N9EWO Review :
G2 Reporter" Radio / MP3-WAV Recorder-Player. Sold in Europe as as the "eton
Elsewhere is sold as the Degen DE1128. The Degen home version was not tested, but should be near identical in performance / operation ?
As with the discontinued Grundig G6 , it is manufactured for Grundig-eton by Degen . No rubberized cabinet paint is used.
This Grundig-eton G2 Reporter uses "white" backlight LED's, where the Degen DE1128 version uses "green" .
Also the DE1128 version has the MW frequency steps set at fixed 9 khz only (this cannot be changed) and
also no English display support to protect "G2 Reporter" sales in North America and other markets .
However we had serious issues with ANY file MP3 (128 kbps) playback with BOTH both test samples and in our view is unacceptable (see review)
(Photo : N9EWO)
N9EWO's Review on the
Grundig G2 "Reporter"
2 Samples Were Tested For This Report
Approx. Serial Number Tested SAMPLE #1 : eG2120 00002x
Approx. Serial Number Tested SAMPLE #2 : eG2120 00049x
Firmware Version Tested (Both Samples) : V0.2.1 (20120309)
Country of Manufacture : (PRC) CHINA.
As you can read elsewhere on this
website, we love the idea of having a digital display SW radio
receiver that can also record direct off air but still in a
smallish or even pocket package. The Chinese firm Degen so far
has made all of these marvels.
The Grundig G2 Reporter Radio / MP3 Recorder-Player we look at here is no exception, as it too was developed and made by Degen. It is sold in Europe as the "eton G2 Reporter". Elsewhere is sold as the Degen DE1128. The Degen home version was not tested, but should be near identical in performance / operation (well almost anyway)?
One has to be careful just to use the Grundig-eton G2 as the model number. Years ago there was another set with this identification. Radio was a very minor low cost MW/FM pocket set. This is not the first time Eton has reused model numbers (The G3 and G4 are two others).
This Grundig-eton G2 Reporter uses "white" backlight LED's, where the Degen DE1128 version uses "green. Also its reported that the DE1128 version has the MW frequency steps set at fixed 9 kHz only (this cannot be changed) and also no English display support to protect "G2 Reporter" sales in North America and other markets where the G2 is sold.
Reportedly the DE1128 operation only supports screen operation languages in: Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Korean. The G2 Reporter covers these languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Czech, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Hebrew and Thai (whew!).
It is also reported that Degen has taken steps to prevent one from taking the G2 Reporter firmware and load it into a DE1128. So dont get any bright ideas, any attempt could turn a DE1128 into a total paperweight. Keep in mind we have NOT had our hands on a DE1128 at the time this report was typed to verify this information.
General Rundown / Frequency Coverage
Our measured size is 7.5 x 3.5 x .7 inches. Weight is just a shade less than 10 ounces. Certainly not a pocket size set like the DE1126 and DE1127 reviewed elsewhere on the web site. Of course here we have 2 speakers on the G2 Reporter.
Thankfully it does not make use of a rubberized cabinet like so many Chinese radios these days including the DE1126 pocket variant. All buttons have an excellent tactile response. There is one knob encoder that is for menu selections and tuning. It is on the larger thicker size (when compared to the tiny THIN one on the DE1126) and has a good feel with little wobble. Also our test samples did not suffer from the skipping trait that afflicts the 1126 and 1127 models (when turning up). No deliberate muting when tuning, but chuffing is present which still slows down the manual tuning process. You have 2 up-down slewing buttons as well and these also are used for starting the auto scanning (up and down the band only, there is no memory scanning). Auto scanning works OK, but stops on the strongest stations only. If it's even a semi-weak signal, it will sail right by.
The Menu enter is less handy, more like a pain (does not press that easy using the same hand/fingers), as one pushes on this same knob in to activate (unlike the seperate button with the DE1126 and DE1127). You have to hang on to the left side with one hand while pushing in the knob with the other. Other than this we felt the ergonomics are generally good. With more area comes with more and larger buttons.
One newly added button over the DE1126 and DE1127 is ESC. This returns one to the main menu and felt this was a plus . Also like the older DE1121 flagship recorder model, there is a very handy MUTE button. The (play) pause also works on record as well. However , there is a 3 minute limit for pause operation, after that it cancels out the playback or record mode . Another 3 minute limit happens when left in any digital playback mode without playing a file , it will shut off to conserve battery life.
