*Eton FR300 Weather Radio Review*
I suppose Iím hard to buy gifts for since my sister-in-law gave me a Sharper Image gift card for Christmas last year. During my grumbling, my gracious wife agreed to find something in the catalog that I would like, and here it is:
It's an Eton FR300 hand cranked radio for AM/FM/weather/TV.
Power options include the hand crank which can directly power the unit and/or recharge the internal NiMH battery pack (3.6 v 600 mAh 3 x 2/3AA) or it can run off three AA batteries or a 5 volt center negative plug. No wall or 12V adapter was provided and I havenít played around with any of the wall transformers laying around the house. Half a minute of cranking is sufficient for several minutes of radio time but this can vary up or down depending on the state of the rechargeable batteries. If you try to listen to the radio while cranking you will get some ďwhineĒ in the speaker.
On the back side we have the antenna, the battery compartment, and spots for three plugs. Headphones can be used and seem to be fairly immune from the generator whine mentioned above. This radio isnít made for hi-fi music so I just use a $2 pair that came with one of my sonís old electronic games.
Besides the headphone and 5V power-in jacks, there is also a cell phone charging plug that has center positive polarity. I thought this was one of the neatest features of the radio but you have to fill out a warranty/product information card before they will send you an adapter for your phone. I sent this card in several weeks ago but nothing has arrived yet.
The receiver seems to work as advertised on the radio bands. I was able to pull in a weather report from the Texas coast (a bit over 100 miles away) on the weather band and could get all the AM/FM stations that I usually listen to in the truck. The tuning dial is in two parts, crude and fine, which makes centering on a particular station a lot easier. Pulling in the audio from the TV stations was more problematic. It never seemed to switch over to either TV bands and a single FM station would bleed through no matter where the dial was.
Final feature is the LED light. Two white LEDís give off good light for close in work and a third, red LED can be used as a flasher. A constant on red LED would have been more useful, especially at night to retain night vision acclimation.
Overall, this is not a bad little radio to have around the house. I wouldnít pay 50 bux for it and it wonít be following me to any rough camp-outs. Next time I am going to ask for a Wal-Mart or Home Depot gift certificate so I can at least buy 22 ammo or a 2x4!
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