Tecsun PL-880 – pros and cons of a portable shortwave radio

The new Tecsun PL-880 sparked people’s interest, there’s no doubt about it whatsoever. And it really is no wonder. After all, good portable radios are not that easy to come by. Furthermore, Tecsun is a great shortwave radio manufacturer which really helps them stand out from the crowd. Their PL-660 and PL-600 were great portable options and their smaller DSP alternatives are very much adored by hikers and those who prefer ultralight options in the first place.

Sure enough, just like any other radio out there, this one does have its advantages and disadvantages. Tecsun PL-880 is not an exception:


  • Great ergonomic design.
  • You can use the majority of the features by simply pressing a button or pressing and holding the button for a few seconds.
  • Dedicated fine-tuning control included in tuning options.
  • All buttons are very responsive, have a solid tactile feel to them.
  • Great sensitivity.
  • Plenty of filters in both categories (AM/SSB), at least much more than on any other portable solution that will cost you less than -$200.
  • Even in case you will be using a .5 kHz filter in SSB, you will experience no muting when between frequencies.
  • Synchronous detector is less efficient than SSB ECR.
  • A separate pocket for an operation manual (in English) that’s located in the carrying case.
  • The battery (only one and rechargeable) is very long-lasting.


  • Unfortunately, new firmware updates come without the features that the older models had.
  • When switching modes, you will experience a two-second delay.
  • On peaks in weak signal DX, you will probably experience certain audio splatter.

Weird features:

  • When tuning in SSB, you experience occasional changes that cannot be easily explained.
  • Significantly reduced audio fidelity coupled with less than satisfactory performance of the sync detector.
  • In case there are strong AM broadcasters close by, AM (medium wave) may be susceptible to imaging.
  • It’s challenging to find the same rechargeable battery that comes with it.


Generally speaking, the PL-880 is not a bad option. Yes, it has its cons but it comes with plenty of useful features that you can use to make the most from the experience. It’s fairly sensitive, features effortless tuning and solid audio. It’s far from perfection but some of the disadvantages will probably get fixed somewhere between the next firmware updates. Check the official website to learn much more about it. DXing will help you out with that.

Ralph Burks
the authorRalph Burks