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Dxtra (deeXtra) - Your Shortwave Expert On The Web

Portables| TableTops| Sony| Grundig| Sangean| Scanners| CB Radio| Books| Garmin GPS|

Dxtra's Shortwave Portable "Top Picks"

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We get frequent requests from our customers to recommend portable shortwave receivers - in addition to our tabletop lineup. As an Amazon Associate we have put together a selected list of portables below. We appreciate your business - it helps to support services like our free logging service. Below are some key shortwave facts you might find interesting:

  • Shortwave radio is the same as the domestic AM car radio you are familiar with - EXCEPT that shortwave signals have the amazing attribute of being able to travel thousands of miles by "bouncing" off the ionosphere. Because of this unique capability, shortwave will always be a vital part of the broadcasting spectrum.
  • By international agreement, about 10 shortwave "bands" (i.e. frequency ranges) have been set aside for broadcasters.
  • Shortwave propagation (ie. how well the signals travel) is much better at night. For a real "United Nations" of radio treat try the "49 meter band", which is from 9500-10000 kHz. You will hear a many of big international broadcasters, largely from Europe at around 8 PM EST.
  • The shortwave bands are crowded with signals - so our advice is to tune slowly up the band - or you may miss a good "catch". The "channel" separation on the shortwave bands is only 5 kHz as compared to the 10 kHz on our domestic AM radio - twice the number of channels for a given amount of radio spectrum!
  • There is an exciting aspect to shortwave called "DX" (deeX) or "DXing". "DX" is an old telegrapher abbreviation meaning "distance". DXtra takes its name from this term. DXing as it's called is the art and science of listening to and logging very distant (and often weak) signals from the other side of the earth. You can start with a basic radio and graduate to better equipment as your knowledge grows.
  • Consider Dxtra's RX-320D offering as the next step up from a portable. Our software provides powerful tools for everyday listening - like program schedules - as well as scanning tools for the DXer.


  • Key features to look for in a shortwave portable are SSB and SYNC reception capability. SSB, short for "Single Side Band" will allow to you listen to Ham (Amateur radio) transmissions and other, so-called, "utility" stations (e.g. military, ship-to-shore). SYNC, short for "Synchronous Detection" will allow you to listen to standard AM shortwave broadcasts in a way that resists fading by using a special circuit in the radio. The has both of these features and is considered by many reviewers to be the best portable on the market.

    The

    is a very sensitve receiver with exellent SSB reception capability and the added benefit of stereo FM reception.

    The Grundig 800 is an example of a so-called "portatop" receiver. It's advantage is its large speaker - excellent for extended program listening - and comes with SYNC and SSB capability as well.



    Dxtra's Detailed Shortwave Portable Comparison Chart

    Manufacturer
    Model
    Type
    Tuning
    Bandwidths
    SSB
    SYNC
    FM
    Other Features / Notes
    Grundig
    FR-200
    Portable
    AM.FM,SW1,SW2
    One
    No
    No
    Yes, stereo
    crank-up power, headphone jack, limited SW  band coverage. No digital tuning. Grundig's are now made in China.
    Grundig
    Yacht Boy 400PE
    Portable
    AM, FM, all SW bands
    One
    Yes
    No

    nice finish, dual clocks, 24 hr format,  timer (10 minute increments), headphone volume control. Good SW performance for price
    Sangean
    ATS-606AP
    Portable
    AM, FM, all SW bands
    One
    No
    No
    Yes, stereo
    digital clock timer, dual alarm, 54 memory settings
    Sangean
    ATS-909AP
    Portable
    AM FM, continuous SW band coverage
    One
    Yes
    No
    Yes, stereo
    RDS system on FM (program and call sign), auto scan feature to detect active stations, 306 memories,  clock, alarm, best Sangean to date.
    Sony
    ICF-SW07
    Portable
    PLL digital tuner, AM, FM continuous SW band coverage
    One
    Yes Yes
    FM, stereo
    80 memories, timers, visual display
    Sony
    ICF-SW77
    Portable
    PLL  digital tuner, AM, FM, continuous SW coverage
    Two
    Yes
    Yes
    FM, stereo
    many  features, weight is 7 lbs., considered "best" consumer shortwave portable, but most expensive as well.
    Ten-Tec
    RX-320D
    TableTop
    True DSP receiver. Digital tuning, AM,  SSB, DRM, continuous SW band coverage. Controlled by Dxtra's software on PC
    36
    Yes
    Yes, with Dxtra software
    No
    Best shortwave performance in the world for the price according to "Passport to WorldBand Radio" guide.
    No front panel, PC controllable, has DRM (new digital shortwave mode) output capability, integrated 12 volt power supply jack. Dxtra's WorldStationTM control software INCLUDED in purchase.

