I have travelled with a lot of different radios over the years. Some were too big (Kaito KA-1103), some wore out too fast (Kaito KA-11, Grundig G8), and some just plain sucked (Grundig Mini 400). I’m not really looking for anything fancy but most radios have way too many features like hundreds of memories and shortwave. Shortwave isn’t going to work worth a flip in most hotels. I just wanted a digital FM tuner, automatic tuning (ATS or ETM) and a simple to use alarm clock.
I finally found the best of all worlds with two minor issues in the Tecsun PL-118:
Unfortunately, you can’t just run over to Walmart and pick this up. I bought it directly from a seller in Hong Kong on eBay. It took about 2 weeks to get it and I paid right under $20 for the radio and the shipping combined. I bought mine from ANON-CO and was very happy with the transaction.
It runs on 2AAA batteries. It has one touch ETM (Easy Tuning Memory) which scans the FM band and automatically adds a preset for each station. Hold down the clock button to set the clock. Hold down the alarm button to set the alarm time. The display lights up while you are doing these things. Another plus for travel is the tiny size.
Is it a DX machine? No, but it pulls in everything that you want to listen to comfortably even in a hotel room. I want the local stations and that’s what I get. It also sounds quite pleasant for the tiny speaker it has. It has decent enough audio range that it doesn’t sound tinny (too much treble) compared with similarly sized radios.
The two very minor issues are:
- There is no lock function so the radio could turn on if bumped in your luggage. It won’t come on easily since the button needs to be held in for a second to turn on. It has not happened to me yet.
- The alarm turns on the radio but it only stays on for about 1 minute and then it turns itself off. I believe it will come back on again in a few minutes and do that again. This is to save battery. I find it annoying but I’m lucky that I wake up quick and have a hard time going back to sleep once I am up. Heavy sleepers might miss the alarm completely.
The radio is also available in black and orange. I was so close to choosing orange but changed to white just because of the contrast between the case and the display.
This is my favorite travel radio now. The value for $20 is amazing.