1,871 of 1,897 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product
Finally, a small emergency hand crank weather radio that really works. I've owned several hand crank emergency radios and none of them have operated as advertised. In my opinion most of them are junk but in comparison this Ambient Weather WR-111 works great with only a few minor complaints that I will list below.
The basic premise of an emergency radio is easy...
Published 22 months ago by JET
785 of 812 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Weather alert" mode drains battery
Overall this is a good product. The radio itself seems sturdy. I'm a bit hard of hearing and the radio is loud enough for me. The radio stations and weather station both came in very clearly. The cell phone charger worked, as well. But the feature I was most excited about was the "weather alert" mode, and that is where a bit of disappointment settled in.
Published 19 months ago by lemon
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1,871 of 1,897 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product,
This review is from: Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables (Electronics)Finally, a small emergency hand crank weather radio that really works. I've owned several hand crank emergency radios and none of them have operated as advertised. In my opinion most of them are junk but in comparison this Ambient Weather WR-111 works great with only a few minor complaints that I will list below.
The basic premise of an emergency radio is easy. When the crap hits the fan you need an emergency radio that you can count on to work off the grid. There are two things that this radio needs to be able to do to be useful in most emergency situations; (1) It has to be able to power up after being stored for many months without the luxury of being plugged into the electrical grid or an inexhaustible supply of alkaline batteries and (2) it needs to be able to receive radio transmissions a reasonable distance from the transmitter. Now that sounds simple, but it's been difficult for anyone to get it right in the past while keeping the size, weight and price down. This one is very close to being done right.
(1)The price is great and the radio works extremely well.
(2)The sound is very clear and crisp.
(3)The digital tuner is awesome. I live 60 miles from the NOAA weather transmitter with a few mountains in between. When I first turned on the weather band in the house I could hear the weather report OK and I thought wow this is pretty good. But when I stepped near the window or went outside with the WR-111 I got perfect reception. I couldn't believe it. It really worked. All of my other weather radios did not receive the transmission at all at this distance, inside or outside.
(4)This is a great radio for an emergency preparedness kit but it would also be a very nice everyday solar powered compact radio.
(5)When you get the radio even close to a window the solar panel starts to charge the battery which is indicated by the LED. Obviously outside in the direct sunlight will provide the best solar charging environment but that is not always an option. Just sitting inside on a widow sill should keep the battery charged.
(6)This device will charge a cell phone. I tested the cell phone charging capability and it worked pretty well. I used an old cell phone just in case something went wrong. When I started the battery showed low on the phone. I left the radio and cell phone plugged together for about an hour sitting in a window so that solar charger was contributing. After a few hours my phone showed a full charge. I was surprised by this since the radio's users manual says it will only provide a partial charge on your cell phone. Either way I'm sure the charge will be sufficient for an emergency call for help. I did not test the charging capability on an I-Pad, I-Pod or other device.
(7)The buttons on the radio are straight forward and are easy to use. I was able to take the radio straight out of the box and make it work without looking at the manual. I did look at the manual to see how to set the clock which was also easy after reading the instructions.
(8)The radio display is back lighted and is very easy to read in a completely dark room. I especially like that the display back lighting goes dark after a few seconds of no buttons being pushed. This extends the battery life and reduces the amount of light emitted at night.
(1)It's made in China. But that's how they can sell a decent product this cheap.
(2)The charging indicator LED is a little bright for me. The brightness may not matter to most people but if that is an issue for you, you could always cover it up with something to make it dimmer. I used one of those easy peel dots you get from an office supply store.
(3)The WR-111's box lists one of the radio's features as a carabiner clip. Mine doesn't have one that I can find so I'm not sure what it is talking about. I think it must be a typo on the box. It's not mentioned anywhere in the users manual.
(4)It would be nice if it included a small cloth bag for all of the plugs and cables. Until I think a better way, I will leave these parts in the zip lock bag in the bottom of the box. The whole thing is going in my primary bug out bag anyway.
(5)The one thing that I think would improve the radios usability would be if the radio were waterproof or at least weather proof.
(1)Be sure to remove the little plastic tab from the battery compartment before using the hand crank. The manual states that cranking the radio without the battery in place or the plastic tab removed could damage the radio. And save that little plastic tab so that you can reuse it to extend the battery life while the radio is in storage.
