Eton Elite Satellit Pricing and Context

As the Eton Elite Satellit comes closer to fruition, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments from readers about the price retailers are publishing. Here they are so far (all in USD):

Even the lowest price ($599.99 via Universal) is no trivial amount for most of us.

That said, the pricing doesn’t surprise me.

Back in 2005 when this radio’s predecessor, the Eton E1/XM, finally hit the market, it was sold for $499.95. Here’s a screenshot from Universal’s site in 2005 courtesy of the Wayback Machine:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statists, $499.95 in June 2005 has the same buying power as $751.33 in May 2022. If we add to that the recent elevated prices for many radio/electronic goods due to increased component cost and availability of chips, frankly I’m a little surprised Eton’s even able to release a new product this of all years. These aren’t easy days for electronics manufacturers. Then again, Eton has been producing radios for decades and obviously knows the manufacturing landscape quite well.

When I first learned about the new Elite Satellit, you could have painted me seven shades of surprised. With the advent of inexpensive high-performance SDRs, affordable DSP portables, and knowing full well the shortwave portable radio market is on the decline (in terms of customer numbers), I would have never guessed a new enthusiast-grade portable would be introduced.

My hope is that the Elite Satellit will deliver the performance we all want. I firmly believe that high-performance, quality gear enriches the hobby as a whole.

In terms of Elite Satellit specs and features, there’s a lot of confusion out there right now [great article, Guy!], but I’m sure this will be cleared up in coming weeks.

Many have also commented about Universal Radio especially since they officially closed their brick and mortar store near Columbus, Ohio in November 2020. Fred Osterman mentioned to customers at the time that Universal would still be selling books, parts, and some accessories online, but they would no longer carry inventory like ham radio transceivers.

Universal will be an authorized distributor of the Eton Satellit Elite and I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing from them. I suspect Fred and Barbara made an exception for Eton because they’ve been such a long-term distributor (dating back to the 1980s).  I also think Universal will continue being a limited online retailer at least into 2023 or even beyond. Eton will fully back a warranty from products purchased at Universal regardless.

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30 thoughts on “Eton Elite Satellit Pricing and Context

  1. jack dully

    I am mostly a SW listener but I have dabbled with MW listening to weak stations and trying to figure what city I’m hearing.The E-1 X/M as you probably know has no internal ferrite ant.soley relying on the whip or hooking up an external antenna for MW with the PAL jack on the left side.I have played with the whip lowered down to the horizontal and rotated 360 degrees for best reception of MW,it works very good,better than verticle.I compared the E-1 whip with a head to head trial of a Tecsun 680 with an internal ferrite,I my ears said the Eton won.Another option is hooking up a good large loop antenna to the PAL external port.Mine is passive,so I don’t know if it can support an active loop.Tecsun makes a small loop,the AN-200 but Grundig has a small loop exactly the same size of the Tecsun about 8 3/4″ in diameter that is tuneable with an adjustment frequency knob and can be plug into the external PAL ant. connection.So DX-ing MW can be done with the E-1 XM and probably the Elite Satellit.The small loops cost about $ 25.00

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  2. Jon

    I understand where you’re coming from with the fun vs performance distinction. I tend to prefer stand-alone receivers, so I’ll fire up the RDR55 when I want a full range of features to dig out weak DX. However, I do sometimes listen with a Yaesu FRG-7, if I’m wanting enjoy a quaint yesteryear tuning experience.

    If you enjoy the Malahit clone, you might also like the Afedri LAN-SDR stand-alone receiver. It provides pretty solid performance for its price and size. Unfortunately, it lacks the internal battery that you have with the Malahit receivers.

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  3. Jack Dully

    According to Universal Radio as of July 5,2022 ,any pre-orders that they received will be honored at the time that the order was placed.As to what time frame that they consider it a pre-order,I do not know .I just hope that is bug-proofed or can be updatted if there is an issue with your unit

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  4. Michael Davis

    I’m not very knowledgeable on this subject. Could someone please explain the difference between enthusiast grade & normal. Like what are you getting for that extra money?

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    1. Thomas Post author

      So there’s no official definition of this. For reviews, I consider an enthusiast-grade radio one with a performance and feature set that caters to DXers and devoted radio hobbyists; folks who seek weak signals and look for acceptable adjacent signal rejection, filtering, a strong front end, and SSB/sync.

      Radios designed for affordability and mass-production can have some strong performance points (rare, but it happens) but they lack the tools DXers and radio enthusiasts tend to look for.

      The Eton Elite has an enthusiast-grade feature set; hopefully, its performance will match. If it’s anything like the E1, it’ll have good audio, filtering, accurate tuning, a low noise floor and good front end.

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      1. jack dully

        Thomas,according to Universal the price quoted on the pre-orders for the Elite Satelitt will be HONORED as of July 5,2022 I’m in on the pre-order and it was $359.90 with shipping but excluding tax

        Reply
  5. Nathan Petrovski

    I disagree with the comment about the touchscreen. As someone who is blind, we need more radios with physical buttons and knobs not all these touchscreen-based ones.

