Quick Look: the RADIWOW R-108, a new DSP shortwave portable

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)
  • Keylock
  • 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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24 thoughts on “Quick Look: the RADIWOW R-108, a new DSP shortwave portable

  1. Pingback: Radiwow offers deep discounts for R-108 unbiased reviews | The SWLing Post

  2. Vince

    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.

    Reply
  3. K.U.

    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.

    Reply
  4. Guy Atkins

    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.

    Reply
  5. Edward

    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

    Reply
  6. Jack K.

    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!!

    Reply
  7. Michael Bennett

    ..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?

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Aaron Kuhn

    Not sure if you noticed but the AliExpress page also says this at the bottom portion:

    “Package includes:

    * 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.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      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.

      -T

      Reply
      1. Laurence N.

        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.

        Reply
        1. Aaron Kuhn

          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

          Reply
  9. rtc

    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.

    Reply
  10. Charlie Wardale

    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.

    regards

    Charlie

    Reply

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