Friday, January 04, 2008

Flex-5000A Given "Best SDR" Award From WRTH - Why?

The 2008 edition of World Radio TV Handbook did a review of the Flex-5000A SDR, a follow-up from last year's review of the FlexRadio SDR-1000 which has now been discontinued. Somewhat to my surprise, the Flex-5000A has been given the "Best SDR" award from WRTH. My surprise is founded not on the qualities of the Flex-5000A (of which I can say nothing, since I don't own one), but on the competition. Surely, when one SDR is rated "best", it must have been compared to the rest of the SDRs on the market. Has it?

One can wonder. The WRTH HF Receiver Guide 2008 (page 23) lists the two Flex SDRs, the Elad FDM77 and a few Winradios. The CIAOradio H101 is not listed. The DiRaBox DRB30 is not listed. The RF Space SDR-14 is not listed. The RF Space SDR-IQ is not listed. And maybe there are others that I do not know about. The WRTH is of course excused for not having listed the new Perseus. I am particularly puzzled by the omission of the two SDRs from RF Space. The -14 and the -IQ have been widely acclaimed by dedicated DX-ers worldwide, hence one would assume that an authoritative publication like the WRTH would find interest in reviewing them. Not so.

I am not taking sides as to which is the best SDR of 2008. I am simply saying that a number of candidates didn't get the chance to run.


4nradio said...

Perhaps you'll agree, Bjarne, that the quality of reviews in WRTH have gone downhill since the mid-1990s. It seems that every edition for the last few years has had strange statements and conclusions about equipment, and "awards" that are not always logical. Certainly a "best of" any category needs to list the full competition, and this year's "Best SDR" is another example of why the WRTH's receiver section has low credibility. The former unbiased, behind-the-scenes reviewers and equipment gurus are long gone.

In my opinion, the best receiver review (from a DXer's perspective) ever published by the WRTH was the review of the Drake R-7 (1979 edition I think). I'm pretty sure it was written by Larry Magne, a long-time accomplished DXer of course, before his Radio Database Intl./PPWBR days. The R-7 review was full of the kind of hands-on observations highly useful to DXers contemplating a purchase, and written as only another experienced DXer could write.

Your own receiver comments and reviews have consistently surpassed WRTH's "reviews" for some time now.

73, Guy

Anonymous said...

Hi Bjarne;
Indeed there were some tests also in the 2008 edition of PPWBR and SDR-5000 was rated high as well. It seems though taht SDR-14 test was an old one using the software version 1.3 with 150 kHz recording span. Anyway, it is hard to see any "real world comparisons" nowadays. I hope to publish one of mine of 14/iq, WinR, drb-30, Ciao, Perseus & possibly German version of sdr-1000 (kgk-100) later on. But that will be only a personal view without any kind of measurements. I appreciated all info of yours & Guy´s very much.
73 Tarmo Kontro

Bjarne Mjelde said...

Via Mauno Ritola, WRTH has made this comment to my post:

We wanted to review the CIAO, the two RF Space SDRs and the Perseus. We had to buy the CIAO at a discounted rate (which is very unusual for review items) and we were prepared to do so, but the distributor could not tell me what the discounted rate was or how he would refund the cost on return. I was most anxious to review the RF Space ones but they never responded to my emails or telephone calls. They are obviously not interested, possibly for the reason Mauno gives. Nico Palermo of Microtelecom was very keen that we should review the Perseus, as were we, but he decided in the end that the software just wasn't ready for testing. So, as you can see, it was not for want of trying that we had only one SDR to review.

We have considered listing the people who would not send review equipment, or even reply to enquiries, but I think it is only right to do so in a comparative review where another product could have been reviewed.

Our policy on WRTH Awards is that they are awarded on a combination of the best item we have tested that year, the best we have ever tested or the best of a comparative review. We gave the Flex-5000A an award because it is the best SDR we have seen.

Kind regards

Nicholas Hardyman
World Radio TV Handbook