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Microlink FR160 Eton Emergency Radio

Updated on August 18, 2011

Features:

• AM/FM Radio
• NOAA Weather Band Channels
• Crank Powered
• Solar Powered
• USB Cell Phone Batter Charger (cord not included)
• Water Resistant
• LED Flashlight
• Headphone jack
• Weight: 8.5oOZ
• Dimensions: 5.25"w X 2.5"h X 1.75"d

First the positives of this radio:

AM/FM Radio & NOAA Weather Band Channels: If an emergency hits, it’s awesome to have a radio to listen to what’s going on, especially if you live near a possible danger zone (Ex: Near a Lake, River, Ocean, etc.). What’s even better is if you’re tired of hearing the same messages over and over again, you can switch to the radio. You can turn it up really loud (I haven’t tested how loud as I don’t want to hurt my ears) so that everyone in the house, room, etc. can hear what’s going on, have some entertainment, etc.

Crank Powered & Solar Powered: Having a radio/flashlight that runs off of crank and/or solar power is excellent as there is no need to carry any batteries! If you plan to use it in your emergency preparedness kit like I did, you don’t have to worry about packing batteries or figuring out if there will be electricity (if it’s the plug in type). I like having the option of throwing it out into the sun to recharge or cranking it myself if the sun has already set. It means saving money from not needing to buy batteries and it also means less batteries being thrown into landfills. The arm used to crank is easy to use, doesn’t take much effort to turn, and isn’t something that you’ll worry about breaking while trying to get your radio/flashlight charged.

USB Cell Phone Batter Charger: How excellent is that? I don’t know about you, but I love having my cell phone because it keeps me entertained with games, the internet, music, movies, etc. I also seem to have an knack for not charging my phone before an emergency happens, so my phone will kick the bucket somewhere along the hundreds of messages flying back and forth, letting family and friends know we’re OK and it’s just a matter of waiting it out. Note: I recently discovered the USB charger also charges my Ipod Shuffle. I’m not sure if the packaging stated that it does charge anything other than a cell phone (I’m not one for reading), but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Water Resistant: Having it water resistant is awesome in my book as I’ve never had a radio that I didn’t have to hide from liquids. This was part of the reason why I put it into my 3-day kit as well because if it should happen to be raining during an emergency, I can use it without worrying about getting shocked or it breaking on me (or both). All of the shelters in my area don’t have a covered area to pull up and take my things out of the car, and if they do, they’re blocked off to accommodate those with disabilities (wheelchairs and elderly especially), so having the option of using the flashlight while I run back and forth in the dark between my car and the shelter without it breaking is excellent!

LED Flashlight: The LED is great because it’s bright, doesn’t dull out or turn that familiar yellow color like with regular flashlights over time. The brightness is enough to keep me from tripping over any uneven sidewalks, curbs, a random plant/tree, or even my own feet.

Headphone jack: If you do need to go to an emergency shelter, use the Radio for camping, or whatever it may be, you have a headphone jack so that you don’t have to disturb your neighbors. If you want to tune in during the night to see if there are any changes or if anything comes up, you can do it without waking anyone up.

Weight & Dimensions: It is so small and light-weight that it fits perfectly into any emergency preparedness kit, hiking kit, camping kit, or just to have when you’re hanging out at the park. Although it is not the tiniest radio in the world, it is definitely not the largest either. It also has a hand strap to attach it to a bag if there isn’t enough room to fit it into your bag/container. The size was perfect enough to fit in the middle of my sleeping bag (space saving)

Now on to the negatives:

AM/FM Radio & NOAA Weather Band Channels: If you’re not someone who lived in the “good ole days” when nothing was remote controlled and you actually had to walk up to the television to turn it on or off or to turn the station, having something that requires you to physically turn a dial to search for a station can be kind of troublesome. Okay, so it’s not that big of a deal, but I’ve run into a few people who couldn’t figure out how to use their radios because they didn’t understand how to find their favorite station – they tried pushing the button, but it didn’t do anything. Yes, some people really are that clueless. Depending on where you are, not all radio stations will be easily accessed and the Weather Band station will also vary.

Crank Powered & Solar Powered: If you’re someone who doesn’t work out much, cranking can be a huge hassle. I was told cranking for a minute would last about 45 minutes. I cranked for a minute and barely got 20 minutes. Maybe I wasn’t cranking it right or something, but I was kind of disappointed. Now as for solar powered – Is the sun out 24 hours a day? No. So if you’re in an emergency shelter, camping in the forest, etc, finding a place to charge your radio/flashlight with the Solar Panel could very well be impossible. Although these are both “earth friendly”, they may not be stress friendly.

USB Cell Phone Batter Charger: When I first saw this radio, I thought, “Awesome! It has a Cell Phone Charger!” I didn’t need to hear anything else about this radio - all I could think was that it could charge my cell phone in case of an emergency. How wrong I was! I discovered it DID NOT charge my cell phone. Normally when my phone is charging, the clock will pop up. Even when I exit from the clock, I can still see the little electric symbol over the battery, telling me it’s charging. I tried everything to figure out how to make this feature work for me, but found out it just doesn’t work because of the technology in my phone. My smart phone was just too smart for this charger. A couple of my friends also tried to plug their phones in to no avail. Now I know I mentioned earlier that it was able to charge my Ipod Shuffle, but I cannot say it will do the same for any of the other Ipod products.

LED Flashlight: The light wasn’t bright enough to use for longer distances. I tested to see how far the beam would go. I know I shouldn’t have expected that it would be able to light up my car in the distance, but I figured it might be able to do it since it is an LED. Oh well, I can admit when I’m wrong. And again, I was wrong.

Weight & Dimensions: The radio was slightly bulky. It wasn’t a huge bulk like the radios we had in the 80’s, but it isn’t something you can just stick into your pocket. In fact, I don’t even think you can stick it into your purse unless you carry a huge purse. The knobs also stick out, making it a rather oddly shaped item to try to pack. Unless you’re packing soft items around it, it’s a little weird trying to get it to fit.

The price tag for this particular radio reads $34.95 on the Red Cross website. Click here.

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