Frequency coverage is identical to the variants. That is MW 522 to 1710 kHz, SW 2.30 to 23.00 Mhz and 64 to 108 Mhz on FM broadcast. There is no SSB mode or LW coverage which the DE1121 has.
There is a FM Stereo-Mono selection. But this ALWAYS defaults to mono when selected. So if you desire Stereo, you must press the FM band TWICE every time. Ditto for the RDS function (in the case of the RDS you have to drop into a menu to activate it every time, a royal pain). Both have LCD icons when activated.
MP3 player has shuffle (even if it does not work the greatest, repeats songs way too soon), EQ adjustments and even lyric information can be displayed if provided (this is a separate menu toggle). You can even adjust the tempo if you want to zip over a recording (music or voice) a bit faster.
G2 Reporter" MP3 Player "Shortcut" Tip
(Not In Owners Manual) :
When playing MP3 files, one can push the AM Band Button to cycle through the EQ selections .
Pressing the SW Band Button will cycle through the REPEAT selections .
This saves one having to drop into the menu with the knob for these 2 adjustments .
the display shows the main screen layout is identical to the
Degen DE1126 and DE1127.
But in other area's it is a bit different, including additional (and fewer) menu selections.
But with the G2 Reporter / DE1128, there is a "so-so" RDS , external Line and Mic Input jacks and
a Micro SD card slot on the bottom that adds to the internal 4 GB of memory (up to a 16 GB card) .
(Photo : N9EWO)
LCD / USB
Battery operation is made possible with the included BC-5L lithium ion battery pack (same as with the DE1125). A USB connection is provided for charging the battery and data transfer. One can operate the set while charging the battery. However DO NOT press the power button after the external USB power supply is plugged in. Just hit the menu function (push in the tuning knob). SW or MW reception will of course suffer here, as most USB power supplies are of a switching type. There are no drivers to have to deal with. Just plug the cable into the computer and you are ready to go right after the computer recognizes it. Remember to dismount the device properly from the computer before pulling out the cable.
Timed backlight cannot be switched on for continuous operation. Amount of the time the backlighting is active (after the last button is pressed) is user selectable between 5 to 30 seconds. Contrast is also adjustable. We found it needed to be at least set at 6 or above to see it adequately. Without the backlight in use the dark LCD is very hard to see in low light, the size somewhat offsets this (when compared to the Degen DE1127s pico-size LCD).
Memory and Timers / ATS
The Grundig G2 Reporter can store up to 248 total memories. These are divided up as indicated below (identical layout to the Degen DE1126 and DE1127):
FM/SW (ATS): ...M51~M99
MW (ATS): .M26 ~ M50
FM/SW (manual storage): M1 ~ M50
MW (manual storage): . M26 ~ M50
As you can see above the receiver section has ATS (Auto Tuning System) for use in all bands including SW. Alarm with snooze function. The ATS does a frequency band scan and auto stores the stations it finds in the memory chanels as listed above (Note : MW uses the same memory channels, FM and SW does not). One can set it up for a timer radio recording or awake with a MP3 track . Its a one event thing, but can be selected for a daily happening. I will admit this is not so easy to set up and make work, but easier than the 3 event timer disaster in the DE1121 (arf !).
Just take a look at the Timer Menu as listed in the owners manual
- Sleep Timer: 1~30 minutes SNOOZE timer
- Play Time: 1~30 minutes alarm time
- Alarm Count: 1~30 alarm count
- Alarm Music: Audio / Record alarm music selection
- Alarm Volume: 1~30 level
- Alarm PreView: Alarm with your preset music
- Exit: Exit the alarm setting
Huh?? The manual only gives a vague idea on how to do this too Im afraid.
Main menu icon continues to list all radio operations as FM Radio but we know what they mean.
Text Reader for Simple .txt files
As with the DE1126 and DE1127 we have a Text Reader function. This allows you to read well text (.txt) files. Not that anyone would want to read a book on the tiny LCD screen (you dont). But is useful for say for short frequency lists, owner information in case it gets lost or stolen, or even a shopping list.
Battery Pack / Fragile Battery Cover / Does NOT Include The Charger
The same BC-5L lithium ion battery used with the DE1125, DE1126 and DE1127 is also included with the Grundig G2 Reporter (in this case it a 1050 mah capacity). As it goes with most rechargeable batteries, you need to TOTALLY cycle the pack 3 times to achieve full capacity. It takes about 4 to 4.5 hours to fully charge a dead pack. There are no timers to set, the charge circuit is all automatic.
A cover is located under the tilt stand that needs to be popped off to insert the battery pack. One needs to be extra careful as it looks be very fragile (very thin plastic). Its even more flimsy than the DE1126s cover. The radios tilt stand is much sturdier as metal enforcement has been added to the plastic. However I have to wonder how long the 2 little latching tabs are going to hold up?
Inside the battery cavity, there is a Reset button. This will be required when a (more like if) firmware update is done.
If you do not wish to charge using a PC USB port, you will need to purchase an aftermarket USB charger. It does not come with a stand alone USB charger.
In the flashy split type box you will find: 3 language owners manual, a short mini USB patch cable, a short and very thin 1/8 inch stereo phone to phone audio patch cable, wrist type carrying strap, thin cloth carrying bag and the 1050 mah BC-5L lithium ion battery. Reportedly the Degen DE1128 comes with a longer shoulder type strap.
IMPORTANT NOTE : The lithium-ion battery will become totally discharged when in the OFF state . Yes, if you leave the set idle without charging it (starting fully charged) , in a few weeks (say in 4 weeks or less) the battery will become totally dead. Clock and idle microprocessor current is a bit excessive at 1ma ( 1 mah , so for the reason why). You should get in the habit of fully recharging it just before taking it out of the day, recharge it maybe every 2 weeks if you use it or not, or just remove it. If left in a dead state for any length of time , will greatly reduce the life of the pack
More Jacks, More Functions / Micro SD Card Slot
Just like with the Degen DE1121 model, we find a Line Input jack. So one can take another audio device/ source and play and record it using the G2 (1/8-inch Stereo phone type). So one can plug in another stereo/mono audio device and record it. We found this useful to play our portable mini-Disc player, which has no internal speaker.
It is a bit daunting to make work, be sure and read the section Use As An Active Loudspeaker (Line In) on page 16. In this case it involves the use of the Set button along with the Loudspeaker selection in the Main menu. No super loud volume input levels are required either; unlike the Eton e1s line in jack.
Another jack provided is for use of an external microphone (not tested). One can use the G2 Reporter as a small public address amplifier with the addition of an external microphone (not tested). It does not indicate in the manual if this is a mono or stereotype jack? Next to this jack is the USB port and a mechanical LOCK switch.
One jack that is totally missing (again) is for an external antenna. Of course the only way around that is to "gator clip" a thin wire to the collapsed telescopic whip for an added RF kick.
On the bottom there is a micro SD card slot. This allows for adding up to another 16 GB of memory (not tested). Included internal memory with both test samples was 4 GB.
Great Direct Keyboard Entry, so be a Bit Strange / 5 KHz steps only On SW
Fairly large LCD shows it's entire SW coverage (2.3 to 23 Mhz) when the SW band is FIRST selected (see the lower scale in the photo above). One can tune or scan the entire coverage of the set in this mode, but as soon as the SW Button is pushed again to access the "band" presets it can only scan and tune that band shown on the scale on the bottom of the LCD.
There is direct keyboard entry in the proper numeric telephone layout along with a enter button. It works well enough, just tap the frequencies in KHz (or Mhz on FM, there is no dot to have to fiddle with) hit enter and thats it. However just as it is with manual tuning, on SW you can only enter frequencies within the range as displayed on the LCD bar graph. In other words, the first press of the SW button you can keypad enter in frequencies anywhere in the entire SW frequency coverage of the set. As you jump to a particular SW band (hitting the SW key again and again), the keypad entry is limited to frequencies in the range of that band only.
The keypad can also be used to enter the MP3 or WAV track number.
Tuning steps are fixed at 5 KHz on SW. There is no way to tune any finer. The medium wave band spacing can be user selected at 9 or 10 kHz (reportedly not valid with the Degen DE1128), and the FM band is fixed at 100 kHz.
included 1050 mah lithium-ion battery inserts behind the tilt
stand under another cover. (toothpick not included)
This sub battery cover (sitting left in this picture) is EXTREMELY THIN / fragile and looks like it will not take much abuse ??
