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173 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent multi-function radio/flashlight cell phone charger
Customer Video Review     Length:: 9:08 Mins
After Sandy, I realized I needed a portable emergency radio and I bought this unit because it can be used to charge up a cell phone (20-30%) in a real emergency and also because the rechargeable battery that powers the radio is completely replaceable. This increases the lifespan of the product compared to many other hand-crank emergency radios...
Published on November 15, 2012 by Robert David

versus
209 of 217 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worked for only 4 months
UPDATE:
After using this several months, the USB charging circuit and solar charging doesn't work any more, although the hand crank does work.

I replaced the broken Ambient Weather with an Eton FRX3, which is running off the same charger as the defunct Ambient Weather. The price fluctuates up and down on Amazon for the Eton by about 10 bucks. So if you...
Published on October 26, 2012 by Amazon FL Guy


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209 of 217 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worked for only 4 months, October 26, 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
UPDATE:
After using this several months, the USB charging circuit and solar charging doesn't work any more, although the hand crank does work.

I replaced the broken Ambient Weather with an Eton FRX3, which is running off the same charger as the defunct Ambient Weather. The price fluctuates up and down on Amazon for the Eton by about 10 bucks. So if you want this one, you might watch it a day or two in your cart and buy when it bottoms out in price. I got the Eton for around $52. The couple of extra bucks was worth it. It has more features - red flashing LED light, alarm, infinite volume control, two tuning options, etc. It comes in red or black as well as a Red Cross model.

Eton FRX3 Hand Turbine NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger - Red (NFRX3WXR)

I was happy with the Ambient Weather while it worked properly. But if I was making a suggestion to a friend, now that I've used the Eton, I feel it's superior.
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173 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent multi-function radio/flashlight cell phone charger, November 15, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Length:: 9:08 Mins

After Sandy, I realized I needed a portable emergency radio and I bought this unit because it can be used to charge up a cell phone (20-30%) in a real emergency and also because the rechargeable battery that powers the radio is completely replaceable. This increases the lifespan of the product compared to many other hand-crank emergency radios whose batteries are INTERNAL and degrade over several years.

Even more impressive, this radio features a separate battery compartment that uses regular alkaline AAA batteries, meaning you can pick up a few extra emergency packs of AAA batteries and use these to power the radio AND charge a cell phone. Think about it: lots of electronics stores sell little gadgets that use AA batteries to charge a cell phone, but how many of these types of gadgets are also a fully functional flashlight and a AM/FM, NOAA dedicated weather band radio?

In the video, I forgot to mention there is a small black switch underneath that rubber flap that you must shift left or right according to the battery type you are using (either the rechargeable blue battery or the 3 AAA batteries.

The radio can be recharged either by hand cranking (I'd only use this method in a real emergency), sitting in the sun (the solar cells on top), USB (plugging the radio into a powered USB port on a computer), or you can buy an AC power cord (sold separately) that lets you plug the radio into an electrical wall socket.
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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full featured and complete emergency radio, November 23, 2012
By 
Takei (NY United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a rather long writeup with some observations and measurements I made on this item that might be of interest to those who already own the radio.

Measurements on radio:

Charging current when hand cranking at 120 RPM: 250mA
Charging current in sunlight: 25mA
Charging current with USB connection: 150mA

Power consumption on standby, radio off: 136uA (0.136mA of the 600mAH capacity) This would translate to fully draining the battery in 6 months if kept in the dark on standby; if kept by a window, it should get enough solar charging current to maintain it indefinitely.
Radio on: 25mA, volume at minimum, 35mA+ at normal volume
Weatherband alert standby mode: 19.3mA
Flashlight: 65mA

Output voltage of DC-DC converter 5.15V
DC-DC converter turns on only when load is detected at the USB charging output port; when left unconnected, it turns off automatically to minimize power drain.

Radio audio has a very slight bit of noise when when volume is set very low, appears to be some audio fuzziness or static-y sound when the audio comes on and off, particularly evident with speech. When the volume is turned up further it's no longer as apparent. Comparison with the other radios doesn't show this characteristic. More nitpicking than anything, at normal volumes it masks out the bit of baseline noise.
When a weak AM signal was being received, I noticed a periodic clicking noise that seemed like it might have been internally generated; noticed on both of the radios tried. Not evident when listening to the same station at a closer location, however.

I found the weatherband reception is much better than on the Eton radios, it comes in loud and clear compared to the sound from the other radios, which sounds very scratchy under identical conditions. A huge difference that more than makes up for the low volume noise on the other bands.

The digital tuning is nice in that it locks in without need to diddle knobs for best reception, and doesn't get accidentally jarred in handling, however, the tuning is rather tedious by the absence of presets or the ability to rapidly sweep up and down by holding the button down as one might normally expect. While it does have a seek feature when the buttons are held down, it takes a relatively long 3 seconds before it starts seeking, and because it regularly stops on even weak stations, it ends up being faster to furiously click the buttons to go through the 120 step tuning range on AM, or 205 steps on FM. As I'd like to be able to turn off the power to the radio when not using it just to save on the tiny bit of standby power draw, this means always starting out at the very bottom of the band, where it will reset when power is lost. If you regularly listen only to stations at the bottom or top that'd be fine, but I happen to prefer the stations 32 clicks up, so I have to click away every time I cycle the power.
I'd be satisfied if the frequencies would just change rapidly when the button is held down for the 3 seconds, so it would just take one click to get to the desired range. The buttons put out a definitive click! with each press, so it might be an object of curiosity in a quiet area with the rapidfire clicking emanating from the area. Fellow office dwellers might wonder if you're playing space invaders or something.

If AAA batteries are kept with the radio as a backup/backup, they're best stored outside the radio to avoid leakage and damage to the radio.
As I don't plan to use the AAA batteries on a normal basis, in lieu of placing the insulating tab on the battery contact, I simply switch the battery selection to the AAA position, which disconnects the rechargeable battery to prevent all drain, and effectively turn off the radio. I like the use of the lithium ion battery, with its low self discharge characteristic making it well suited for long term storage and emergency use duty. Note that with switch in the AAA position, the Li-ion battery is completely disconnected, so all charging is disabled, whether solar or hand cranking.

This is also an interesting way to run the radio entirely off solar power; to do this you need to first power on the radio with the switch in the rechargeable battery position, tune it to the desired station, and then with the strong source of sunlight on the solar cells, switch it to the AAA position. Now it's running entirely on light.
Note that the volume needs to be kept low, because the solar cells are only just enough to power the radio at low volumes. Playing it louder with the higher draw will end up resetting the radio and turning it off again. This is handy as an "auto off" feature where you can have it playing as long as there's light, and it'll shut off when the sunlight is lost, with no concerns about draining down your battery. It won't come back on automatically when the light is available again, because of the high power draw on startup, and the need to turn on and retune the radio.

While the official recommendations are now to use the phone charging feature only from the battery, and without hand cranking, I purchased a right angle USB adapter so that the cord doesn't obstruct the crank to the degree that it does when plugged in normally, and found I could maintain the phone charging current for a more continuous basis by cranking away while charging the phone. Otherwise the phone charging would start cycling off and back on after a few minutes, because of the heavy draw on the radio battery. It stops charging once the radio battery drops below the threshold, and as it recovers from the charging current draw being stopped, turns back on again, and repeats over and over. Cranking while the phone charges helps keep the radio battery from draining too rapidly. I had no problems trying this with a dumb, "unsmart" phone, so you may want to be cautious about other devices that may be sensitive to erratic power delivery, and stick with the official process of battery only charging, unplugging, crank recharging, plugging back in and resuming battery charging, etc.

The battery door is quite difficult to open up; pretty much impossible without a tool handy, due to the very tiny nail nick provided. Initially I simply put a tab cut from some cardstock at the latch, so it was easy to just pull it to open up the door. It needed to be aligned each time though.

I've since found that a piece of Kapton tape slipped in between the slot to make a tab handle works perfectly to provide a grip to pull the door off. Scotch tape could be used also, but it wouldn't be as durable. Just carefully slide it between the slot, wrap the two ends together, and leave the tab outside the door when pressing it closed.

I haven't decided the best use of the carabiner clip handle yet, but I've just been using it to attach a satchel containing the charge cord and adapters, since no storage is provided for them. I wouldn't have minded a slightly larger size to implement a small storage compartment for these, to keep everything together. Otherwise there's a good chance they might get misplaced, if used on a regular basis rather than strictly for emergency duty in the original box.

