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Best Handheld Portable Satellite Radios 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated June 1, 2019
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Maurice TurnerHey friends! I’ve got something important to talk about today! I spent 42 hours researching and testing 13 different types of handheld portable satellite radios and found that material, variety of sizes, and style were most important.

I have been writing about technology and entertainment since the early 90s from my secluded home in West Virginia. In this section we provide our readers with a comparison table of our top picks. Scroll past the table for a closer look at each of the 3 best handheld portable satellite radios in our review section.

Best Handheld Portable Satellite Radios of 2018

The best handheld portable satellite radios will make your fairytale dreams come true! The table below summarizes features, and below you’ll find more detailed reviews of each good. So this is not only going to give you an insight to the best handheld portable satellite radios of the 2018 but also those which are user friendly and easy to work with. Now, let’s get to the gist of the matter: which are the best handheld portable satellite radios for the money?

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Product
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Design
5 points
5 points
5 points
Size
5 points
5 points
4 points
Durability
5 points
4 points
4 points
Price
4 points
4 points
4 points
Awards 1
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№1 – SiriusXM SXEZR1H1 XM Onyx EZR Satellite Radio Receiver with Home Kit and 1 free month and free activation

 
SiriusXM SXEZR1H1 XM Onyx EZR Satellite Radio Receiver with Home Kit and 1 free month and free activation

Pros
Subscription sold separately by SiriusXM. Channel lineup varies based on subscription package
Easy-to-read, large high-resolution display (3.2″). View artist or show name, song or program title and content or channel information
View what’s playing on your favorite channels in split-screen mode
Cons
Absolutely no frills
 
Total:
4.8

Why did this handheld portable satellite radios win the first place?

I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!

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Design
5

5star

Size
5

5star

Durability
5

5star

Price
4

4star

 

 

№2 – SiriusXM SXPL1H1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio Receiver with Home Kit

 
SiriusXM SXPL1H1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio Receiver with Home Kit

Pros
Subscription sold separately by SiriusXM. Channel lineup varies based on subscription package.
Store up to 20 of your favorite channels for one-touch access.
Pause, rewind and replay live satellite radio plus all your Smart Favorite channels.
Cons
It gets scratched easily..
A bit expensive for functionality.
 
Total:
4.5

Why did this handheld portable satellite radios come in second place?

This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.

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Design
5

5star

Size
5

5star

Durability
4

4star

Price
4

4star

 

 

№3 – SIRIUS Stiletto 2 Portable Satellite Radio with MP3 Player

 
SIRIUS Stiletto 2 Portable Satellite Radio with MP3 Player

Pros
Robust and versatile 2 GB MP3 player with Sirius satellite radio reception
Schedule recordings to capture up to 100 hours of favorite Sirius shows or programs; brilliant 2.2-inch full-color display
MicroSD media slot to augment internal memory
Cons
Require more effort to use.
Quite expensive.
 
Total:
4.3

Why did this handheld portable satellite radios take third place?

We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great! This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.

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Design
5

5star

Size
4

4star

Durability
4

4star

Price
4

4star

 

 

Handheld Portable Satellite Radios Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy handheld portable satellite radios, right? No!

Frequency

The ham radio frequencies you are permitted to use depend on which of the licenses above you have under your belt. Not all radios work with all frequencies, so make sure that you buy one which will offer you the frequencies you want to access.

Most handheld radios are limited to around five watts of power; you may find higher-powered options if you choose a base model. If you purchase a handheld, make sure it has high- and low-power settings you can manually adjust as per your needs.

For emergency communications, you will generally be using the two-meter ham band. The 440 MHz band is another that you will likely make plenty of use of. There are a couple of band-related features you may want to consider. One is dual band, which allows you to monitor two frequencies at the same time. Another is general coverage. This feature allows you not only to use ham radio bands, but also pick up AM, FM, and TV frequencies. Advanced features for bands include SSB and CW (Morse code).

Backlit Display

If you will be using your ham radio at nighttime or in dim environments, you may want to purchase a model that includes a backlit display. Remember, emergencies sometimes happen in the dead of night. If the power goes out, you may be stuck operating in the dark. You should have the option to toggle the display light on and off so that you can conserve power when you do not need it.

Programming

This is the ability to manually program the CB radio. Most models allow you to do this using a keypad and the CB radio display. Some newer high-tech models include a cable you can hook up to a computer. This gives you access to programming software which makes it a lot easier to input what you want.

User’s Manual

Usually when you purchase a new product, the quality of the user’s manual isn’t the top thing on your mind. But with ham radio, it is actually very important. Ham radio does have a learning curve, and if you are a beginner, you will need as much guidance as you can get.

Even if you are a ham radio veteran, you may still sometimes hit a button by mistake and find yourself in a mode you do not want to be in. Rather than having to experiment to get the radio back into the mode you want, it is helpful to be able to flip to a user manual which will tell you quickly and easily how to get back to regular operation.

Yaesu VX-8DR

Extra tough. With its rugged polycarbonate resin shell, the Yaesu VX-8DR is built to survive major disasters.

Survives water submersion. This ham radio can last for up to 30 minutes when submerged in meter of water.

Optional GPS. If you get the optional GPS antenna addon, you can broadcast your exact location, altitiude and speed.

Environmental sensors. This ham radio’s built-in sensors can monitor barometric pressure and temperature.

Wide frequency range. In addition to standard short-wave frequencies, this ham radio also picks up FM/AM broadcasts, analog TV stations, audio aircraft and public service channels.

Compass display. The integrated compass shows you what direction you’re headed on the LED display.

TYT MD-380: Excellent Quality Speakers by TYT shines when it comes to audio performance. Voices come in extra clear through its high quality speakers. Its microphones perform well too, and its built-in wind reduction system kicks in when you use this device outside. For even greater clarity, switch you can switch to digital mode.

Awesome audio quality. The audio quality that you get with the TYT MD-380 is quite impressive.

Color display. Most handheld ham radios have a monochrome screen, but this one boasts a full color LCD display.

Choose digital or analog mode. The TYT MD-380 makes it easy to switch between digital and analog operation.

Good menu system. This portable radio’s menus are easy to navigate and use.

Water resistant. Because it can survive rain, you can take the TYT MD-380 with you when you go camping.

Sends text messages. When in digital mode, you can communicate via text.

Comes with accessories. In addition to the TYT MD-380 itself, you also get a battery, a belt clip, a desktop charger, a programming cable and two different antennas.

Delphi MyFi XM2Go

If this convinces you that the time has come to receive extraterrestrial communications, what do you choose (assuming the tinfoil hat fails)? To find the answer, we scoured our reviews for the best aftermarket receivers, and found three we rewarded with high marks.

The Sirius Sportster isn’t quite as small as the Roady2, but uses some of the extra real estate for a bigger screen. Accessories for the Sportster include a boom box it plugs into and adapters that let it work in a vehicle or a home. As you might guess, in addition to the usual satellite radio features, there are special capabilities geared to sports nuts. Listeners can get an alert when a favorite NFL team’s game starts, for example.

Will the new services address every complaint you might have? No. Like other digital satellite technologies, this one requires a line of sight between the two ends, so going through tunnels, passing under bridges, driving around areas with many hills and valleys or tall structures, and entering buildings can cause reception to cut out. Terrestrial repeaters relieve the problem to a great extent, though, and data caching in receivers helps cover short interruptions. Will content remain largely unsullied by commercials and relatively affordable? Who knows, but cable TV doesn’t provide a lot of comfort in that regard.

Even with the uncertainties, though, satellite radio provides a real alternative to listeners frustrated with traditional audio broadcasting or living in areas beyond its reach. If you find yourself in that group, tune in to our reviews and start listening to the signals you’re getting from above.

Garmin Aera 796; SPOT Connect

Smarter, faster and ever smaller, handheld devices for aviation are undergoing a revolution that surpasses anything we’ve seen before. In just the last five years, we’ve gone from laptop flight-planning software to best-in-class electronic flight bags that fit into the palm of your hand. And it’s not just portable navigators that have made aviation safer and easier to manage; look at advances in personal locator beacons (PLBs), handheld transceivers and wireless connection devices. It seems each year the less expensive, newer model has more features than even front-line models had the year before. These are truly mind-bending times in technology, and we pilots get to just sit back in our cockpits and watch the advances transform our industry.

