Radios are just as important today as they were back in the 90s and are one of the oldest, most reliable forms of wireless communication. They set the foundation for unbounded media and are still recognized for their efficiency and usefulness.
Radios come in handy during camping, hiking, and other activities in hilly areas or forests. That’s because there are little to no signals in those places.
As evident from the name, Shortwave radio can transfer signals across hundreds of thousands of miles across the world. This is one of the reasons why naval, military, and air force officers use shortwave radios for communication.
Shortwave Radios Buying Guide
Before buying our first shortwave radio, we must be aware of certain aspects because selecting a radio isn’t as easy as choosing a particular frequency.
They require extra parts and a skilled person to set them up. Below are some points to be mindful of while choosing a radio:
High sensitivity is the first feature to look for in shortwave radio. Sensitivity refers to being able to catch weak signals, amplifying them, and making the sound clearer and uninterrupted.
The two basic shortwave radio systems are analog and digital. Digital radios are more effective as they allow inserting frequencies directly, in contrast to an analog radio, which requires rotating a knob to find the desired frequency. Read more about differences b/w Shortwave and Longwave Radio.
Most receivers only offer narrow selectivity, while few also provide wide selectivity. We can go for narrow selectivity if little to no interference is our preference. The only drawback with limited bandwidth is the reduced audio quality. On the other hand, broad selectivity allows slight interference but provides top-notch audio quality.
External antennas work comparatively better than built-in antennas as they offer enhanced connectivity and reception. Built-in antennas are suitable for portability but reduce steel boundaries and basements, whereas external radios work well in both cases.
Best Shortwave Radios
We have jotted down some of the best shortwave radios in the market today to simplify and fasten our search. Let’s look into the details of these products as below:
Tecsun PL-880 Digital Shortwave Radio
Tecsun is one of the most reputable companies for manufacturing shortwave radios today. The all-new Tecsun PL-880 is a powerful device and is referred to as the best shortwave radio on the market due to its low cost and latest features.
The Tecsun PL-880 is famous for its noise reduction feature (DNR) and producing clear audio. It offers a variety of bandwidth filters to choose from to enhance the sound quality. It comes with SW, AM, FM and seven tuning modes to make connections easy. Buy the Tecsun Pl-880 on Amazon.
- High sensitivity
- Rechargeable battery
- Sturdy design
- It offers a variety of filter and frequency options
- Headphone jack and a USB port
- Can be costly
- Complicated controls
- Tuned stations aren’t easy to remove
The Sangean ATS-909X is an improvement of the ATS-909. If our preference is an excellent shortwave radio within a budget, this is our best bet. The ATS-909X can function on all frequencies, be it shortwave, longwave, FM, or AM.
It comes with a 40 Hz frequency single sideband (SSB), a large LCD screen, and outstanding signal reception quality, especially FM. The ATS-909X is equipped with sliding tone control, squelch technology, and a headphone jack to enhance the listening experience.
- Strong built
- Long-life battery
- Multiple tuning methods
- Alarm and time zones for 42 different cities
- Reception is compromised with folded antenna
- Sound can be inferior
- Slightly difficult to control
Eton Elite Executive Digital Shortwave Radio
The Eton Elite Executive Digital Shortwave Radio is our second best pick compared to the PL-880. Both the radios are competitors and only differ in price. The Eton Elite Executive offers higher sensitivity and better bandwidth selectivity.
The best part is that the Eton can receive the longwave, shortwave, AM, and FM frequencies and connects to the VHF aircraft bandwidth. It also comes with a Single Side Band and Sync Detector Technology that improves the sound quality.
- Compact design
- Stores up to 700+ channels
- Excellent sound output
- Uses external antenna
- NOAA weather forecast
- Compromised AM reception
The Kaito KA500 is an emergency shortwave radio used mainly by military and air forces. It is a powerful radio and comes with a solar panel, hand crank, and battery. We can recharge the battery using the hand crank via an AC source.
The radio can be used as a charger for our mobile devices. It is equipped with a USB charging port a headphone jack and offers seven different NOAA channels. Buy the Kaito KA500 on Amazon.
- Compatible with SW1, SW2, AM, and FM bands
- It comes with a hand crank for battery
- Various powering modes
- Offers solar charging
- Flexible antenna
- Moderate sound quality
- Weather alerts only in America and Canada
- Solar power could have been better
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Why should I buy a shortwave radio?
Shortwave radios are the best bet for people that love to hike and camp regularly. Since SW radios can pick even the weakest signals, they come in handy during emergencies on the trip.
How can I choose the best shortwave radio?
To choose the best shortwave radio, we need to be knowledgeable about the features it offers, list them down and then look for the radio that fulfills all our requirements.
Depending on our preference, these aspects can be anywhere from the audio quality to the design to the frequency reception. I know finding something of our choice in today’s market is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. All you need is a bit of research.
Do people still use shortwave radios?
Of course! The quickly increasing Internet use and the gradually declining shortwave radios are undeniable. But all armed forces keep an SW radio with them for communication, and people switch to radios when all other means of connection fail.
Moreover, shortwave radios now come with an alarm clock, the latest weather alerts, flashlights, etc. and are becoming more efficient with each passing day.