844 of 859 people found the following review helpful
Weather radios are sort of a hobby of mine. There is just about no place I can go on my property that there isn't one within reach somewhere. Six different brands are represented presently by what I own, including a more expensive Eton that is not my best radio. This small, (and I mean small) new line from Eton is a whole new animal to be sure. Its controls and design are very user friendly. And the reception on all channels, including the weather, is very loud and clear. Its true that the dial numbers for the AM FM are very small as some other reviewers have mentioned and can make it hard to tune accurately. But that is something common, as well as for me expected in a radio so small. What sets this unit apart from all the others I own in my opinion is its price and solar power. It is without a doubt the cheapest weather radio I have come across that is solar powered. Big, small, or otherwise. Even though one has been able to buy solar powered calculators at discount stores for less than $10 for years now, for some reason the weather radio industry has treated solar power as something still high tech and to be appreciated only in their most expensive units. My only other solar powered radio cost me over $60. The only possible down side that I should mention about this radio is that it does not take batteries. It would have been nice if they included that option. But they didn't and its either the solar power or crank. This could be a very big negative for some folks who would feel comfortable knowing they could just stick some batteries in it if all else fails. Although 90% of the time the solar power is all you should ever need, if you will routinely keep this in a rather dark place, or happen to be lost out in the savage wilderness someplace with this radio in a continuous cloud cover, be ready to do a whole heap of crankin'. All in all, its finally nice to see a very reasonably priced unit that is solar powered and of a very quality build and design as well. I highly recommend the Eton for a portable unit that can be taken anywhere easily, powered effortlessly, and gives quality performance all in one package....
304 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2009
This radio is an excellent radio for the price. No, it is not a top-end emergency radio, but it should work rather well for anyone looking for a basic AM/FM/Weather radio with both a solar and hand-crank charging option. I purchased mine about a year ago and used it only occasionally for the first few months. Then I placed it on a shelf with limited light and there it sat for about six to eight months. About six weeks ago I dusted it off and it actually worked for about an hour or so with no hand-crank charging. Later that day I sat it in the front window where it would get plenty of direct sun light. A couple days later I picked it up from the window and have been using it a few hours each day since; some of those days it was used for more than six hours in the basement. I have not needed to crank it at all, but did crank charge it for about one minute total just while playing with it - for the record. Since then, I have been keeping it on the shelf out in the open where it is exposed to normal room daylight, no direct sunlight. The charging light does not light up in this setting, and I would not expect it to. I have occasionally taken it out on the front porch to sit a listen where there is direct sunlight, but only for about an hour or so each week. I really like the idea of not having to buy batteries, and the convenience of knowing I always have a charged radio.
The flashlight is minimal, but I would not expect more from an LED light source. I have my 6-D-Cell Mag light if I need a powerful (luxury) light source.
Tuning the radio is a bit sensitive and can be difficult to fine tune. I would consider this to be a SIGNIFICANT problem for an elderly person or anyone without the use of fine motor skills in their hands; but for me it is a minor hassle I am willing and able to deal with. I have considered getting the Eaton FR600 for its digital tuner. The reviews for that model suggest the battery life is pretty bad, so I have decided to wait for an improved model. For now, my FR160 is just fine. I would consider giving this 5-stars if the fine-tuning was much easier.
The USB charge does work, but know that it will not charge an iPhone 3Gs. This is more a problem/restriction of the iPhone 3Gs (a widely discussed complaint across the Internet for many-many generic charging devices) and is not because of the radio. Charging my old Samsung phone was not a problem.
The weather bands do pick up a signal, but to be absolutely honest, I have not used it much to provide any real opinion.
The hand-crank charger feels solid enough (I wouldn't abuse it) and tucks away securely when not used. I have found the manual crank-charger will provide about 25-30 minutes of radio time (at about 1/4 to 1/3 volume) for every minute of crank-charging. I average about 2 cranks per second or about 120 rotation per minute. Now I just count to 120 or so instead of watching the clock. This play-time per craink-time yeild has been very acceptable for me. After two minutes of crank-charging my hand does begins to tire a little, but just a little. If I leave the radio in a place with good direct sunlight when not using it, changing via the crank is never even needed.
In short, it works for what I want - a radio that that can be charged by sunlight or by hand-crank when absolutely necessary. If you want the construction and feature-set of a $100+ radio - buy a $100+ radio. But, for $30 (or less), I am pleased with the FR160.
167 of 171 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2009
The reasons this Eton-manufactured emergency radio is the ideal emergency radio are: 1) small, compact size, 2) shock-absorbing case, 3) sensitive AM/FM/NOAA Weather tuner picks up weak signals, 4) handy 3-LED flashlight on left-hand end of the radio's case, 5) Earphone jack under dust cover on the right-hand side of the case, 6) USB port under same dust cover on the right-hand side of the case, 7) All radio bands will run 4-5 hours at low volume on full charge of the internal NiMH battery, 8) Solar panel on top of the radio's case is strong enough to power the radio indefinitely (as long as the solar panel is 'seeing' daylight), 9) the internal NiMH can be re-charged via the solar panel during daylight hours, an external transformer or the hand-cranked dynamo. You get all of these features for the low price of $30, plus free 'Super Saver' shipping from Amazon.Com. You can pay a lot more for an emergency radio and get a whole lot less!
96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2011
After reading reviews and reading the online manual I was curious about the solar panel charging a cell phone, the answer is no, the solar panel and the radio battery are not tied into the USB port, only the hand crank is tied into the USB port and only when the switch is set to cell. So no charging the radio battery via USB port. I tested the output of the hand crank when charging a cell phone battery and at 2 rev per sec the crank puts out 350mA at 5 volts. My wall charger for the phone says 5 volts 350mA output. The solar panel puts out 50mA and that's not enough to even think about charging a cell phone battery.
Eton.com offers a replacment battery and antenna for $6.95 each if you need one. The battery is located behind a door on the bottom of the radio, it has 1 screw through the door to hold it on.
P.S. To charge the radio battery with the crank you must have the switch in any position but cell.
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
I recently purchased a Reecom R-1630 weather alert radio since, living in North Alabama, we are frequently in the path of severe weather. I decided to add the Eton FR-160 radio to my order as an afterthought, reasoning it could help keep us informed of conditions if we had to shelter during a storm and lost power. I had no idea how right I would be, nor how soon I would find out. I received the order on April 25, 2011; two days later we were hit with the worst tornado outbreak ever recorded. While we rely on local sirens (and now the weather alert radio, too) to let us know when tornadoes threaten, the local television stations' weather coverage does an excellent job of letting us know exactly where tornadoes are, so we can decide whether or not to shelter (no sense in hiding in the basement if a storm is passing the opposite corner of the county 30 or 40 miles away). During the heaviest 4-hour onslaught of the 4/27/11 storms, we lost power. This killed the sirens and the television pinpoint coverage. Luckily the weather alert radio kept sounding warnings in the absence of sirens; the little Eton radio earned its keep by allowing us to tune into an FM station simulcasting the television coverage. At one point, despite the appearance that local skies were relatively clear, the television coverage over the radio informed us there was a system with rotation just a few miles away and headed right at us. We sheltered as the system passed overhead; luckily it had not yet dropped a tornado onto the ground. Had it done so, however, the radio would have literally saved our lives.
We were without power for the next 4 days, and the Eton FR-160 was literally in my hand or at my side the entire time. The radio allowed us to keep up with official broadcasts as well as announcements where we could get ice, food, gas, etc. Battery life, and the need for replacements, were never an issue. All that was needed was a few seconds of cranking every once in a while to keep things going. At night, the flashlight was obviously a handy feature. While I have all kinds of high-quality light-geek flashlights (Surefire, Novatac, Fenix, etc.) the light on this radio ended up being the one I used the most. It gave adequate light for finding my way around the house in the dark, reading at night, etc. Once again battery life and availability concerns evaporated with just a few cranks now and then. Finally, while I didn't rely on the weather radio function for alerts (luckily there were none in the ensuing days anyway), it was very handy to check overnight and next-day forecasts (a task for which we usually turn to the internet to accomplish - but not possible without power).
The only feature I can not attest to is the cell phone charging function. I did give it a try, but I believe the USB cord supplied with the phone I use (Palm Centro) serves well to synch with the computer, but will not charge alone from a non-computer connection. I need to see if I can locate a cable with the separate charger-only interface on one end and USB on the other.
In short, This little radio became immeasurably important both to our survival during a severe storm and our sanity in the days following almost as soon as we received it. I would urge everyone to consider adding one of these to their emergency prep kit.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
First off, let me say I am NO "survivalist". I am not the outdoorsy type. I live in New Jersey. I live 20 minutes from New York City. I don't go camping. I originally wanted a flashlight that doesn't need batteries, because every time the power goes out my flashlights NEED batteries and I can't see to get them. and when I saw this thing,I decided "why not". And now my question is "WHY DIDN'T I SOONER?". This thing is fantastic! First off, the light is bright. It's not going to turn night to day, but it works just as well as any non-specialty flashlight I have ever used. If it goes dim, just crank it back up!
