20 August 2005

sony icf sw7600gr review

I decided that I wanted a higher-end shortwave receiver than my very-capable Kaito 1102, so I purchased a Sony ICF SW7600GR. My decision was made after reading the "best shortwave travel portable" comparison review at radiointel.com.

I'm keeping both radios, as each one might be appropriate in different situations. I'm going to highlight the initial positives and negatives of my new Sony receiver, referencing a few ways in which my Kaito receiver is better.

positives:
* An advantage of the SW7600GR's continuous 150-29999 khz tuning range is that the radio only needs two band settings: AM and FM. My 1102 separates MW and SW since it doesn't include continuous tuning between the two ranges.

* The synchronous detection feature is great. I activated it with a few strong-but-fuzzy signals last night, and heard a reduction in the static along with a boost in the quality and stability of the broadcast.

* There are separate up/down button sets for 1khz and 5khz step tuning.

* Having a usb/lsb switch and a fine-tune dial for SSB is an improvement over the 1102, which only has a fine-tune dial.

* The telescopic whip antenna is formidable and sturdy. It is only 5 inches taller than my 1102's antenna, but it has a much more solid feel to it.

* The attenuator seems useful, although I've only tried it in circumstances where interference exceeded a signal, so it did not provide any benefit in that case. I'll have to learn when to use this feature.

negatives:
* My biggest frustration so far is that the radio only scans within bands. At the end of a band, two quick beeps are heard and the frequency returns to the bottom of the band for another pass. I prefer the continuous scanning of the 1102 (although the 1102 hops between bands and doesn't scan between them unless the user enters a between-band frequency and starts scanning from there).

* The headphone jack is on the same side as the wrist strap. It is awkward to put my hand through the wrist strap and hold the side of the radio when headphones are plugged in. My 1102 conveniently has the wrist strap and the headphone jack on opposite sides.

* The backlight only lights the LCD display, and does not illuminate the buttons. This is something the Kaito 1102 does pretty well. I often use my shortwave radios outside in the dark, so a dark keypad is an impediment.

* I don't hear enough treble while using iPod earbud headphones, even with the music/news switch set to music. The radiointel.com review including the SW7600GR points out that the included filter is a compromise that is appropriate for both MW and SW.

* The SW7600GR is approximately 1 inch taller and 1.5 inches wider than my 1102. It doesn't fit in my jacket pocket. It is also a lot heavier than the 1102.

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