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Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,153 ratings

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  • Full range coverage including AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave with Single Side Band
  • PLL synthesized digital dual conversion receiver with unparallelled sensitivity & selectivity
  • 4 & 5 selectable bandwidth filters on AM and SSB respectively plus single Side Band receiver with 10 Hz tuning step
  • 24 hour alarm clock plus sleep timer from 0-120 minutes
  • Powered by one rechargeable battery with built-in charger, battery included

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Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception


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Product Description

Specifications:

-Frequency Range:
FM: 64-108 MHz
SW: 1711-29999 KHz
AM: 520-1710 KHz
LW: 100-519 KHz
-Sensitivity
FM < 3 uV
AM < 3mV / m
LW < 5mV / m
SW < 20 uV
SSB < 3 uV
-Selectivity:
FM > 35 dB
AM / LW > 40 dB
SW > 40 dB
-S/N Ratio:
FM> 65dB
AM/LW > 40dB
SW > 45dB
-Output Power > 450 mW
-Speaker: Diameter 40mm / Impedance 4 Ohm / Power 3W
-Earphone Jack: Diameter 3.5mm
-Power supply:
-Rechargeable battery: Li-ion 3.7V
-External adaptor: USB jack, DC 5V, Current >300mA
-Dimensions: approx. 7 ½ (W) X 4 ½ (H) X 1 ¼ (D)
-Weight: 1 lb 3 oz(battery not included)

Accessories:

Rechargeable battery
External shortwave antenna
Stereo earphones
Carrying pouch
User manual

Kaito Electronics, Inc., amazon.com seller ID: Electronnix, is Tecsun's sole distributor and service provider in North America. Only Tecsun radios sold by Kaito have user manuals in English and suitable power adapters.

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
1,153 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 1, 2014
560 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 18, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value and Feature Rich
By Dan Dunay on April 18, 2016
This very sensitive and selective radio receives AM, FM, Long Wave, and Shortwave broadcasts. Although it is easy to operate, it has a huge array of features.

The Tecsun PL-880 is easily the best and most expensive of the small Tecsun radios. See Picture of Tecsun Radios.

SOUND
By using a better 450mW audio amplifier (thanks, Dan) and an improved 3 watt mylar speaker, the PL-880 has the best sound of these radios. High frequencies are crisp and clear, low frequencies are audible, and the midrange is exceptionally clear. FM Stereo is available through the headphone jack.

POWER
The unit is powered by a 5V USB port or a rechargeable, replaceable 18650 lithium battery. This is a huge deal. With heavy use and the back-light on, the factory-supplied 2000mAh battery lasts me about 15 days. When it does discharge, I can just recharge it in the radio, or swap it out with another inexpensive, long lasting 18650 battery. I just swapped out my 2000mAh 18650 with a 5000mAh 18650. Note that this is better than using AA batteries to get 4.8 volts, because the amperage isn't cumulative. If you use 4 AA batteries that are rated at 1600 mAh at 1.2v to get the required 4.8 volts, you still only have 1600 mAh, just at 4.8 volts.

BACK-LIGHTING
Because of the long-lasting battery, the back-light of the display can be turned on indefinitely. Alternatively, you can choose to have it only stay on for a few seconds (after you touch a knob or button), or just turn it completely off. A long press on "5" when the radio is off, toggles the light's behavior. Likewise, you can use a switch on the side.

TUNING
Tuning for all bands is easily accomplished with separate main tuning and fine tuning knobs. This is a great arrangement, far better than the auto switching tuning speed of the PL-660. Frequencies can be directly entered through the key pad. In addition, you can scan to the next/previous station with a long press to the SCAN button. Direction of scan depends on whether you were last manually tuning up or down.

MEMORIES
There are 100-250 memories per page per band (FM, AM, LW, SW, SSB), and there are 25 pages (0-24). Since many stations are only available for a limited time, I use each page (0-23) to group broadcasts available at that hour. An auto sort function will sort memories by band and frequencies, eliminating duplicates. Auto Tuning Storage (ATS) will automatically find and remember all stations available for a single band, or search all bands.

OTHER FEATURES
Many other convenience features include a sleep timer, an alarm clock, 8 band widths, direct keypad entry, simple tone control, line-out for recording, a headphone jack, an internal ferrite bar AM antenna, and an external antenna jack.

In addition to the many features listed in the "Operation Manual", techies are delighted to find many more hidden features like Synchronous Detection, Dynamic Noise Reduction, Muting Threshold, Line Output Level, Calibration of SSB, Antenna Source, Firmware Version Display and date, "up" time, and charge time. Accessories include an Operation Manual, a lithium rechargeable battery, a long wire external antenna, a wall charger, and a very nice leatherette case. The knobs turn very smoothly with a nice damped motion and ergonomic placement.

INTERNATIONAL BROADCAST BANDS
If you follow the reception hints below, you'll find interesting stations like Austria, Australia, Cameroon, Deutsche Vella, Greece, Japan, Radio Marti, Quebec, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, Tirana, Vietnam, etc. You can find these broadcasts in the vicinity of 2300-2495, 3200-3400, 3900-4000, 4750-5060, 5900-6200, 7200-7450, 9400-9900, 11600-12100, 13570-13870, 15100-15800, 17480-17900, 21450-21850 and 25600-26100. When you key in any of these frequencies, the PL-880 will tell you the meter band.

AM
You can use this radio for DX (distant) reception of AM stations that will surprise you. Get outside. You might even try an external AM antenna like the [[ASIN:B001PNNXGO Kaito AN-200 Tunable Passive AM Antenna for AM radio, Any Brands, Like Kaito,Sony,Eton,Panasonic,Tecsun,Grundig Etc.]]. Inexpensive and great fun.

SINGLE SIDE BAND
Single Side Band (SSB) is where the ham broadcaster uses only half (lower or upper) the channel that he would otherwise use. This allows more broadcasters in the same vicinity but sounds garbled without the proper decoder. This radio will allow you to understand them by choosing either the upper or lower side band (USB/LSB). You can then fine tune the broadcast with the fine tuning knob and reduce noise by choosing the best of 5 alternative band widths (4, 3, 2.3, 1.2 and 0.5 kHz) especially chosen for SSB mode. Most digital radios (including this one) are callibrated to the nearest khz. However the PL-880 will display hundreths of a khz on SSB, and you can easily calibrate it so the that ham band SSB transmissions are dead on. Say that most transmissions sound clearest at 0.15 above the khz, for example 7060.15 on LSB. All you have to do is fine-tune it for the clearest sound and hold down the "Snooze" button for a few seconds. The .15 will turn to .00 and your radio will be calibrated to the "zero beat" for virtually all LSB stations. You can repeat for the USB and your SSB stations will be easily tuned and clear. Typically, the Lower Side Band is used below 10MHz and the Upper Side Band is used above 10MHz. Ham Radio is very popular. You can find these amateur broadcasts in the vicinity of 1843-2000, 3790-3800, 3885, 7290 and 14286 kHz.

RECEPTION HINTS
Just tuning randomly may not be rewarding.
o Get a phone app for Short Wave Listening like SWBC, or use your browser to find Shortwave Listening guides.
o Search for particular stations on their own frequencies and recommended times.
o Get away from electrical interference like your computer or USB charger.
o Try the long-wire antenna outside. Better still, make a simple dipole antenna by stretching some 18 AWG wire in opposite directions and connect one end to the Left terminal of a 3.5mm connector, connect the other wire to the GND connector. A solderless connector makes it easy. [[ASIN:B016W9P4N0 BCP 5pcs 3.5mm (1/8inches) Stereo Audio Male to AV 3-Screw Terminal Female Connector]] See picture, below.
o Reception is better in the evening and at night. However, if you have a good antenna, you'll find good things all day long.
o Find the best bandwidth for your broadcast.

