The parable tells of a man who found a treasure in a field and sold all he had to buy the field. My new Baijiali BJL-166 FM/MW/SW1-18 radio MP3 player arrived from China today. Save your money; this is no treasure.
Let’s start with what I don’t like. The MW tuning step is permanently set at 9 kHz. In the daytime the radio got exactly zero MW stations. I live in a weak signal area, but even the cheapest radios usually get something. At night I could pick up MW stations but they were very noisy.
The radio displays a maximum of 4 frequency digits, rounding to 10 kHz on shortwave. I don’t know what the actual tuning step is, but it hardly matters on a radio with such poor selectivity. Even with 10 kHz display, strong stations are heard on several displayed frequencies. It’s not selective on FM either, with a strong station audible on several frequencies. The radio has no automatic band scanning or memory.
There is a raspy tone audible across the MW band up through HF, perhaps less pronounced above 15 mHz. I assume it’s poorly shielded display electronics. It’s not audible with a strong signal. It’s possible that the internal noise was covering up the weak MW stations.
It’s also an MP3 player (no WMA files). It has no earphone jack and no clock, but it does have a sleep timer.
On the good side of the ledger, it does receive lots of FM stations on the whip antenna, crisply, and its tiny speaker does a credible job on some content, but is annoying on other.
Tuning is peculiar. Although the display is digital, the radio tunes like an analog receiver with a slide rule dial. The tuning thumbwheel has resistance, like it’s geared to a pointer. The wheel rotates multiple times in a band, but has a definite physical start and stop point. While your typical DSP radio tuning dial goes around with no stops, this one has limits. If you switch bands, it matters where the knob was on the previous band. Thanks to the gearing (and the lack of selectivity), tuning is not at all ticklish. The second thumbwheel on the side acts as a shortwave bandswitch (there are 18 SW bands) and next/prior track for MP3. The radio has tuning mute, the only reason I would think it’s DSP because it otherwise tunes a lot like the Tecsun DR-920 (an analog radio with a frequency counter).
I spent a little time on shortwave (it was daytime) and picked up some stations on the whip. Shortwave works best with an external wire antenna. CHU is a particularly strong station here on 7850 and with the whip antenna I heard it on 7840, 7850 and 7860.
I thought the case was solid, and seemed to have decent quality. I think it looks good. The lettering was large and crisp, and the display large and easy to read in good light. Perhaps a parent who just wants to listen to FM would be full of praise.
The radio uses an 18650 rechargeable battery, charged with a mini USB cable (supplied). The antenna is 26.5 cm (10.5″). The radio measures 10.5 x 6.5 x 3.3 cm (extra thickness to accommodate the battery). Mine came with no box, just a one-page instruction sheet, battery, wrist strap and USB cable from AliExpress for about $17 including shipping.
Here are the instructions: