QFX-R24 AM/FM/SW Portable Radio
Everyone loves a bargain, right? Sure we do, so, when a reader alerted me to the QFX-R24 I had to check one out. You see, it’s a dead ringer for the Panasonic RF-2400D which I have reviewed favorably. (See the Panasonic RF-2400 D Review:
What caught my attention, other than the fact that these two radios look virtually identical, is that the QFX-R24 adds 2 shortwave bands whereas the RF-2400D is AM/FM only, and although the QFX-R24 mentions a list price of $24.99 it was selling for $15.78 with free shipping from Amazon…roughly half the price of the Panasonic model. This seemed too good to be true so I ordered one and eagerly awaited its arrival.
In a nutshell the QFX-R24 covers AM from 530 – 1600 KHz (no expanded AM band), FM from 88-108 MHz, SW 1 from 3.2 – 7.6 MHz and SW 2 from 8.9 – 22 MHz. It runs on a built-in AC power supply with switch settings marked 110 or 220 volts, or 3 D cells which should give long battery life. Interestingly the Panasonic runs on 4 A cells which was my first indication that their circuits were not very similar.
Well, I won’t keep you in suspense…it was too good to be true. The QFX-R24’s beauty is only skin deep…as soon as I put batteries in it and started to use it, I realized I was going to be disappointed. I first checked out the AM band and found that tuning was…to put it mildly… exasperating. Not only is the dial calibration horrible and non-linear on the bottom two thirds of the band (by horrible I mean a station at 840 was coming in below 700 on the dial) but the tuning behavior was very difficult. The tuning knob is quite stiff requiring lots of effort to move and the backlash is unpredictable and unlike any I’ve seen before. Let me explain; as you slowly try to tune to a station you hear a quick blip, then nothing…you’ve gone past it. But try to tune back and you may encounter another station before you get back to the one you first passed over. Odd to be sure. With the gross dial inaccuracy plus this overshoot/backlash behavior tuning the QFX-R24 was so difficult I had to use another radio to know what station I was tuned to…no fun at all. Interestingly, once I did manage to find a station the actual reception and sound were not bad…it was not quite as good as the Panasonic RF-2400D but it wasn’t bad. If it had normal tuning behavior, I would have rated it acceptable.
Interestingly, the FM dial calibration was a bit better and FM reception was not too bad. Not a DXer by any means but for normal FM reception it is usable. You still have to contend with poor tuning behavior though. It’s very tricky to find the station you want.
Shortwave was yet another story. In the daytime I heard very little and again the odd tuning behavior made it virtually impossible to land on anything listenable. At night there were as expected more signals but this is just not a good radio for SW. Very insensitive and hard to tune as well. I put the radio on the test bench to check SW with a signal generator and some stronger signals I could control but then there were so many spurious images spread across the SW bands I just gave up trying to figure it out…it was hard to distinguish the actual frequency from the many images.
Another note is that the whip antenna is very flimsy and will likely be easy to bend as it is also very tight. The Panasonic’s rod is sturdier.
By now I was curious to see what was inside and once I took the radio apart it was evident that it was made to be as inexpensive as possible. Comparing the internal construction with the Panasonic RF-2400D there was simply no comparison. The QFX-R24 has a small flat AM ferrite antenna whereas the RF-2400D has a round rod which, although not more than 4 inches long was at least of good cross-section and mounted in a position less likely to interact with signals on the circuit board, and the overall chassis was much better constructed with a separate board for the AC power supply. The QFX-R24 has no adjustments so there is no way to improve the dial calibration, and even the mechanical band indicator was so far off the mark that I had to just note where I had positioned the band switch because the markings show up in the wrong position. There was no obvious way to adjust that and there was also no way to loosen the stiff tuning feel…it seems to just be the way it is made.
Readers of this website know that I always try to be fair and objective and there are some good points about the QFX-R24. Built-in AC power is a big plus for long term listening. Alternately, running on D cells should give long battery life. And on AM and FM actual reception and sound were not bad once you managed to find a station and get it properly tuned in. But I’m afraid the bad outweighs the good and there are just too many better choices out there.
Is there likely to be unit-to-unit variation – did I just get a bad sample? I suspect there will be differences unit to unit but even so, most of the faults seem to be inherent in the design and this is so cheaply made I would not care to try another sample .
So even at under $16 I can’t recommend the QFX-R24. On the other hand, that Panasonic RF-2400D for $30 still looks pretty good and by comparison it is a joy to use.
Or better yet, see the Panasonic RF-2400D at Amazon: