Year Introduced: 1998
Power: 9 vdc (6 AA batteries)
Size: 178 x 117 x 34 mm
Weight: 636 grams
Coverage: LW, MW, FM, SW 1.711 – 30.000kHz continuous
This review was compiled independently. The Medium Wave Circle and Radio Netherlands has no financial connection with Philips, the manufacturer of this receiver.
Philips has had a mixed record in the short-wave receiver business. Around ten years ago, Philips had several analogue portable sets, many of which were highly sensitive and selective. These receivers were made by Philips’ own factories in Singapore.
Then came a period when Philips went really down-market. The sets were as cheap as Japanese competition, but performance was nowhere near as good. For a while, things have been rather quiet in the Philips camp and we thought they might have stopped producing world-receivers altogether. A few weeks ago we were surprised to see Philips comeback onto the market with a truly excellent quality portable radio.
MADE IN CHINA
The Philips AE-3750 has been designed in Europe and is manufactured to a Philips specification by a factory in the Peoples’ Republic of China. Most sets from European competitor, Grundig, are also made in China since production costs in Europe are much too high. But the finish on the AE-3750 is good, the gray-plastic housing is robust and there are no sharp edges.
The set measures 178 by 117 by 34 millimeters, making it pocketbook size. It weighs in at 636 grams, which is a little above average for a portable of this size. That’s partly because this radio takes no less than 6 AA size batteries which clip in two groups of three into the back of the set. The packaging in Europe includes a simple fishing-reel antenna, but no mains power supply. It is available, but it is extra.
The front panel looks a little different from most portables. On the right hand side are two silver concentric circles, which turn out to be the way to control the digital tuning mechanism. There’s an up and down button to step up and down the dial in either 9 or 1 kHz steps on mediumwave and longwave, and 5 or 1 kHz on short-wave.
That’s good because on many portables you can’t fine tune on short-wave finer than 5 kHz and sometimes a slightly twist of the dial is all that is needed to escape interference from a strong station on an adjacent frequency. Note that the Philips AE-3750 tunes mediumwave in 9 kHz steps. But if you’re in the America’s or the Caribbean reception of mediumwave channels 10 kHz is possible, using the 1 kHz fine adjustment.
The set covers FM from 87.5 to 108 MHz, longwave from 144 to 353 kHz, mediumwave 520 to 1710 kHz, including the recently expanded band in North America and the Pacific, and short-wave coverage is continuous between 1711 and 30,000 kHz. The radio is designed for broadcast listening only; the set has a single 5 kHz AM filter, but no provision for single sideband for listening to amateur radio operators. You will find SSB on other sets that are slightly more expensive. On the other hand, this set has a dual clock function to allow easy conversion from your local time to UTC, the standard time reference used by international broadcasters. There’s also an alarm function and the radio can be set to switch itself off after up to 60 minutes.
Use of the receiver is straightforward. You tap in the frequency you want on the keypad and press the enter key. It is quite easy to scan for strong stations, and you can store up to 40 stations in the memory channels. We discovered that the set is uniformly sensitive across the entire short-wave band, very sensitive in fact. And we found the set considerably more sensitive than the Grundig Yacht Boy 207 or the Sangean ATS 305.
The surprise came when we measured the dynamic range at 58 dB, much better than most portables in this price category. We hadn’t expected that because sensitive radios are often easily swamped in high strength signal areas like Western Europe. This shows the superiority of the dual conversion design. Dynamic range, incidentally, is the ability of a radio to receive desired weak signals while rejecting strong unwanted stations.
The automatic volume control design is the best we’ve seen on many portables, stabilizing out most volume variations that happen because of fading on short-wave. There is a two-position tone control and we think the internal 7 cm diameter speaker sounds rather good; you can get stereo reception on FM if you use headphones.
We got 43 hours of life out of a fresh set of batteries. If you don’t use the set continuously, then that rises to about 53 hours. That’s about the same as ordinary analogue portables, except they tend to use 2 or 4 penlights and the Philips AE-3750 uses six. If you are going to do some serious listening with this radio invest in a mains power supply or you can use rechargeable batteries without a loss in performance.
There’s a small green light to illuminate the set for bedside listening. There’s also a lock switch to disable other buttons. You would use this to avoid the radio springing to life in a suitcase. But the lock switch is not recessed, so in our test pushing the radio against the side of a suitcase made the radio spring to life quite easily. That’s clearly a design oversight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In conclusion, it is good to see that Philips has returned to the world-receiver fold with a good value portable. We note from the guarantee slip that Philips is apparently selling the radio in the Indian subcontinent where digital portables are traditionally hard to find. The price is 250 Dutch Guilders in the Netherlands, which works out at around 125 US dollars at the moment. So, bearing in mind the price and performance, all in all we think this is a good receiver and we’re giving it four stars out of five in our rating scheme.
This review first appeared on the Radio Netherlands website.