    WorldStationTM gives you:

    - integrated "point and click" band table
    - unlimited memories (1000 pre-populated)
    - real-time "What's On" database
    - real-Time program lookup while on frequency
    - integrated program listening scheduler
    - remote control over a network built-in
    - auto-scan of multiple of SW band activity simultaneously.
    - built-in graphical visualization of band activity
    - much more




















    Dxtra's Radio Scanner "Top Picks"

    The Bearcat series of scanners from Uniden have distinguished themselves as top performers over the years. The latest models incorporate "trunk tracking" or the ability to "follow" switched conversations as they automatically change channels. The high-end Bearcat BC-780XLT even features a 4800 baud serial port for computer control of the radio, similiar in concept to PC controllable shortwave radios that Dxtra writes control software for.




    Dxtra's CB Radio "Top Picks"

    As the CEO of Dxtra I frequently make long road-trips on the Interstate highway system to visit suppliers, to attend radio conventions, and of course on vacation like millions of other Americans. There is never a time that my Cobra CB radio is not tuned to channel 19 - the famous "truckers" channel. I consider the CB radio not only a "fun" piece of Americana  but a useful and important safety tool on the road. Most of the time, I just listen to general radio traffic and if the airways get a little rough - I just turn up the squelch.

    If you drive for a living or use the Interstates, you know that the roads are very crowded today with all kinds of trucks and cars. And unfortunately, accidents do happen: road spills, jackknifes due to slippery road conditions, road debris and so forth. Sometimes errant "four wheelers" cause accidents due to erratic or unsafe driving practices. The most common "four wheeler" problem I see is simply "sitting" in the truck driver's blind spot when passing. I always make it a practice to always pass a truck quickly to get out of the danger zone.

    The second most common car driver problem I see is car drivers not accelerating onto on-ramps quickly enough. I routinely see car drivers "merging" into the right lane at 30-40 MPH, instead of the required 60 MPH - this is extremely dangerous to truckers who must break heavily. So to my fellow car drivers let's give the "big rigs" a break - they have a tough job to do. The CB radio has almost certainly saved my tires on several occasions where I got warned of road debris. In one case on I-81 South in Virginia I used a bypass route suggested by a trucker that must have saved me a couple of hours when I-81S was shut down for about 20 miles between exits. And the list goes on. Like the old commercial says "don't leave home without it" - IT being your trusty CB radio!




    Dxtra's GPS and FRS "Top Picks"

    For your convenience, we have selected the top selling handheld GPS units from the Amazon catalog. The hot-sellng Garmin Rino 120 has state-of-the-art features like:

  • Combination two-way radio and GPS receiver
  • Radio specs: 14 FRS channels for 2-mile range, 7 GMRS channels for 5 mile range, 38 subcodes per channel, hands-free VOX*
  • GPS specs: 12-channel, WAAS*-enabled receiver, up to 500 waypoints, trip computer with speed tracking
  • Basemap of North and South America that includes major cities, highways; 8 MB of memory for downloadable maps




  • *VOX is an abbreviation for "voice activation".

    *WAAS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) is a GPS-based navigation and landing system that provides precision guidance to aircraft at thousands of airports and airstrips where there is currently no precision landing capability. Systems such as WAAS are known as satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS). WAAS is designed to improve the accuracy and ensure the integrity of information coming from GPS satellites. The FAA is using WAAS to provide a Lateral Navigation/Vertical Navigation (LNAV/VNAV) capability with commissioning in 2003. Concurrently, the FAA will evaluate the approach to achieve Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Landing System (GLS) capability in later years. WAAS testing in September 2002 confirmed accuracy performance of 1 . 2 meters horizontal and 2 .3 meters vertical throughout the majority of the continental U.S. and portions of Alaska.