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Customer Review

304 of 310 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised with the battery life, November 29, 2009
This review is from: Etón American Red Cross ARCFR160WXR Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger (Red) (Electronics)
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.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 22, 2011 1:08:10 PM PST
Sargintrock says:
I just bought one but I am still in the dark about getting the proper cables to charge my cell phones. Eton does not suppy them any more and I'm not sure if I have a mini or micro usb port, etc. Radio shack was no help and actually told me to go to Publix to buy a connector kit. I kid you not! any info on what and where to buy would be greatly appreciated as I plan to gunk hole in my canoe deep in the swamps.I want to maintain good commo. 5 by 5. Thanks. Gator South Florida

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 2:10:19 AM PDT
It WILL charge an iphone; I have an iphone4. The 'selector switch' on the front has to be slid to the far right hand setting (cell) for this to work. Keep in mind though, you won't want to do this - you'll be doing a lotta cranking...(as another reviewer has stated). I haven't tested whether or not a fully (solar) charged battery will charge any devices.

R.M. Moss: If you have a USB connector to connect your phone to a USB port on your computer, this should work. cell phone shop dot net might have a cable for your phone, if you can't find it here.
igo also has a variety of connector selections that might work (keep in mind that their items are not inexpensive; the tips are frequently sold individually).

Search Amazon for "iGo Power Splitter" or "iGo Universal USB-2 Charging Cable" -

Then, purchase the charging tips that you need. Incidentally, the power splitter is nice - when you have a usb charger in your car, and you wish to charge 2 or more items. Of course, 'double' usb chargers are also inexpensive these days. (Search Amazon for "usb car chargers" - and plenty of 'dual' entries will be in the list).

Posted on Jun 13, 2011 7:49:24 AM PDT
Donna says:
Thanks for the heads up re: good motor skills required to tune. Will look for different model.

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 7:08:58 PM PST
Your review says: "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."

But then a few paragraphs later you go into details about the times you've crank charged it. Confused.

Posted on Jan 29, 2012 5:28:02 PM PST
Mark - Thank you for your excellent and informative review. I decided to buy this model for my step-daughter who is now living in a house trailer here in central Texas now for the emergency kit I am putting together for her, based on your review, those of William L. Drevo, Paul Bootman, RatesnTaste, FiveDime and dvan among others. It sure is good to see good, objective and informative reviews, they help a lot.

Posted on Mar 12, 2012 5:50:20 PM PDT
I'm a little confused because this exact same review is on the page for the Etón FR160B Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger (Black). Are they the same radio?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2012 6:18:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2012 6:19:44 PM PDT
Kristy, yes they are same. The final R in the FR160R stands for Red, the B at end of other one stands for Black. Only difference is the colour of the plastic case.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2012 11:51:11 PM PDT
Thanks! I've never owned a weather radio before but with the way last spring and summer went, and the way things have started out this year, I definitely need one. No sirens is the biggest drawback to living in the country. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2012 4:27:31 PM PDT
MK says:
I got to thinking about this little radio with cell phone charger, I don't know what USB cable to get, and it may be a waste of time. What if the cell phones do not work when we need them. I mean, who are we going to call anyway. I think I better get a two way radio also. And I will continue to look for the USB cable. Oh when I bought mine at Wal mart, when I got home , I tried it out. AM does not seem to work, Also I put it in the window, to use the solar power charge. I just love this little quitie, Oh and NOAA does work. We just had some bad weather.
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