The Degen DE1129 unboxed: initial impressions

Degen DE1129 and box (Click to enlarge)

Yesterday, I received a sample Degen DE1129 from TecsunRadio.com, which is, to my knowledge, the only current distributor of this newest Degen. I paid extra for DHL shipping to get it quickly to my door, as I’ve been very curious how this new radio stacks up against similarly-priced portables on the market–especially in light of the number of emails I’ve gotten from readers asking about this particular radio.

The DE1129 promises a lot: AM/FM/Shortwave coverage and a fully functioning MP3 player/recorder.

I have only played with the DE1129 for a few hours, thus have only developed some initial impressions of the unit.  (A full-fledged comparison review will be coming in the very near future–simply follow the tag DE1129).

My very first impression–?  The DE1129 is just a wee little radio–much smaller than I had imagined. Indeed, though its box (pictured above) isn’t very large, it’s a cavernous container for such a minute radio. Size-wise, it’s certainly within the realm of the ultra-portable. Note its size in comparison with my Grundig G3 and Tecsun PL-380 in the photo below:

For those of you not familiar with the size of these two radios, we’re talking quite small–the Degen is just a little bigger than a pack of cards, easy to hold in one hand.

There is no mistaking the fact that this radio is DSP-based. When you turn this Degen on, it seems to boot up, like a computer–a process which takes about four seconds. It starts where you left off, i.e., at your last frequency, or in the MP3 player, if you were listening to an audio file, just before turning it off.

The Degen DE1129’s display is small, but contains a lot of information (Click to enlarge)

The display on the Degen is back-lit, although the buttons are not. The display, moreover, has an incredible amount of information for such a tiny screen. Fortunately, it is crisp enough to read easily.

You’ll note that all of the buttons are labeled in Chinese Mandarin–since I don’t know or read Mandarin, I found that this English translation of the front panel came in very handy.

I can’t comment on the performance thus far, as I can tell that the learning curve is going to be slightly steeper than usual.  I have yet to determine how to change the steps, bandwidth, AGC control (if there is one), and recording volume level.

Changing between receiver modes is simple enough; volume and tuning, of course, are intuitive.

I have very little to base a review on yet, but I can say this:  I love this Degen’s compact size, crisp display, and am impressed that its tiny built-in speaker actually has some bass response. This is the first shortwave radio I’ve reviewed that (like the Grundig G2 and Degen DE1128) has a slim rechargeable battery pack instead of accepting the typical AA batteries most portables use. No doubt, this is how they keep the size of the unit so small and its profile so slim. Is this a pro or con? Battery longevity will tell.

The back of the DE1129 (Click to enlarge)

Any negatives? Just superficial ones at this point.  Most notably, I’m disappointed in the unfortunate combination of no back stand (see photo) and a fixed, non-rotatable, telescopic whip antenna. This means that when listening to shortwave with the whip fully extended, you pretty much have to hold the DE1129 in your hand. Even if you have a universal portable radio stand (like this one), you won’t be able to make the antenna vertical in relation to the ground–rather, it will be fixed with only the ability to move from left to right.   This is, alas, poor product design, as a radio so slim has very little stability when standing with the antenna fully extended; even a slight breeze can potentially tip it over.

Also, the Degen DE1129, like the Tecsun PL-380 (and many other DSP-based radios), “chuffs” while tuning–meaning, it mutes between frequency changes. This is a pet peeve of mine, as I prefer a more uninterrupted analog-like fluidity while band scanning.  I’ll experiment to learn whether there is a way to minimize this.

Again, look for a more complete review in the near future as I test this little radio against the (similarly priced) Grundig G3 and the (more affordable) Tecsun PL-380. Simply follow the tag DE1129 or subscribe to our email updates by clicking on the link in the right panel of our site.

Degen DE1129 front panel: Alex provides Russian translations and English corrections

Click to enlarge (Source: TecsunRadio.com)

A few weeks ago, I posted an image with English translations of some of the buttons on the Degen DE1129 front panel.

Alex, an SWLing Post reader, commented with the Russian equivalents for some of the buttons and corrections to the one posted at TecsunRadio.com (see photo). As he points out, even in the English translation the “voice+” and “voice-” buttons are actually the +/- of the volume control.

Now that I’ve had time to use the DE1129 myself, I believe the button labeled “mode” should actually be translated as “menu.”

Here are some Russian equivalents from Alex:

Thanks, Alex!