Though it’s not truly a handheld device, the iPad continues to revolutionize both general aviation and commercial cockpits, while a cadre of interesting new palm-sized devices add new capabilities and features. Pilots can use the latest handheld devices for a number of tasks, with most complimenting each other in the cockpit. Also keep in mind that many cockpits simply can’t accommodate devices like the iPad or laptops, so footprint becomes critical and features need to be plentiful but fit in a small footprint. We present some of our favorites.

Weather

Alright, you just got your amateur radio license and you’re itching to get on the air. But first you need a radio. What type should you get? As a volunteer examiner, I’ve been asked this question scores of times. It’s a common question of the new ham, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. But hopefully in this video will shed some light on what’s available and help you make a good purchase decision.

As new technician radio license holder, you will most likely set your eyes on the VHF & UHF bands. I know techs also have limited privileges on the HF bands, and we’ll talk about getting your first HF rig in a future video. Today let’s concentrate on VHF and UHF communications. And in this realm your choices boil down to two formats, the handheld radio and the mobile/base station.

But what makes a handheld so convenient, is also their biggest downside. You are limited in transmit power, batteries quickly discharge, and rubber duck antennas are lackluster.

So it’s no easy choice between the two. Maybe the answer is, what do you want to get out of amateur radio? Are you on the road a lot? Are you looking to get involved with emergency communications? Do you want to make friends over the air? And most importantly, what’s your budget. These questions will lead you into what radio choices are best for starting out.

Budget is a big consideration, you may not have a lot of money to spend, or in just getting started with the hobby, you may not want to make a big initial investment only to later regret it.

So in that spirit, I’m going to lay out a roadmap to building your amateur radio station. Prices are approximate and nothing I say is an endorsement of a particular brand. This is just a guideline to help you build your own station.

This setup will work nice, you’ll hit all the area repeaters and be able to talk simplex with your local friends. But using a handheld as a base radio is cumbersome. The battery doesn’t last for long, and they tend to overheat if you use them for long periods of time.

But what matters is to get on the air, make some contacts, meet new people, and most importantly- have fun. The amount of money you spend is immaterial. So with that, invest into the amateur radio hobby the amount you feel comfortable with.

Why you should use a handheld GPS

What’s the point of using a handheld GPS? Why is it so acclaimed and popular among hunters? We’ve discovered at least four activities that can be performed better and safer as long as you’re using a handheld GPS. Let’s look at each of them.

Tramping and hunting

If you want to get a GPS for hunting, you’ll have the pleasant surprise of realizing that several models have been specially designed for this task. Tramping and hunting units are lightweight and small enough and features a good enough battery life. Non-mapping models are more affordable compared to the ones that have street maps. In addition, some units come with GPS collars that can be utilized with dogs. These are extremely helpful when it comes to localizing your companion and furry hunting assistant.

Geocaching

Although there is a high chance of not finding the absolute perfect model, buyers nowadays can select the characteristics that best suit their needs and requirements. It’s extremely important to assess your expectations before buying a certain unit, as this way you won’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong one. Geocaching might be another task you might be tempted to use your device for. However, virtually any type of outdoor GPS unit is capable of geocaching, so it might be worth noting that this detail should not be a deal-breaker.

Street driving

Other buyers seem to prefer getting a GPS for street driving and 4WD. Unlike the handheld variants, the models that can be used in a car are somewhat heftier and have larger dimensions. The main drawback of choosing one of these is that you’ll be able to use it strictly in your vehicle or at least somewhere with a roof over your head. The vast majority of these units are not waterproof and are therefore suitable only for urban navigation.

Another task that can be performed with the help of a GPS system is biking. The traditional handheld model won’t be much help in this case, as the GPS has to be installed by using the handle-bar mount. As long as it has the right size, virtually any type of outdoor unit might be the right one for biking. The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for a GPS for biking is that the device has to be able to withstand a high amount of vibration.

Satellite reception

Most of the models we have come across use the 2satellites owned by the United States Department of Defense. This means that a handheld model is capable of using the formerly mentioned satellites to provide details regarding the area you’re transiting. Some of the units on the market today have a better satellite reception than others, and a number of these manage to 3D lock the position of the user in a timely fashion.

