XHDATA D-109WB vs LiJiANi Rd239 Multiband Receivers

These two radios, arriving within a couple of days of each other, cry out for comparison. Both are in roughly the same price range: the Rd239 was $39.80 delivered from Amazon (Black Friday sale) and the D-109WB costs $46 including shipping direct from the manufacturer in China. They both cover MW/SW/FM and NOAA Weather coverage with alerts. The XHDATA adds longwave and the LiJiANi adds AIR and VHF bands. Both have auto tune storage (ATS), rechargeable batteries, MP3 players and an external antenna jack.

I’ve reviewed the LiJiANi Rd239 already and the non-weather band version of the XHDATA D-109. Here I’ll talk about the new features of the XHDATA weather band version, but mostly focus on the differences between the radios.

XHDATA D-109WB

XHDATA D-109WB (top) and XHDATA D-109 (bottom)

The NOAA weather version of the D-109 will be familiar to owners of the original. Added are the 7 NOAA weather channels with alert, SOS button that emits a loud siren, a Local/DX setting and a Voice/Music setting.

Because features have been added without adding buttons, some shifting and doubling of function was inevitable. The ST/B (stereo/beep) button is replaced by long presses of the 6 and 4 buttons respectively, and specifically, the beep is disabled with a long press of the 6. The separate VF and VM buttons (something I liked) are now handled by one VF/VM button. The Sleep function is now an overload of the power button. SCAN is replaced with a long press of the VF/VM button. One “upgrade” with the weather band version is rubber buttons instead of hard plastic ones.

Manual band scanning on the D-109WB is frustrating. It has automatic dual tuning speed on the tuning knob. That is, if you turn slow it increments at one rate, and if you turn fast, it increments at another, so you turn faster to pass the 20 spaces between US FM channels, only to have the radio shift into fast mode and shoot past them and you have to go back and forth and back and forth. The up and down buttons are always in slow mode. This is probably the worst feature of this radio.

The manual that comes with the D-109WB has rather small print, so I use the PDF version from the XHDATA website.

LiJiANi Rd239

I’m still getting used to the LiJiANi. It has an overload of features and quirks. My previous review of it may get updated.

The online version of the LiJiANi manual is online at Amazon for version 2.9 of the firmware.

Both radios have a play/pause button that mutes the radio. Entering a frequency on the XHDATA automatically unmutes, whereas on the LiJiANi it does not. Frequency entry, by the way, is much simpler with the XHDATA — just key the numbers. The LiJiANi requires a press of the FREQ button before and usually Enter afterwards. The LiJiANi numeric keypad includes a decimal point.

Features comparison

Yes, it’s time for the long feature comparison table.

FeatureLiJiANi Rd239XHDATA D-109WB
MW step9/10 kHz9/10 kHz
FM step100 kHz*10/100 kHz
SW coverage3.2 – 29.999 MHz17.11 – 29.999 MHz
NOAA Weather with alertYY
LW153-513 kHz
AIR bandY
VHF30 – 200 MHz
DX/Local settingY
SOS sirenY
FlashlightY
Reading lightY
Play/pause mutes radioYY
Speaker3W5W (max out 2W)
Audio setting6 Equalizer settings for music files onlyVoice/Music for radio
Music playerMP3, WMA, WAV, APE and FLACMP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC
SD card (max documented)256GB32GB
Supports > 999 songsYY
Record to cardRadio/Mic
Firmware version2.9Unknown
User firmware updateY
Bluetooth5.2Y
Bluetooth phone answerY
Illuminated buttonsY
Always on display backlight optionY
Clock/Alarm/Sleep timerYY
View clock with radio onY
View click with radio offY
BatteryBL-5C or 3 AA18650
Charge portUSB-CUSB-C
Telescopic antenna23″21″
External antenna jackYY
Weight with included battery7 oz (198 g)10.2 oz (289 g)
Size28 x 85 x 138 mm35 x 84 x 155 mm
Feature comparisons

*Version 3.0 of the firmware changed this from 50 to 100 kHz

Performance

Weather band

Let’s start with the easy one, weather band. Both radios cover the 7 NOAA weather channels and weather alerts. The D-109WB is peculiar in that in weather alert mode, the dial light stays on continuously; that’s gotta drain the battery. The LiJiANI also displays a tiny LED in alert mode. Both flash “ALE” on the display. Both radios continuously scan all the NOAA weather bands for an alert. It’s not necessary to tune to a particular station.

My other weather radios (Raddy RF75A, HanRongDa HRD-701, Mesqool CR1009 Pro and Mesqool CR1015) usually get my one local weather station, KZZ28, in Covesville, Virginia with a strong signal.

I did some further testing and found that the LiJiANi RD239 received the local station well, but also received a good signal from another station, WXK65 in Richmond, and a weak signal from WXL92 in Lynchburg. The XHDATA D-109WB of course received the Covesville signal with excellent reception. The second station was OK, but not as good as the LiJiANi, and the third signal not at all.

So I conclude that the LiJiANi RD239 is the top weather radio in the group, but the XHDATA is good too.