Speaking of the crank, I was worried that it would be flimsy and snap off under my violent style of doing things. Well I have no worries about it. It doesn't feel like it budges any direction it shouldn't. It moves in a circular motion, no up or down stuff.
The radio is a fun feature. Get's pretty good signal wherever you go. I gave the sound quality a 4 simply because it's not your car speakers, this thing is meant as an emergency tool, not a sound system. But it still sounds pretty good. I was using it the other day as a radio when I was outside doing yardwork. OH RIGHT, outside!
The solar panel thing on it REALLY DOES WORK AWESOME! I originally had the radio on my porch playing music, and it turned off (mind you after several hours of playing at full volume). I decided to put it in the light to see how it works, and as soon as it hit direct sunlight (read: it has to be in direct sunlight) BAM instant full volume! AWESOME!
It has a USB charge port. I haven't gone to measure voltage or anything on it yet, but if you are even thinking about it, this will NOT charge an ipod. Nope. It will charge a regular phone though. It actually DOES charge an iphone, but not an ipod touch or shuffle.
The casing seems to be mostly a plastic-rubber except the rubber nobs. Feels very sturdy, could definitely survive a good drop. I mean, it's an emergency tool, I hope it can survive falling off a shelf at least. The thing is also water resistant and somewhat water proof according to the packaging, but I don't wanna test that too much.
Overall I like the style of it, if that matters to anyone. I think it looks great. I leave it in my window to charge via sunlight, in case the power ever goes out I know right where it is and that it will be ready (that it matters) for me to use. The color doesn't seem to be fading from sunlight at all.
1) Sturdy, mostly rubber body
2) tri-LED flashlight
3) Full AM/FM/Emergency radio
4) Cell phone charger VIA USB
5) No batteries, charges via solar power and stow-able hand crank
6) telescoping radio antennae
7) wrist strap
it's my new toy :) My kids want one now. In the future, if I become more "emergency use" oriented, I might get one of the bigger, more feature packed models, but for my uses (walking the dog late at night, 3am strolls with my wife, outdoor radio, emergency cell phone charging, power-outage flashlight, camping trip tool [I actually do go camping a couple times a year]), this is perfect!
123 of 140 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2010
The radio picks up absolutely no AM stations, although another "emergency" radio at the same location does. FM tuning is "dicey," but acceptable. The slide switch that is supposed to indicate AM, FM, WB (1--7) or Cell doesn't point to anything in particular although it does seem to work--you just have to count the "clicks." The battery that holds the crank or solar charge will likely require replacement at some time, although there's nothing about that in the included documentation or the user's manual from the Eton web site. There is no information about battery maintenance (e.g., should it be drained periodically).
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2012
This unit is a compact radio which seems to be a solid design which I bought to listen to while working outdoors. However, it has a fatal flaw: The battery life. I bought this a few months ago and when it was new you could wind it up for one minute and it would play at a low to moderate volume for about an hour. And almost indefinitely if placed in direct sunlight. As time went by, the radio would start to fade more and more quickly. I tested it yesterday and wound it for 2 continuous minutes. It lasted less than 5 minutes on low volume. Then I tested it by winding again for 2 minutes and placing it in direct sunlight. It lasted 9 minutes before failing. Can't put batteries in it so now it is essentially useless. Going to buy an old fashioned battery operated portable radio.
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
Bought this product about 2 weeks ago. Says it charges cell phones so I thought it would be perfect for backpacking and keeping my iphone going. Tried it out. My iphone showed it was charging for about 5 seconds, then it just went blank. The winding arm suddenly wound very easily, the resistence that I felt while it was charging was gone. Tried to no avail to get the iphone working. Called Eton and they denied any responsibility. I will avoid Eton since they do not stand behind the claims of thier products. Very disappointed.
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2011
I ordered this emergency radio after a local power outage for 20 hours. It didn't work and I returned it for a replacement. Neither radio stayed on for more than 30 seconds. The emergency cranks made no difference and the solar chargers didn't charge even though they were directly under a bright desk lamp. They sounded fine-- and the emergency lights worked--for 30 seconds. Considering the other similar complaints, being associated with the Red Cross as an emergency item is a sad mistake and I cannot ethically recommend them for anyone. I'm very sorry; I have returned both and hope the manufacturer corrects their production problems.