The Degen DE1129 features 10 kHz steps on medium wave

I just received confirmation from a representative at TecsunRadio.com that the Degen DE1129 will offer selectable 10kHz steps for the medium wave (AM) band in North/South America (ITU Region 2).

My contact had to verify this fact by actually trying out a radio and making the selection manually (see photo), as the written radio specifications were unclear.

Upon learning that its predecessor, the Degen DE1128, did not have 10 kHz stepping, it lost an audience in the Americas.  I feared that the DE1129 would have the same limitations, but fortunately (for Degen) it is not. Of course, here in North and South America, we have the Grundig G2 Reporter–which is sold and supported here in the US as a DE1128 alternative.  But this newest member of the Degen line is a welcome addition.

ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Regions Map

Degen DE1129 front panel: English translations

Click to enlarge

Erin, with TecsinRadio.com, sent me this graphic with English translations for the Degen DE1129’s front panel (which is silk-screened in Chinese).

This could come in handy for future DE1129 owners less familiar with Chinese.

I’ve also added this image in our Shortwave Radio Index.

The new Degen DE1129 shortwave radio with MP3 recording and playback

(Photo source: TecsunRadio.com)

TecsunRadio.com has posted the new Degen DE1129 shortwave radio on their website. Though they have not yet posted pricing, it appears pre-orders are being taken.

The DE1129 looks like a decedent of the Degen DE1128 that has not exactly been a market success in North America. The DE1128 lacks medium wave (AM) 10kHz steps (spacing) that allows it to be useful in the North America AM broadcast market.  It also lacks English as a selectible language on the display. (The Grundig G2 Reporter, however, does have the features and is, in essence, the North American version of the DE1128).

The published features/specs of the new DE1129 do not reveal if AM spacing or English language will be an issue in the DE1129. I will try to contact the manufacturer. Until then, I would keep this in mind if pre-ordering. UPDATE: The DE1129 does have 10kHz spacing.

UPDATE: Vimal points out pricing is $102 US/each with shipping.

Thanks for the tip from the excellent Herculodge blog!

Features (per retailer)

  • FM :87.0-108 .0 MHz
  • campus radio:64.0-108.0MHz
  • MW (medium wave) :522-1710KHz
  • SW (shortwave) :2.30-23 .00 MHz
  • Stored radio frequency of 248
  • Radio signal strength indicator
  • High-frequency stereo
  • Five tuning methods: (encoder knob / manual / automatic / memory / ATS)
  • Large-size LED backlit dot-matrix screen, full support of the Chinese display
  • Playback: MP3 and WMA decoding
  • Multiple repeat mode
  • A variety of sound modes
  • Variable speed playback
  • A-B repeat
  • Recording function: MIC recording, recording radio
  • MP3/WAV sound recording format selection
  • Can be used as the active speaker
  • E-book features: TXT document reading
  • Intelligent timer switch
  • Alarm clock function
  • Sleep timer (05-90 minutes)
  • Support software upgrades
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Built-in memory, support for the MICRO SD card playback
  • Key Lock Switch
  • The electronic volume control (31)
  • Built-in top super bass vibration film and wideband audio speaker
  • MINI-USB interface, USB2.0 high-speed transmission
  • The intelligent charging can be connected to the computer charge
  • Battery level indicator, low battery automatically shut down
  • Removable battery, replace the batteries more convenient
  • Machine size: 130 * 78 * 30MM
  • Weight (with lithium battery): about 145G
  • Supplied accessories: USB cable, lithium battery, and Operations Guide

 

Degen DE1128: More photos and features released

This blog has published more details about the DE1128. For those of us not fluent in Chinese, Google translate seems to do a fair job of translating details.

We have updated the SWRI entry for the Degen DE1128 with our interpretation of the translated features.

It appears it has many of the features we had assumed and is strikingly similar to the Grundig G2 Reporter.

Thanks to the Herculodge for the tip!

UPDATE: eBay seller Tao Qu has informed us that the Degen DE1128 will have AM (Mediumwave) steps locked in at 9kHz, meaning this portable would not be ideal for the MW DXer  in the US.

A new Degen portable in the works–the Degen DE1128

Preliminary drawings of the Degen DE1128

It appears that Degen is working on a new dual speaker portable shortwave radio–the Degen DE1128.

It looks like the DE1128 will have MP3 recording features, including a built-in microphone. The footprint and layout seem strikingly similar to the new Tecsun PL-398MP.

We will post more information on this radio as it becomes available.