I placed a table in my driveway, far away from any source of RFI, and set up the radios in identical configurations: same orientation, antennas fully-extended, same AM bandwidth (4.0 kHz), same audio levels, etc. For good measure, I also included the venerable Tecsun PL-660 in the mix.
This was still daytime listening, so all of the stations were from 31 meters and up.
Apologies in advance: somehow the cord from my monitoring headphones is in the shot on some of these videos! I’m still getting used to the new Zoom Q2n video camera:
Several readers have requested “under the hood” photos of each radio, to compare internal designs. This morning, I had a few minutes to crack open each radio and take a few shots. Note that I didn’t pull off the circuit boards from the chassis or try to take a look behind shielding. I have yet to do proper performance comparison tests with these radios and didn’t want to accidentally compromise one (especially since the XHDATA D-808 is getting complicated to purchase here in the US).
Inside the XHDATA D-808
Opening the D-808 requires pulling off the encoder knob and removing a total of six small screws. Note that one of the screws is located in the battery compartment. Click photos to enlarge:
Inside the Digitech AR-1780
Opening the AR-1780 requires pulling off the encoder knob (not an easy task on my unit) and removing a total of seven small screws. Note that two of the screws are located in the battery compartment. Click photos to enlarge:
Tuesday evening, I received my long-awaited XHDATA D-808 from AliExpress via the postal service. Yesterday morning, I unboxed it and started charging the included 18650 Li-Ion cell. I haven’t properly put it on the air yet but if you’re interested in some initial reports, check out these previous posts.
I was curious if the Digitech D-808 was identical in size to the Digitech AR-1780–I could tell even from D-808’s initial information that these two radios share a common ancestry.
To my surprise, they are not identical in dimensions! With that said, the differences are very marginal.
The D-808 is 7 mm wider and 2 mm deeper than the AR-1780.
To confirm measurements, I checked out the manufacturer specifications of both radios. Oddly, the specs also indicate that the AR-1780 should be 3 mm taller than the D-808 but I don’t detect this difference. I measure them to be equal in height.
The telescoping antennas are identical in height and number of segments.
Of course, as you can tell from the photos, the D-808 body is light grey in color while the AR-1780 is black.
The Digitech AR-1780 uses four 1.5V AA cells while the XHDATA D-808 uses one less common 3.7V 18650 Li-Ion rechargeable cell (included).
The XHDATA D-808 (left) and Digitech AR-1780 (right).
The XHDATA D-808 has a standard 5V Micro USB port for internal changing. The AR-1780, on the other hand, uses a much less common 7V DC plug.
Right panels are identical.
Having a 5V micro USB port is a huge plus for the D-808, in my opinion! While travelling, I always have at least one micro USB charger.
The LCD display appears to be identical in size and display information, however the D-808 has blue backlighting while the AR-1780 has orange backlighting.
The Digitech AR-1780
The XHDATA D-808
AR-1780 (top) D-808 (bottom)
Other than variations in button shapes and color, the only difference between the two radios is the location of the power button.
The Digitech AR-1780 keypad
The XHDATA D-808 keypad
As Guy Atkins mentioned in a previous post, the D-808 keypad buttons are almost flush with the radio body. The buttons on the AR-1780, on the other hand, are more prominent and tactile.
The Digitech AR-1780 shipped with no accessories–the only two items in the box were the radio and the owner’s manual.
I was surprised when I opened the D-808 box to find a padded carry/travel bag, USB charging cable and even a compact external wire antenna.
There are actually few differences between the XHDATA D-808 and the Digitech AR-1780 in terms of physical appearance and function.
All in all, though, I prefer the D-808 package which ships with a carry bag, power cord and external wire antenna. In addition, the D-808 uses a standard and convenient Micro USB port for charging!
In terms of size/weight, the differences are negligible and wouldn’t sway my purchase decision.
Over the course of the next week, I hope to spend some time comparing their performance on the air. Though they appear to be from the same family, will one sibling outperform the other? We shall see!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Keith Batari, who shares the following:
I have just got the AR1780 and comparing with others I’ve had especially the PL-660 and PL-880 beats them both. Firstly the SSB does have an annoying mute when running, but the sensitivity and sound quality is fantastic, and that goes for all bands.
The airband sensitivity is also impressive with excellent squelch. Long wave sensitivity is low[…]. Tuning is without the quirks of the PL-880 and great on general coverage bands.
Headphones sound great. I’ve opened mine and the build quality is good with band trimmers and transformers.
If anyone has acquired the circuit diagram could the post it on the Google site.
If you want a radio with a lot of bang for your bucks, then look no further.
I should add that while LW performance is not stellar on the AR-1780, it should suffice for LW listening in Europe, for example. The C. Crane Skywave series does not include longwave, so if you’re looking for a compact travel portable with LW service, the AR-1780 is a better bet.