I prefer Pepsi-Cola to Coca-Cola but when it comes to Christmas, the soda pop from Atlanta beats Pepsi cold.
When you think of Coke, your mind fills with images of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, polar bears, and homecomings. And it doesn’t stop there. Coke also rides the coattails of the Fourth of July, free enterprise, youthful idealism, and, above all, of America the beautiful.
What do you get from Pepsi? Memories of a day at the beach, a Russian tailgunner brandishing a Pepsi bottle from his perch on a Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, and Joan Crawford.
There’s much to like about the value-priced Retekess TR629, a new radio from the consumer-responsive folks at Retevis. I use my set from a 54th-floor apartment in a Chicago high-rise that’s essentially a Faraday cage and I’m still able to pull in a lot of stations.
REVIEW OF TR629 FEATURES
• The TR629 does a good job on MW (AM broadcast). During the day, I can tune numerous local stations. After dark, a solid selection of stations from the Midwest, Southwest, and East Coast emerge from the ether. (See attached video of daytime AM reception.)
• FM is especially enjoyable. Near a window, I can receive over 40 stations. Farther inside my apartment, I can pick up nearly all major local stations.
• Depending on time of day and whether you’ve attached an external antenna, the radio can perform well on shortwave. Coverage is from 2.3 MHz to 21.19 MHz.
• One of my favorite features is that the TR629 records off-air and plays prerecorded material. The recording feature isn’t even available on major manufacturers’ flagship radios, so Retevis’ decision to include it on a budget-friendly portable is a significant plus.
• The set has a solid feel — especially when working the tuning and volume knobs.
• There’s a large, easy-to-read digital display.
• Radio operates for a long time on 3 D cells.
• Battery-free operation uses a simple cord plugged into radio and then AC outlet. No wall wart.
• Although the TR629’s automatic tuning system (ATS) is of limited use because it is permanently set to scan at 9 kHz, manual tuning and saving of stations is easily and quickly mastered.
• Those interested in MW DXing will appreciate that the TR629 manually tunes in 1 kHz steps.
• The radio’s temperature display is more useful than I expected. It’s also a great way to drag me kicking and screaming into the metric system — you can’t switch it to Fahrenheit.
A buzzing periodically can be heard in AM mode — roughly about every 15 seconds. I returned the TR629 because of this and the replacement suffers from the same issue. When DXing, it’s easy to ignore this artifact due to background noise, but the buzz can make prolonged listening of MW/AM a challenge. In his excellent review of the TR629, Todderbert identifies the radio’s temperature-display circuit as the culprit.
The radio accepts both a micro SD card or USB flash drive. On my radio, both options also record a low-pitched, rythmic pulsing sound behind the audio. This artifact is much less noticeable in USB recordings. If you have a choice, use the USB for recording.
I LIKE RETEVIS’ CUSTOMER ATTITUDE
• Company representatives were quick to respond to my question about ATS and indicated later editions of the TR629 will incorporate a 10 kHz scanning capability. Other customers have reported that Retekess will remove the buzz-inducing temperature display, as well.
• They are courteous, caring, helpful — and genuinely want my business. I wish more companies were like this.
(This review appeared in slightly different form on Amazon.)
My favorite radio is this Panasonic RF-596 manufactured back in 1978. It tunes like a champ, has wonderful sound, and the illuminated dial and LED tuning light make every monitoring session a visually dramatic experience. Its dial is slightly off and should be recalibrated, but I don’t want to risk surgery on this otherwise perfect little beauty.