Portable Shortwave Radio: A Tecsun PL-880 Review

In 2013, the Tecsun PL-880 entered the radio market.

Made by Tecsun, this revolutionary shortwave radio is the latest in the Tecsun range of radios, building on the reliability and features Tecsun is known for.

In terms of appearance, Tecsun PL-880 is dark grey with a sleek finish.

New features on this model which weren't available in previous models include a brand new ion lithium battery for extended standby and operating time, selectable IF bandwidth, and digital processing on the HF band. The radio also boasts a range of features which were available in past models.

But how does the Tecsun PL-880 actually stack up? We're delighted to share with you what we found while trying out this lovely radio. The following Tecsun PL-880 review digs a little deeper:

Appearance and Build Quality

The PL-880 comes with a unique design but has the same button layout as previous models.

Like the PL-660, this radio has an angular appearance but with rounded edges.

For example, while the keypad buttons are a bit larger than those of the PL-660, the PL-880 is more clicky and responsive. This design is very ergonomic and makes it easier to switch bands and enter frequencies when tuning in.

Like many of Tecsun's radios, the PL-880 uses a hard plastic frame. But what sets this radio apart is its finer build. It's heavier and everything's firmly placed.

The front and display is gleaming but the rest of the receiver is less so.

The volume and tuning knobs are firmly in place and not wobbly. The knobs are actually metallic rather than the plastic associated with most Tecsun radios.

Tecsun PL-880 Features

While Tecsun PL-880 comes with a wide array of excellent features, what sets it apart from older Tecsun models is its new features and unique design. Let's take a look at the features, shall we?


Powered by 18650 lithium ion battery, the PL-880 also has a 5-volt recharging USB port. Besides, the manufacturer provides a 2000mAh battery for rough users. If necessary, you can get a 5000mAh battery later on.

Excellent Sound Quality

The Tecsun PL-880 boasts a 450mW audio amplifier and 3-watt Mylar speaker, which ensures an excellent sound quality. Additionally, the FM stereo can be accessed through the jack.

Backlighting Option

Since the battery is long lasting, you can switch on the backlight for as long as you can. But you've got the choice to turn it on and off. Therefore, this is a great option for controlling the radio's backlight whenever it's necessary.

Selectivity and Sensitivity

The Tecsun PL-880 ensures the full range of coverage--AM, FM, LW, and SW broadcasts. Moreover, it's got great selectivity.

If the sensitivity is too much, you can reduce the antenna gain. In addition, selectivity is another amazing feature of this receiver. It can draw signals quite precisely. It also has good MW and FM reception.

Comfortable Tuning System

This radio has basic and fine-tuning knobs for every tuning band. Moreover, you can enter the frequency through the keypad. The radio has a scanning system too, which allows you to scan stations with one long press.

Amazing SSB

This radio has an excellent Single Side Band (SSB). It's also got both the LSB and USB mode.

Almost all radios of today are adjusted to the closest kHz but Tecsun PL-880 has the 100th on SSB. Therefore, you can easily adjust it. Moreover, LSB is used below 10MHz while over 100MHz is needed for USB.

Lastly, this receiver comes with precision training which you can't get at its price range.

Bandwidth Filtering

The PL-880 has 5 and 4 bandwidth filtering feature in SSB and AM respectively. This is another excellent feature which ensures high-quality sound without sacrificing much.

High Memory Storage

The Tecsun PL-880 can store between 100 and 250 memories per page, and it has a total of 25 pages. Thus, you can make use of the ATS auto tuning storage to automatically detect and remember stations for all the bands.

User-friendly Gadget

With plenty of features, other receivers are harder to operate. But that's not the case with the PL-880. It's quite easy to operate.

It's handy and everything becomes clear once you read the manual. Therefore, you don't have to know so much to operate this radio.

The Accessories

The package comes with a variety of accessories. These include an ion lithium rechargeable battery, external SW antenna, carrying pouch, stereo headphones, and user manual.

Variety of Features

The other features of PL-880 include headphone jack, internal AM antenna, line out recording, simple tone control, 24-hour alarm clock, 8 bandwidths, 0-120 minute sleep timer, external antenna jack and so on.

Moreover, if you read the manual, you will see features like SSB calibration, synchronous detection, dynamic noise reduction, etc.

Tecsun PL-880: The Pros

When it comes to the pros, this radio is strong, reliable, ubiquitous and high-quality.

It has great sensitivity while tuning, remarkably long battery life, and a strong antenna for catching highly elusive long wave stations.

The radio is also extremely durable and, more importantly, lightweight and compact. Therefore, it's very portable and ideal for long road trips in RVs or cars.

It's also important to take note of its quite old school but fashionable design, which will certainly appeal to most people.

Tecsun PL-880: The Cons

As with most radios, the PL-880 does have a few weaknesses.

In fact, it's got some structural weaknesses like the weld lines being on the tabs, which makes them susceptible to breakage.

The kickstand is a little weak as well. These issues may not cause you any trouble, as long as you're careful. Beyond that, there's not much else to complain about the receiver.

The Bottom Line

The Tecsun PL-880 is a smashing shortwave radio which makes your tuning easy and precise. It's a portable multiband receiver.

While it's a bit costlier than other models, it's a great choice with its amazing sensitivity and selectivity with SSB receiving option. It's an exciting radio to tune after dusk. Happy tuning!!

For more information about radio signals and related information, check out this blog.

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