image: YB550PE
It's bigger than an old fashioned transistor radio - but large enough to include a good-sounding speaker.
By Columnist
msnbc.com
REVIEW

Another shortwave radio under $100 — just what the world needs, right? Well, in this case it just might be. Eton’s Grundig Yacht Boy 550PE pulls in the stations and sounds really good doing so.

Pictures can be deceiving. At first glance, the 550PE looks like a small, portable radio. It isn’t. Even though its dials and buttons are aligned vertically, recalling tiny transistor radios of the distant past, this Grundig Yacht Boy is 4.5 by 6.5 by 1.5 inches, weighs 10 ounces, and has a real speaker inside. The radio covers the full AM band, FM (you can listen in stereo through the earphone jack) plus continuous shortwave coverage from 1.711 to 29.999 MHz on all 14 shortwave bands. It boasts direct digital keypad tuning and an analog tuning knob, 200 user-set station memories (with a number of ways to organize them), a 12/24 hour clock, a sleep timer, an alarm (wake-up to the last station you listened to — or to a different, preset one), signal and battery strength bar graphs on the illuminated LCD display, telescopic antenna for shortwave and FM plus much more.

Worldwide news
There are times (like these) when I really like listening to shortwave broadcasts. I find it interesting to hear stories that you don’t necessarily get from most U.S. media outlets. It’s fascinating to get other points of view on current events. Listening to foreign music and talk shows is pretty cool, too.

This Grundig radio made shortwave listening easy. Scanning the bands seemed especially easy with this radio; just by pressing the “” or “-” buttons it was easy to make my way up and down the bands.

Although it does not have settings for upper and lower sideband listening, the Grundig allowed me to pull in to hundreds (no exaggeration) of stations with very little interference and fading.

In fact, in my rural New York listening location, the 550PE beat out my trusty Panasonic portable ($250 a dozen years ago and no longer made) and a number of current radios from Sony in various price ranges — some costing $100-$200 and others, with advanced circuitry to grab weak signals, which retail for a lot more.

The other big factor is the sound coming from inside the unit. The enclosure is small, but large enough to include a good-sized speaker. It makes voice and music sound good, always a plus when you want to listen to people speaking and making music.

The package

image: YB550PE kit
The 550PE comes as a complete package with a case, batteries, stand, earbuds and a listening guide.
The Yacht Boy 550PE comes as a kit that includes: earbuds, snap-on stand, carrying case, owners manual, Shortwave Listening Guide, and 3AA batteries (which have lasted through hours and hours of listening.)

With the holidays just around the corner, the Grundig 550PE’s $99.95 suggested retail price tag makes the radio very appealing. I was so impressed I think I’ll ask to try some of their other models soon.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments