With so many of the best portable shortwave radios looking almost identical at the moment what should you look for to separate the quality sets from this crowd of clones. For us it has to be the legacy of the maker along with products that last and ease of use.

As more functions are added to SW radios its obvious that the operating side of things will get more difficult but with some intelligent design this can hopefully be kept to a minimum for the end user. There’s nothing more frustrating than really looking forward to getting your hands on a new radio only to spend the first week trying to figure out how to use it.

Before we get down to the shiny radios just a quick point on what we consider to be a portable radio.

Portable shortwave sets should cover the HF band, be able to receive SSB, be about half the size of an A4 piece of paper and give at LEAST 6 hours continues operation from a single set of batteries.

Tecsun PL-660 Portable AM/FM/LW/Air

Tecsun PL-660

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Frequency Coverage

FM: (VHF) 87.5 – 108 MHz
AM: 520-1710 KHz
LW: 100-519 KHz
SW: 1711-29999 KHz
Aircraft Band 118-137 MHz

Included in the Box
AC/DC 120V adapter
Wire antenna(FM/SW)
4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries;
Carrying pouch

With good sensitivity on the hf bands and switchable narrow/wide filters designed for sideband operation the PL-660 has the option of using the built in telescopic antenna or attaching the wire antenna that comes with the set.

We like added value and this package has a good deal of that with the main attraction being the addition of air band receive, anything that gives more useability in a radio is a serious plus point with us. We also like the bundled rechargeable batteries and the ability to charge them in the radio without having to use a separate charger.

A nice big front speaker and raised buttons for use in the dark are good features but one small downside of this radio is that the display back light goes off very quickly and could do with a few more seconds added to the timeout.

A good portable SW set with impressive performance across the HF bands and plenty of accessories for the price.

Sangean ATS-909X AM/FM/LW/SW

Sangean ATS-909X

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Frequency Coverage

FM: (VHF) 87.5 – 108 MHz

AM: 520 – 1710 kHz

LW: 153 – 519 kHz

SW: 1.711 – 29.999MHz

Included in the Box
6V DC Adapter
Shortwave antenna
Storage pouch
Ear buds

Going up the price range a bit we find the Sangean ATS-909X shortwave radio, packed with lots of features that make it function more like a fully fledged base station the a portable.

More thought has gone into the look of this radio than many of the slabs of plastic that seem to follow the same pattern giving it a nice clean look.

A generous sized display give access to a whole range of information at a glance and is used to display RDS data which can be an essential tool when trying to identify stations.

A big plus point for us is the 351 presets for use on the shortwave band, a great time saver for the user and some thing that portable receivers often lack.

If you plan to listen to a lot of shortwave activity when out and about the Sangean ATS-909X should be given serious consideration.

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