(actually yesterday as it took me more than a day to write this) I received my Tecsun PL-606 radio, which I bought for 33EUR (incl. shipping) from a HK-based seller which was suggested by the SWLing.com blog.
It actually arrived 6 days ago (so it took them just 11 days, a new record for ebay stuff), but I couldn't pick it up until today because of work.
The seller has done a good job with the packaging, and even included a "Fragile" label like I asked (because I feared our crazy postman might get its hand on it). It wasn't necessary at the end because it was shipped as a registered package, meaning I have to pick it up personally. As a side note: the package was open for police inspection in Cyprus. The patched up again with a tape bearing the logo of Cyprus Postal Services, which is kind of them - in the past they'd use a non-id tape.
The seller includes a USB cable as an extra. This can be used for charging Ni-MH batteries while they are in the radio, should you decide to use them over standard batteries. I have 2 SONY AA Ni-MH batteries but I think they are defective, so I will probably keep using 2xAA standard batteries.
Tecsun themselves also include a nice selection of paraphernalia: a telescopic antenna extension (if coupled on the standard antenna of 55cm, it extends it to a whole metre), a 6m longwire antenna (useful for SW reception) that is going to replace my DIY one, a pair of okay earphones, and a carrying pouch which, frankly, looks discoloured
The face of the radio is slightly cluttered with context-based keys, but you get used to them in a couple of minutes of use. The screen is large, clear, and can be illuminated.
It displays a whole lot of information - in standby mode it displays battery status, world time/alarm/temperature (selectable), and the local time. In operation, on top of those, it can display: signal strength and S/N ratio in dB, memory preset, and the metre band.
What's a bit confusing is that volume and tuning are on the same side - my old radio has them in opposite sides.
PL-606 is slightly larger than my old, 4EUR no-name radio. It measures at around 8*12*2 and it's pretty light
As I received my radio around noon, the only fair test I could do right away was in the FM band. (I left the other bands for later)
Being a true world radio, the PL-606 allows you to select between Russian, Japanese, and European/American frequency allocation, this is whether the band begins at 64MHz, 76MHz, or 87MHz. I went for 64MHz hoping to find something exciting down there, but there was nothing today.
The FM reception was great with just the standard antenna, and the internal speaker is sufficiently loud. It's not stereo, but other than that, it sounds better than my desktop clock-radio's stereo speakers.
What it lacks is RDS, something that my clock radio has, but my old portable also didn't have.
There are many ways in which you can tune to a station. By pressing the VF button once, you can use the knob in the side to surf the band in 0.01MHz steps (slow), or 0.1MHz steps (fast).
By holding the VF button, you can let the radio scan the band, stop for 5 seconds on each station until you manually interrupt it when it reaches the station you want.
The other two methods involve the memory function.
There's the standard, permanent memory which can be filled automatically, by pressing and holding the band key (which have ATS written below, for Auto Tuning Storage), or you can use the Easy Tuning Mode which scans the band for any active stations, and stores them in a temporary memory separate for ATS. This is actually great for doing bandscans in FM without deleting your presets, and it's actually the only useful way to tune in Shortwave. Presets from the ETM can be moved to the ATS memory.
This is an FM bandscan using EMT. What do you know, first scan and there's already an FM-DX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gWiOnSNKto
And this is an extended clip from the pretty strong reception of Israel's 2nd public radio at 95.5MHz, Rashet Bet. I think that's a proof of the radio's FM selectivity, because there are other stations around 95.5, and there's a Turkish Cypriot station exactly on 95.5 as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKXz54fcvKY
But the most important test in FM was that I could finally listen to my favourite radio station at work. This was the reason I wanted a new radio asap, actually. My old radio simply couldn't pick up a strong enough signal when it was surrounded by all the metal structures at work. This Tecsun had a very strong and stable reception, with the antenna folded all the way closed.
Later in the afternoon I could check MW and LW. LW is a bit tricky to enable, and sadly all I could get was some Morse Code broadcasts, possibly ships at sea. I'm also using an old Cybershot on a tripod instead of my phone for the other videos.
The MW reception was amazing. I didn't know I could receive that many stations actually. My old radio would get only one fourth of those. Highlight of the night was that I could receive three
MW stations all the way from Greece. They happen to be 3 different transmitters broadcasting the same programme: ERTOPEN (former Public Broadcaster ERT staff that after their mass dismissal -2600 people in a single day-, took over their workplaces and for 1+ year they ran the network themselves).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W844JU4l55I
And the real test, late in the night. Shortwave reception. I used the longwire antenna, but the location wasn't ideal because I had electricity poles right above the longwire. I won't judge it's SW capabilities yet, I haven't done extended listening (the stations I like switch on late night and with work, I don't have the time). Still, it has a wider coverage of the SW spectrum, it's continuous if you want it to be, and it could detected x3 the stations my old radio could tell apart. The selectable bandwidth option is extremely helpful in isolating blending signals (I default to 3KHz bandwidth, and bring it down to 2KHz for medium strength stations, 1KHz for very distant signals).
I guess the highlight of the bandscan was the preacher station from US East Coast, no matter the path it took, it was pretty far away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9I3Q3HK00w
So all in all, I'm very happy with the PL606. It's excellent on FM and AM (only sore point is the lack of RDS, but I knew what I was getting), and while it doesn't magically turn SW into Hi-Fi radio, it allows me to tune in thrice as many stations, and allows me to select the bandwidth which eliminates most of the interference. And I'm sure that the PLL circuit will prove useful for extended listening, as the tuner won't fade away from the frequency, like my old radio does.
So yeah guys, if you want a cheap world-band radio which covers FM, AM, LW and SW 2300-21950 KHz, then this seems to be a good bargain. But if you want amateur bands, aircraft bands, or selectable sideband, you'll need to spend a bit more.