Tag Archives: Tecsun PL-990

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.

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Tecsun PL-990 (pilot run) now on AliExpress

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who notes that the Tecsun PL-990 has now appeared on AliExpress.com.

The price is a steep $399 US shipped via DHL with an estimated delivery of late March. They claim to have about 900 units available.

You can check out the PL-990 on the AliExpress website, but it might require registration even via this direct link.

Frankly, I would wait until the PL-990 is available at Anon-Co since they’re an authorized Tecsun distributor, have proven customer service, and will likely have a more competitive price. I would also question if the AliExpress units are the new export version we’ve been waiting for, or simply the units that were available within China last year. The AliExpress page gives us no clear indication of the production version at time of posting.

UPDATE: Turns out, these are the pilot Chinese versions of the PL-990. I can’t recommend purchasing one–especially at this price.

I hope this might indicate that the PL-990 is close to release. Covid-19 has certainly stopped much production and development in China. Thanks again for the tip, Dan!

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Coronavirus delaying product development, production, and shipping

Photo by chuttersnap

Earlier this week, I mentioned in a Patreon post that if you’re plotting to buy a radio or other consumer electronics currently in development or production in China, expect delays.

Due to the spread of the Coronavirus, a number of factories have been shut down and production effectively frozen since the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Some companies are attempting to slowly bring operations back to normal levels, but progress is unstable to say the least.

I’ve spoken with a couple of friends who work in the radio and consumer electronics industry in China and both have expressed serious concerns regarding new product timelines this year. Both noted that there’s no need for alarm or panic at this point, but consumer expectations should simply be in-check as the situation unfolds.

In the meantime, expect recently announced products to take longer to hit the market.

The Tecsun PL-990

I would not be surprised, for example, if the Tecsun PL-990, Tecsun H-501, Eton Satellit Elite, and Icom IC-705 are all delayed a few weeks or even months. Much depends on where each product was in the design, development, or production process when factories were closed.

It’s also possible if your regional retailers and distributors run out of product inventory, it could take an an extended time to replenish stock.

Again, there’s no need to panic about product availability at this point, just anticipate delays!

Post readers: Has this situation already had a direct impact on you?  Please comment.


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Tecsun PL-990 and H-501: What we know so far about the upcoming production run

The PL-990 released in China last year.

Many of you have been asking me about the pricing and availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 receivers. Both radios were released late last year (2019) in China, but the final export version–and first full production run–has not yet hit the market.

I reached out to Anon-Co to see what updates, if any, we have about these radios. They were able to share the following points:

  • “Tecsun sold a first version of the PL-990 and H-501 in China as a promotion before Chinese New Year, at a promotional price.”
  • “They will launch further updated versions in the next few months, which will also be the international export version. This price will definitely be higher than the promotional prices, but the exact price is not available yet.”
  • “The version for the international market is not finalized yet. It may become available by the end of March or April, but there is no official launch date yet.”

The H-501 version released in China last year.

I think the important take-aways here are that we’re still perhaps a couple months out from the final versions shipping and that the price will be slightly higher than the initial production run in China.

Good news is, it sounds like this radio will get a proper vetting before it ships!  I’m willing to wait knowing this. Also, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, there could be some noticeable changes and updates to the final exported versions.

If you would like to follow updates about these radios as we post them, bookmark the tags PL-990 and H-501.


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More Tecsun PL-990 images

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Carel Kuijer, who shares the following images of the new Tecsun PL-990:

Thanks for sharing these, Carel!

FYI: I have not heard a solid update yet on pricing/availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and Tecsun H-501. Carel did note that the price in China is 1150 CNY, thus about 150 Euro or $166 USD, but not sure if this price will remain the same for the exported version. I will post updates here on the SWLing Post when they are available!


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Tecsun PL-990 and H-501 may be the last high-end shortwave portables from Tecsun

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor from China, Mei Tao, who writes:

I would like to share the latest news about Tecsun’s New Products: the PL-990 and H-501.

These day I found that several Chinese BCLers who received the PL990 or H501 one after another–they posted many a detailed pictures of these two radios. Lots of my friends asked me when they could buy these two radios on the market.

Then I asked the Tecsun’s boss, Mr Liang.

He replied that they had begun to supply the PL-990 and H-501, but there were only a quantity of 300 in the first batch. These radios were first supplied to the subscribers who pre-ordered PL-990 or H-501 in October. Therefore other customers would have to wait for the second or the third batch. As for the foreign BCLers, I believe the wait time will be longer.

In addition, there is a bit of bad news: Mr Liang told me that PL-990 and H-501 were the last products he led the team to design, and they were his last masterpieces. In other words, the PL-990 and H-501 may be Tecsun’s last high-end portable and desktop radios. What a pity!

Thank you for sharing this, Mei Tao. Yes, that would be a pity indeed if the PL-990 and H-501 end up being the last high-end portables from Tecsun. I suppose it’s not surprising, though, as I’m sure some of the demand for shortwave radios is on the decline at the same time so many inexpensive DSP-based portables are saturating the market.

Two years ago I heard from a reliable source that Tecsun might be pulling the plug on their high-end portables, so I was quite surprised when I saw the PL-990 and H-501 announcements earlier this year. I suppose these models could be a “last hurrah” and certainly a way to mark the PRC’s 70th anniversary (as we’ve seen on some of the radios’ promotional material).

Regardless, I’m looking forward to reviewing both of these radios. Frankly, I’m quite happy a few hundred production models are in the hands of enthusiasts in China. Hopefully early adopters have given critical feedback to Tecsun so that when the first major production run is exported, the units will have been well-vetted and solid performers.


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Update: Availability of the Tecsun PL-990 and H-501

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gareth Buxton, who recently received the latest availability dates of the new Tecsun PL-990 and H-501.

According to Anna at Anon-Co, both radios should start shipping in January or February of 2020. Gareth included the following screenshot which also notes the new AN-48x active loop antenna:

Still no firm pricing information. I will be reviewing both of these radios as soon as they’re available, so stay tuned!


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