(2)To make sure that the battery maintains it full capacity you should fully charge the battery every few months. Every time you take the radio out of storage to charge the radio battery you need to remove the plastic battery tab before charging the battery or attempting to use the radio to do anything including charging your cell phone or another device.
(3)If you are putting this radio in an emergency kit don't worry about setting the time. When you reinstall the plastic battery tab it's going to reset the clock anyway.
(4)Be sure to read the entire manual. The manufacturer has provided a lot of other important information and provided a list of available accessories that I have not mentioned.
Summary: This is the best light weight, low cost, hand crank emergency radio that I have found to date. These types of radios are notorious for having weak tuners and poor reception. The Ambient Weather WR-111 really works amazingly well. The solar charger is a major bonus on this radio. The radios ability to at least partially charge so many external devices in an emergency is a crazy double bonus. The manufacturer has really gone out of their way to try to think of everything. This is a great radio but my one suggestion for improving the product would be to make it waterproof or at least weather proof. I would recommend this radio to hunters, fisherman, survivalist, sailors, backpackers, construction workers, housewives and everyone who believes in being prepared for the worst. I have one in my BUG OUT BAG and I am considering buying more for other locations.
785 of 812 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Weather alert" mode drains battery,
This review is from: Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables (Electronics)Overall this is a good product. The radio itself seems sturdy. I'm a bit hard of hearing and the radio is loud enough for me. The radio stations and weather station both came in very clearly. The cell phone charger worked, as well. But the feature I was most excited about was the "weather alert" mode, and that is where a bit of disappointment settled in.
When I first opened the box I removed the tab from the battery compartment and fully charged the radio with the USB adapter per the manual recommendations. I listened to the radio for 30 minutes and then set it on "weather alert" mode. I placed the radio in a sunny window so it would continue to charge through the solar panel. The next morning when I woke up I noticed the radio was no longer in weather alert mode and only the time was displayed on the radio. I turned the radio on and got about 3 mins of play before it shut off and flashed a battery warning.
I was confused as to why the radio only gave me 30 minutes of play before quitting on me after a full charge. I suspected either I had a faulty product or the "weather alert" mode was a power drain to the product.
I e-mailed Ambient Weather and got a very quick response from Ed, who confirmed my suspicion that the "weather alert" mode drains the battery. He recommended that I purchase a USB to AC adapter for when the radio is in "weather alert" mode. He also said that the solar charge feature wasn't enough to keep up with the "weather alert" mode. He did say that they needed to include that information in the manual in the future.
I am disappointed in the fact that I couldn't just set the radio in the window and kind of forget about it until I received a "weather alert." Other than that, I'm happy with the purchase.
794 of 825 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient Weather ADVENTURER Emergency Radio,
This review is from: Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables (Electronics)
I LOVE THIS RADIO!!! This is my review of the Ambient Weather ADVENTURER emergency radio. I left out in the video that the battery is removable and replaceable. If you live in an area that has earthquakes, tornadoes, floods or hurricanes you need this radio. In an emergency you should have 1) food 2) water 3) THIS RADIO!!!
156 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly multi-featured Radio,
But here's where the fun surprises start:
- the unit includes cables & adapters for most any cell phone, enabling you to add a boost charge to your cell phone. Also, you can use the speaker in the Radio with your iPod / iPhone music player - it's no Bose system, but the speaker is better than the ones in your phone. And, with the solar charger, you can do this all day without killing your phone battery!
- the LED flashlight is a nice feature - it's plenty bright, and works for a long time when you charge the battery with the hand-crank.
- the Radio's re-chargeable battery can be easily replaced when it wears out - this is a refreshing surprise compared to so many other devices that have to be thrown away when the re-chargeable battery wears out (are you listening, Philips Sonicare?)
- there's yet another cable that enables you to charge up via a USB port. Not really sure when this would be handy, but they've sure covered all the bases with this one!
A couple minor complaints:
- it would be convenient if there was a compartment for the little adapter cables. The case seems large enough for this...
- the battery-low indicator is activated (according to the manual) when the voltage drops below 3V. When the low-battery condition is activated, the radio stops working. It would be nice if there were a level of charge indication, so you could know to start cranking in more charge before the radio quit.
