THE BEST LOW BUDGET SDR RADIO ON THE MARKET
RTL-SDR SDR RADIO RECEIVER REVIEW
RTL-SDR V3 SDR REVIEW
The RTL-SDR V3 is the best low budget SDR radio on the market. At a cost of only $25 and free shipping, it's like getting a receiver that costs hundreds of dollars for some pocket change.
Many older RTL-SDR radios only have a frequency range of around 24 MHz - 1800 MHz. This means that you could not listen to shortwave radio / HF ham radio. The RTL-SDR V3 has a frequency range of 500kHz - to 1800 MHz, thus giving you full HF / shortwave radio capabilities.
Older RTL-SDR radios did not have a TXCO circuit, (temperature controlled crystal oscillator) therefore they had a tendency to drift slightly off frequency. The RTL-SDR V3 has an accurate TXCO circuit, therefore it is always on frequency. This is very important when listening to SSB radio activity.
BEST RTL-SDR V3 SET UPS
RTL-SDR V3, SDR Console with RtlSdr_Catalog
Using the RTL-SDR V3 and SDR Console software with the Rtl_Sdr EXTIO (driver) is awesome, as it allows one to tune from HF to VHF / UHF without changing the sampling mode settings in RTL-SDR Controller window.
When using RTL-SDR V3 with other software, one must go to the RTL-SDR Controller window and switch from Quadrature Sampling to Direct Sampling (Q branch), whenever you want to tune below 24 MHz.
RTL-SDR V3, SDRUNO Version 1.22 with ExtIO_RTLSDR_u8.dll
SDRUNO SDR radio software is the best. (opinion) You must have an SDRplay device to use modern versions of SDRUNO software, but, SDRUNO Version 1.22 can be used with other SDR radio receivers that use an EXTIO.
Install SDRUNO Version 1.22, place the ExtIO_RTLSDR_u8.dll in your Windows My Documents folder and enjoy.
RTL-SDR V3 CONS
The RTL-SDR V3 only has one downside. Compared to more expensive SDR radios, it has an inherently noisy receiver. It's noise level is much higher than more expensive SDR radios. This does not prevent you from truly enjoying the radio, as it is only a factor when you compare it to more expensive SDR radios. For example, when using an AIRSPY or SDRplay device in SDR# software, one can have the IF Noise Reduction set at -50dB to produce a soft noise floor that is pleasant to the ear. The RTL-SDR V3 requires the IF Noise Reduction to be set at -30dB to produce the same quiet noise floor.
Ten to twenty years ago you had to spend a thousand dollars to buy a radio receiver with the functionality and performance of the RTL-SDR V3 receiver. It's like getting a thousand plus dollar receiver for only twenty five bucks.
The RTL-SDR V3 receiver is the perfect entry level SDR radio. If you spend $25 and find that this hobby is not for you, it's no big loss. If you find that you enjoy the hobby, the RTL-SDR V3 will keep you entertained until you can purchase a more expensive SDR radio.