Pros / It has a Morse code beacon.
Cons / The hand crank is really inefficient.
Verdict / The RadioShack AM/FM/WX Crank Radio is a simple but effective weather radio with area-specific SAME weather alerts.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The RadioShack AM/FM/WX Crank Radio is one of the smallest crank radios available, which makes it extremely portable. It can easily fit into a large coat pocket. It comes with survival features that include a loud siren, a bright flashing beacon and a flashlight. You wouldn't want to go camping or hiking without an emergency radio like this.
This RadioShack crank radio has just three power options: the hand crank, a USB port and disposable batteries. Unlike most crank radios, it lacks a solar panel. It’s also missing a car charger, though you can use the USB port in conjunction with a car charger with a USB port.
The biggest downside of this crank radio is the inefficient hand crank. We drained the batteries and cranked the dynamo generator for two minutes at a rate of 120 revolutions per minute, and it only produced 1.5 minutes of battery life on average. In other words, you exert more energy cranking the battery than it provides. That said, it still wasn’t the least efficient hand crank in our review.
Using the USB port to plug into a wall outlet, it took 7.5 hours to fully charge the battery and then just 4.5 hours to deplete it playing the radio at full volume. The charge time wasn’t the longest, but it was well below average. Likewise, the battery life was poor compared to the other crank radios we tested.
The reception quality wasn’t impressive either. It received a B for AM reception quality, while its FM reception quality received a B-plus. The radio’s backcountry reception was among the worst, receiving a C-plus in our comparison. So while this emergency radio is fine in the city, it’s not ideal on campouts and long hikes into the wilderness.
The casing is durable enough to handle everyday usage. However, it's not designed to handle water, as it lacks all water resistance certifications. You shouldn't even let a bit of light rain near it. The best crank radios are designed to be used out in all kinds of weather because you never know if a downpour is going to hit while you're hiking.
The RadioShack AM/FM/WX Crank Radio is an alright addition to an emergency survival kit, so long as you live in a city and have access to power. It receives NOAA weather alerts really well, but the AM, FM and backcountry reception isn’t impressive. It's a good excellent crank radio for both an emergency kit and camping kit, but it isn't as versatile as we'd like.