as their sound is drowned out by the HUMMING of the internal circuitry in the radio. This is not a problem for the PL-230. It is one of the quietest PLL digital radios I have ever tried. There is really no hum at all. (On batteries) Where as the YB-400 always had some audible HUM in my opinion. So for listening quality on weak signals the PL-230 always beats out the YB-400. Now when you use a walwart/AC plug with the PL-230....there is a very slight hum, it helps to move the radio away from where it is plugged in. But the HUM is very slight. And weak signals can still be heard well above it.
on straight audio comparisons the YB-400 and PL-230 are close. I have
to give it to the YB-400...as it has a bigger speaker...and a richer
sound. The PL-230 still does quite well for its size. And there is
no HUMMING...I rate the audio as -
FEW ADDED FEATURES NOT MENTIONED BEFORE
OF THE PL-230
The radio is very light and only uses 3 batteries as opposed to the YB-400's 6.
BEAUTY IS NOT SKIN DEEP
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
The buttons all seems a little stiff. And the tuning up/down buttons get tedious to push over and over when trying to bandscan. Granted the radio has an auto-scanning feature. But the ear is always superior to electronics when it comes to scanning for weak signals. So bandscanning with this radio is not as pleasurable as say with a TECSUN BCL-2000. What adds to this is the CHUFF CHUFF noise that comes with all PLL digital radios. That little silence when you change the frequency does get annoying. But that is not an issue with just the PL-230....rather with all PLL tuned radios. I find that I use the fine tuning knob to actually bandscan through certain areas I know are full of stations. But it is slow, and still makes the CHUFF CHUFF noise. So if you just like scanning around the dial to see what's out there, you may find this radio rather frustrating. In which case I would strongly suggest the Tecsun BCL-2000. No CHUFF CHUFF, and it is a bandscanners dream.
I should also mention that this radio has NO SSB. No lower or upper side band support at all. Which is disappointing. As I think, since the fine tuning knob is already there, it would have taken very little to add a switch for USB/LSB. So this radio is a broadcast SW radio only. You won't hear HAMS in SSB on this jewel. Just know that going in. I personally find that listening to HAMs occupies only about 10 percent of my overall shortwave listening time. So for me it is no great loss. And of course I have a YB-400 and a DX-394 for that if I get really desperate. If you're simply into broadcast listening...I.e. BBC, Radio Havana Cuba, Radio Japan, etc....this radio is just what you want. Tecsun seems to really gear their radios to making the broadcast listening experience the best.
For the price this radio is an excellent buy. You won't be disappointed as long as you know what you are getting going in. The radio itself is an attention grabber. And people will ask you "Where did you get that cool looking radio?" The sensitivity in the SW department really impressed me. And I might include the fact that I often use it around a ton of computer equipment (monitors, UPS, CPU towers, printers, etc.) and I get very little interference, if any from those devices. So it is nice if you plan to use it in an office environment. I find it to be ever enjoyable to use, and the sound while not as rich as bigger radios, is quite pleasant for the size, either through the speaker or headphones. Get yourself a good shortwave frequency guide, and this radio is a dream to play with.
So if you want a small, rechargeable GRUNDIG YB-400 at almost half the price, but minus the SSB support, this is it. It's a Grundig YB-400 mini-me.
PS. I live in a very poor reception zone in the United States. Deep in the Southwest. So for all you people living in bad SW reception locations....I feel your pain. This radio is a good choice.
| Disclaimer | Feedback | About | This page was last updated: January 9, 2004
Copyright ©2002-2006 Radio Intelligencer. All rights reserved