FM Broadcast

FM is weird on both of these radios for use in North America where the FM stations are 200 kHz apart. The FM step on the LiJiANi is 50 kHz (with version 3.0 of the firmware the default FM step is 100 kHz), meaning that you have to advance 4 times to get to the next channel, but that’s nothing compared to the 10 kHz step on the XHDATA, where you have to advance 20 times just to get to the next station. Actually, the XHDATA has automatic variable speed tuning, so that if you turn the knob fast it advances at 100 kHz; I find this almost impossible to control. By the time you see your desired channel, you’ve overshot it.

I compared the two radios and found that the LiJiANi was far more sensitive on FM than the XHDATA. This video demonstrates the difference on a weak station. WFLS is about 53 miles from me and I’m considered in their outer fringe area. Reception of it very much depends on the specific location of the radio, but here the antennas were next to each other. I also moved them around and continued to find a marked difference. In the final analysis, the Rd230 received a whopping 72 FM stations compared with 50 on the D-109WB.

WFLS Fredericksburg, VA

MW Performance

I live in a weak MW signal area. Some of my cheap radios are lucky to get 2 stations. The D-109WB gets 15 and the Rd239 gets 9.

Shortwave

My first test was trying to receive CFRX, Toronto, outdoors with the telescopic antenna. Both radios got it, but it was fairly faint. A reference Tecsun PL-330 picked it up a little better. Adding a 20-f0ot antenna didn’t help the LiJiANi. When I plugged in the antenna to the XHDATA D-109WB, it instantly overloaded and the CFRX was obliterated; it overloads easily with an external antenna just as does its non WB predecessor.

I did a band scan on the LiJiANi that brought to the front a problem with this radio’s ATS. The combination of a 100 station limit for shortwave ATS storage and a scan of the entire HF band, not just international broadcast, caused ATS memory to fill up before the scan was finished. This was made even worse by the radio storing stations too weak to hear. The XHDATA has 300 memories on shortwave and doesn’t scan outside the broadcast bands.

I looked for a stronger station, EWTN from Irondale, Alabama, usable with the telescopic antenna. Here are those results:

LiJiANi Rd329 on ETWN 12050 kHz at 18:25 UTC
XHDATA D-109WB on ETWN 12050 kHz at 18:25 UTC

The speaker of the XHDATA was clearly superior, but the LiJiANi more intelligible. The Tecsun PL-990 sounded a little better than the others. Comparisons are difficult where there is a lot of fading.

I saw a report of someone receiving Radio New Zealand online and I gave it a go with the LiJiANi. This is the radio, hand held indoors with the telescopic antenna at 04:45 UTC.

Radio New Zealand on 17675 kHz on telescopic antenna

I think the radios are roughly similar in sensitivity on shortwave with the telescopic antenna, but the XHDATA has a big overload problem with an external antenna.

Music Player Audio

I think the XHDATA has richer sound than the LiJiANi that sounds just a touch tinny (even though it can reproduce bass). Both can be turned up quite loud, and equally so (louder than some higher-priced ones). The XHDATA has a Music/Voice setting for radio while the LiJiANi has 6-option equalizer settings just for music files.

I’m happy to report that both handle large micro SD cards with over 1000 files with ease and with no inordinately long pauses reaching files. Track numbers can be keyed directly.

The LiJiANi adds the capability to record from the Radio and from an internal microphone; however, it seems to add some noise to WB and SW stations but not FM.

Conclusions

The XDATA D-109WB is clearly the best designed from an operational viewpoint. Direct frequency entry is easy. There are clearly defined VF/VM modes. The clock is more accessible. There are more ATS memories on the shortwave band where they are most needed. It has a Local/DX switch. It has a conveniently located external antenna jack that works.

The LiJiANi on the other hand appears to be a more sensitive radio, clearly excelling with weak FM signals and on weather band. User-installable firmware updates could be a game changer.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, the price of the LiJiANi has jumped to $49.90 on Amazon, but there is currently a $5 coupon (5-Dec-2023). I think it’s a good deal at that price. XHDATA runs sales most of the time.

Updates

Since I received this radio a couple of weeks ago, there was a firmware update that I have installed.

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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3 Responses to XHDATA D-109WB vs LiJiANi Rd239 Multiband Receivers

  1. James Goral says:

    Physical radios are nice. (I prefer knobs and physical buttons to touch screens) but SDRs are so damn cheap along with the hardware (Pi Zero), 3D printing and components (displays and controls) that trying to separate the Chinese wheat from the chaff is far more effort and expensive than just building your own. That said the Quansheng UV-K5 / UV-K6 handhelds are very cheap and can be modified with custom firmware to tx/rx on 18-1300mhz

  2. Todd KB7RQQ says:

    The backlit keys!! FINALLY 🙂 That alone makes me want to try one.

  3. Rupe says:

    Many thanks for this excellent, and very fair comparison of the two radios. I don’t have the XH-DATA-D109-WB but it sounds a great radio. I still prefer the Lijiani RD239, though, as it covers the full SW band and does it extremely well, considering its low-ish price, even if the other one pips it just on audio tone and depth.
    I really appreciate your work here, Kevin, as few seem to have noticed the Lijiani. I, too, think that user-installable firmware updates will be a game-changer. Thanks.

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