All in all, a worthy purchase that works very well as is, with just a few minor things that would have made it even better.
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77 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It does EVERYTHING I want it to do, November 9, 2012
By 
Bill Cole (Phoenix, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I placed my order for 2 radios @2215 6 Nov. I received them 2 days later even though I paid for the cheapest & slowest shipping costs. I don't believe it's possible for the radios to be damaged in transit, that is how good the packaging is designed.

AFTER READING THE MANUAL - I followed the instructions step for step & everything worked as advertised.

THE LITHIUM ION BATTERY - is readily available from any battery store unlike all the competitor radios that have proprietary batteries that are expensive & must be bought from the mfg. I've uploaded a photo showing the battery & back of the radio.

AM & FM RECEPTION - is excellent & static free even inside the metal building of my employer.

CHARGING - my radio charges itself using the solar panel from inside my apt using indirect sunlight. I've uploaded a photo showing the paragraph that was omitted from the manual, it has to do with CHARGING & was included with my radio.

AC & DC POWER SUPPLY ADAPTORS - the output voltage from both is 5 volts, same as my Garmin AC & DC adaptors, so I am able to use them instead of having to buy the optional Ambient Weather AC & DC adaptors.

I plan to use the radio for every day use & use the ac power supply at night when I want the weather ALERT, to be active.

I plan to buy a couple more to give as Christmas presents because this is a practical & functionally useful piece of equipment

I don't have a cell phone so I can't comment on whether or not the hand crank will charge a cell phone battery enough to make a call
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly identical to the 111B, May 3, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First, the differences:
The 111B has a wrist lanyard; the 333 has a caribiner clip.
The 111B is 3" tall, 2" thick and 5.5" long; the 333 is 3.75" tall, 2" thick and 7.75" long.
The lights are slightly different: the 111B has 3 LEDs in a circle; the 333 are in a row.
The 333 weighs a little bit more.
And, the major difference is the 333 can be powered with 3 AAA batteries (not included).

The rest is identical. My testing the two has turned up no differences between them in operation.

The plastic hand crank seems like it will hold up well if I don't get carried away.
The sound is quite good for the size of the radios.
The radios have digital tuning, but you have to step through the stations via up/down buttons.
There are settings for AM/FM/Weather.
The ports for charging, etc are covered for protection when not in use.

I had bought the 111B to have to use in emergencies and was about to buy another when I was offered the 333 to try and review. One of these will stay in the house and the other in the car.

I am very pleased with their operation and features.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good radio with a hype problem, April 25, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I live in earthquake country, so I'm always looking for things for the emergency kit. This radio/flashlight is a nice little addition, but if you are expecting it to act like a generator you will be disappointed.

Pros:

- Recharges via USB. In a power failure you can plug it into a charged laptop and siphon battery like you would siphon gas from a car to a generator. The L-ion battery is also user-replaceable.

- Will also take AAA batteries. (Though I broke a thumbnail trying to open the battery compartment).

- A full day of California sunshine on the solar cell (more of a solar strip) gave me about three hours of AM/FM radio. (But see below about the crank and the solar cell).

- Reasonably bright LED flashlight.

- Can be used to give an emergency charge to a cell phone, and includes three adapters (iphone 4, mini USB, micro USB - but again see my comment below).

- LED always-on clock.

Cons:

- The solar strip is tiny, and would take forever to fully charge the device. It will provide power enough for the radio, but not really enough for the flashlight or the Weather Alert radio, and definitely not enough to charge a cellphone. Its best use is as a trickle-charger to keep the rechargeable battery topped off.

- As with the solar strip, the crank will not fully charge your cellphone. The instructions note: "10 to 15 minutes of cranking may result in one or more minutes of talk-time, but your results may vary." The cranking is actually to charge the radio's internal battery, which is then to be connected to the phone (understand that before you need it). This is just the realities of electronics - cell phones are power hogs, and current doesn't like to flow uphill. (The crank is also supposed to be cranked for two minutes and then allowed to rest for one. However, when cranking the crank, it's not particularly easy to see the clock. The crank shaft also has a tendency to detach from the axle, though it's easy to snap back on).

- There is no on-board storage for the charging cord, or phone tips. In a blackout, I really don't want to be fumbling around for stuff.

- In Weather Alert mode (an understandable power hog) the radio will turn itself off if the battery is too low. Without telling you. I got less than 12 hours of WA mode from a full battery charge.