I initially thought I'd use the Radio in emergencies only, but now I can see me using it anytime I happen to be away from 120V power!
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the extra few bucks,
1) Customer Service - more on this later
2) No knobs to break off
3) Back-lit Digital Display
4) Protective Rubber Housing
5) Charging cable & Adapters
the radio is easy to use. I owned a previous generation of this radio. During my first use of the radio I put it in my pack and notice a faint glow coming through the pack. The radio's flashlight had been activated perhaps by gear that had settled and pushed the top button. If I had not noticed I would have had a dead battery and had to crank it back up. I contacted the company to let them know about the problem. The company contacted me and stated they would fix the problem with a better switch. The item went off of the marketplace for about three weeks only resurface with a new switch. I am stunned how any company would care that much about a customers feedback they would institute a change to their product. It is a great radio and beats others at the same or lower price-point.
193 of 211 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars crank broke off at second use!,
Yesterday during the worst of Hurricane Sandy we were without power. We plugged our cell phone into the charger and started hand cranking. We're handy people and we take care of our equipment, so we were careful. First there was a creaking noise, some resistance and a burned smell. Then the crank jammed and broke off. So we were without cell and without radio in the emergency situation for which we bought it!
I can't thank the manufacturers enough! Here I was, thinking I was well-prepared. Good riddance to that assumption!
PS (10/31/2012). Someone from Ambient almost immediately contacted me and said they are shipping me a new radio under the one-year warranty. If it turns out to have been a problem with just this one item, I am happy to try another one since, as I wrote, I like the functions. Let's see what happens. I will use it a couple of times soon (in a non-emergency situation!) and will change the rating according to the success/failure of the hand crank!
One thing I can say: they have great customer service!
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite happy with my purchase,
Digital- Seems to lock into my local stations perfectly. I was worried about not being able to manually tune in for best reception. Has not been a problem. Also, I never listen to AM radio, mainly because I could never get decent reception in the car or my home stereo. This thing picks up AM stations perfectly and I feel like I am discovering a whole new world. Even if it is just boring political talk :) Also, the NOAA stuff comes in perfectly as well. Too boring to listen to for very long but I'm glad it will be there if I ever need it.
Solar- So far decent lighting has kept my radio playing. As long as its in light it keeps trucking along.
Hand Crank - Previous radios were cheaply made in this department. I dont feel like I'm going to break it when I use it.
Flashlight - A nice suprise! With the light on the side and the thin radio this unit can be held and used like an actual flashlight. The 3 LED's are very bright as well.
Design- This thing is smaller than expected but, thinking about carrying this in my bug out bag makes that a good thing. Also for you tool guys and gals, this thing looks like it should say "Snap On" on it. Very attractive piece.
Battery - This is the number one reason I bought this radio. It is easy to change the battery when it go's bad. I dont know how easy its going to be to find the 3volt battery locally but I plan to keep a backup on me as well.
I'm not going to lie, I think the 39.99 price tag is high but, even at that price I would buy it again.
The tab on the side shows a pair of headphones on it. You cannot use that port for headphones, its audio in only. So unfortunately no personal listening. You cant listen to the radio when everybody else wants to sleep. Also other models say the battery will last longer when using the headphones. We will never know.
It doesnt include a carabiner clip as advertised. Not a problem for me as I dont see how that would have been useful anyway. The lanyard was a much better choice.
Speaker: Quite small. A little tinny but that is to be expected with any little radio. Not a problem for me and I have already gotten used to it. In fact I have heard plenty off worse radios and I cant really think of one that was better. Not really a con but still not a pro.
Carrier - Missing. I would have really loved to have gotten a carry case to protect my investent. Also it would be nice if this imaginary carry case had a side pocket to carry all of the accessories that came with the radio.
My biggest gripe:
I was hoping to be able to use this radio as a "normal" radio and plug it in to the wall via the USB and wall converter. However as the manual says, the FM reception is horrible. This will hinder me from being able to plug it into the camper and listen without cranking at night. If I can get a decent amount of listening time off the battery, this wont matter. We shall see.