One will also find a "Reset" button hole in the lower part of the battery compartment (just as with the DE1126 and DE1127)
The flip stand has a (thin) metal re-enforcement plate which helps support the thin plastic.
(Photo : N9EWO)
Receiver Performance / AGC
Issues Are Fixed / RDS
As with many of the Degen and Tecsun sets these days, the G2 Reporter uses the lone DSP chip for the guts of radio reception.
Along with missing an external antenna jack, there is neither an attenuator switch. As covered above a thin wire clipped to the whip will have to do for any additional SW antenna.
Good news is the exceptionally long whip antenna greatly helps the G2 Reporters receiving power on SW. Not in the super-excellent category, but certainly good if not a bit better. FM performance is very good if not excellent as well. Speaking of that telescopic antenna; its longer and beefier than any other POCKET Degen recording receiver. 8 segments that makes for a nice 3-foot affair. It does swivel and rotate as well. On the downside when fully extended it tends to make the lightweight cabinet a bit top heavy, Turns out this is the same indentical antenna that is used with the DE1121 (and perhaps other Degen models ?).
Anyway, its whip sensitivity is now very respectable and useful on the SW and FM bands when compared to the portable siblings. In side by side testing also with the DE1121 (using batteries as well), its a near tie for sensitivity.
Unlike with many low cost Tecsun DSP models, just a single IF filter is provided. However selectivity is very respectable. Separates stations with above average performance, but not too tight where the audio quality is choked (where the old DE1123 is downright terrible here).
Dynamic range is quite good, even when connected to an external 30 foot indoor wire antenna antenna , at this wire length we never experenced any overloading issues . However when we tried a much longer outdoor antenna , overloading did squash reception depending on the time of day and band conditions (more of a problem at night). Also there was local station MW bleed just on the whip (or any added antenna) at any time of the day . But was not at any excessive levels. Without any attenuator to help tame this, about all one can do with the overloading is use a lesser "shorter" antenna .
MW sensitivity is another story and is the same boat as the variants. It does OK with local and regional stations, but for anything beyond that forget it. If you are looking for a super sensitive above average MW portable, well the G2 Reporter is a set that is NOT for you.
The AGC clipping issues that has plagued most of the Degen pocket marvels starting with the DE1123 is near totally absent. So this issue was finally fixed. Still a strange pop in and out trait still is noticed with very marginal signals. This was noticed more with FM broadcast signals.
Unlike the 2 other variants, the G2 Reporter has a very useful RDS (Radio Data System). As covered elsewhere, it requires you to jump into the menus and turn it on every time you bring up the FM band. There is a selection (hit the Play/Pause button) that allows a longer text view line; otherwise its too short. Its not the most sensitive or speedy RDS we have ever used. It takes a pretty powerful station to activate it, but is useful anyway.
Audio Quality OK for the Size / Blue Universal Radio Plastic Stand
OK, so we have 2 small "stereo" speakers, which give for pretty acceptable audio considering the size of this device. It will not please the folks who want thundering Bass (it just is not going to happen). Packs plenty of audio punch too. No hissy trait either, clean sound overall.
We do hear a few light digital burps and pops when selecting different modes and at power up/ down but did not find this to be a real drawback. Side Note: It does take a bit more time to boot up (power up) when compared to the DE1126 or DE1127.
The smaller Blue Universal Radios plastic stand holds the G2 Reporter near perfect, however it degrades the audio quality when set into it. This is due to the blockage of the speaker ports on the G2s rear side. Have to wonder if adding some holes in the stand might help this (IMPORTANT NOTE : This modification was NOT tested) ?
Makes Decent Off Air Recordings , No More Crackly Odd Sounds
For the off air recording there are two quality selections. One is in the WAV format at 129 kbps (sample rate 16000 hz) and the other is MP3 at 40 kbps. The 40 kbps MP3 setting is so narrow hollow sounding that is pretty much useless. The default 129 kbps WAV format makes for pretty decent recordings (other than being a bit sharp sounding). On FM it will record in stereo too. Pause does operate in record, which is very useful to kill commercials but as covered above there is a 3 minute limit when it times out , (saves the file of course) and quits .
IMPORTANT: Adjust the volume setting to " 10 " BEFORE YOU START RECORDING (be sure it's set at 10 no more...no less). Volume level affects the recording quality. If it's set any higher, more distortion will be heard.