Believe it or not, the larger the antenna of the unit, the faster it will be able to lock your position. The accuracy of the displayed image and the user’s position depends on the number of satellites that are present in the same area.

Speed

Even though there’re a plethora of online sources you can use to determine the speed of the model you want to buy, we recommend going to a store near you and testing some models. For example, if you’re interested in purchasing a new handheld GPS but find it hard to make up your mind between two models, ask the opinion of a seller or consultant.

At a store, you can take two units and place them one next to the other. Then, simply search for your location and figure out which one’s the fastest. Use the buttons to type the location and estimate the speed of the processor by understanding just how long it takes for the device to interpret your message.

Speed might also refer to how much time it takes for a model to startup.

OpenStreetMap

Every handheld GPS comes with its own mapping software. Most manufacturers will claim that theirs is better, but that may not be true. The simplest way of figuring out the advantages of a mapping software over another one is by checking the specs and capabilities. Will you be able to share the waypoints or route via Google Earth? Will you have the freedom to utilize social networks and thus let your friends and acquaintances where you’re going?

Aside from social media integration, it might be a good idea to check whether the platform is intuitive and works with several devices. From what we have seen, there’s a limited number of GPS software that works with the Mac OS X. If this is a requirement, you might need to start browsing for a Garmin unit, as BaseCamp, its branded platform, is Mac compatible.

In addition, it might be worth considering that checking whether the GPS you intend to purchase is compatible with open-source mapping software is the right way to go about things. There’s a myriad of free platforms you can use to update your maps with new and improved data.

Number of maps

Some models are just more convenient than others, in that they come with a higher number of maps. Others, on the other hand, can be used solely in the United States and Canada. Just remember, updating the maps is very important, regardless of whether you want to buy the maps from the manufacturer or not. If you don’t use a trail in the woods for several years and forget to update your device, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

The only downfall of using free maps is that you’ll need to learn your way around them. On this account, they might be less comfortable to use compared to the ones provided by the manufacturer. It boils down to whether you’re prepared to pay for the maps or not.

Accessories

Some of the standard accessories of a handheld GPS are rechargeable batteries, carrying cases, USB cables, and mounts. A mounting system does wonders when it comes to using the unit for anything other aside from hunting. Therefore, you might be able to use it in your vehicle.

A USB cable might not be the norm for some users, as most smart electronic devices come with a USB cable nowadays. Thus, you’re likely to have one around the house.

Rechargeable batteries are amazing if your budget allows it and if they’re offered in the same package. Needless to say, the end-price of the model has a say in terms of the number of accessories you’ll be receiving along with the device.

Featured

A good camping radio can ensure an enjoyable and safe camping experience.

Buying the best camping radio is very subjective to one’s needs. The family camper’s needs are vastly different than that of a serious survivalist who needs a hardcore emergency radio and there are makes and models to serve every camper’s needs. There are some factors that every camper must consider before they purchase the best radio for their needs.

Power requirements are probably the most important factor for any camping or emergency radio.

It obviously goes without saying that a camping radio must be able to run on batteries and must be conservative on power usage. Most modern radio’s sip power if it’s not loaded with a host of functions and should really be lasting a weekend on battery power alone (think around 25-30 hours).

However if you are buying a radio for the outdoors, you will be silly not to look for a unit with additional power source capabilities.

AC-adapter/Car charger: There are very few camping radios that do not have a built in AC charger port. Although your campsite might not have power, a car charger or solar panel will keep the music or weather report alive.

Solar power: Camping and emergency radios are very efficient on power and if you have a built-in solar panel your radio will be charged for continuous use. We have found that having a radio with a built-in solar panel is one of our musts in buying a unit. Not having to consider battery supplies or conservative usage of the radio is a major factor for us.

Crank/Dynamo radios: It’s very common to find a crank on any emergency radio. This is obviously a very handy feature and is great for redundancy. Keep in mind however that it takes a fair bit of cranking for the dynamo to charge the battery for usage. Although the models differ greatly on this, it’s fair to say that minutes of cranking will provide 4-minutes of usage on low volume.

As you can imagine cranking the night away to listen to music is not ever going to work and will only be for emergency situations.