Overall as emergency radios go, this seems to be a good one that I hope will last me years. Like you (I'm sure), I have read many negative reviews on the Kaitos and Etons during my research here on Amazon. They frightened me and kept me from knowing what to buy. The positive reviews on this unit made me chance $40 (I'm not a gambling person and I consider $40 a substantial amount to wager on a radio that doesnt say Sony). I think I made a good choice and now I have a little more piece of mind for future disasters. lol, I sound like I am a salesman for Ambient Weather :) I never heard of the company before and I am not affiliated with them. I'm just a regular person in earthquake country!
70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works Great Even in the Boonies,
A. It picks up the the closest NOAA station and broadcasts alerts loud and clear.
B. It also picks up the local FM stations better than even my car radio--big plus, especially in rural areas.
C. I leave it on the window sill with the antenna extended at all times, set to "weather alerts" (flashing "WB" on display), solar charging, and last Wednesday, it emitted a clear tone, followed by the weekly weather alert simulcast of the emergency signal test that goes out over the tv airwaves.
D. It came with a lanyard.
I had previously tried a Chaney Instrument model from Walmart and it not only required programming, but it never broadcast the weekly test. Too unreliable.
As luck would have it, the charger adapter tip for my cell arrived bent, but the seller is sending me a replacement without delay or charge. Very pleasant buying experience and product delivers as advertised. My only quibbles are:
1. Some functions are non-intuitive to turn on/off.
2. As with most product photos on Amazon, the pictures do not show scale. Just putting a playing card next to the item in one photo would help a lot.
3. A wall power adapter for the radio should come with it (it is a separate purchase).
4. Needs a cable/adapter storage compartment.
I've never had to use a crank to recharge a device, so we'll see how that goes. But so far, I'm very pleased.
03-06-12 Update: I am now going to buy the separate wall power adapter because the solar panel on the radio either isn't getting enough sunlight, or it isn't working right, I don't know at this point.
The customer service is still really great and I am still impressed with the radio.
03-11-12 Update: Didn't get the wall adapter after all, simply re-purposed an iPod USB wall adapter to keep it plugged in at all times and it works just fine. Don't know why the solar charger doesn't seem to work. The only issue now is when the radio needs to top off the battery, it emits a VERY bright red light. Otherwise, still very happy with the item.
128 of 141 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How is this getting such good reviews? [UPDATED],
I usually trust Amazon reviews, and I've never been disappointed when purchasing a product that averages more than 4 stars. But this device was a major disappointment! This is cheap junk. The first time I tried to use it to charge my phone, the crank handle popped off with little force after just a few seconds. I popped it back on. Soon after the rotation jammed, and the handle popped off again, this time breaking off one of the pins that held it in place. I suspect the pin fell inside the crank shaft causing it to jam.
PROS: The radio and flashlight seem to work well enough. Not terribly loud or bright but adequate.
CONS: It appears sturdy but this is deceptive. Poor construction and made from cheap plastics. Lousy packaging too.
UPDATE: [10/12/2012] The vendor for this product promptly contacted me and offered me a replacement which I received last week. They claim the problem was due to a defective unit that did not allow the crank from turning freely thus causing the handle to break off. The replacement works well and I've had no problems so far. I've increased my rating from 1-star to 3-stars thanks to their prompt response and desire to remediate the problem.
84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Works Great (update it died!),
(Update Review 6 weeks after purchase) The weather radio worked great until a few days ago. It died. I removed the battery and re-installed it and it worked again for about a day. I keep having to re-install the battery or it dies. I'm guessing something is wrong with the battery. It was an expensive product to only get 6 weeks out of it!
(Update 4 weeks after last update) Well They did replace the unit. It was a hassle free replacement. Kudos to Ambient Weather for their customer service!
(Update 2 weeks after last update) The 2nd unit has failed and is doing the same thing as the first unit. It died so I hit the reset button but it keeps dying. I love this radio but it just keeps dying. It has been a complete waste of money and a big waste of time.
(Last update) The 2nd unit was replaced by AW. The AW customer service is great I must say! This 3rd unit has worked great now for ~3 weeks. Like the other units I keep this one plugged into an AC outlet so it's always fully charged when needed. This will be the last one I try. If this one fails I will just toss it and forget about the money wasted. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one will hold up! If not I'll post another update.
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Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather A... by Ambient Weather