Tecsun Dual Speaker Digital Radio

TecsunPL-390.jpg

While looking for an external set of speakers for my iPad, I rediscovered my Tecsun Pl-390 portable radio. Most of the external speakers I had seen were either without power of their own, or they ate batteries too fast to be of much use. Added to that is the fact that most of them were too bulky to haul around. It was then that I realized the Tecsun had a line-in jack and two perfectly sized speakers, and I had suddenly solved two problems: great stereo for my iPad and an excellent radio with great features.

This puppy hooks to the iPad with a standard stereo patch cord, one of those two-ended things with a miniature stereo headphone plug at each end. So it hooks to anything that has a standard miniature headphone jack, like your Walkman (if anybody still uses those things) or any MP3 player.

In effect the Tecsun becomes a great pair of portable stereo speakers that also picks up AM, FM, shortwave, and (for anybody in Europe) longwave. It plays stereo on FM, too. It is the only portable shortwave radio I am aware of that plays in stereo, although I know of many others that will provide stereo through headphones. Not only does this radio pick up all those bands, it does so VERY well. While it only picks up standard radio signals (not “HD Radio”), it processes the signals digitally. This allows several performance advantages and interesting special features.

One of these special features is called “Easy Tuning Method.” Start an ETM scan and the radio will scan whatever band you’re listening to, or in the case of shortwave, it will scan all the SW broadcast bands at once. It makes note of all the listenable signals available. After that, when you turn the tuning knob, it jumps clear signal to clear signal, skipping all the spaces in between. Rescanning this when you’re in a different town, or when listening conditions change, is as simple as pushing the button again. Cool!

Tecsun also makes a smaller, single-speaker version of this radio. I got the larger stereo version because it has a longer case that gives space for a longer AM antenna- and, get ready for a miracle, they actually put a longer AM antenna in it. It makes for borderline amazing AM reception. Plus this set does all the things that have become usual for fancier portables in recent years. It works as an alarm clock, it has more memory presets than I can find use for, and so on.

Mine came with a manual, heavy cloth zipper case, rechargeable batteries, earbuds, fairly long external wire that acts as an antenna for FM and shortwave, and a USB cable for external power or charging. I don’t believe the USB cable can be used to move data to or from this radio in any way, I think it’s only used as a convenient “standard” power plug. Unfortunately, the radio did not come with a plug-in power supply. Any “wall wart” that outputs to a standard USB socket will work, though.

This is a great little set. The price didn’t seem too steep even for a set of computer speakers, let alone all the other cool stuff this fantastic radio has.

-- Bill Rogers  

Tecsun PL390 Dual Speaker Digital FM/AM/Shortwave/Longwave Radio
$60

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Tecsun