Optional Features

Once all the basics are covered you can pick some additional features if you want. Remember, the more features, the more power it will use, so only pick the features you think you are going to use. A common add-on is a built in flashlight, but extra functions can be from programmable stations to 2-way radio capability.

IRONSHOW

This budget radio comes with all the necessary functions at a low cost.It’s a compact radio that can run on batteries, AC power, solar power or charge via the crank handle. min of cranking will deliver min of play time, 30min of flashlight or 5min of talk time for your cell phone. It’s got a build-in micro-USB cellphone charger, a bright LED flashlight and is NOAA weather radio enabled.

Eton FRX 3

Eton is a high-end manufacturer of solar and emergency radios and it won’t be the only time you see their name on the list.

The Eton FRX ticks all the boxes for a great camping radio. It’s able to accept all power sources ( batteries, AC,crank and solar). Tests have shown that minutes of cranking can deliver up to 1minutes of operation. It’s NOAA/S.A.M.E. enabled and have a built-in bright LED light.

To top it off as a great survival radio it has a morse location beacon and a high-pitch alert for others to find you. This radio is also sold under a Red Cross label, whereby donations go to them.

Eton Raptor

This is the multi-tool of camping radios.This palm-sized unit comes with a host of features.It’s rubberised outer shell makes it splash proof and it is completely solar powered for up to 30 hours of usage. It’s got a built in flashlight with an altimeter, a barometer and even a bottle opener. With an installed Carabiner clip you can attach it to outside of your pack to continuously charge it. It also has a built-in USB port to charge other devices. The Eton Scorpion is the slightly less tricked out radio, however it does have a crank handle for emergency power.

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Pull Quote

If you have a double-DIN slot, you can still use a single-DIN radio, but a single-DIN slot cannot accept a double-DIN upgrade.

One of the first questions you’ll likely encounter when you consider upgrading your car audio system is whether you even can. If your car is older than, say, years (the approximate point when manufacturers began adding command screens that controlled multiple systems, not just audio) or contains a fairly straightforward audio setup, you’re probably okay—the only question is whether your car has a single-DIN or double-DIN design. Those terms refer to the measurements of the “hole” your car stereo sits in. A single-DIN slot measures 2⅛ inches high by 7⅛ inches wide. A double-DIN mount is twice as tall; most cars with LCD screens are double-DIN. If you have a double-DIN slot, you can still use a single-DIN radio (an adapter kit that you purchase for your specific vehicle simply creates open storage in the unused space), but a single-DIN slot cannot accept a double-DIN upgrade.

Another factor that will determine your ability to upgrade is whether other vehicle functions are integrated into your car’s audio system. For example, LCD screens that also include climate controls and the settings for other systems can’t be incorporated into a replacement stereo. But even if that isn’t the case in your vehicle, your car may have a complex, nonstandard dash setup that precludes such upgrades.

Some cars—the Ford Taurus of the late 1990s comes to mind—have oddly shaped panels around the stereo systems, or they use contoured surfaces that dispense with the “box cutout” configuration that persisted for decades. Carmakers do this kind of thing for design and functionality reasons, to increase button sizes and smooth out the dash appearance. In both cases, however, you might find adapters that will allow you to replace the unit even if the factory setup has funky dashwork going on.

Other vehicles, including my wife’s mid-2000s Mercedes, may be able to accommodate an upgraded unit, but they might require custom work on the dash to make it look right, something that’s beyond the scope of traditional plastic dash adapters. That’s the kind of job only a pro can do, and it will require extra time and money.

The process can be frustrating, but you can usually get a sense of what your car can or cannot accept by going to a good car-audio site such as Crutchfield and seeing what the online selection tool says about your vehicle’s upgradability. In addition, the better sellers usually offer installation instructions custom-made for your specific vehicle when you order the receiver, and will include any necessary parts and adapters to make the piece fit.

If you find that your car can’t deal with an upgrade, you have other options, such as Bluetooth kits that will allow you to stream music and place calls through a device that either plugs into your stereo’s aux-in jack or transmits to the stereo via an FM tuner. (For more details on the various pros and cons of these setups, check out our full guide to the best Bluetooth kits.) The trouble with kits, however, is the addition of still more cables and electronics to your car—stuff that can easily snag and tangle as you and your passenger come and go. Also, FM-tuner quality tends to be abysmal. A kit is cheaper, but if you can afford to upgrade the whole stereo, you’ll be rewarded with superior sound quality and ease of use.