RECORDING
You may want to record the marvelous stories from Slovakia and Romania of things only found there. In the last photo, I show how I record from the "line out" output to the "mic in" of the voice recorder by using a headphone volume control like [[ASIN:B008DJTB32 Stellar Labs 35-4180 In Line Headphone Volume Control]]. The volume control reduces the line level of the radio, making it suitable for the microphone-level input of a voice recorder like [[ASIN:B014DEJ3LK ALS Portable Rechargeable 8gb Hd/vox/sto Stereo Professional Digital Voice Recorder with Double-mode of WAV and Mp3]].

DRAWBACKS
o Ideally, you would have a variable RF gain control to adjust radio sensitivity to the strength of the station. Instead, this radio has 3 position switch for Local, Normal, or DX reception.
o The sync detector is poor, hardly ever improving the reception.
o You must send the radio to Kaito to get a free firmware update; you cannot do it yourself.
o The frequencies and mode are memorized, but you cannot add text.
o FM sounds great in mono or stereo, but there is no RDS (Radio Data Service), or HD radio.
o The display back-lighting is great, but does not illuminate the keys.
o Unlike more expensive radios, you cannot control this radio with your computer.
o All but the most recent samples with firmware version 8820 have the minor, but annoying "Fine Tuning Bug". Within a khz, the fine tuning will tune (but not display) backwards while tuning SSB. Just because the radio has version 8820 of the firmware, doesn't mean this bug is fixed. Check with the vendor or Kaito if you are concerned. My radio does not have this bug.

FOR THE SAME MONEY
If you listen to distant AM stations or Shortwave, the PL880 is well worth the money, currently rated 4.6/5 by Amazon buyers. Another good radio in the same price range is the Eton Satellit [[ASIN:B00MZ88YXK Eton NGWSATB Satellit AM/FM with RDS and Shortwave Radio, Black]], rated 3.9. A slightly less expensive contender is the Sony ICF-SW7600GR [[ASIN:B00006IS4X Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception]], rated 4.1. If you can afford to spend more, you might also check out the Sangean ATS-909X [[ASIN:B005GTO0CY Sangean ATS-909X BK AM/FM/LW/SW World Band Receiver - Black]], rated 4.0. Each of these competitors excel the PL880 in some ways (RDS, sync, display size), and may not equal the PL880 in other ways (battery, audio fidelity, back-lighting, band-width choices). You may find a trade-off that you prefer among them.

MORE INFO
These reviews contain great information. Check out Yahoo's Tecsun PL-880 group. Read the 23 great reviews at eham. (Google: "eham tecsun pl-880")
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639 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 2, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 12, 2022
3 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

David Racey
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great shortwave radio, period
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on July 4, 2020
11 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Good when it works, but doesn't last
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on October 24, 2021
4 people found this helpful
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Charles Barbander
5.0 out of 5 stars Substantial sound and pull
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on February 18, 2019
10 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy to get the Ham Radio bands without an outside antenna.
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 16, 2021
2 people found this helpful
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Garry Manning
4.0 out of 5 stars Well built radio with lots of features
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on October 27, 2022
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well built radio with lots of features
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on October 27, 2022
So I was pleased with the unit when I received it. Comes in a plastic case and includes radio, zip case, headphones (plastic), USB power and an external antenna in a little reel like retractable a dog walking leash (only smaller). Feels like a quality product when I hold it. I have not had a good chance to test reception other than it does pick up local stations. Pleased with the radio overall and would buy again if I needed a second one. Has quite a few features which I have yet had a chance to explore.
Only negatives are that the included documentation is all in Chinese (English versions available on the web) and that I had to pay customs on the unit that added another $75 to the price. The shipper has been very helpful in attempting to resolve with carrier. Lots of communications without delay. Ended up splitting the cost with me so I would give them a positive review as well.
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