05 October 2011

kaito wrx911 review

I'm always looking to augment my collection of cheap plastic portable radios. There's no single radio, or even no collection of over 20 radios, that can do everything. And in my collection, there just wasn't one that I considered an outstanding receiver for radio commercials. I wanted to find a radio that could accurately broadcast advertisements from the AM and FM bands.

After evaluating the products on the market, I decided to get a Kaito WRX911. I always wondered what the result would be if I glued a ruler, a speaker, and a paper clip together inside a flimsy plastic box.

I have many digitally-tuned radios, but I am tired of cheating by punching in frequencies on a keypad. What was missing was some geniune manual labor that made me feel proud of accomplishing something when finding a station. Going back and forth through the bands by endlessly flicking the tuning knob would be a nice little workout for my hands. Additionally, the WRX911 is small enough that I could easily slip it into a pocket, in the event I arrived at a store and felt the urge to go in and buy something. However, as I would learn later, when they say pocket-sized, they mean the whole pocket.

Supposedly, a sound heard inside someone's head is considered by that person to be more believable. So for this product I focused on one with a built-in speaker that was smaller than my own ears. A small speaker's weak sound should permit me to utilize the full amount of skepticism necessary for dealing with advertising. And moving away from it would make the speaker even smaller, right? That's why stars in the sky look so small.

Telescopic antennas on some of my radios are ridiculously long! When I extend the antenna and place the radio on the floor, there shouldn't be danger of losing an eye. Similarly, this kind of setup should in no way resemble a vacuum cleaner, despite any possibility of the thing accurately making a sucking sound. So, the Kaito WRX911 seemed just right in the baby bear kind of way.

After deciding on the Kaito WRX911, I quickly (although not too quickly) learned that I could get either black or blue. Or black and blue, I suppose, if I got distracted while walking around with the radio, and tripped over something. Like a box.

After looking at the two colors for a while, it came down to this decision: do I want a blueberry-flavored radio or a chocolate-flavored one? When I figured out that those were the options, I immediately chose chocolate. Frankly, blueberries are everywhere these days: farmer's markets, grocery stores, and vending machines. But chocolate is harder to find.

I ordered the radio online, which meant there was a mandatory one-week waiting period. I guess they do a background check to make sure I don't intend to use the radio for nefarious purposes. Anyway, it was a stressful week, because I learned that chocolate was usually brown, and not black. I learned that licorice was usually black, and boy, do I hate licorice. Now I was starting to get mad. If I got a licorice radio by mistake, I just might have to put the unloved thing up for adoption. I mean, put some licorice in my mouth, and I'll show you the meaning of... darn, I forgot the saying.

When my radio arrived, my tongue was on it in no time. But what the heck? There's no flavor here at all! Discouraged at the possibility of spending twice as much on this radio as I originally planned, I nevertheless hurried to submit a purchase for the blue one. I discovered a way to opt out of the waiting period by paying more money, but I declined, so again I had a long wait ahead of me. It was frustrating to wait, but I decided I wouldn't turn the things on until my tongue was satisfied.

Photo of the black Kaito WRX911 at night (Olympus C-3020 digital camera, macro mode)

When the blue radio arrived, I tore the box open, ensuring that I couldn't return it or sell it used with the original packaging intact. Then I went in for a taste, and... well, you already know how this is going to end. THESE RADIOS AREN'T FLAVORED AT ALL. Let me tell you right now: don't make that same mistake. I licked both of these radios immediately after opening their diminutive boxes, right when the flavors should have been at their best, and they were tasteless. Who got to them before me? Did the air-tight cloth pouches fail to hold in the flavor? What should I do about this?

Further discouraged at having not one but two flavorless radios, I decided to try out the radio feature. After loading the black radio's backside with two AA batteries, I noticed the "DC In 3v" port on the left side. Wishful thinking, little buddy. You're getting your juice from alkalines, because I'm not sitting still while I wait to be instructed on what to buy.

I started tuning through the FM band, hunting for advertisements so I knew how to spend my disposable income, and quite possibly, next month's rent. I started hearing English and Spanish, and it wasn't too long until I found ads. Jackpot! The radio even turned on its green light, which apparently means: time to spend money!

Then the ads stopped, a bunch of cryptic jargon went past at a high rate, and the music started. Ahhh, soothing music by which to enjoy my new purchases. I can drive my new Toyota Tundra from my refinanced home, down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, after taking my new medication. But who are these musicians? And what products are they singing about? I hope there's a song about my new Toyota Tundra, because I still need to learn how to use some of these buttons, levers, and pedals. Why is it called the Tundra, anyway? I'm in California, and Toyota is from Japan. So I ask you, where's the tundra?

Unfortunately, the amount of bass coming from the WRX911 speaker was overwhelming. I reduced the volume so far as to risk missing the next batch of commercials. Where's the bass control on this thing?

I thought that perhaps I should move to the AM band. Maybe that band would be free of the oppressive bass frequencies. The first thing I noticed was that the voices seemed much more emphatic and dynamic than those on FM. Maybe these people are actually excited to be on the radio or something. Or desperate for listeners. I'm happy for you and all, but just TELL ME WHAT TO BUY.

With the steering wheel in one hand and the portable, battery-powered radio in the other, I found a strong AM station. This guy seems to be selling computers. Apparently there's a computer called the Air. Air and tundra are two things that naturally go well together, right? I better drive my new truck to the computer store and buy one now, before they close, and definitely before I get home. I want to make sure I have everything I need before I get home again. They can't just send me on an endless series of errands whenever they want.

Another AM station I tried was repeatedly using the word "ministry", so I made a mental note to look this word up when I got home. Maybe I could use my new Air to do that.

Suddenly, I was in the parking lot of a large shopping mall. Time to review all my mental notes of what to buy, and hopefully, get it all done at once! My Tundra has a lot of storage space, so I immediately decided to fill the truck with purchases and head home.

While walking out of the pet store, I got to the end of the tuning range and turned around. And there's the computer guy again. Now he's talking about an online video meeting of some kind. Well, now that I have the computer with the camera and microphone in it, I'm all set! Except... I don't know anyone. I guess I should try to meet some people, then convince them to meet me again, later, online. But I have no idea where to meet people. I need to get out of this crowded mall, drive home, and think about how to go about meeting people.

Back home again, after spending several hours unloading my new purchases, I wanted to look up that word: ministry. So, I did just that, and learned that Ministry was an industrial/metal band. It was pretty surprising, since the radio station where I learned about this was just all talk, and no music. Maybe the band was still asleep and would arrive at the studio later that night to perform a show. But it was past midnight already, so I made a mental note to try tuning in some other day.

Now it was time to try the shortwave band. Some of the strangest signals I picked up turned out to be government-sponsored jamming stations. These were heard on 5000 kHz, 10000 kHz, and 15000 kHz. I heard a series of beeps, and male and female voices. The strange thing is that some of these jammer stations reported a mailing address. I wrote down these addresses (one in Colorado and one in Hawaii), and will send them furious letters explaining that they are disrupting my enjoyment of this fine hobby! I don't even know what I'm missing, since those frequencies were otherwise clear. It seems like the other side just abandoned those frequencies.

Alas, the shortwave stations I heard were devoid of advertisements, except apparently for their own radio shows to which I was already listening. These shortwave stations seem to get louder and quieter and louder and quieter. Maybe I need a radio with a bigger speaker and a longer antenna. And quite possibly more buttons. I think I know a website where I can find radios like that.

In conclusion, I hope you haven't taken this review seriously.

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