- Brand Name: Eton
- Model Number: ARCFR350W
- Power Source Type: Corded-Electric, Battery
American Red Cross FR350 Emergency Radio, White (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
- American Red Cross-endorsed, water-resistant emergency radio with 4 distinct power sources
- Picks up AM, FM, and 7 shortwave bands; built-in LED flashlight and cell phone charger
- Receives power from hand crank generator, NiMH battery, AC adapter, or 3 AA batteries
- 90 seconds of hand cranking produces 40 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted radio power
- Sealed 3.5 mm headphone jack; measures 8.75 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches (W x H x D); 1-year warranty
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Power When You Need It
At the heart of all of Etón's emergency radios, including the Grundig FR350, 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 (the FR350 comes with several cell phone adapters), you can use the crank to power your phone. In our test, after draining our cell phone of power, we recharged it using the FR350 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 FR350 can provide your compatible phone with power in a pinch.
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 FR350 powered right up and was still going strong with radio reception at the one hour mark, though there was not enough power to turn the light on. At the 75-minute mark, the radio finally lost complete power and had to be regenerated. The FR350 can also be powered via the included AC adapter, or from three AA batteries, which are not included. 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 FR350 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 FR350 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 FR350 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 FR350 a breeze to use. View larger.
The rear connections are protected by rubber seals. View larger.
On the left, the hand crank, on the right, a flashlight, and tuning and volume knobs.
The mechanical controls of the FR350 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. 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.
Tuning and Bands
The FR350 offers nine-band tuning -- AM, FM and 7 shortwave bands. 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. Our shortwave reception, however, was a mixed bag. We tested in the early and late evening, searching for signals in the more heavily populated SW3 and SW4. While we found several signals during our test, honing in on them took a bit of finesse with the fine-tuning knob. And when we did find them, there was static and background noise with most of the signals.
While the FR350 shares the same features and performance of the FR250, its sturdy, weather-resistant casing and design modifications give it a distinct edge in emergency situations that's well worth the extra cost.
- Compact and lightweight; sturdy, weather-resistant casing
- Clearly laid out functions and controls
- Excellent internal power generator; handy cell-phone charger
- Tuning dial could be better illuminated for darkened environments
- Shortwave reception inconsistent
FR350 radio, cell phone charging adapters, nylon carrying case, AC adapter and American Red Cross pamphlet.
Top Customer Reviews
Radio reception on this unit is solid, and while the dial is not rigorously gradated by frequency the signals from individual stations tend to be so clear that finding the one you're after is usually no problem.
My only two complaints about the unit are the following: First, the hand-crank dynamo seems to give inconsistent charge to the batteries. Sometimes after the recommended 90 second crank I could listen to a whole game without recharging the unit, but other times, for no clear reason, the volume would die down and after just a couple of innings it would require another hand-cranking.
Second, the position of the flashlight switch is situated such that it can be easily turned on inadvertently, particularly when the unit is being cranked for a charge. The power drain from using the flashlight is significant, and while this only requires another round of hand-cranking (and subsequent turning off of the light), it is an annoying design feature that could have easily been moved elsewhere on the casing.
Those two flaws, though, are minor considering the overall performance I've experienced with the FR350, and based on my happiness with the unit, I can recommend it without hesitation.
What a waste of $60.
Night time AM reception is stellar. The tuning display is narrow, as it must be in such a small radio. But the tuning knob is very tight, and with a steady hand and a little patience you can tune between two adjacent stations. From western Georgia I could clearly hear either 1110 WBT from Charlotte or 1120 KMOX from St. Louis!
FM performs as well as could be hoped for a small, single-speaker radio. Sounds great over headphones, too. The shortwave will bring in strong signals, but this is not a DX machine. If you have no interest in shortwave you can choose this unit that will deliver National Weather Service broadcasts instead: Eton American Red Cross FR405 Emergency Radio, White
There seems to be some confusion about the cell phone charging cable. The unit I purchased came with a postcard to register the product. When you do so Eton promises to mail you the charging cable and correct adaptor for your cell phone brand. This registration can also be done at their internet site.
It's nice that Eton also provides a carrying case for ths radio. The zipper pouch on the case will enable you to keep the cell phone charging cable and adaptor at hand. While the plastic clip and shoulder strap on the case don't look too sturdy, it will serve to keep the dust off if you store this radio for a while. Although I don't think mine will have time to get dusty! This light weight unit does everything I want it to do.Read more ›
1. Handcrank - 2 minutes of cranking was sufficient to drive the radio and the flashlight for at least 15 minutes (at which point I got bored and stopped listening).
2. AM/FM radio - both were able to tune in approx 10-20 stations.
3. Shortwave radio - I was unable to tune in any of the shortwave stations the radio is supposed to receive. I don't know if this is because I tested it at 1 pm in the afternoon or because no one's transmitting on those bands right now or if it's the fault of the radio.
4. Flashlight - still quite bright. Able to use the flashlight and the radio at the same time.
5. Ability to read the tuning dial in the dark - this was somewhat poor as the luminescent paint was faint. I was able to read the dial, however, by simply turning on the built in flashlight.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have had this item for a few years, now... The radio still seems to work good, but the water-resistant coating has now started to deteriorate, leaving sticky residue on your... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Matthew A. Eichler
When I purchased this radio I checked all of the advertised functions and they all worked as the product manual said they would. Read morePublished on February 6, 2012 by Larry
Amazing thing: very well built-up in general, nicely tuned with a good, i.e. solid, crank mechanism. Not sure about its water resistance though - will check this spring. Read morePublished on May 12, 2011 by mirotrav
Bought this radio because we have had frequent power outages. Batteries have limited shelf life so the crank charger was the draw. Plus it included the ability to charge phones. Read morePublished on November 16, 2010 by JohnLM
I have bought this radio for others as a gift. No one has complained yet, so I'm guessing it's an ok product as of this date 7-17-2010. The price was right. Read morePublished on July 18, 2010 by mike
On first unpacking mine, it would play for only a few seconds after cranking for two minutes. A call to Eton (800-872-2228) revealed that the model has been discontinued for 4-5... Read morePublished on March 17, 2010 by Paul S.
As an emergency radio, I find it important to have multiple power sources. This one works great. Also the ability to charge a cell phone is great. Read morePublished on November 4, 2009 by R. Hiestand
Nice radio, nice size, good sound and the light is great. Hard to turn on and tune, but does a good job of what I wanted it for. Read morePublished on October 3, 2009 by Blaz Toups
The Am/Fm work great. It even drifts less that the more higly touted Freeplay Ranger. But the Shortwave is absolutey uselss. Read morePublished on July 15, 2008 by Frugal Bargain Hunter