Tag Archives: Tecsun PL-330

Tecsun PL-330: A quick update and an important note before you buy

We posted an update about the new Tecsun PL-330 in late April 2020. While we didn’t have a lot of details, it’s worth reading.

We still don’t have a lot of details (as of today, July 3, 2020) but readers have been contacting me and commenting recently with links to online retailers who are already selling the PL-330.

SWLing Post contributor, Babis, shared a link to retailer (Taoboa.com, see above), this website with more information, and a review on this page.

Before you buy

To be clear: I am not placing an order for the Tecun PL-330 yet.

Indeed, as I mentioned in a previous post, my trusted Tecsun contact informed me that all of the new portables–the PL-990, H-501, and PL-330–are first being released as a “domestic” or pilot version in China. The pilot version is not the final and fully-updated/upgraded international/export version.

I will make an announcement here on the SWLing Post when the international/export versions are available for purchase.

To be clear, I can’t comment on the performance of the domestic models, but I do understand that the export models will likely have better specifications and even updated front panels/functions.

I also understand that the PL-990 will likely be the first export model in terms of availability.

Stay tuned! I’ll post any/all updates here on the Post.


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The Tecsun PL-330: Some details about this compact shortwave portable in development

Source: tecsun.com.cn

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post readers who shared a link to this website (in Chinese) with photos and details of the new Tecsun PL-330. Note: The server hosting the PL-330 page has been unreliable the past few days.

Some of you might recall the PL-330 in photos of the new Tecsun product line we posted last year. Recently, a handful of preliminary working prototypes have been produced,  so I reached out to my trusted Tecsun contact for more information. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Position in Tecsun product line

In terms of the Tecsun product line, the PL-330 appears to be the successor to the venerable Tecsun PL-310ET and/or PL-380.

The PL-330 will have features these legacy Tecsun models do not have, namely:

  • synchronous detection,
  • single-sideband reception,
  • and an upgraded ETM (auto tune and store) feature.

It also appears the SSB tuning steps could be as fine as 10 Hz. Most impressive, if true.

Size

Size comparison: PL-330 (left), PL-990 (middle), H-501 (right)

I refer to radios in this size class as “ultra-compact.”

The PL-330 measures 139 × 85 × 26 millimeters (5.5 x 3.3 x 1 inches). Its form factor is very similar to the PL-310ET, but much thinner in profile. The total depth of the radio is only 26 mm.

I love the idea of an even thinner profile, although this certainly limits the type of internal battery that can be used.

Battery

The PL-330 is powered by a single BL-5C lithium battery.

In my world, this is a bit of a negative, but I’m sure the BL-5C was one of the only viable battery options for a radio that’s only 26mm thick.

On the plus side, the BL-5C is widely available, affordable, and can be charged internally.

On the negative side?

Well, I find that the overall capacity doesn’t match that of, say, three AA batteries. Also, I find that the battery’s longevity (meaning, how many charge cycles it can handle) is not that impressive–arguably worse than any other rechargeable battery system I’ve used.

Another reason I prefer AA batteries in compact portables is I know no matter where I travel, I can easily purchase them at almost any retailer, airport, or even hotel, in a pinch. In the past, when I’ve traveled with radios that use the BL-5C, I simply carried a fully-charged spare in a poly zip-lock bag (to protect the battery contacts from inadvertently shorting.

In addition, when I fly, I like to carry as few Lithium batteries as possible.

Perhaps, however, I can find a very high quality BL-5C to use in the PL-330? I would appreciate any leads from readers.

Performance

Since the preliminary prototypes were more or less mechanical prototypes and lacked most of the features planned for this model, there are no performance reports as of yet. In fact, I would be skeptical of any reports you might read in advance of the final production model.

Availability

Like the PL-990 and H-501, there are no reliable estimates for availability or shipping yet. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down this process. Most likely, the PL-330 will be released after the PL-990 and H-501, but that isn’t even certain.

Stay tuned!

The PL-330 will have a number of other features and specs, but these are early days and I prefer sticking with what we do know now. As soon as I learn more, I’ll post updates–bookmark the tag PL-330.

Note this reddit thread with an English translation of the Chinese page I mentioned at the beginning of this article (thanks, Tom Daly). It mentions more details, but again, it’s such early days I prefer to stick with what has been confirmed. As with any product in development, a number of changes could occur before the first production run.

Of course, I will review and evaluate the export version of the PL-330 when as soon as it’s available. Stay tuned!


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Photo of the new Tecsun PL-330, PL-990, and H-501

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Lee, who writes:

Hi Thomas, I just found this photo [above] on Reddit of three new radios from Tecsun: the PL-330, the PL-990, and the H-501. I knew about the PL-990, but I didn’t realize there was a PL-330 or H-501. Any inside info? 73, Lee

Thanks for your message, Lee. I had not seen the photo of the PL-330 until you sent this one.

The PL-330, I assume, is the latest in the PL-3XX line which has primarily been DSP-based ultralight broadcast receivers. I believe only one model, the PL-365/CountyComm GP5-SSB, had SSB capabilities. The PL-330 appears to have dedicated LSB and USB mode buttons on the front panel (lower right in photo below).

Since both the Digitech AR-1780 and XHDATA D-808 both have selectable sideband, I’m not surprised the new PL-330 does as well. I’m very curious if the PL-990 will be priced competitively like PL-3XX models have been in the past–perhaps below $80 US.

The PL-330 certainly appears to have taken design cues from the PL-990 in terms of overall control layout.

The Tecsun H-501 is a new model that was previously referred to as the Tecsun S-9900.  I believe a pilot run has been made of the PL-990 and H-501–possibly the PL-330 as well.

I will be reviewing each of these radios as soon as they’re available here in the US.

Thanks for the tip, Lee!

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