If you already have a Bluetooth-capable stereo, you might still consider upgrading. Some older Bluetooth stereos, or those in less-expensive cars, might only accept phone calls and not support music. And the latest systems may have some inviting features—dedicated music apps, voice control, an adjustable display, or dual-phone capability—that didn’t come with your original car-audio system. Beyond that, you’ll also get a more modern, streamlined interface without the functional clutter of previous-generation head units.

Features to consider

As you shop for a replacement car stereo, you’ll have to decide which features are most important to you. And one of the first questions you’ll have to ask is whether you really need a CD player. In our survey of more than 400 Wirecutter readers, the vast majority of respondents—more than 80 percent—said they didn’t. That’s why digital media receivers, which come without a CD player, are the latest trend in replacement car stereos. The absence of a CD player often means a lower price, more user-friendly controls, a smaller chassis (which makes the unit easier to install), and fewer mechanical parts (which means fewer components that can break later on). Even so, car-stereo manufacturers say that a lot of buyers still want the option of playing a CD, so you have a lot of CD-capable receivers from which to choose.

One advantage of not having a CD player is that the receiver can be much smaller—about half the size of a normal stereo—which makes installation easier. Such a device also fits in older cars made before CD players became popular.

A feature we think is worth considering is Siri Eyes Free, which, when paired with an iPhone, boosts your safety and convenience on the road by offering voice control of your receiver. A lot of models include SiriusXM satellite radio and/or HD Radio capability, though we think those services are less important if you typically stream your music. Speaking of streaming, you’ll want to check for Pandora and Spotify support, which lets you control those apps directly from the receiver. And of course, you’ll want easy pairing of your smartphone, which is something most manufacturers are starting to master, plus a USB-input option to charge your phone or ease the integration of a guest’s device. Unfortunately, the popular Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems, which provide much of the functionality of a compatible iPhone or Android phone with a more driver-friendly interface, aren’t available in single-DIN stereos because they need a larger display.

Some models come with a handheld remote. That may sound silly—a handheld remote for a device that’s inches from you—but on a long drive it’s more comfortable to flip tracks with your hand in your lap than to be constantly reaching for the head unit. (You can also hand over control to rear-seat passengers, if you dare.) Smartphone apps that control the receiver as a handheld remote does are increasingly available, too—though the results vary widely. Some are barely functional while others, like the Pioneer ARC app, are nearly seamless facsimiles of conventional smartphone music controls.

Relatively minor but handy features you’ll encounter include tunable colors, which let you coordinate your stereo with the lighting in your car’s interior, and multi-line LCD screens that provide more data.

How we tested

Instead of installing each of the units on our short list into an actual car, I bench-tested them head to head at my residence. Bench-testing them allowed us to experiment longer and more thoroughly with each product. After hooking each receiver up to a 12-volt power source and a set of moderate-quality speakers, I put it through its paces. We focused on Bluetooth functionality, not audio quality, since so much of that is dependent on the number and quality of speakers in your vehicle. While many readers in our survey indicated that they’d consider upgrading to better speakers at the same time they upgraded the head unit, that wouldn’t have affected our results, as great speakers will indeed sound better across the board. If you’re an audiophile, you can find plenty of options for expandable systems, which we’ll describe briefly later on.

Our bench-test setup, consisting of two speakers and a 1V power source.

I tried the test receivers with both iOS devices and Android phones, simulated hundreds of vehicle entries and exits to gauge Bluetooth reacquisition behaviors and speeds, placed and received calls to see how well the Bluetooth hands-free communication worked, and, of course, streamed music via Bluetooth and USB cables. I learned what sort of control each receiver permitted over music selection from the head unit itself versus the connected device, and I also hooked up multiple phones to see how easy it was to switch between devices.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

We don’t have much to complain about with the Pioneer MVH-X390BT. The primary LCD screen is only one line, which limits you to one category of information (track name, station, artist, and so on), but it scrolls smoothly and legibly for longer titles.

