Last week, I received a new portable shortwave radio by the post from China: the Radiwow R-108.
The brand, Radiwow, was new to me, but I suspect they’re linked in some way to the folks behind XHDATA. They contacted me around the Thanksgiving holiday and inquired about evaluating this new portable receiver. I replied, asking a few questions about the unit–you see, I don’t typically agree to take a look at a new product if I think it could simply be a re-badged version of something currently on the market.
Their reply was simple:
“Yes, it is shortwave radio, like PL-310ET radio but add air band, and better reception performance. Your tracking number is…”
So evidently, it was already on the way.
Radiwow claims the performance is better than that of the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET. This, I will have to test because the PL-310ET is certainly a workhorse Ultralight radio. And the R-108 includes air band? Sounds like a CC Skywave without weather radio. That could be quite appealing if the price is competitive.
And it seems this little radio fits neatly into the requirements of Ultralight DXing, thus I hope Gary DeBock and Guy Atkins might take a look as well.
In addition, the R-108 includes longwave frequencies. Something I know will please a number of our readers.
Here are some of the key points I gleamed from a digital copy of the owner’s manual:
Radiwow R108 Features:
- Frequency range:
- Longwave: 150-450 kHz)
- Mediumwave/AM: 520-1710 kHz w/10 kHz steps, 522-1620 kHz w/9kHz steps
- Shortwave: 1711-29,999 kHz
- FM: 87.5-108 and 64-108 MHz
- AIR: 118-137 MHz
- ATS memory scans on all bands
- 500 available preset memories
- Squelch control
- Direct keypad entry of frequencies
- Clock function with sleep timer, snooze and alarm (buzzer or radio)
- FM stereo
- AM bandwidths: 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 kHz selections
- Music/Voice audio modes
- Built-in intelligent charger for included 3.7V 1500 mAh Li-ion battery pack
By the way, I suspect Radiwow is linked to XHDATA because 1.) they knew my shipping address without asking and 2.) their website prominently features the XHDATA D-808.
In addition, the only other place I could find the R-108 listed on the Internet is via AliExpress. As with the introduction of the XHDATA D-808, the AliExress price is (today) absurdly high. To me, this indicates that the page is simply a placeholder until the first production run is ready to ship.
I have a PL-310ET and you can count on me to compare the two sometime after the holidays.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos of the unit.
I must admit, the front panel of the radio looks familiar, but perhaps only because most other DSP portables have a similar layout. Please comment if you know of an identical portable.
Follow the tag Radiwow R-108 for updates.
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A new radio, the D-109, appears to be on the way.
The model number can be taken as a successor to the D-808,
but in fact it is the successor to the R-108.
The manual download is now included in the product description of amazon in many countries.
It also seems that it is now available for download from the official web page.
However, some of the links on the official web page seem to be wrong and some of them cannot be downloaded.
Hello, I just purchased the R108 and maybe stupid question it turns itself off in about ten seconds. I did charge the bty.
This is a nice radio but I have some complains about it:
– Battery life sucks. I mean, it’s really bad compared to the Tecsun PL-380 (it really shines on battery in that matter).
– Switching bands is a little bit slow, and we cannot directly go to a particular band.
– Sensitivity in LW is very low, like all chinese radios. I made the antenna mod in the PL-380 and I wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to do a similar mod in this radio (but chances are that there is not enough place in it …).
– Very good sound
– Nice filters
– Small form factor
– Good fm perfs
What I love about this particular one is the size. It’s almost similar to one of the popular tecsun shortwave.
Thanks for sharing this indepth review though, I am sure it will make a good case for future purchase.
Can you tell me the similarities you’ve found between the RadiWow R-108 and the Tecsun one you mentioned above?
Does the Radiwow R-108 have case to protect it ?
I’ve had the R-108 for quite a while now. Mainly for SW. It has been a slow burner for me after initially getting over a few little niggles. These niggles have been well documented on YT videos. Loss of sensitivity on MW when switching from another band (on and off to fix!), popping noise on headphones when switching bands, occasional ticking noise on MW (switch display to temp). There’s nothing that impinges on my enjoyment of the radio though. I have to say I absolutely love this radio now. The small form factor is great. Build quality is superb. The sensitivity is really amazing. It trounces my 310ET. In fact it wipes the floor with it in most areas. Weaker signals are far more intelligible and it keeps those signals nice and steady unlike the Tecsun. ATS is more effective than the ATS and ETM on my 310ET.
First off whoever says the XHDATA D-808 is junk just doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about!! However this RadiWow R-108 is not as good sensitivity-wise compared to the 808. In fact on all broadcast band AM and FM stations the 808 comes out on top every time whereas the 108 just doesn’t pull in the same stations as good. The only thing that the 108 has going for it is it’s excellent audio for a radio this size, and it is a good bit smaller than the 808. I would not recomment the 108 unless you just want something that sounds good but is by no means a DX machine.
I find the sensitivity on the R-108 amazing. It trounces my 310ET. I don’t own the D-808 (yet!) to compare it with. However, YT videos comparing the two and comments from owners of both say they’re actually very similar in terms of sensitivity. But we all have varying experiences. I guess I’ll have to get a D-808 to find out. Of course I can justify the purchase with improved MW performance, RDS and SSB 🙂
uhmm…no reviews since the radio was received in December. I suspect there is some problem with this radio.
I can say that the reason I haven’t yet produced a review is due to my hectic schedule. 🙂 With that said, there is one small issue I’m trying to sort out with an occasional noise that appears upon powering up in the mediumwave band and also–only occasionally–the same noise popping up in the middle of a listening session. I can’t determine the pattern, though.