With the DE1126 and DE1127 variants there is a annoying crackly "Tick-Tock" clocking sound that can occur when the off air recording mode is engaged. Very good news here is with both test samples the G2 Reporter had NONE of these strange noises when doing any Off Air Recording. So a HUGE improvement here !
When making voice recording off the internal microphone, there are a number of DIFFERENT settings. Here the format is WAV and at 256 kpbs. Also there is a VOR mode (voice activation). It makes very decent sensitive voice recordings.
But why the variances between off air recording and internal mic recording modes and also at totally different bit rates is a very strange question.
The excellent layout of the recorder control buttons makes for easy use.
G2 Reporter" PAUSE "RECORD" Tip (Not
In Owners Manual) :
When using the PAUSE function you have a 3 minute limit (playback or record). After this "Pause" is
stopped (and so is the playback or record). However when in RECORD-PAUSE mode, one can extend the
PAUSE time limit by just hitting the RECORD button (within the 3 minute "time-out" window) .
keyboard entry makes for much easier operation , however is a bit
strange (see review).
"Mute" button is a very handy feature (as with the Degen DE1121). "Pause" has a 3 minute use limit (playback or record, see above).
(Photo : N9EWO)
Serious Intermittent MP3 Player Dropouts and/or Skipping
OK . here comes the MAJOR downer and deal killer with the Grundig G2 Reporter (in our view)
We experienced these bugs to a mild extent with the SECOND Degen DE1127 test sample ON PLAYBACK (firmware V0.1.8) and found a way around that, but in the case of both test samples of the etons G2 Reporter, its much more serious and irritating with no cure.
With known GOOD and properly TRANSFERED 128 kbps MP3 music files , BOTH of our test samples player function intermittently suffers up to 1-second dropouts / skipping . The severity varies greatly, sometimes its not too bad and other times its 2 , 3 or 4 times on just one tune. We use music in 3 directories that total up to about 700 tunes. IMPORTANT : Our EQ setting varies but the REPEAT mode is set at RANDOM (a.k.a. shuffle). So if you wanted the G2 for a properly operating MP3 player , well you better look elsewhere (say the older Degen DE1121) .
Yes , even worse news is this bug can affect all of the off air or microphone RECORDINGS made within the device as well (but not as often). If you take any of the G2 Reporter generated files and transfer to the personal computer, the bug CAN appear here as well (again "skipping" in WAV , "dropouts" in MP3). Again, it is very important to note that the severity varies greatly. In any event this totally ruins the best part of the G2 Reporter for me.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Eton Corporation was advised of these issues before this review was posted. They sent us a replacement sample, which suffered the same identical bugs.
Manual is a Little Stinker
The included printed owners manual is a typical Degen disaster. Obviously translated from a Chinese copy. It points you in the right direction most of the time. However some sections leaves the owner in the cold for even basic use. One example is the Voice Recording operation (microphone) on page 12. Yes it tells you how to select the quality level/mode, but that is it. At least its printed in BLACK ink, unlike some other Eton manuals that used GRAY , which is very hard to see.
Bottom Line: With the Serious Digital Recorder/Playback Issues, Unacceptable Product .
As we cover above the Grundig G2 Reporter with the unacceptable problems on dropouts / skipping with transfered MP3 playback files (128 kbps), in our view this model a huge waste of money.
Overall the DSP receiver performs very adequately (except on MW). However as it stands at the time this report was typed, its on the bottom of the heap with main real reason to own one is gone (that being the MP3 file problems).
[Please Note: As coved here elsewhere on this web page, Degens quality is a real hit or miss exercise. The Grundig G6 (another Degen made set) sensitivity can vary greatly between production samples.]
While its not quite as bad as the very short-lived Grundig G4 (Degen DE1122) model a few years ago (that lasted on the market for about only 2 weeks), in our view this product is another caveat emptor for the price point. A firm thumbs down for me.
Picture shows the very short MW loopstick.
Just as with the DE1126 and DE1127 models MW sensitivity is "fair" at BEST.
(Photo Edit : N9EWO)
Links (Subject To Change Without
Eton's G2 Reporter "Product Card" Web Page (including PDF owners manual)
Universal Radio's G2 Reporter Web Page
Degen's DE1128 Download Page (Translated from Chinese)
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