The Etón Grundig American Red Cross FR400 is one of Etón's American Red Cross branded, weather-resistant emergency radios. With a dependable hand-crank power generator that powers the unit's AM/FM/TV/Weather radio, built-in LED flashlight, cell phone charger and emergency siren -- all surrounded by a sturdy, weather-resistant casing -- the lightweight and portable Grundig FR400 is an excellent choice for anyone in the market for a radio that can be relied on in emergencies or in environments where there are limited power sources.
The FR400 is small and portable enough to go wherever life takes you.
Housed within its weather-resistant body, the Etón FR400 includes a two white-LED light source, and a flashing red-LED light source, as well as an emergency siren so that you can not only find what you are looking for, but others can easily find you. As an added convenience, this unit features a 3.5-millimeter earphone jack, a fine-tuning control knob super-imposed on the main tuning control knob for achieving the maximum in station clarity, and a built-in cell-phone charger with a 3.5-millimeter output jack and multiple adapter tips for charging select models of Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson phones. This Etón FR400 weighs only 1.5 pounds, and measures 8.6 x 4.5 x 2 inches (W x H x D).
Tuning and Bands
Other models in Etón's line of emergency radios that we tested include the Grundig FR200, an entry-level shortwave radio that also includes a flashing LED light; the Grundig FR250, a shortwave radio that also includes a flashing LED light, cell phone charger and siren; the Grundig FR 300, which includes the emergency features of the FR250, but offers television and weather station tuning instead of shortwave; and the Grundig FR 350, a water-resistant variation of the FR250.
While the FR400 shares the same features and performance of the FR300, its sturdy, weather-resistant casing and design modifications give it a distinct edge in emergency situations that's well worth the extra cost.
|(FR250 || |
|Hand crank || || || || |
|Cell phone charger || || || || |
|Emergency lights || || || || |
|Siren || || || || |
|AC adapter included || || || || |
|Water resistant || || || || |
|Tuning ||AM/FM, SW ||AM/FM, TV-VHF, NOAA weather ||AM/FM, SW ||AM/FM, TV-VHF, NOAA weather |
|Size (inches, WxDxH) ||6.5 x 2.5 x 6 ||6.5 x 2.5 x 6 ||8.75 x 2.25 x 4.5 ||8.75 x 2.25 x 4.5 |
|Weight ||1 lb. 3 oz. ||1 lb. 4 oz. ||1 lb. 4 oz. ||1 lb. 4 oz. |
|Power ||Crank, 3 AA, NiMH battery, AC ||Crank, 3 AA, NiMH battery, AC ||Crank, 3 AA, NiMH battery, AC ||Crank, 3 AA, NiMH battery, A |
The FR400 receives FM radio via a built-in telescoping antenna, AM via an internal ferrite bar, all seven NOAA weather channels plus an Alert function, and even picks up TV1, TV2, and VHF channels 2-13, so you can listen to your favorite television programs without a TV. As was the case with all of the Etón emergency radios we tested, our AM reception was outstanding; we were quickly able to tune into every station we searched for. Reception for FM was also very good, though there was some extra fine-tuning on some of the stations. Because weather broadcasts are based on VHF, line-of-sight channels, and because we are slightly out of range of the nearest weather transmitter in our region, we were not able to test the radio's weather reception. Television reception, happily, was quite another story. Though some stations took some finessing of the tuner before we were able to hone in on a strong signal, most of the reception was loud and clear.
Power When You Need It
At the heart of all of Etón's emergency radios, including the FR400, is an internal generator that recharges the internal Ni-MH battery pack and powers the radio, siren, and light. Also, by plugging your cell phone into the jack on the back of the radio, you can use the crank to power your phone.
Important Note: Until this year, Etón provided a package of several different cell phone adapter tips with every radio. In 2007, Etón began instead including a coupon for a free adapter for whatever phone you have. So, the first thing you want to do when you get the radio is fill out the card with your cell phone's make and model and send it in to make sure you have your adapter.
In our test, after draining our cell phone of power, we recharged it using the FR400 enough to make a few calls. The rate of cell phone recharging will vary greatly depending on the cell phone and the state of its battery, but the FR400 can provide your compatible phone with power in a pinch.
The Etón FR400 is extremely versatile, and can be powered by up to four different sources, including: the included AC adapter, three AA batteries (not included), the built-in rechargeable Ni-MH battery which can be recharged from the AC adapter or by hand, and the dynamo hand crank which not only can recharge the built-in battery but provides power even when no battery is installed.
According to the product manual, to achieve 40 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted power to the radio, you must turn the crank at a rate of two revolutions per second for 90 seconds. In our test, after our initial 90 seconds of rigorous cranking, the FR400 powered right up and was still going strong with radio reception after an hour. At the hour mark, we briefly turned the flashlight on, and that too was at full force, with no perceivable drain on radio reception. The dynamo crank tucks itself nicely into the side of the radio and offers little resistance as you turn the handle. (Don't let the cranking requirements frighten you! While it's true that a full 90 seconds of turning the crank can be tiring and may not be for everyone, we were able to recharge the radio with less than a minute of cranking and achieved over 40 minutes of continuous power.)
Design and Controls
At 1.5 pounds, and with dimensions of 4.5 x 8.75 x 2.25 inches (HxWxD), the FR400 is made to be tucked neatly into its handy nylon carrying case, ready to be stored in emergency box, or packed neatly for a camping trip. A white LED light is set on the side of the radio, just above the tuning knob, allowing you to use the FR400 like a flashlight. A red flashing emergency light is also included. This placement is an improvement over the designs of the FR200, FR250 and FR350, all of which place the emergency light on the radio's face. But similar to those radios, the light on the FR400 is only designed to help you down an unlit stairwell or enclosed hallway in a pinch, and is not directed or strong enough to help you much in a pitch-black forest or other open area. The radio and light can be operated simultaneously, though of course at the expense of power.
The large band selection knob and other controls make the FR400 a breeze to use.
The rear connections are protected by rubber seals.
On the left, the hand crank, on the right, a flashlight, and tuning and volume knobs.
The mechanical controls of the FR400 are extremely visible and easy to use. The volume control is fairly easy to finesse, and the tuning knob, which features a smaller concentric fine-tuning control knob, offers much greater control. A sealed 3.5 mm earphone jack is set into the back, and the telescoping antenna tucks neatly behind the handle strap, and the telescoping antenna tucks neatly behind the handle strap. The radio's 2.5-inch speaker is set directly in front and offers reasonable audio quality and excellent volume for the radio's purpose. The tuner itself is self-illuminated, though in a darkened environment it is still somewhat difficult to pick out the bands.
- Compact and lightweight; ideal for emergencies or travel
- Clearly laid out functions and controls
- Excellent internal power generator; handy cell-phone charger
What's in the Box
- Tuning dial could be better illuminated for darkened environments
FR400 radio, card for free cell phone charging adapter, nylon carrying case