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  6. John

    I still think it’s vaporware and the pricing is ridiculous. One would be better off getting a transceiver with GC like the FT-891.

    If this radio does appear by some fluke I hope it’s not some Chinese DSP special in a pretty box.

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    1. Guy Atkins

      If it’s vaporware, there’s going to be some red faced dealers such as Hammacher Schlemmer which has already printed their paper catalog with price, photo, description, and delivery date for the Elite Satellit HD. See Thomas Niner’s short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPg3WK97s9c However, if I was more of a skeptic I can imagine a smooth talking Eton sales rep convincing Hammacher Schlemmer that the new receiver is coming “real soon now, really!”.

      I had totally forgotten about the Silphase R1, which surfaced in 2020. That would be a nice package…at a hefty price… if it every appears.

      I’ve eventually realized over my long radio hobby “career” that I often use some radios for their performance, and others for the sheer fun of it. In the first category for me currently is the Perseus SDR with Jaguar Pro, the excellent value RX-888 MKii SDR, and (up until recently) Yaesu’s FTdx-10 transceiver. In the “mostly for fun” category I enjoy my restored, mint condition RF-2200 and Satellit 700 portables of yesteryear. Straddling the fence of fun and performance is the HFDY “V3” Malahit clone portable SDR, which Dan Robinson has reviewed here on the SWLing Post.

      Does anyone else mentally divide their radios between “fun” and “performance”?

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      1. Jon

        Guy, you might find it interesting to know that Silphase is reporting that the R1 receiver remains in active development. I received an email from them a few days back in which they indicated that their eight person commenced PCB production in April 2021. The email also noted that the R1 project has encountered delays as result of the global pandemic, as well as the “economic situation in the world.” No telling when/if this receiver might be available, but for those interested, Silphase’s website is: https://silphase.com/

        I would further note (as another SWLing Post reader had pointed out in a prior post) that the Silphase R1 appears to be derived from a common lineage as an SDR transceiver called the Ermek, for which details can be found here:

        https://qrznow.com/ermak-sdr-transceiver/

        https://sdr-ermak.com/

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  7. Jon

    I would second an earlier opinion expressed by Guy Atkins: given a choice between (1) the DSP filters found in today’s portable shortwave radios or (2) the IF bandwidth filters in the original E1/XM, I would prefer the latter. The stated range of IF bandwidth filter settings in DSP portables might look good in a spec sheet, but they perform decidedly less well than quality ceramic filters. Three well chosen Murata IF bandwidth filters provide better overall performance than 7 or so poorly performing DSP filter options provided by some SiLabs chip.

    However, if broadening our choices, what I’d really like to see is some radio manufacturer offer the type of performance and technology in, say, the Afedri LAN-IQ SDR (stand-alone) or one of the Malahiteam SDRs integrated into a form factor similar to the Sony SW55 or SW77 (with internal battery power, decent speaker, whip & ferrite rod antennas, and touch screen capability). One of the biggest obstacles might be the internal antennas, since the Afedri and Malahit receivers perform much better when the antenna is at some distance from the receiver.

    The Silphase R1 concept looks interesting…seemingly delivering on all of the above points except an internal ferrite rod antenna. If it ever becomes a reality, however, the Silphase will come at a price that will make the Eton Elite Satellit price look quite attractive.

    Anyway, just the musings of another shortwave enthusiast searching for the Holy Grail. That goes on a lot around her.

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  8. Robert Richmond

    The market for a $600 to $700 shortwave radio seems quite limited these days. Nostalgia aside, it is still an Eton radio, not a desktop comms receiver IMO. Even then hopefully it is still the Drake-designed E1 radio inside versus a repackage of a portable board with a larger display and nicer case.

    Meanwhile a sub-$200 Airspy HF+ SDR likely will “run circles” around this E1 refresh, and even that would leave over $400 available for an entry-level computer and antenna(s) needed to use the SDR.

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      1. Robert Richmond

        Computers aside… at ~$700 we are getting into Icom and Yeasu *transceiver* prices; less long a consumer-grade shortwave radio.

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        1. Mike

          This is true however some of these transceivers may have degrees of attentuation placed on the AM broadcast band by design so as to help guard against breakthrough in the amateur bands. Also, AM demodulation is not really a priority for most amateur radio equipment manufacturers and so it can be a bit difficult finding out which radios work the best. Asking can be fraught with challenges as well as the answers to such questions from amateur radio operators often range from “I’ve never used AM.” to “Who would ever want to do that?!”

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          1. Robert Richmond

            Which means circling back to desktop-class receivers when factoring the price, though admittedly that largely means the used marketplace these days. Still I would be hard pressed to favorably compare even the original E1 to desktop-class contemporaries like the Drake R8, Icom R-75, Kenwood R-5000, or similar. YMMV.

            I almost hate to say it, especially as I am a big fan of desktop receivers, but most of mine are collecting dust since I can access my own SDRs locally or remotely using a notebook, tablet, smartphone, HDTV via HTPC, etc.

  9. Guy Atkins

    It’s interesting that the Hammacher Schlemmer dealer has sloppy copywriting too. Their Elite Satellit HD description includes the phrase “Its built-in horizontal antenna rotates 360° for precise AM reception…”.
    This is clearly lifted from their description of the Grundig Satellit 750, which they also sell.

    I see no indication so far that this receiver has a ferrite rod antenna for AM reception. In fact, the manual explicitly mentions the whip antenna on AM: “The Elite Satellit is equipped with an internal telescopic antenna which should provide excellent reception on the SW, AM, and FM broadcast bands.”

    That said, the E1 and E1XM have sensitive AM reception from the whip antenna, but the whip is of course omni-directional and cannot be used for nulling signals– nor local noise sources. A good, directional ferrite antenna is much preferred in my opinion. I worked around this omission by using Wellbrook loops and the C. Crane Twin-Coil Ferrite antenna.

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  10. Bill Kennedy

    I’ll sit back and wait for the reviews of early adopters. I want to know if there is $600 worth of performance in the box. Back in the heyday of good SWL, good sensitivity was important enough but not all that difficult to achieve. Selectivity (filters!) were King as anyone who ever spun the dial at night from 49M and below can attest to. Today we have sensitive receivers with digital filters but the conditions requiring great selectivity are rare on the international broadcast bands these days. “Good” selectivity is still relatively important but not as crucial, IMO. Back in the day when when shopping for shortwave receivers , you knew where that extra money went when you took it home and sat down for your first DX session. I was an early adopter of a “Belka” and remain well pleased with it and the price to performance ratio. The E1 will have a steep hill to climb in price/performance. Let’s all hope it’s a winner. Anyway, I’ll anxiously await the report from the first to “take it around the pattern.”

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    1. Fabrice Guarnieri

      Tout a fait, l’activité sw s’étant fortement réduite, celle en am en Europe aussi, je vois pas trop la justification d’un tarif aussi élevé.
      J’attendrai les tests pour savoir ce qu’il a dans le ventre.
      Pour le moment ce ne sont que conjectures.
      Fabrice

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  11. Marc

    The US army used the eton E1, so this wil go on market, no problem. But I do not know if the US army needs the best. You can make a rocket launcher with half of the development time, if you use / don’t use M$? Oh, that’s funny!

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  12. Michael Growe

    Wird es den Eton auch in Deutscland zu kaufen geben ??
    can I by this Eton in the next time in Germany ??

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  13. Jon

    Further context on price is that when Universal originally listed this radio on their website and offered a $350 preorder price, they listed an anticipated $450 retail price and an anticipated $400 Universal price. The $350 preorder price was obviously not antipated to be a $250 discount from Universal price at release.

    A $400 price would have made this radio price competitive with its nearest (currently available) peer – the Tecsun H501.

    As for what the likely lowballing BLS inflation calculator churns out, $400 at 06/2019 (time of Elite Satellit’s listing on Universal) adjusts to $456 in 05/2022 USD.

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  14. Sean Welsh

    I do not think this radio will ever go into production.

    Chip shortages, supply chain issues, niche market and economic slump would make any maketing team doubt the recovery of initial costs to produce it.

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  15. Dr Vidjit Vijaysanker

    I was a shortwave radio listener for many years. Now there is hardly anything to listen to on SW. I think only collectors will buy the new ETON.

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  16. Mark Hirst

    Dollar prices can often be the same number in pounds sterling, so it would have to be really special to justify its price.

    If it had the grippy plastic surface I would have to pass. I had a relatively cheap DAB radio that went sticky and it looked terrible.

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  17. Mark

    Question is where do you get Eton radios in Europe ?

    It would have to be some special radio at that price, at the very least it would have to have an amazing SYNC detector to get me to part with that kind of cash especially after I include VAT at 21% on top of that price.

    I was quite surprised at the improvements Tecsu made to the H501x, having external antenna for LW/MW makes a huge difference, the only thing it really lacks is a proper SYNC detector, while it’s a major improvement to the PL-880,990x and S-8800 there is a loss of quality in SYNC or really what it is is ECSS but doesn’t compare to proper SYNC. It does make a big difference though for listening to weak station when a strong station is close by this is where the improvement in SSB has made a massive difference to the H501x.

    ECSS wasn’t possible on the 880,990x and S-8800 because the sound quality on SSB was really dreadful with distortion but the 501x has greatly improved, the filters sound much better too. The only issue to me is that there is a lot more distortion via the headphone output for some reason.

    The E1 would really have to be more than just a rehash of an old radio and available in Europe.

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  18. Jim

    If it performs as well as my original Etón E1 – and, crucially, has a ferrite-rod antenna for AM – then many of us will not need to get any other radios.

    Reply

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