484 of 498 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2009
I read numerous reviews about this product and had concerns re: people's feedback -- quality, lack of A/C power adapter, time/effort to recharge a cell phone, USB charger which is useless when there's no power, etc. But I decided to buy one just because I've got a young family and it's my responsibility [gulp] to be at least minimally prepared. You got to admit that these storms in recent years (not to mention tornados, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters that occur constantly) demonstrate that help may take days or weeks to arrive. That's a long time when you remember that lights, ATM's, radios, etc don't work when bad things happen.
So I pulled the trigger w/ low expectations and am I glad I did. These FR-160's are ideal for their purpose: they provide basic lighting & communication (read: radio/weather) in case of emergency. The quality was shockingly good for only $30. And they're small -- pretend your hand is in a mitten and subtract your thumb...about that size. They're not meant to provide music for a party so don't expect it amazing quality sound. They're not designed to be used on the ocean as your boat's only radio. Don't drop it off a cliff and expect it to be good as new. They're designed to be a compact combination radio/flashlight that can be a lifesaver if you ever need it.
275 of 282 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.
552 of 574 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2009
This radio is a great little investment. It does exactly everything it states it should. On a 60 second crank I got hours of play. I ran the radio completely dead by leaving the light on and the radio playing at half column. I let the radio play like this with the light on for at least an hour before it went dead. I then put it out in the sun and let it charge with the solar charger for about four hours and then turned the radio on and let it play for only about an hour and then just didn't want to complete the experiment. I am very pleased with this radio. 60 seconds of cranking for hours of play is very reasonable. Letting it charge out in the sun and getting hours of play is very reasonable. I have other brands like this in the past that you would crank for 5 to 10 and get maybe 10 minutes of play.
Update as of 5/14/2012.
I let it sit out in the rain all day today, and it hardly got any water in it... It still works!
M. Mason would want to know exactly how hard the rain was... The weatherman says up to 1"/Hour.
M. Mason would want to know exactly how long it sat in the rain? approximately 8 hours...
I took it apart, noticed about 4 drops of approximately 1 mm in diameter. After an hour, got tired of waiting and put it back together, it seems to work fine.
The AM/FM radio works fine, and the weather radio works. Of course, time will tell how the Dynamo works, but I don't expect water to effect the solar charging. I won't turn the dynamo for a while, as the battery should have a full charge as it sat out in the sun yesterday. How long? I just don't know, sorry M. Mason.
I finally packed it in an air tight container with an old packet of Desiccant to try and dry out any remaining moisture. As long as the packet isn't too saturated, it should work...
311 of 343 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2010
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE THIS TO CHARGE AN IPHONE !!!! I have a 32GB 3GS that I purchased in February. I purchased the Eton Microlink FR160 for a Cub Scout campout to celebrate the 100 years of scouting. We were camping in a farm field with no access to electricity. When I used it to charge my iPhone, it FRIED IT! I mean no phone, all loss of data, completely black screen. The Apple store tried to due a hard reset and couldn't even get it to turn on. Thank goodness that the phone was still under warranty! Apple gave me a new phone, but I had to reload EVERYTHING! A HUGE time commitment and pain. Tech support from Eton was willing to replace my iPhone and very helpful. They emphasized to me to NOT USE this to charge an iPhone! All other features are awesome and weather band works great. I will keep it for that reason only.
154 of 168 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2009
This is truly a phenomenal product. Everything works as described, including the cell phone charging which can be quite a boon when going away from electricity - abroad, to other countries, or hiking/camping/backpacking.
The light - powerful halogen type LEDs that power the device, as strong as a good bike light. Battery can be charged via solar or hand crank. Three to five minutes of hand crank has given me over two hours of battery life, and still no sign of dying battery. That's quite a great find for people who need a flashlight all the time like I do.
The radio - a bit weak with the speakers, but works. Includes a weather band. A bit of a blah item, especially since the dials pop off all the time.
The charger - Great little device. Can charge all your Apple iPod products, including bluetooth headsets, and your iPhone. A big reason I waited for the next gen Eton charger was for the iPhone charging...really great and works well. Charge your iPhone, iPhone 3G (and probably the new 3GS).
Well worth $30
89 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2011
Don't normally write negative reviews, but this item I thought was a great investment for daily and emergency use. It worked great for about a month, however flashlight was always dull. I bought it for the radio and size.
Now the solar charger doesn't even work. 3 entire days in the sun does nada.
Only cranking works and cranking for a long amount of time doesn't achive more than 10 minutes of air time. It's now exhausting and irritating.
This radio would be 'ok' if only used in emergencies, but know you will have to crank it constantly to hear anything. Not worth it.
I couldn't be more disappointed. I will have to order another radio, and it certainly won't be an ETON.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2010
Just what I was looking for, a small compact radio to take along camping and leave laying around in case of emergency. The weather bands will be usefull in both cases.
Note that there is no AC charger for it, and the batteries are not replaceable - the power comes from solar charger or hand crank. It's about the height & width of a soda can, maybe 1/2 the thickness, and light enough to toss into your backpack and not really notice.
I hooked it up to my Blackberry Storm (9530) using the USB cord and found that charging was quite easy, no problem keeping a constant charge. However the "15 min for a 1 min call" that the manual states means you'd probably only do this in the most extreme emergencies. However, in an emergency a 1 min call may save your life.
Sound quality was surprisingly better than I expected for such a small radio, a couple coworkers felt the same way. I haven't put the battery life to a serious test yet, but I cranked it for maybe 1 min and left it on for over an hour - and played with the light a couple times during that hour. It still plays load and clear. Reception works fine too, even the AM band works better in the middle of our office building than most of the higher quality radios around here. (Note: if you're looking for a great AM desk top radio, I'm very pleased with the Sangean WR-2).
The biggest con for me is that there is no water proofing, doubt it's even a little water resistant. Things tend to get left out over night when camping, or damp in a backpack when it rains, so care will have to be used to be sure it's kept dry.
All in all, I'm quite happy with my purchase.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2010
I bought this item to take with me while camping. The great attractive feature was the fact that we could listen to the radio and the weather station while in the woods without the need for batteries.
This feature works very well. It makes it a green product, since you save loads of batteries, just using the handle to charge it. One thing we notice though, was during our last camping trip, a winter one. The temperatures was below freezing (around 29'F/-2'C) and the radio was working perfectly fine, but the battery would last less longer (wich is not exactly a major problem). So if you are planning to use it for winter camping, be advised that you may need to recharge it more often.
The other reason I bought it would be to charge my cellphone just using the solar power charge. This does not work. To charge your cellphone for up to a minute of talking, you need to spin the handle for more than 15 minutes. The instruction manual does not even mention that you can charge your cellphone using solar power.
By the way, the instruction manual is terrible. It does not provide answers for half of the questions we had about the product, and left us to find out by using the product.
Overall, I'm very satisfied with this purchase.
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2011
After diligent searching,I bought the Eton FR160B. I left it untouched because after all the radio was designed for a power outage. Well 3 days ago we had a 3 day outage. I unpacked the radio and cranked it for 6 slid minutes just to be sure we get at least 15 minutes of news, Well after 34 seconds i abruptly stopped, I tried seven more times and it always stopped t 34 second. In the morning it in the bright direct sunlight.
Still only plays 34 seconds. My son tried several times with the same dismal results. Total waste of money and poor as I am-it hurts.
37 of 40 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.