12 September 2011

the tecsun pl-350 revisited

I recently retrieved my Tecsun PL-350 from the shelf in my living room. It has been sitting up there for many months, without batteries of course, inside the cloth pouch that came with it. Since I'm hoping to do more radio listening during evening walks in the next couple of months, I wanted to find a capable portable radio to take with me. My Eton E5 is still the radio I go to for shortwave reception at home, but I'd like something a little smaller without sacrificing too much shortwave capability.

When I first got this radio, the rubberized exterior was a nice benefit because it was easy to hold onto. But now the radio has permanent fingerprints on the outside, and a sticky feel. Annoying. What happened to it? And is there any way to fix it?

I remember being interested in getting a radio with controls labeled in Chinese. And it wasn't too difficult an adjustment at first, because I memorized the controls by reading the English control guide PDF supplied by the eBay seller. But so much time has passed that I have to re-learn the buttons. And being away from the computer with a Chinese-labeled radio may be challenging.

I opened up the telescopic antenna, and was pleased at the sturdiness and stiffness of the antenna. This part is in excellent shape.

While tuning to various shortwave stations on the Eton E5, I also tuned them in on the PL-350. Even with the antenna gain set to DX and the antenna trim dial set appropriately, shortwave reception was weaker across the board on the PL-350 during the afternoon. After sundown, I was impressed with the PL-350's handling of broadcasts from Voice of Russia and China Radio International, but it struggled with a weaker Radio Taiwan International broadcast.

Unfortunately, due to carelessness, I snapped the folding stand on the back of the radio. The rectangular stand itself is misleadingly sturdy; the two plastic pegs that hold it into the back of the radio are small and weak. And while setting up the hinged stand to put the radio on a desk, I applied too much pressure and broke it. I made this mistake before with another Tecsun radio, the R-912.

So, is this an adequate portable radio for outdoor reception? Sure. First, the crucial parts are all solid and functioning. Second, this radio runs on three AA batteries, and carrying three spare batteries is easier than having to carry four. Third, it's small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Fourth, it handles strong shortwave broadcasts adequately. This seems like the right radio for my outdoor listening adventures.

No comments: