The long-awaited WebApp version of the World Radio Television Handbook is out. You can purchase it online for $24.90 USD or for $10 if you own the print edition.
As I write this today, it is at version 1.0.1, containing a number of fixes for things I complained about (like the missing article on RDS, scrolling problems on the iPhone and poor formatting of the receiver reviews). It looks more polished than it did just a couple of days ago, pointing out an advantage of the WebApp over the book: if something is wrong it can be fixed. [Update: it’s now (July 26, 2023) at version 1.3.2]
The WebApp (website) opens with a left sidebar of features, and a large world map. You can select topics from the sidebar, and if appropriate pick a country from the map (and optionally a list). The mouse scroll wheel can zoom the map so that individual countries can be seen and selected by double-clicking. One can also enter the country in the search box.
If you didn’t know already (and I didn’t) the section labeled COTB is for “Clandestine and Other Target Broadcasts.” This isn’t an abbreviation you will readily find on Google.
The WebApp lists names and contact information for all the stations, something not included in the printed book.
I thought the site was sluggish. For example, accessing the MW North America station list took 14 seconds on my desktop PC, with a 1GB fiber optic Internet connection.
I thought the country information typography was tacky with some titles smaller than subordinate titles, and some huge ALL CAPS stuff that was hard to look at.
Also, on the “small screen” text is cut off on the right for the tables; however, this can be worked around by turning the phone sideways.
There were only 4 product reviews, 3 of which were for things I had never heard of. I could see reviews like these on a blog or a YouTube channel, but for a book I think reviews should be focused on the product with less personal story. The items reviewed are:
- STAMPFL Active Dipole
- REUTER RDR52
- BELKA DX
The 2023 WRTH Receiver Guide (a table listing receivers, a rating score and prices) doesn’t cover many receivers, for example nothing from Eton. Nonsensically, the Tecsun PL-330 got an “Excellent” overall value rating while the XHDATA D-808 was only “Fair.” Both of those radios are listed at the same price, but the XHDATA has all the features of the PL-330 while adding AIR band, FM RDS and a much higher quality speaker. I have both of these radios and I don’t see a two-step difference. And why did they list the Tecsun PL-380 that’s no longer in production? They give “dynamic range” and “selectivity” ratings, but don’t give the methodology. Does the Tecsun PL-380 really have better dynamic range and selectivity than the XHDATA D-808? I have my doubts.
While the WebApp has a “List of advertisers,” there are no ads. I consider that a loss. [At Version 1.3.2 the ads have been included.]
One failing of the WRTH WebApp is that you can’t search it. All the search box returns is country names to get you to the country section of the app. You can’t search, for example, by frequency, or product. With that said, you can go to the Shortwave Frequency List where the entire list appears as one 2322-line browser page (that takes 8 seconds to display on a 1GB Internet connection), and you can use your browser search facility to find things. The listing does not include time of day, country (!) or language information.
The WebApp is very aggressive in user authentication. One typically expects a cookie to be set for for the user to remain logged in for days, if not indefinitely. This is not the case with the WRTH. I accessed the site on my iPhone and sat the phone down for half an hour. When I tried to navigate, it gave me an error and said to reload the page. When I reloaded the page, I was asked “Do you own the book?” a direction to the sales page. Even re-entering the WebApp URL directly put me in the same place. I had to force quit Chrome on the iPhone before it would let me sign on again. I complained. Maybe they will fix it in V 1.0.2.