“I” before “EE” except after “C”. LOL If it’s like the XHData D-808… what junk.
Finally someone that agrees with me on the D-808. Donated mine to Goodwill it’s that bad.
it mean a weak lw in this receiver
How much is this new radio. UK Sterling preferably. TIA.
I was interested until I saw the battery pack it uses. Why use non-standard batteries? What’s wrong with using AA or even AAA?
My XDATA D-808 arrived last week, but the vendor did not include the battery due to ‘shipping restrictions’. Again, why not use AA type batteries? Ordered the battery, and I’m waiting for it to arrive.
A quick check of the radio using USB power took the wind out of my sail. It’s horrible! Hopefully it’ll be different with the battery.
search GOOGLE BL-5C lithium battery and find many for about 5€ … So it is a standard pack.
In my opinion, there isn’t much reason to be pleased due to the presence of LW band in this receiver. The specifications above do not promise better LW sensitivity than one tenth of the receiver’s MW sensitivity. In my understanding, 10 mV/m corresponds to a very strong field which occurs only in proximity of stations.
Another reason to be skeptical about this radios LW sensitivity is that the current generation of dsp chips have a design flaw which makes is difficult (or even impossible??) to switch between tuned MW and LW antennas without serious drawbacks.
Looks like a D808 minus SSB,
Thomas please check if it has any memories scroll or one needs to go by page by page.
The Radiwow’s 1 kHz bandwidth is promising for trans-Pacific & “down under” medium wave DXing, but only if it has a clarity and reduced soft muting as found in the C. Crane Skywave SSB. The Skywave is a current favorite of Ultralight DXers with its fairly crisp audio at 1 kHz bandwidth, and when offset-tuned in AM mode for difficult DX signals close in frequency to stronger stations.
I will pass on this one. No BFO for CW/SSB. As I said in the past a shortwave radio without a BFO is like a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a top speed of 25 mph.
It is surprising they downgraded the XHDATA to this. Maybe a fair price would b $19.95
This circuit works good for me, I wish I could upload a pic of my enclosure and pot locations on the unit.
Brian, if you can send me the image, I can post it for you in comments.
Interesting. The design seems to share a few things from the XHDATA, the AR-1780, Skywave as well as the 310. But who calls their company “Radiwow?” Reminds me of the early HD radio, “Radiosophy.” The cute name belied lackluster performance.
However, looking forward to your full review and actual price! Merry Christmas!!
Considering that this is a Chinese radio, it should have a 20 kHz AM bandwidth…
..this looks like a good radio!…I like the weather channel, but NOT the weather alert, as this is NOT for people who have OCD!..does it have good Medium dxing and SSB?..good enough for Canada, eh?
Has anyone spotted the spelling mistake on the front below the LCD display?
Yep—I posted something about this on Twitter earlier today. 🙂 I’ll let them know about it, but since this is likely an early production unit, they might have it fixed on the production units. At least, in theory! 🙂
Not sure if you noticed but the AliExpress page also says this at the bottom portion:
* 1x XHDATA? R-108Radio ”
This also looks like it’s using the same weird choice of rechargeable battery the XHDATA D-328 used, that being a re-purposed BL-5C originally designed for Nokia feature-phones.
I can’t make out the USB port in your photos but I’m also guessing they went with the older, larger, more wear-prone Mini-USB vs the now ubiquitous Micro-USB port.
Antenna seems to have the same “too big to stand up straight” problem the D-328 had as well, with no notch in the casing.
Looks squarely aimed at undercutting the PL-310 ET in price, but I think i’d much rather stick with something that runs on AA batteries instead of a re-purposed, questionable quality Li-Ion originally designed for a budget feature phone.
It does use the thin Li-ion rechargeable battery. Like you, I’m not a big fan. I see advantages in terms of weight and recharge-ability, but I much prefer AA batteries.
The port is a Micro USB, fortunately. In the photo it does look like a Mini instead of a Micro, but I can confirm it’s the more common Micro.
I don’t know where they’re sourcing the batteries, but these types of batteries can be purchased from electronics supply places if you’re worried that the one that ships with it will not be reliable. Frankly, I have not before had problems with included batteries in devices; either they work fine or whatever power problems occur are the fault of the device rather than the battery. I generally prefer USB charging to older battery types, for the reason that it is easier for me to recharge the device from a number of sources without needing to buy something. It also helps keep devices smaller, as the thin battery can be placed in a convenient location in the case.
I definitely found the battery on the XHDATA D-328 did indeed make the radio incredibly light, but I’m just suspicious as a whole of the lack of quality “BL-5C” batteries. Sure yes they may be easy to find/import/order.
I know I can buy quality Panasonic Eneloops, Energizer Recharge’s, etc and not have to worry about a mystery battery possibly blowing up in my radio/ I can use any number of safe external AA chargers. Worst case I can always toss alkaline’s in it in a pinch.
Given the extremely cut rate costs on these I very much lack faith in any extra efforts put into charger circuit safety engineering past the bare minimum. I could probably find an external charger for a “BL-5C” as well, but it’s likely to have the same quality issues.
AA vs rechargeable are definitely a weight trade-off, but I’d much rather take the AA power source even with the ubiquitous nature of Micro-USB chargers these days
How much cost?
We don’t know what the retail price is yet, but I’ll update us when I find out.
1. If it costs a given amount but won’t do ssb (no bfo) then pass.
2.LW 150-450? That means no 630 meter band…once again if
it’s too much with clipped coverage then no go.
I hope it cures the overload and imaging problems that the latter 310’s suffer from. I only use my 310 as a bedside radio tuned to local FM radio, as the SW performance is so dire. MW performance is pretty good when used with the AN200 loop.