You can’t tune the display color to match the rest of your dash (it’s white), and the buttons are backlit in blue. This color scheme may make the unit less of a natural fit with your car’s dashboard, but it doesn’t affect overall functionality. While other units, such as the Sony MEX-N5000BT, automatically dim when your headlights come on, the MVH-X390BT’s display can be dimmed only manually, or programmed to dim at specific times of day. And the handheld remote control has no button to activate Siri Eyes Free; you have to reach for the multifunction knob on the head unit.

Hardcore car-audio geeks won’t be into this unit due to its limited options for expandability (in terms of extra speakers and subwoofers). But that is an exceptionally minor complaint, since most buyers won’t be interested in expanding beyond their car’s existing core capabilities.

Typically a little higher in price, this model is basically the same unit as our top pick, with SiriusXM compatibility and a few extra features.

If our top pick isn’t available, or if you want to be able to play satellite radio, the Pioneer MVH-S501BS is another great choice. This is a newer version of the MVH-X580BS and MVH-X560BT, which were our previous alternative picks, and typically it costs a bit more than our main pick. It has a similar interface and all the features of our top pick, along with SiriusXM compatibility, tunable display colors to match your interior, and a second line of display text, so you can see both the track title and the artist name simultaneously. Because we think those features are more minor ones (more than 80 percent of the readers who responded to our survey said they didn’t want satellite radio, for example), we’d rather get the MVH-X390BT and save some money.

If you want to expand your system

We think most people would prefer the simpler interface and superior Bluetooth capabilities of our top pick. Also, Kenwood’s handheld remote isn’t ideal: The buttons are too small and too close to one another for most people to use easily while driving, and for some reason it has a numeric keypad, which takes up a lot of space and is only occasionally useful.

The competition

The Sony MEX-N5100BT has a built-in CD player and supports near-field communication (NFC), which lets you pair a compatible phone with your receiver just by holding it up to the head unit and selecting the pair function in the menu. It has an app remote that lets you not only control the music but also adjust the audio settings; I’m not a fan of app remotes, however, and I find them of limited utility. This Sony unit currently costs about the same as our top pick, the Pioneer MVH-X390BT, but we preferred our Pioneer pick overall because of its lack of a CD player, its inclusion of Siri Eyes Free support, and its thoughtful elimination of unused sources from the menu.

If you do want a CD player—or at least don’t mind having one—you open up the door even further for more options. We considered many units from the key manufacturers but found most of them to be overloaded and generally too complex for people who want simple and streamlined operation.

The affordable Alpine CDE-143BT has good Bluetooth support but lacks Siri Eyes Free.

The Alpine CDE-SXM145BT adds SiriusXM radio but is too pricey.

The JVC KD-X240BT is an exceptionally affordable unit that’s extremely spartan and lacks the usability features and advanced smartphone connectivity of the Pioneers.

Print this Project

One of my favorite things to do is talk with other ham radio operators through satellites or the International Space Station (ISS). To do this, I stand on a rooftop and tune a handheld multiband radio while tracing the orbit of a satellite or the ISS with my homemade yagi antenna.

Orbiting satellites such as AO-51, SO-50, and AO-2act as repeaters, relaying signals from low-power transceivers like mine back to hams elsewhere on the planet. So if you know where to aim the antenna, you can communicate around the world via space. The ISS also has a repeater, and occasionally, when we’re lucky, the astronauts themselves exchange transmissions to communicate with hams on the ground.

If you do have a ham radio license and a UHF/VHF transceiver, you can upgrade this antenna with VHF elements so that it can both send and receive transmissions.

A yagi antenna has three types of elements, consisting of metal rods of varying lengths and quantities. The driven element is a dipole antenna that’s connected to the radio and receives the signal, just like a whip antenna. The reflector is positioned behind the driven element, where it acts as a mirror by bouncing signals from the satellite forward to the driven element. Directors are one or more rods that act like a lens, focusing the incoming signal onto the driven element. Both the reflector and the directors improve reception from whatever direction the antenna points.

 

 

 

 

How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the Handheld Portable Satellite Radios by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.

 

 

Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Handheld Portable Satellite Radios wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of Handheld Portable Satellite Radios

 

 

Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about Handheld Portable Satellite Radios is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better!



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