- There is a low battery indicator (flashing icon), but no battery remaining-charge indicator. For a critical device this would be unacceptable.

- The charging indicator is an LED that is red when the battery is charging and green when the battery is full. But, when charging from the solar strip this indicator will also turn green. Again, the realities of electronics, given the tiny trickle charge from the solar strip and how "battery-full" is determined. Those of us without EE degrees may be confused, however, and think the battery is full when it's not. Again, not acceptable in a critical device.

I consider this a useful radio/flashlight, and I will add it to my emergency kit with some AAA batteries taped to the outside. I wont expect more from it. It's not an off-the-grid phone charger. Its value as a weather alert radio is variable. Caveat emptor.

----------------

Update: Inasmuch as the radio is now being kept on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, I've done an inadvertent water resistance test. After being fully immersed in (soapy) sink water, and then dried out in the sun for several days, all radio functions are still fully operational. (There was some liquid trapped above the solar strip for a while, but that dried). YMMV.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Product, fair price!, November 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Got this product 2 weeks ago and am very satisfied with it. For all those complaining about the product just remember that this is a simple emergency radio with some nice features. It is not equivalent to a power generator as some are expecting! I tested and used every feature on this device and they all work fine. The tuner is fantastic and I picked up all available stations in my area. Those having trouble don't know how to work it. Take your time, read the directions and experiment with the device before writing reviews. I highly recommend this item. Decided to get it after Hurricane Sandy. Another item to add to my emergency supply room!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Item, November 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As I just indicated on the seller feedback for this item, I received this radio today - 2 days before the estimated arrival date. I tested each of the features and it works fine.

After Hurricane Sandy, I wanted a radio to work through any future power outages and the WR-333's ability to power via both solar energy and a hand crank caught my attention.

The unit is small and very compact so storage should not be a problem and can be easily and securely carried using the handle on the side.

Just wish the unit worked with less static, but for emergency uses, this looks like a fine item that will do the job. I recommend it highly to others.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lasted about 6 months, December 16, 2013
This review is from: Ambient Weather WR-333-U Emergency Solar Hand Crank Weather Alert Radio, Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger, AC and DC Adaptors (Misc.)
Did my research, read all the comments, and thought I made a good choice. It worked beautifully the FIRST time. I read all instructions, cranked properly, tested all modes, and left it on my closet shelf. Every couple of weeks I'd press the flashlight button and was pleased it lit up for so many months after charging. One day it didn't light, so I cranked - no result. Checked all switches, battery, cord, etc. Hooked up to charge from wall outlet - overnight - no result. Tried solar charging (I live in Phoenix, AZ, so plenty of sun) - no result. Just plain dead, and never really got to use it. :(
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Emergency Tool, not for Full-Time Use, April 26, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a pretty good tool for emergencies. You can leave it in your window and forget it, while the solar cell keeps the battery topped off. Then if the power goes out, this thing functions as a radio, weather radio, flashlight, and cell phone charger.

What I Liked:

- This does a lot of things pretty well. You can charge the internal battery with the solar cell, by plugging the whole thing into a USB charger, or by turning the built-in hand crank. Then, when your power goes out, it can tune into to radio or weather radio, has a pretty bright flashlight, and can charge a cell phone enough to make some calls.

- Thanks to the solar cell, it's pretty much just set and forget. The solar cell is small enough that it would probably take forever to get up to a full charge, but big enough that you can just set the whole unit in your window sill and forget about it, at least until the battery wears out.

What Could Be Better:

- This won't work well as a full time weather alert radio. First, leaving it on weather alert drains the charge faster than the solar cell can keep up with, so you would need to leave it plugged into a USB charger. More importantly, this unit doesn't support SAME programming, so you can't program it to only tell you about important weather events in your area. (Trust me, after the third or fourth time you get woken up because the next county over has heavy rain, you'll turn this off and save it for emergencies.)

Of course, that's not a huge problem if you take this device for what it is - an emergency gadget that you save for power outages, not a full time weather monitor. I use a Sangean CL-100 for weather alerts and love it, but am glad to have the WR-333 for emergencies.

- I wish there was a battery meter when the unit was in standby. I can tell it's charging from the solar cell, but I don't know how much power it has. I'm also not sure how many years the rechargeable battery will last, and will try to update this review if I start noticing declining performance over the coming years.
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