Tecsun PL-990: How to distinguish pilot run and final export versions

The Tecsun PL-990

As I suspected, it appears the Tecsun PL-990 batch that showed up recently on AliExpress for $399 each are the preliminary pilot run units that Tecsun offered in China last year. The final export version of the PL-990 is not ready for production yet and has been severely delayed by Covid-19 quarantines.

Anna at Anon-Co reports that Tecsun factories have been closed since mid-January 2020 and have only recently recommenced production, “but at a very slow pace.”

Since there will eventually be two different versions of the Tecsun PL-990 in the wild–the pilot run for China, and the finalized export version–I thought I’d share a trick Anna has described to tell the difference between the two.

Anna notes:

One way to easily see this is from the labels for the buttons above the keypad, these should be

[ TIME ], [ TIMER A ], and [ TIMER B ] (see picture below)

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export Version:

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export version

Tecsun PL-990 Final Export Version

Pilot Tecsun PL-990 (preliminary China domestic version):

Preliminary Pilot Tecsun PL-990 distributed in China — image from AliExpress.

Anna adds:

I highly recommend [no one] buy these pilot versions, because the software on those devices is also not developed.

There still isn’t a final version or any price indication available yet, but it will definitely not be US$399.99.

So in case it’s not clear: don’t purchase a PL-990 until you can confirm you’re receiving a final export version which has the TIME, TIMER A, and TIMER B labels.

Again, at time of posting, the final PL-990 export version is not yet in production.

When the final export PL-990 is available, I will announce it here on the SWLing Post with links to authorized retailers like Anon-Co.

Patreon Code

Do you enjoy the SWLing Post?

Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

Spread the radio love

11 thoughts on “Tecsun PL-990: How to distinguish pilot run and final export versions

  1. George

    I have ordered one from Ali express and it should be delivered to me today.
    I believe it is the export version.
    I will update you and will give my impressions
    after using it for a few days.

  2. Bertrand STEHLE F6GYY

    Poor reactivity.. A real review of the export version of the Tecsun PL-990 should be available now…

    Otherwise you just have not done your homework…. Tecsun should deliver a test receiver….

    I want to know if there is any seroius improvement over the PL-880….

    Vy 73 Bertrand

  3. RobRich

    Thanks for the FYI, Tom. Anna, too.

    Admittedly I am more interested in the Tecsun H-501 so maybe I finally can get the Kenwood R-2000 off my nightstand. The H-501 is not exactly a desktop receiver, but it does appear to be a step up in size and (my personally desired) ergonomics compared to most portables.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.